I love my sci-fi books, but have never read any of the Star Wars novels. Having looked around there seem to be countless different plots, characters, alternative universes... so I have never picked one up!

My question is, what is a good series of Star Wars stories to start on for someone who has only seen the films, but is interested in reading more about the Star Wars universe?

Sorry I realize this is of course subjective, but I imagine an answer would point me in the direction of a few particular books or series that were most in-line with the main Star Wars plot (i.e. the films), and were considered generally good stories unto themselves.

I am particularly interested in the 'Knights of the Old Republic', having heard some friends ranting about the game. Is it necessary to play the game? Or is it based on a book (or series of books)?

  • Related (but not a duplicate): scifi.stackexchange.com/q/15586/3804
    – AncientSwordRage
    Commented Jun 22, 2012 at 8:58
  • I'm not sure if we can answer your question without being subjective. If you could narrow down whether you say want to read events that follow directly on form the films, or want to learn about the history of the universe perhaps we could give a more definitive answer.
    – AncientSwordRage
    Commented Jun 22, 2012 at 8:59
  • Sorry I realize it is of course subjective, but I imagined that an answer would point me in the direction of a few particular books or series that were most in-line with the main Star Wars plot (i.e. the films), and were considered generally good stories unto themselves. Thanks for the link above too.
    – Luke
    Commented Jun 22, 2012 at 14:40
  • 3
    @Dason This is accepted as a reading order question, which are on topic. There's definitely some overlap between the two categories of questions when it comes to long-running series/universes like Star Wars.
    – user1027
    Commented Jun 22, 2012 at 16:44
  • 2
    “I love my sci-fi books, but have never read any of the Star Wars novels.” I think you mean “therefore” instead of “but”! Commented May 16, 2015 at 16:42

3 Answers 3


Depends on where your interests lie. You could start with the most popular early series to be written - the Thrawn Trilogy, starting with Heir to the Empire. This and subsequent books tell the rise of the new Republic. You could start with the earliest books chronologically - the Old Republic series (TOR: Fatal Alliance, TOR: Revan, TOR: Decieved). Or you could start with more recent series. The three "newest" (in terms of longest time periods after RotJ) are: The New Jedi Order series, Legacy of the Force, and Fate of the Jedi.

Alternatively, if you want to focus on the years around films, there are numerous books that fill the gaps or take place during the time period of the films. There are hundreds of books, and you can choose where you want to start by looking at this list.

As far as games go, some are Canon, but most have their canon references contained in books as well. So IMO it is not necessary to play the games to understand the storylines.

Edit: With the new revision due to the purchase by Disney, another option is to read the new canon books that begin with A New Dawn. In my opinion, however, many of the older novels are better and still owe reading. However, if you are only interested in the new canon, this is the way to go.

  • Thanks for the answer - I'll have a bit of a google about them!
    – Luke
    Commented Jun 22, 2012 at 14:41
  • Technically the first non-film novel written was Splinter of the Mind's Eye, not Heir to the Empire. And if you're counting comics, then the Marvel Star Wars comics were first. Commented Jun 22, 2012 at 17:40
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    I know, I said Heir to the Empire was the first series, not book. Also, Heir to the Empire was vastly more popular than SotME
    – The Fallen
    Commented Jun 22, 2012 at 17:42
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    @SSumner In that case, the first book series was The Han Solo Adventures trilogy published in 1979. I won't dispute the popularity of the Thrawn trilogy. I think that is a fine introduction to the EU and much more relevant to the current state of the EU. Commented Jun 22, 2012 at 17:45
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    Ah, my bad. I had forgotten that was earlier. Yes, I always recommend HttE as the first EU work to read. Zahn is by far my favorite EU author
    – The Fallen
    Commented Jun 22, 2012 at 17:48

Wookieepedia has a nice timeline of canon media and a timeline of Legends media. These timelines contain all media (not just novels), so you can filter out everything except the novels (or video games, or comics, or whatever else you're interested in).

Since the older "Expanded Universe" books were all recently moved into Legends continuity, there isn't much out right now that is canon. You can read the film novelizations for deeper understanding of the films themselves, though of course this might be a bit boring since you've seen the films. The only other canon book I've read is Tarkin -- I would recommend it as good background material on the structure of the early Empire since it occurs between Episode III and Episode IV (I've quoted it quite a few times here on SFF.SE), but I found it to be a bit tedious and not the most exciting. If you're interested in learning more about the Empire, I would suggest reading it but don't start with it.

Moving to the Legends continuity, I would recommend sticking close to the events of the films at first. To that end I would recommend starting with the following books, all of which develop more of the backstory behind what happens in the films:

Darth Plagueis in particular is a great resource for better understanding the Sith in general, and Palpatine's rise to power.

There are some classic, older Legends novels that you might want to check out. A fan favorite is The Thrawn Trilogy and, if you like Thrawn, you might be interested in Outbound Flight. Other older classics include Shadows of the Empire and the X-Wing series (you might find the latter particularly interesting if you are into starfighter battles).

Other notable recommendations are the Republic Commando and Imperial Commando series. This is one of my favorite series, although be warned that it diverges from canon significantly (spoiler alert: the explanation of the divergence can be found here, if you're interested).

Finally, the Darth Bane trilogy is a great series from much earlier in the Star Wars timeline. This series explains much of Sith philosophy, and provides the backstory for the "Rule of Two" mentioned in the films.

Since you seem interested in video games, I would recommend the following:


Here are some great books that do not require any prior knowledge of star wars beyond the movies:

  • Kenobi by John Jackson Miller
  • Dark Lord Rise of Darth Vader by James Luceno
  • Scoundrels by Timothy Zahn
  • Han Solo Adventures by Brian Daley
  • Medstar 1 & 2 by Micheal Reaves
  • Shadows of the Empire by Steve Perry
  • Republic commando series by Karen Traviss
  • Darth Plagueis by James Luceno

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