The Star Wars books span the entire timeline, from the distant years of the High Republic Era to the sequel trilogy. There's a sense in which Star Wars has been a transmedia franchise from the outset. The first tie-in novel, Alan Dean Foster's Splinter of the Mind's Eye, was published in 1978 - before the release of The Empire Strikes Back. It wasn't until the 1990s that Star Wars really became a literary phenomenon, however, with an ever-growing range of New York Times-bestselling novels.SCREENRANT VIDEO OF THE DAY
The question of canonicity has always been a problematic one for Star Wars. Under George Lucas, the franchise was known for taking a tiered approach to canon; Lucas' own films and shows were "G-Level" (God-level, or George-level), with everything else orbiting around them. This became rather problematic when Lucas returned to make the prequel trilogy, because he didn't consider himself restricted by anything established in the so-called "Expanded Universe." Although Lucas did adopt some ideas from the books, such as the galactic capital planet of Coruscant, he also contradicted great swathes of other content. This was either branded "Infinities" or else explained away through clever retcons.
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Disney acquired Lucasfilm in 2012, and made the decision to erase the old Expanded Universe from canon, dubbing it "Legends." It hasn't taken long for the timeline to build up again, though, particularly given Lucasfilm Publishing's latest initiatives - a transmedia project called Star Wars: The High Republic. Here's the complete timeline of canon Star Wars novels, from the distant days of the High Republic Era to the time of the sequel trilogy. Thist does not include novelizations or adaptations, unless they are extended editions containing a wealth of additional content.
Star Wars Books From The High Republic Era
Set centuries before the prequel trilogy, the High Republic Era was a time when the light of the Jedi shone brightly across the galaxy, and the Republic - bold and confident - expanded into the Outer Rim. Unfortunately, this expansion was opposed by terrifying forces, including creatures tied to the ancient Sith. Star Wars: The High Republic Phase 1 was set 200 years before the events of Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace, while Phase II - following the pattern of Lucas and the prequels - will jump back a further 150 years. Here's the timeline of books released to date, with major "event" novels highlighted:
- Light of the Jedi by Charles Soule - the first book in the Star Wars: The High Republic transmedia initiative, which establishes the themes and ideas of Phase I as well as introducing most of the major characters. It stars Jedi Marshal Avar Kriss.
- A Test of Courage by Justina Ireland - set concurrently with Light of the Jedi, this is the first in a series of books focusing on Jedi Vernestra Rwoh and her Padawan, Imri.
- Into the Dark by Claudia Gray - set concurrently with Light of the Jedi, this features the awakening of a terrifying threat associated with the ancient Sith.
- The Rising Storm by Cavan Scott - in which the conflict on the Outer Rim continues to escalate.
- Race to Crashpoint Tower by Daniel Jose Older - set concurrently with The Rising Storm, this features a Padawan who will play a key role in Star Wars: The High Republic.
- Out of the Shadows by Justina Ireland - continuing the adventures of Vernestra Rwoh, in which the Jedi discover a weapon that can exploit a lightsaber weakness.
- Tempest Runner by Cavan Scott - an audiobook centered on a key member of the space pirates known as the Nihil.
- Mission to Disaster by Justina Ireland - the final book in the trilogy centered upon Vernestra Rwoh and her Padawan.
- The Fallen Star by Claudia Gray - in which the Nihil attacks on the Republic reach their climax.
- Midnight Horizon by Daniel Jose Older - set on Han Solo's homeworld of Corellia, this explores the true scale of the Nihil threat.
Related: Star Wars Reveals The Jedi's Greatest Defeat Before The Prequels
Star Wars Books From The High Republic To The Prequel Era
The Jedi Order was at its peak in the High Republic Era, and declined over the next two centuries. A handful of books are set in the run-up to Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace, focusing on Count Dooku's fall to the dark side and the relationship between Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi.
- Dooku: Jedi Lost by Cavan Scott - the full story of Count Dooku, which has since been built upon in other mediums.
- Padawan by Kiersten White - focused on Obi-Wan Kenobi, this story is set soon after he began his apprenticeship to Qui-Gon Jinn, and it's fascinating to see how similar Obi-Wan was to his own future apprentice.
- Master & Apprentice by Claudia Gray - the account of one of Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan's missions, with important details on the prophecy of the Chosen One. This reveals why Qui-Gon was expecting to see the Chosen One in his lifetime.
Star Wars Books From The Prequel Trilogy Era
The Disney era of Star Wars has worked to fix the prequel trilogy, with tie-ins adding much greater depth to the characters and answering many of the franchise's mysteries. E.K. Johnston's books have focused on Padmé and her handmaidens, while other novels have explored the Clone Wars - and even told stories that were never brought to life on the small screen, after Disney unwisely canceled Star Wars: The Clone Wars (only to later produce season 7 after all). Here's a guide to the Star Wars original novels set during the prequel era.
- Queen's Peril by E.K. Johnston - in chronological terms, this is the first book exploring the story of Padmé Amidala and her life on Naboo. It serves as a direct prequel to Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace, before overlapping with it and retelling several events and showing her response to the Trade Federation's defeat.
