Hi LJ! Been a while. I keep meaning to get back here, but mostly I've been posting political rants on Facebook, and sharing articles is so much easier over there.
But my old Star Wars buddies from a long time ago on a service far, far away (Compuserve) have been reuniting over on Facebook. We got to talking about the new book canon, and I seem to be the only one who has done any serious reading in it, I volunteered to write up a brief synopsis of what's out there and what's worth reading.
I failed on the brief part.
So, what do you do when you've prattled on for three full pages on Word? You put it on LJ! So here is my guide to the new Star Wars canon:
Wow, there are already a lot of books. A LOT of books. Like, here’s a link to the books that are already canon: http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Timeline_of_canon_books
But a ton of them are children’s books/picture books. And I’m not going to drag you through those.
Before we get to the books, however, you should know what’s considered canon in visual media. Of course, all seven movies. But also:The Clone Wars the movie
—it’s awful. But it’s better if you’ve watched The Clone Wars TV series. Not really necessary.The Clone Wars TV series
—five seasons of Anakin Skywalker. Believe it or not, you will like him a lot better if you watch it. I have now sat through the whole thing three times (with Ferrett, with Erin, and then with Amy), and there is a lot of really good stuff here. I genuinely recommend making the time to see it. Like all kid’s cartoon shows that grow into more, it starts kind of simplistic and picks up way more depth over time. It introduces a lot of really great characters into the Star Wars Galaxy—or, as we know it, Fred—and gets you rooting for them.Star Wars Rebels
—The new, and ongoing, cartoon series on Disney XD. This series starts about 5 years before A New Hope, and as it gets closer to that date is beginning to rub elbows with familiar characters from the movies. And it’s going to get closer to Rogue One events after the movie comes out, so it’s getting darker. Some really good stuff here, too.
And now, on to the books:Dark Disciple, by Christie Golden
: Occurs before Order 66. Based on a screenplay for one of the Clone Wars episodes that didn’t get made when Disney cancelled the series, it involves two characters from Clone Wars, Asajj Ventress and Quinlan Vos. Ventress was apprentice to Darth Tyranus, Vos was a Jedi. A book I enjoyed, but don’t bother reading unless you’re a Clone Wars fan.Rogue One: Catalyst, by James Luceno
: Starts shortly after the Empire is formed, this is the lead-in story to Rogue One. It tells how Galen Urso ends up helping with the building of the Death Star, why it takes 19 years to build the thing, and the political machinations of Krennic and Tarkin. I’m just about finished with it, and I think it’s a really good read. I like books that introduce us to new characters; Fred is a big galaxy, with lots of stories to tell.Ahsoka, by E. K. Johnston
: Story of Anakin Skywalker’s apprentice (yes, he was never a master; I have no idea why they gave him an apprentice, but she is a major part of Clone Wars, so deal with it). Again, not a book to read unless you are a Clone Wars fan. This one is on my Paperwhite, waiting to be read.Lords of the Sith, by Paul S. Kemp
: okay *now* we’re getting into the good stuff. Set about 5 years into the era of the Empire. Rebels take a chance on taking out Vader and the Emperor, managing to damage the ship they are in to cause a crash landing. The Emperor and Vader must get out of their predicament. Good stuff about their master/apprentice relationship, the psychological games Palpatine is playing with Vader, and some Vader being just frelling scary. Recommended as a pleasure read, particularly for you Emperor fans.Tarkin, by James Luceno
: A look at Tarkin’s rise to power, lots of flashbacks to his childhood. Imperial fans love it; I was kind of, meh.A New Dawn, by John Jackson Miller
: This is the origin story for Star Wars Rebels, how the two leaders of our little Rebel cell meet. Not well-regarded, though I thought it was all right. Read only if you are interested in Rebels. Lost Stars, by Claudia Gray
