So let's talk about old Star Wars Books we have read


#1

I’m catching up on the Pod and there’s a mention of the old Star Wars EU and I wanna talk about my memories of those books. I was looking at the Wikipedia and folks, there’s a lot of them! There are, like, way more than I knew about. Anyway here’s some thoughts on some that I remember

(this list is apparently in chronological order based on the setting)

The Truce At Bakura by Kathy Tyers
This is the one with the, like, torture-slave aliens that the Empire teams up with the Rebellion against to fight or something. I’m pretty sure that it’s set literally days after Return of the Jedi. I never quite believed that these aliens were sufficiently dangerous - they seem to be threatening just one place? Anyway, it was pretty hardcore stuff for Young Me and frankly for the EU in general, I think.

X-Wing Series
The Mike Stackpole ones were not very good but I liked them because I was like 14 and played a lot of X-Wing/Tie Fighter and was like “wow the hero of the book is doing the same thing I can do but in a Video Game!” Then Aaron Allston came around and converted it into the Wraith Squadron books and in the process introduced the novelty of having actual characters and they were much more fun. Did you know that the last Wraith Squadrion book came out in 2012? I did not know that. I should see if I can find it.

The Courtship Of Princess Leia by Dave Wolverton
I remember almost nothing about this except that Han had to go on a Hero’s Journey to marry Leia. That memory is probably false.

The Thrawn Trilogy by Timothy Zahn
the more-or-less recognized “good ones.” I think that these were more or less the first books in the EU that were authorized to take the storyline forward in time and develop a future history. Zahn did a good job overall - I re-read these a couple of years ago and they were pretty decent and of course introduced stuff that other people would use badly later on

The whole thing with the clone pods and the clone emperor guy seems pretty silly in retrospect. There ended up being a regrettable amount of cloning in the EU. Still, it gave us Thrawn, a actually halfway decent attempt at characterizing the regular mooks of the Empire, and Mara Jade.

As a personal note these books came out early enough that I actually took the hardback of the first one to summer camp with me when I was like in fifth grade? something like that? I taped a picture of my family to the inside because I got homesick and it turns out that that just made me more homesick. owned again!

The Jedi Academy Series by Kevin J Anderson
God these were garbage. garbage garbage garbage. which makes it all the more surprising that some of the core story beats (Luke tries to set up a jedi academy, a student goes rogue and becomes a galaxy-threatening menace) ended up becoming part of the main arc for the actual sequel trilogy. This is the one where Han ends up threatened by crystalline Space Spiders on Kessel.

These books were published fairly early and Kevin J Anderson was definitely the worst offender of the “oh no somebody has a Deathstar But X” plot structure that got reused a lot, as I recall. This time it was a crystal-shaped thing that blew up suns, except there was also a Prototype Deathstar too, in case you didn’t have enough Empire Superweapons.

This one also had Admiral Daala in it, who was like the Emperor’s girlfriend or something, maybe?. She was also really incompetent and I don’t think she ever accomplishes a single thing besides twirling an invisible mustache and getting her own people killed.

Darksaber by Kevin J Anderson
apparently this one is the middle of a trilogy? anyway, in this one the Hutts build the Darksaber which is “a deathstar, but just the gun part.” I remember a lot of discussion of batteries, because it involved a lot of droids. In the end I think the darksaber blows up because lol, hutts are incompetent.

The Black Fleet Crisis by Michael P. Kube-McDowell
This one is like a war series. Every single thing about reading these books tells me that it was a standalone piece of mil-sf that Kube-McDowell reworked into star wars books. I have no idea if that’s actually true, but it dang sure reads like it. The Republic isn’t fighting the Empire for once, and he introduced like eighteen new different kinds of ships. I remember that the enemy were real jerks and it seems like you were actually supposed to hate the main antagonist. I remember getting mad at him, which is actually fairly impressive by the standards of the Star Wars EU.


#2

Kinda surprised you didn’t like Stackpole’s work on the X-wing series. I think they punch in at about the same tier as Zahn’s work.


#3

I remember them being really bland.


#4

My first Star Wars book…was from before I could read. Apparently I was obsessed with The Wookie Storybook and insisted it be read to me until my parents fuckin hated it. Why do I remember this? Because they love reminding me.

It would be weird enough even if it wasn’t based on the Star Wars holiday special, but it is. Summarized, Chewbacca’s son is obsessed with berries, he sneaks off to find some, gets lost and is maybe almost eaten by swamp worms (not sure about that part). Han Solo rescues him in a shuttlecraft and everyone has cake.


#5

I read that entire YA Star Wars series about Han and Leia’s kids doing Jedi training and then the darker sequels and I do not regret it.

Aliens that were outside the force that invade was really cool I thought. No idea if those books hold up.


#6

They hit on all cylinders for me, but part of that is because I always loved the starfighters and fleet action side of Star Wars, moreso than the Jedi and Force bits. The first book, Rogue Squadron, was a bit weaker than the other Stackpole books, but 2-4 are quite well done IMO.