- Queen's Shadow by E.K. Johnston - set four years after the events of Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace, this tells how Padmé became a senator in the Republic and reveals she attempted to free Anakin Skywalker's mother from slavery on Tatooine.
- Queen's Hope by E.K. Johnston - the third book centered on Padmé Amidala, this explores her life at the beginning of the Clone Wars.
- Brotherhood by Mike Chen - set shortly after the beginning of the Clone Wars, Brotherhood is focused on the relationship between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker. The precise placement is uncertain, because it could easily be concurrent with Queen's Hope.
- Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel by James Luceno - one of the most difficult books to place on the Star Wars timeline, this runs from the tail-end of the Clone Wars into the Dark Times of the Empire's reign. The transmedia initiative surrounding Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was one of the most effective in the Disney era to date.
- Dark Disciple by Christie Golden - a novel adaptation of an unmade episode from Star Wars: The Clone Wars, starring Asajj Ventress and Quinlan Vos.
Related: Star Wars: The Clone Wars’ Correct Viewing Order
The Thrawn Ascendancy Trilogy
Written by Timothy Zahn, the Thrawn Ascendancy trilogy tells the backstory of Thrawn - the only alien to ascend to the rank of Imperial Grand Admiral. These are technically concurrent with the tail-end of the Clone Wars and the early Dark Times, but are best read separately because they're set in the Unknown Regions. There's some overlap with a flashback sequence in Thrawn: Alliances, also by Zahn. The books are:
- Thrawn Ascendancy: Chaos Rising
- Thrawn Ascendancy: Greater Good
- Thrawn Ascendancy: Lesser Evil
Star Wars Books From The Dark Times
An increasing number of Star Wars tie-in media are set during the Dark Times of the Empire's reign. This period is now being explored on the small screen in Disney+ TV shows, but the novels blazed the trail. Some of the best books explore the politics at the highest level of the Empire, while others discuss the early Rebel Alliance.
- The Adventures in Wild Space series by Cavan Scott and Tom Huddleston are original junior novels following the adventures of two characters whose parents have been kidnapped by the Empire.
- Ahsoka by E.K. Johnston - picking up from the final days of the Clone Wars, Ahsoka is unique in that it is now only partly canon. Its account of the Siege of Mandalore is contradicted by Star Wars: The Clone Wars season 7. The book then moves on to discuss how Ahsoka became part of the Rebel Alliance ahead of Star Wars Rebels.
- Thrawn by Timothy Zahn - the exact placement of Thrawn is unknown, but it picks up straight after the events of the Thrawn Alliances trilogy. It tells the story of how Thrawn became involved with the Empire, including adaptations of material from Legends.
- Lords of the Sith by Paul S. Kemp - one of the earliest books in the Star Wars Disney era, this focuses on the relationship between Palpatine and Darth Vader, his new apprentice.
- Tarkin by James Luceno - written by one of the masters of Star Wars continuity, Tarkin focuses in on the Grand Moff who would take charge of the Death Star project. It's a crucial part of the story of the first Death Star.
- Most Wanted by Rae Carson - published shortly before the release of Solo: A Star Wars Story, this focuses on the relationship between the young Han Solo and Qi'ra.
- Lando's Luck by Justina Ireland - an adventure of Lando Calrissian and his droid, L3-37.
- Solo: A Star Wars Story extended edition by Mur Lafferty - a significant expansion of Solo: A Star Wars Story, featuring a wealth of additional content.
- Rebel Rising by Beth Revis - another key part of the transmedia initiative surrounding Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, this book tells the backstory of Jyn Erso.
- A New Dawn - the first novel integrating input from the Lucasfilm Story Group after the Disney acquisition, A New Dawn focuses on the early relationship between Kanan Jarrus and Hera Syndulla from Star Wars Rebels.
- The Servants of the Empire series of novels, by Jason Fry, follow the character of Zare Leonis before and during his appearances in Star Wars Rebels.
- Leia, Princess of Alderaan by Claudia Gray - a beautiful tribute to Carrie Fisher's Princess Leia, revealing how she became involved with the Rebel Alliance.
- Thrawn: Alliances by Timothy Zahn - a team-up between Darth Vader and Grand Admiral Thrawn, also featuring a flashback to the Clone Wars.
- Thrawn: Treason by Timothy Zahn - a sequel to Thrawn: Alliances, this serves as direct setup to the final season of Star Wars Rebels.
- The Mighty Chewbacca in the Forest of Fear! by Tom Angleberger - a junior novel focusing on one of Chewbacca's adventures.
- Guardians of the Whills by Greg Rucka - focused on the Guardians of the Whills, this book offers a unique look at the galaxy's Force cults.
- Rogue One: A Star Wars Story by Alexander Freed - the first novelization to dramatically expand on one of the films, this features a wealth of additional content and even reveals how Galen Erso sabotaged the Death Star.
Related: How Star Wars Keeps Breaking Its Own Canon (& Why)
Star Wars Books From The Original Trilogy Era
There have actually been surprisingly few Star Wars novels set during the original trilogy era, which has mostly been reserved for the comics. Still, the ones that have been released to date include some of the most popular of the range so far.
