The Star Wars Universe can be overwhelming to the casual fan. There are so many avenues that you can take between the movies, TV series, books, and comics. If you are like me you have no idea where to start or what story would be of interest. To make things a little easier I put together a list of books for the casual Star Wars fan. All of these books add to the casual fans Star Wars education. Each book adds just enough of the story to not be too overwhelming and gives you just enough insight into an event or character to help make the overall story more understandable.
#5: Phasma by Delilah S. Dawson
This novel takes a deep dive into Captain Phasma, a character that looks cool and is not explained very much in the movies. The story is two-fold it introduces Vi Moradi as a character to the Star Wars universe and we get the back story of Captain Phasma. The story opens with the capture of Vi Moradi by the First Order Battlecruiser Absolution. Vi is tortured by Captain Cardinal. Cardinal wants to find information about Phasma and take her down.
Vi begins telling the story of Phasms’s life on the planet Parnassos 12 years earlier. Vi explains that Phasma grew up as part of a hunter-gatherer clan called the Scyre. We learn that Phasma’s environment is full of hazards that most people would not be able to endure. The planet’s resources are nearly depleted and the people have to take drastic measures in order to survive. Vi goes on to tell how Phasma meets Brendol Hux, a high ranking officer in the First Order. Hux promises Phasma and her warriors that if they help him find his lost ship that they can leave with him and join the First Order. The book flips back in forth between the present where Vi is on the Absolution and the past as Vi tells the story of Phasma.
Phasma is a great novel to introduce the casual fan to Captain Phasma and Vi Moradi. Vi Moradi is a central character at Galaxy’s Edge at both Disneyland and Disney World. This novel is also a great lead-in to my next top book choice Galaxy’s Edge: Black Spire. This novel helps explain some of the backstories in the Galaxy’s Edge book. I enjoy reading about Imperial and First Order characters because I am able to see that what is sometimes perceived as pure evil isn’t always that way.
Approximately 34 years after the Battle of Yavin. The Battle of Yavin was the battle highlighted in Episode IV: A New Hope when the first Death Star is destroyed by the Luke Skywalker and the Rebel Alliance.
#4: Galaxy’s Edge: Black Spire by Delilah S. Dawson
This novel introduces us to the planet Batuu and a place called Black Spire Outpost. The book is the second one that explores the rebel spy character Vi Moradi. After the devastating loss of the Hosnian system at the hand of the First Order Vi is sent on a mission by General Leia Organa to set up a Resistance base and recruit new members in Black Spire Outpost. Leia Organa teams her up with an unlikely partner, Archex aka Captain Cardinal. Cardinal previously captured and tortured her for information about Captain Phasma in the book Phasma.
Vi and Archex travel to Batuu and crash land. After the crash both of them are knocked unconscious. Once they get their bearings, they notice that most of their supplies and equipment have been stolen. Vi ventures into Black Spire Outpost to see if she can figure out what happened. Vi has run-ins with many of the residents. Some you may have heard of if you have been to Galaxy’s Edge.
The book dives deep into Black Spire Outpost and it’s residents. If you are planning a trip to Galaxy’s Edge this is a great way to make your trip more immersive. If you have been there before this book makes the land come to life in a different way. All the places Vi explores can be visited and experienced at Galaxy’s Edge.
Approximately 34 years after the Battle of Yavin, after the events of Episode VIII: The Last Jedi.
#3: Bloodline by Claudia Gray
This novel gives the reader an in-depth look into how the Galactic Senate operates. Leia, much like her mother Padme, wants everything to be fair and just. It was very clear to see where Leia gets her work ethic and her empathy for others. The Senate is at a crossroads and has to decide whether or not to elect a chancellor-like position called the First Senator. Most of the Senators are nervous to do this because of what happened with Palpatine. Leia has hidden the secret of her biological father, Darth Vader from everyone except the obvious Han and Luke. This book exposes that secret in a big way and Leia pays the price for it.
Bloodline is one of my very favorite books. It dives deep into the character of Leia Organa and redefines her. My only exposure to Leia as a casual fan was the original trilogy. In the original trilogy Leia comes off like a sassy independent woman with quick comebacks, but that’s not how she is at all. She is truly a good person looking out for the best interest of everyone. Her senate reputation is glowing. As a casual fan, you don’t get that from just the original trilogy. She makes appearances in other movies but I don’t think you really get her character as a whole without adding in books. Bloodline is a great place to start. The book sets up the sequel trilogy well.
20 years after Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.
#2: Aftermath by Chuck Wendig
Aftermath begins to tells the story of what happens after the second Death Star is destroyed. This book helps kick-off one of the most popular trilogies in Star Wars canon. The Empire is left in shambles after the Death Star explodes in the Battle of Endor. The Emperor is dead, Darth Vader is out of the picture, and the Rebel Alliance celebrates their second huge triumph over the evil Empire.
Aftermath focuses on a pulled-together group of rebels led by Norra Wexley, a Rebel pilot fresh off the Battle of Endor. It also introduces Norra’s son Temmin, better known as Snap. Snap would later become a key figure in Poe Dameron’s Black Squadron. The plot mainly focuses on Norra’s team rescuing a captured Wedge Antilles and trying to stop a meeting of key Imperial figures, Grand Admiral Rae Sloane included, but also includes vignettes on what other major characters are doing post-Endor and how the Empire is attempting to recover from the loss of Palpatine.
After Episode VI: Return of the Jedi and Episode VII: The Force Awakens.
#1: Thrawn by Timothy Zahn
Grand Admiral Thrawn is one of the most popular characters in Star Wars canon. If you are not sure who he is, he is the blue-skinned alien with red eyes that all of your BIG Star Wars fan friends can’t shut up about. Thrawn is the first book of a popular trilogy. This book introduces Thrawn, who is one of the animated TV series Star Wars Rebels‘ most intriguing villains. The novel explores how Thrawn was discovered and his speedy rise to power in the Imperial Navy.
This book begins with Thrawn being rescued from a long exile by Imperial soldiers. From the beginning, his tactical military mind is hard at work and this does not go unnoticed by Emperor Palpatine. He shows his trusted subordinate Ensign Eli Vanto the art of combat and leadership. Thrawn proves time and time again that he is the sharpest Imperial military officer. He also has a run-in or two with Governor Arihinda Pryce. He may be a brilliant military mind but he is not good at reading Galactic politics. Thrawn must stop an insurgent uprising and tend to his own carefully laid out plans of ascension.
Thrawn is a complex character with many sides. He is loyal to the Empire but he’s not ruthless. Every decision Thrawn makes is calculated and thought out. One of the reasons I enjoyed this book so much was the fact that throughout the story as the reader I got an insight into Thrawn’s thinking. Whenever he meets or talks to someone he observes every little thing about them. He will make note of their vocal tone if they are sweating, a hint of a smile, or a nervous twitch. He is also able to learn a lot about his opponent by viewing their personal artwork. As a casual fan, you will get an inside look at the Imperial Navy and how the officers and heavy hitters operate.
Thrawn’s first meeting with the Empire until Season 3 of Rebels. All after Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and before Episode IV: A New Hope.