9 Star Wars books to read while you wait for Rogue One

9 Star Wars books to read while you wait for Rogue One

This post was originally published on Barnes & Noble's Sci-fi and Fantasy Blog in 2016: it's been lightly updated, most notably with a pair of additional books.

The teaser for the next film in the Star Wars universe is here. Rogue One takes us back to just before start of the original trilogy to tell the story of how the Death Star plans ended up in Princess Leia’s hands in A New Hope.

We hoped, a year ago, the movie would be based in some part on the Expanded Universe’s X-Wing novels. That doesn’t seem to be what we’re in for, but it does look like the movie will give us plenty of action.

Famously, Star Wars novels have avoided certain sections of the chronology: Lucasfilm wanted to keep a lid on a few things—the Clone Wars (until the release of the prequels, anyway) and the period right before A New Hope—in case they wanted to do something with that time period. While many EU novels now exist outside of the larger canon, they’re still excellent reads. Here are a couple that will be fitting distractions as you wait for Rogue One.

Death Star by Michael Reaves and Steve Perry

The original story of the Death Star. Taking place in the aftermath of the Clone Wars (we saw a brief glimpse of plans for the battle station in Attack of the Clones), a rebellion has begun to form against Emperor Palpatine’s Galactic Empire. The novel covers the final construction of the Death Star, and follows the lives of a wide range of characters, from Governor Tarkin to Darth Vader, as it is tested for the first time. This is a fun adventure that looks to be completely obliterated by the new film.

Two interviews with Michael Reaves
Two archival interviews about his Star Wars novels Battle Surgeons and Jedi Healer

The Han Solo Trilogy: Rebel Dawn by A.C. Crispin

The third installment of Crispin’s Han Solo trilogy caps off the original look at the early life of Han Solo, detailing his early years as a smuggler. When the woman he loves, Bria, joins the growing Rebellion, Han (a former Imperial pilot himself) is pulled into the mix with a mission to Ylesia, only to betray her and take his earnings from the mission to fund the rebels, then going off to recover some vital plans for Princess Leia. Crispin puts together a really intriguing story about Han’s life, and how he came to be at the Mos Eisley Spaceport with nothing but his co-pilot and ship, while also showing the young Rebellion’s nascent struggles against the Empire.

Allegiance by Timothy Zahn

Following the destruction of the Death Star, the Rebellion has a bit more life, but the Empire is still a potent threat. As Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia come to terms with the fight ahead of them, an Imperial Stormtrooper’s faith in his mission, shaken by the destruction of Alderaan, and he and his squad flee from their superiors. This is an interesting episode in the early days of the Rebellion, outlining the lives of not only the principle characters, but giving us another glimpse of fan favorite, Mara Jade.

Razor’s Edge by Martha Wells

In the aftermath of the Battle of Yavin, times are tough for the Rebellion: the Empire has redoubled its efforts to wipe them out. When Princess Leia and Han Solo head up a delegation to get badly-needed supplies, they’re captured by pirates who will surely turn the princess over to the Empire…if they find out who she is. Just what you always wanted: a fast-paced adventure with Princess Leia front and center.

Martha Wells Interview: Writing Murderbot
Martha Wells on her blockbuster series Murderbot: finding common ground with anxiety-driven killer robots, television, and second chances.

Honor Among Thieves by James S.A. Corey

James S.A. Corey might be most famous for The Expanse novels, but when the pseudonymous co-authors had the opportunity to write a Star Wars novel, how could they say no? This book picks up shortly after A New Hope and follows Han Solo’s efforts to extract a rebel spy from Imperial hands, only to discover that the extraction is more complicated when the spy wants to remain behind enemy lines to protect vital secrets. This first installment in a pseries of entry-level Star Wars novels brought the EU back to its roots.

Waking the Leviathan
The story of how James S.A. Corey’s The Expanse went from game concept to book series to blockbuster TV show

Battlefront: Twilight Company by Alexander Freed

When the Star Wars canon reset, one of the first new books was Alexander Freed’s Twilight Company, a tie-in to the Battlefront video game. It follows the movements of the soldiers of the 61st Mobile Infantry’s Twilight Company as they cope with a losing battle against the Empire…until the tide begins to turn. It puts the “wars” back in Star Wars.

X-Wing: Rogue Squadron, by Michael A. Stackpole

This list wouldn’t be complete without the original book about the front lines fight against Empire. Michael A. Stackpole’s Rogue Squadron books (Wedge's Gamble, The Krytos Trap, The Bacta War, and Isard's Revenge) and later, Aaron Allston’s followups (Wraith Squadron, Iron Fist, Solo Command, Starfighters of Adumar, and Mercy Kill) followed a band of crack X-Wing pilots as the New Republic fought tooth and nail to kick the Empire off the galactic capital of Coruscant and keep them on the run. While the movie won’t follow their exploits, this is a book that you should absolutely read.

Since Rogue One is already out by the time I've republished this, let's tack on two other essential books to check out:

Catalyst by James Luceno

This prequel novel sets the stage for Rogue One by looking at the backstory behind the Death Star project and Orson Krennic's efforts to keep its construction going forward as planned. An old friend, Galen Erso, might hold the key to developing the super weapon, and when Krennic saves Erso and his family from Separatists, he has the scientist under his control.

Star Wars author James Luceno on setting the stage for Rogue One
‘That’s no moon’

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story by Alexander Freed

The official novelization for Rogue One, which builds a bit on the story that ended up on the screen, with some additional bits and pieces that expand upon the story. It's a good companion to the film.

What EU novels do you keep going back to?