Mefi-Wan Kenobi, you're my only hope
December 9, 2010 6:08 PM   Subscribe

Help a recovering Star Wars addict with his relapse. That is, update me on what's worth reading the Expanded Universe.

I seriously considered posting this as Anon, given how nerdy -- even among Internet people -- it makes me seem.

As an introverted nerd pre-teen and early teenager, I was way into Star Wars novels. I'm not sure if time has made them seem better than they were, but dang if I didn't love everything I could get my hands on. Evidence: I even had the technical manuals for the SW universe's vehicles, weapons, and droids.

I recently chanced upon a spoiler-filled Wikipedia page for a major character (spoilers, duh), and thought, Hey, I'd like to find out the story behind those events. They sound even darker and more interesting than I remember. But I have 10+ years of novel releases between my last foray and present day, and I have very little time to read, so I'd like to pare it down to just the quality stuff, if there's any to be had.

This is where I need your help.

Here's what I've read, in fictional-chronological order, taken from this list:
  • Shadows of the Empire
  • Truce at Bakura
  • The X-wing Series (Yes, all 9. They're still on my shelf at my parents' house.)
  • Courtship of Princess Leia
  • Thrawn Trilogy
  • I, Jedi
  • Jedi Academy Trilogy
  • Callista Trilogy
  • Crystal Star
  • Hand of Thrawn
Probably some others too, but these are the titles that jump out at me.

I never read any of the comics/graphic novels. Not really a fan of the format. I think I might have picked up one of the young adult novels at some point by mistake... and never finished it.

So, fellow SW nerds-- what else should I read to catch up on the story, published either since I stopped paying attention, or something I missed? Are there specific authors to watch out for?

And yes, "Nothing from the expanded universe is worth reading." is a valid answer, as long as you're speaking from experience. In that case, feel free to tell me the least-bad installments.
posted by supercres to Media & Arts (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Hi there,

I'd really recommend starting with the New Jedi Order series. Even though its pushing you a bit further forward, its truly the best writing in the EU since the Jedi Academy Trilogy or say, I, Jedi.

They are the best!!!!!
posted by Draccy at 7:04 PM on December 9, 2010

Seconding Draccy on the New Jedi order series. It is written by several authors so the styles change between book which, imho is usually a refreshing change of pace.

I also liked the Han Solo Trilogy, (The Paradise Snare, The Hutt Gambit and Rebel Dawn) but that just might be because I have a huge fangirl crush on Han Solo.
posted by HMSSM at 7:29 PM on December 9, 2010

My period of major Star Wars nerditude concluded a few years into the NJO series, and I definitely enjoyed the ones I read. Just a note, that series had some kind of an odd heirarchical structure where some of the books were "major" novels designed to catch you up on the intervening books, in case you're not up for a 19-book series :)
posted by heyforfour at 7:38 PM on December 9, 2010

Ha, I'm actually in the middle of re-reading all the books. They're fantastic to read in bed when you're super tired and need something easy!

I'm a really big fan of the Han Solo Trilogy...three books about the time before Han Solo became HAN SOLO. Also, the Han Solo Adventures are pretty fun too. On preview, I pretty much agree with HMSSM on the crush on Han--he's so suave.

I just started Planet of Twilight and so far, I'm digging it. It's funny how I don't remember any of the books from reading them the first time around.

Have fun!
posted by Zoyashka at 7:38 PM on December 9, 2010

Best answer: You listed about 1/3 of my Star Wars book collection, those are all I read from middle school until half way into high school.

Here is my top list out of what you have not read:

The Han Solo Trilogy (defiantly a good read)
Outbound Flight
Callista Trilogy
* Children of the Jedi
* Darksaber
* Planet of Twilight
The Black Fleet Crisis Trilogy
* Before the Storm
* Shield of Lies
* Tyrant's Test
The New Rebellion
* The New Rebellion
The Corellian Trilogy
* Ambush at Corellia
* Assault at Selonia
* Showdown at Centerpoint
The Hand of Thrawn Duology (another must)
* Specter of the Past
* Vision of the Future
posted by token-ring at 6:14 AM on December 10, 2010

Also I stopped checking back on your list half way through mine, so I did list some ones you have read,
posted by token-ring at 6:16 AM on December 10, 2010

I know it's a comic format but Dark Empire is a must-read in my opinion.

