By Ashly Moore Sheldon • February 26, 2023
When the first Star Wars movie came out in 1977, it would have been hard to predict how massive the franchise would become. Now, with eleven feature films and upwards of a dozen TV series (several coming out this year), George Lucas's groundbreaking sci-fi space opera has become a rich and complex universe.
And we haven't even mentioned the books! There is a robust body of literature bolstering the various Star Wars storylines. If you're just dipping your toe into this macrocosm of content, it may seem overwhelming, even off-putting. That's why we've put together this list of some of the best Star Wars books and how they fit into the timeline of the movies and the series.
You may be surprised to learn that the first Star Wars novel actually preceded the movie. Star Wars: From The Adventures of Luke Skywalker came out in 1976, several months before the release of the film. It was ghostwritten by Alan Dean Foster, but credited to George Lucas. Foster also wrote the first spinoff novel, Splinters of the Mind's Eye, continuing the adventures of Luke and Leia as they faced off against Darth Vader. Over the next several decades, many authors followed suit, writing books that expanded on the films and elaborated the backgrounds of the characters.
When Disney acquired Lucasfilm in 2012, the company divided the previously written books into what they call the Legends series, and initiated a new era of publishing branded the Canon series. We are including favorites from both of these categories.
If you have ever wanted to watch the Star Wars films and shows in chronological order, here they are. We've also listed our top bestselling Star Wars books in the bullet points so you know where they fit into the entire Star Wars timeline.
Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi try to protect Queen Padmé Amidala of Naboo in the midst of an interplanetary trade dispute. Joined by young Anakin Skywalker, they must also contend with the return of the Sith.
Set ten years after The Phantom Menace, the newly-formed Confederacy, led by former Jedi Master Count Dooku has been growing in strength. This builds up to The Clone Wars, an animated film featuring key characters like Anakin and his apprentice Ahsoka Tano, as well as Obi-Wan Kenobi and Master Yoda as they battle the forces of evil.
Three years after the onset of the Clone Wars, the Jedi are spread across the galaxy in a full-scale war against the Separatists. Anakin Skywalker, now married to Padmé Amidala, turns to the dark side.
Explores the early adventures of Han Solo and Chewbacca, who join a heist within the criminal underworld ten years prior to the events of A New Hope.
Ten years after The Revenge of the Sith, Obi-Wan Kenobi sets out to rescue the kidnapped Princess Leia, leading to a confrontation with his former apprentice, Darth Vader.
The series follows thief-turned-Rebel spy Cassian Andor during the five years leading up to the events of Rogue One and A New Hope.
Set just before A New Hope, the plot follows a group of rebels who band together to steal plans of the Death Star, the ultimate weapon of the Galactic Empire.
Luke Skywalker joins forces with a Jedi Knight, a cocky pilot, a Wookiee and two droids to save the galaxy from the Empire's world-destroying battle station and rescue Princess Leia from Darth Vader.
The Rebels scatter after the Empire attacks their base on the ice planet Hoth. Han Solo and Princess Leia are pursued by Imperials, while Luke trains with Jedi Master Yoda. Luke battles Darth Vader and learns the shocking truth of his parentage.
The Empire prepares to crush the Rebellion with a more powerful Death Star. The Rebel fleet counters with a massive attack on the space station. Luke Skywalker confronts Darth Vader in a final climactic duel.
Beginning five years after The Return of the Jedi, the title character is a lone bounty hunter who goes on the run to protect the Force-sensitive child Grogu.
Boba Fett is another bounty hunter who appears in The Mandalorian. In this series, he establishes himself as the new crime lord of Jabba the Hutt's former territory.
This series will chronicle Ahsoka's experiences as she travels across the galaxy in search of Thrawn.
Thirty years after Return of the Jedi, Rey, Finn, Poe Dameron, and Han Solo join forces with General Leia Organa to search for Luke Skywalker and fight in the Resistance against Kylo Ren and the First Order.
Rey seeks the aid of Luke Skywalker, in hopes of turning the tide for the Resistance in the fight against Kylo Ren and the First Order. While General Leia Organa, Finn, and Poe Dameron attempt to escape a First Order attack.
Rey, Finn, and Poe Dameron lead the Resistance's final stand against Supreme Leader Kylo Ren and the First Order, who are aided by the return of the Galactic Emperor, Palpatine.
Wowza! This is truly just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Star Wars literature. In any case, we've enjoyed this journey through Star Wars history and now we're busy rewatching and rereading all our favorites from this vast universe. Hopefully you are similarly inspired for your own intergalactic mission. And may the force be with you!