Alright starfighters, let’s start the new year off right! Now as much as I love the Star Wars movies themselves (and my stars and starships do I LOVE them!), they admittedly only span a certain amount of time with my favorite characters and plot points. They only have so much time and most people don’t care enought to invest in a seven or eight hour movie, but dammit I’m greedy and I want to know more! I mean there are so many questions that need to be answered!!!
What was Leia doing before The Force Awakens? What was it like for her being a teenage senator responsible for millions of lives while also becoming one of the most reknowed Rebel Leaders? And what in the galaxy drove people to join the Empire, how did they justify working in that environment?!
I could go on forever but I think you get my point 😉
The films give us so much, but they can’t be everywhere at once. That’s where the books come in! Now I’ve been reading Star Wars books since I was in the fifth grade and found the Jedi Apprentice books at a school book fair by accident, but for this list I’m going to narrow my favorites down to the new wave of canon books that have been released since The Force Awakens was announced.
So in no particular order, I present to you… my favorites!
1) Lost Stars by Claudia Gray — Lost Stars is the first of the new-wave books that I came across and absolutely loved! It’s always risky for me picking up a SW book that is centered on characters I’m not familiar with since for me at least, SW IS its characters and I get very attached to specific people, but this book was a revelation! Set in the early years after the rise of the Empire we follow two young pilots as they chase their shared dream of flying the best ships the galaxy has to offer. Ciena Ree and Thane give us an inside view of what it was like growing up during Palpatine’s reign and how the Empire conned the best of its citizens into a life of dishonor. From backwater worlds, to imperial academies on gleaming Coruscant, to the Death Star itself, and even the bridge of a Star Destroyer during the final battle of Jakku, this book takes you on one wild ride with two protagonists who are deeply in love but fighting on opposite sides of one of the biggest wars the galaxy has ever seen. The stakes are high and love and honor are on the line!
2) Bloodline by Claudia Gray — Leia is one hell of an epic woman, let’s just make that clear. Princess, Rebel Leader, Spy, Senator, she wears a lot of hats. But what does she do when she’s not out rescuing Han Solo from Bounty hunters and Hutts or saving the Galaxy from the stranglehold of the Empire? What does a warrior like her do when the battle is finally done and the war won? Get back to work to make the galaxy a better place, that’s what. One senate meeting at a time. This book sets us down a few years before TFA in a time just before Leia’s world comes crashing down around her. You can’t help but feel a near-suffocating desperate hopelessness while you read this one knowing that unbeknownst to our beloved Princess, she is witnessing the birth of the next great evil in her galaxy and possibly the end of her relative happiness in life. This book beautifully walks that fine line of telling it’s own story and subtly setting us up for the first sequel film. It’s breathtaking and heartbreaking. Leia’s strength shines as strong as ever, but we see the cracks starting to form around her. A battle is coming, but can she see it in time?
3) Last Shot: A Han and Lando novel by Daniel Jose Older — I WANTED NOTHING MORE THAN TO SEE HAN AND BABY BEN/KYLO TOGETHER AND THIS BOOK DELIVERED!!! Ahem… Sorry about that, but as a Kylo fan I was desperate for more information regarding his life, especially relating to Han and while that isn’t the entire focus of this book, it is a wonderful part of it! Baby Ben and Han are just soooo precious and I demand more content with them! But all that aside, the majority of this book is set in varying points of time with Han, Lando, and a few other rather frightening characters while they race against the clock to fix a deadly mistake they both made in the past. As someone who is easily spooked by the thought of a robot apocalypse, this book actually scared the hell out of me at times. Honestly. There is some creepy sh*t going on, and while it was sometimes hard to follow with all the jumps in time, when it comes down to it this book PERFECTLY captures Han and Lando’s respective voices. It was almost uncanny. Really, excellent job!
4) Most Wanted by Rae Carson — As someone who LOVED Solo: A Star Wars Story, I was eager to delve into the lives of Han and Qi’ra before we see them escape Corellia in the opening scenes of the film. What were their lives like in that murky underground gang, what were they to each other really, and perhaps most important to me, who is this Qi’ra girl? This book answers all these questions and so much more. Fast paced and thrilling we meet these unforgettable characters before they actually become the characters we know. Han isn’t the Han we see in ANH or even Solo yet and Qi’ra is just as compelling and beguiling as she was on-screen. I was left with the sensation of knowing these two people so much better but still having no idea how their story together will ultimately end.
5) Leia, Princess of Alderaan by Claudia Gray — How does one top Bloodline you ask? Well let me tell you! This book IS Leia as she becomes the rebel leader princess we all know and love! Coming of age to be named heir to the Alderaanian throne, Leia must prove herself to her parents, her people, the galaxy at large, and most importantly to herself. Witness a girl who knows nothing but the strength and power of love as she starts to discover the hardships of those around her and struggles to find a way to help that won’t result in more devastation. This is the Leia I never knew I needed, this is a princess who isn’t as confident, isn’t as sure how to accomplish all that must be done, but still has that fiery determination to try. There were moments I literally gasped, moments I squealed in delight, and moments like reading the very last line where I felt such devastating despair at all that was about to come for one of my favorite SW characters 😭
And there you have it my starfighters, my top five favorite canon Star Wars books! I have a few more on my to-be-read list (The Aftermath trilogy) and a few that I liked just fine but these are the ones that really gave me those wonderful, epic SW feels. What about you guys, which of the new canon novels do you like best? Is there one you’d recommend I read? Let me know in the comments and remember: may the Force be with you!