: OH MY DOG, THIS IS SO GOOD!!! This book came out with the first group of new canon books, was pitched as YA, got almost no publicity, but was *by far* the best of the books released. It starts about 10 years before ANH and ends at the Battle of Jakku. The characters are two kids growing up on a planet with the ambition to go to the Imperial Academy. They both get in, but once there, their paths diverge as one drinks the Imperial Kool-Aid and the other begins having doubts. Princess Leia makes a minor appearance, but otherwise there is really no one we know from the movies, but WOW can Claudia Gray write Star Wars. She has a terrific feel for the universe, the characters are incredibly engaging, and the insight into how people develop their worldviews is awesome. If you came to me and said, “I am only going to read one new canon novel ever,” I would thrust this one into your hands.Battlefront: Twilight Company, by Alexander Freed
: This book surprised the heck out of me. Starting in the pre-ANH timeframe and continuing through to the ongoing struggle after the Battle of Yavin, it’s a book based loosely on the videogame, and I wasn’t excited about reading it. But I borrowed the audiobook from the library and was really surprised at how engaging I found the characters. Again, none of our main characters plays much of a role in it, but a good story in the universe. And worth reading for the straight-up terrifying badassery of Vader as seen by ground troups fleeing during the battle on Hoth.Thrawn, by Timothy Zahn
: TIMOTHY ZAHN IS WRITING A NEW THRAWN BOOK! Why? Oh, did I forget to mention that Season Three of Rebels features Thrawn?! Yes, it does, and he’s dead-on Thrawn. They haven’t used him as much as I’d like yet, but he’s there and he’s great, and when they announced it at Star Wars Celebration in London I screamed, then I called Erin and she screamed. The book is coming out in April. Heir to the Jedi, by Kevin Hearne
: This is the book with Luke Skywalker on the cover with Justin Beiber hair. It’s set right after the Battle of Yavin. It’s terrible. Luke is sent off on some lame mission to fetch some supplies—a mission he is clearly unqualified for and a bad use of a budding Jedi—tries to learn the Force, eats some noodles, meets a girl, gets her killed. Y’all know what a Luke fan I am, and this book is dreadful.The Weapon of a Jedi: A Luke Skywalker Adventure, by Jason Fry
: This, on the other hand, is pretty good. One of a trio of YA novels about our fearless heroes, it paints a much more interesting picture of Luke trying to learn about the Force post-ANH. Best one of this YA trio, quick read.Moving Target: A Princess Leia Adventure, by Cecil Castellucci & Jason Fry
: Second of that trio. Forgettable. Leia does some stuff. Even reading the summary at Wookiepedia I can barely remember it.Smuggler's Run: A Han Solo & Chewbacca Adventure, by Greg Rucka
: Third of the trio. A tale of Han and Chewie having whacky adventures. Also forgettable. Aftermath, by Chuck Wendig
: Chuck got a lot of hate for this book, but I didn’t think it was that bad. Again, our main characters barely appear and we are chasing around with a boy who grows up to be Snap Wexley. His mother is a Rebel pilot, and he’s been left to shift for himself. His reprogramed battle droid, Mr. Bones, serves as his protection. The second Death Star has been destroyed, and this is about struggling to make a post-Imperial galaxy happen. Not a bad read.Aftermath: Life Debt. By Chuck Wendig
: More of the Wexley kid’s adventures with a snarky ex-Imperial. I didn’t hate this book, but neither of them really grabbed me.Aftermath: Empire's End, by Chuck Wendig
: not out yet; finishes the trilogyBloodline, by Claudia Gray
: This is the story of the politics that led to the First Order and to Leia starting the Resistance. It is very much Leia’s story, set about 7 years before The Force Awakens. Ben Solo is already off training with Luke, Han is off on his own adventures, and Leia is left to struggle with an increasingly corrupt government. Again, Claudia Gray has a terrific handle on telling Star Wars stories, and she writes Leia very well. This is a good one, if you are interested in the politics behind TFA.Before the Awakening, by Greg Rucka
: Like the YA trio of stories of our old heroes, this is a trio of stories about our new ones, though each one short enough that it is one book. Definitely worth it to read Finn’s story—it provides a great insight into his character. Rey’s story is decent. Finn’s is much more just a “I’m fighting the First Order” story, and didn’t give me that much.
And that’s it for now. I’d also recommend the collected Darth Vader comic books, as that series has ended and it’s mostly very good.
Hope this helps!