And yes, you can probably guess what my favorite series was.
posted by Jorus at 9:00 AM on December 10, 2010

Best answer: A topic near and dear to my heart. You've already hit a lot of the high points, I think. The question I would toss back to narrow things down is: what's your feeling on the prequels? A lot of recent publishing has been prequel centric, so if you include those the number of potential books increases substantially. If you don't, then what comes to mind is...

Rogue Planet: it's prequel-related, but it ties into events in the NJO.
Outbound Flight: mostly backstory to the Thrawn novels, which you'll either like ("oh ho more detail") or hate ("why are they sucking all the mystery out of the series.")
The Han Solo Trilogy: All Han Solo, all the time. Not to be confused with...
The Han Solo Adventures: ...which were published in 1979, pre-Empire. So in setting, tone, and characterization is has very little in common with anything else, and is referenced by few other books. Entertaining, though!
Death Star: a stand-alone. Not terrible but not great.
Allegiance: some nice backstory on Mara Jade.
Shadows of the Empire
The Bounty Hunter Wars: A lot of Boba Fett, and a lot of Dark Sun. If you enjoyed Shadows, then try this.
Truce at Bakura
The X-wing Series
Courtship of Princess Leia

Tatooine Ghost: Avoid unless you also want to read the Dark Nest Trilogy.
Thrawn Trilogy
I, Jedi
Jedi Academy Trilogy
Callista Trilogy
Crystal Star

The Black Fleet Crisis Trilogy: darker and more militaristic than many. It also directly conflicts with the prequels recounting of events, which you may take as a plus or a minus. Largely stand-alone.
The New Rebellion: dark but good. Largely stand-alone.
The Corellian Trilogy: Oh MY yes. Good, and frequently referenced by later books -- read this before reading the NJO.
Hand of Thrawn
Survivor's Quest: following on from the earlier Thrawn novels.
The New Jedi Order: Lengthy! And written by multiple authors. Good on a book-by-book basis but doesn't quite hang together as a perfectly cohesive whole -- giant plot points are brought up by one author and dropped entirely by the next, characters are introduced and set up to do great things...and then never appear again. It meanders quite a bit, which is perhaps realistic but hardly gripping. I'm nitpicking, though, because on the whole? Worth reading. And moreover, the lack of continuity between books is no worse than anywhere else in the EU. It's just more glaring here because the NJO was billed as all being part of the same story -- when in fact it's really more of a setting in which different authors can tell their own tales.

I wish I could say that of...
The Dark Nest Trilogy: please, please skip this.
Legacy Of The Force: Others may disagree, but I think this manages to capture all of the worst parts of the NJO and avoids all its charm.

I can't speak to anything past this because I stopped reading thereabouts.
posted by cjelli at 9:09 AM on December 10, 2010

Best answer: It sounds like you missed all the "Tales" books -- "Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina", "Tales from Jabba's Palace" and the "Bounty Hunters Tales" (can't remember if that's the actual title..). They're all great reads, and give you a lot of back story to the characters that you hardly see in the movies...
posted by Glendale at 9:41 AM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh and they're probably perfect if you don't have a lot of time to read.. Each tale is something like 40-60 pages!
posted by Glendale at 9:42 AM on December 10, 2010

Oh, the "Tales" books! Those are great. There are actually two more -- "Tales of the New Republic" and "Tales of the Empire" -- that give back story to EU characters instead of to the movies.
posted by cjelli at 10:38 AM on December 10, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone. You've given me a lot to put on my wish list. Hopefully I can find some used book sellers on Amazon or Ebay willing to combine shipping.

Plan: fill in the gaps, things like the Callista and Black Fleet trilogies (honestly, at this point, I can't remember what I've read), or maybe hit the backstory novels first, then go through the NJO series.

Or maybe I'll just reread everything. The more I think about it, and how many gaps I have in memory from Jedi Academy (the first EU thing I read, I think), the more I think that's the way to go. And oh boy is that a daunting task. We shall see.

posted by supercres at 11:31 AM on December 10, 2010

If you read nothing else, I think Vector Prime is a must, perhaps followed by the Chewbacca comic mini-series.

I mean, that's kind of necessary.
posted by CarlRossi at 8:29 PM on December 11, 2010

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