- Lost Stars by Claudia Gray - starting shortly before the original trilogy, this book focuses on two ordinary characters caught up in the events of the Galactic Civil War. It offers a unique window into the Star Wars story.
- Battlefront: Twilight Company by Alexander Freed - another unusual novel, this is told from the perspective of grunts in the Rebel Alliance. The events of the original trilogy serve as a backdrop, with unforgettable scenes around The Empire Strikes Back.
- Battlefront II: Inferno Squad by Christie Golden - in the aftermath of the first Death Star's destruction, the Empire sends a group called Inferno Squad to destroy the survivors of Saw Gerrera's Partisans.
- Smuggler's Run by Greg Rucka - released ahead of Solo: A Star Wars Story, Smuggler's Run tells an adventure of Han Solo and Chewbacca on a mission for the Rebellion.
- Heir to the Jedi by Kevin Hearne - a key story exploring Luke Skywalker's early attempts to train as a Jedi.
- The Weapon of a Jedi by Jason Fry - set before The Empire Strikes Back, this book continues Luke Skywalker's growth in the Force.
- Moving Target: A Princess Leia Adventure by Cecil Castellucci and Jason Fry - although the prologue of this book is set in the sequel trilogy era, the main body tells the story of Leia's adventures between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.
Star Wars Books Set After Return Of The Jedi
J.J. Abrams' Star Wars: The Force Awakens introduced viewers to a very different galaxy, but Lucasfilm didn't initially have a solid plan for how the galaxy had come to that place. As a result, there are surprisingly few Star Wars novels set after Return of the Jedi. Still, with the sequels wrapped up it is now falling to other mediums to draw the narrative threads together and tie them organically to the rest of the Star Wars story. This section is likely to expand at speed.
- The Princess & the Scoundrel by Beth Revis - set immediately after Return of the Jedi, this book tells the story of Han and Leia's wedding and honeymoon.
- The Alphabet Squadron trilogy by Alexander Freed - this series of novels focuses on a group of New Republic pilots hunting down a crack team of Imperial pilots during the dying days of the Empire. It overlaps significantly (and is sometimes concurrent with) the Aftermath trilogy, making it difficult to separate these books out in the timeline. The individual novels are Alphabet Squadron, Shadow Fall, and Victory's Price.
- The Aftermath trilogy by Chuck Wendig - a trilogy exploring the end of the Galactic Civil War, setting up many ideas for the post-Return of the Jedi status quo - some of which have been capitalized upon in other mediums. The individual books are Aftermath, Aftermath: Life Debt, and Aftermath: Empire's End.
- Last Shot by Daniel Jose Older - one of few stories exploring Han Solo's adventures after Return of the Jedi.
- Poe Dameron: Free Fall by Alex Segura - the backstory of Resistance pilot Poe Dameron, it's difficult to place this exactly in the timeline.
- Shadow of the Sith by Adam Christopher - one of the most important recent releases, this tells the story of Luke Skywalker's quest for the Sith planet Exegol. It's a crucial piece of continuity, explaining how Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker fits into the franchise's overarching narrative.
- Bloodline by Claudia Gray - centered on Leia Organa, this book tells the origin story of the Resistance.
- The Legends of Luke Skywalker by Ken Liu - a collection of in-universe myths and legends discussing Luke Skywalker's post-Return of the Jedi era.
- Before the Awakening by Greg Rucka - a collection of short stories setting up Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
- Force Collector by Kevin Shinick - an entertaining story exploring the lives of Force-sensitives in the time of the Resistance.
- Phasma by Delilah S. Dawson - the backstory of the First Order's Captain Phasma.
- Cobalt Squadron by Elizabeth Wein - the Tico sisters star in this book, set before and partly concurrently with Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
- Galaxy's Edge: Black Spire - an exploration of Batuu in the Resistance era, designed to boost awareness of the Galaxy's Edge theme park.
- Spark of the Resistance by Justina Ireland - a mission performed by Rey, Finn, and Poe after the events of Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
- Star Wars: The Last Jedi by Jason Fry - a significant expansion on the movie, fleshing out a lot of character arcs and backstory.
- Pirate's Price by Lou Anders - Hondo Ohnaka recounts tales of Han Solo and Chewbacca.
- Resistance Reborn by Rebecca Roanhorse - an important book that attempts to bridge the gulf between Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
- A Crash of Fate by Zoraida Córdova - another book focused on Batuu.
- Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker by Rae Carson - another Star Wars novelization that expands massively on the movie, and is frankly essential reading.
Related: Kylo Ren's Star Wars Backstory: Everything That Happened Before The Sequels
Star Wars Anthologies
In addition, there are a number of Star Wars anthologies that are either of debatable canonicity or that tell myths and tales from across the timeline. These include:
- From A Certain Point of View - an anthology of short stories exploring the first Star Wars film, some of these stories are likely non-canon.
- From A Certain Point of View: The Empire Strikes Back - another anthology following the same pattern, but in support of The Empire Strikes Back.
- Myths & Fables and Dark Legends by George Mann - two books of in-universe Star Wars legends. Lucasfilm has specified there is a seed of truth to each of these tales.