#7

I’m doing a read through of (pretty much) all the Star Wars novels and comics in the Legends continuity for a project, and I’m interested in re-visting the novels after having read the earlier Dark Horse X-Wing comics, to see if they play differently.


#8

Star Wars: Plagueis by James Luceno

So, this is basically a political thriller that follows Darth Plagues, aka Hego Damask the Muun banker magister and his Machiavellian schemes to destroy the galactic republic, which includes orchestrating the murder of the Naboonese governor, the manipulation of an election, and of course the corruption of the young boy Palpatine to bring him to the dark side.

Out of the Luceno books I’ve read, this is my favorite and the audiobook is brilliantly performed by Daniel Davis. It features enough action to keep it interesting without becoming cacophonous and spends a lot of time depicting just how corrupt and broken the galactic republic had become, and the way Plagueis maneuvers his way through that environment while constantly being the smartest guy in the room is very well executed.

I also read Karpyshyn’s Darth Bane trilogy, but they are mostly interesting because Bane is such ridiculously badass character.


#9

Having now gone through the wikipedia at greater length and refreshed my memory, I think I may have been slightly unfair to Stackpole. The 2-4 books (about the liberation of Coruscant and stuff) I have more fond memories of - the buried Super Star Destroyer is such an insane plot point that I have to respect it.

is that the really big series with like 25 books? new jedi order or whatever?


#10

I read some of the Galaxy of Fear series.

Pretty good space horror stuff that constantly had weak endings because these kids and their shapeshifting alien uncle keep running into Luke and the gang and hop aboard the falcon to escape whatever horror the book is focused on.

And then it started building lore and I am glad I did not continue after that point.


#11

You know what was really messed up about galaxy of fear?

Those kids often escaped in the falcon, yes, but it often meant leaving a planet of people to some horrible fate. That stuck with me as a kid.


#12

So I’ve read most of the classics up to the New Jedi Order series, but one of the newer ones that really sticks out to me is Darth Plagueis. It’s pretty choppy at times, but adds a ton of good lore and information to the prequel trilogy. I would even go so far as to say it makes the Phantom Menace watchable.

It also is good because it doesn’t have to be on a separate timeline or whatever. It still holds up with the new movies!


#13

I think one planet in an early book was alive and just ate everyone on it.


#14

That’s one that sprang to mind immediately. It probably wouldn’t be that frightening to read now, but back then yeah.

iirc, it started out as them investigating missing persons and then the planet consuming them was the twist?

Edit: the planet was literally called D’vouran lmao


#15

Then later in the series Boba Fett goes in the fear cafe on Yoda’s planet and the brother and sister find out they’re force users and it hints that they’ll be jedi and sith and man am I so glad I peaced out there.


#16

I guess I’m going to have to be the one to say it.

I really like the Yuuzhan Vong series. The EU was in kind of a rut. The stories were either all the same, or so out-there that they didn’t fit. The Vong present a new problem: how to deal with an enemy with no Force presence. I also liked the creative (at least I thought so at the time) use of living creatures instead of machinery. I remember the status table in the war room was this creature that tracked the various ships in the fleet and reflected that in its appearance. It reminded me of the sentient ocean in Solaris, if it had evolved alongside other species.

I’m also a fan of a lot of the prequel novels, especially the two MedStar books with Barriss Offee. I appreciated that in Clone Wars canon she was one of the very few that recognized the Jedi had lost their way.

I’m ok with the new Chuck Wendig series of novels, but they haven’t clicked with me the way old EU stuff did.


#17

Some of the old anthologies were pretty good - I remember Tales from the Empire and Tales of the Bounty Hunters having some really interesting stories. And the Thrawn trilogy is fun just for the way Zahn does his twists and turns, characters predicting and outsmarting each other.

There was also a Death Star novel about a bunch of original characters who were on the station from construction to Yavin 4, and how their stories intersect with the first movie. Reaves and Perry did good work there, you really grow to care about people who aren’t “important” to the overall galaxy, it’s just small personal stories.

Post-Disney, though? My absolute favorite has got to be Lost Stars by Claudia Gray. I don’t know if it’s just that my standards were low or what, but it just blew me away


#18

Yeah New Jedi Order with the Yuuzhan Vong aliens. I read a lot of those and it gets really dark, but also really good. The 3 Solo kids are really interesting types of Jedi, with one being the straight-up Nu Anakin, the other being a pilot and running her own jedi x-wing squadron, and the 3rd being the mopey, philosophical older brother who asks and learns more about the Force then even Luke does. His whole learning of the non-jedi, non-sith part of the force was surely taken for the new movies and Rebels.


#19

So I had to look it up to remember and it’s a case of yes/no. The New Jedi Order series is about the Yuuzhan Vong invasion BUT because of how the expanded universe timeline worked the characters spanned way more than just those books.

Which people have more than meticulously documented
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Anyway, New Jedi Order was really interesting because of it throwing a wrench into pretty much all the ideas about the force and how it worked.

And all of this reminded me of the really great Thrawns Revenge: Imperial Civil War mod for Empire at War. So if you are looking for a high quality expanded universe RTS I highly recommend it!