"I am Darth Vader, he repeated as he ground the dragon's corpse to dust beneath his mental heel, as he watched the dragon's dust and ashes scatter before the blast from his furnace heart, and you—You are nothing at all." — Matthew Stover, Revenge of the Sith
No other character in the Star Wars universe even comes close to being as thoroughly developed and beloved as Darth Vader. He’s the baddest, boldest, darkest, most mysterious villain in the history of pop culture. From blasting through the doors of the Tantive IV, to Force-choking Captain Antilles, to (sort-of) striking down old Ben Kenobi, to expertly eliminating numerous Rebels while piloting his Tie Advanced through the trenches of the Death Star, Darth Vader established himself as a force to be reckoned with. From there, Vader’s character continued to be developed throughout the Original Trilogy: taking out anyone who fails to meet his expectations—even his officers, cunningly trapping our heroes in Cloud City, totally dominating Luke through sheer brutality and flinging objects through the Force, to unveiling his ultimate plan to finally overthrow the Emperor with his son at his side. In Return of the Jedi, Vader’s redemption is the most powerful redemption analogy in all fiction—even if the face under the mask wasn’t quite what we were expecting.
The Prequel Trilogy marked not only a massive turning point in Star Wars storytelling, but in Vader/Anakin’s mythology as well. George Lucas started talking about the saga as the story of Anakin Skywalker in an overarching operatic way. We met a charming and gifted little boy, showing flashes of Vader in his expertise behind the wheel of the podracer and starfighter, and his fixation on family as he experiences the tremendous loss in being ripped from his mother in order to train as a Jedi. Attack of the Clones advanced Anakin’s story by a decade, placing him at the end of his training under Ob-Wan. He’s headstrong, quick-tempered, and desperate for love. He is rendered useless when faced with the power of a Sith Lord. He takes tragic steps down a dark path as he loses his mother and takes the lives of the tribe of Tusken Raiders. He crosses yet another line of the Jedi as he marries Padmé on her homeward of Naboo.
Revenge of the Sith is Vader’s origin story in a more focused sense. He is a true hero of the galaxy, having been tried and tested in the Clone Wars. But in his attempt to find love after losing his mother, Anakin has fallen under the influence of a Sith Lord. In relying on Palpatine as his father figure, the tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise is the tease he needed to tempt Anakin to the Dark Side as he desperately desires to save Padmé from meeting a similar fate as his mother. As Anakin aided Palpatine against Mace Windu and subsequently stormed the Jedi Temple (RIP younglings), and took violent action against both his wife and Master on Mustafar, Vader was born in a womb of fire, rage, betrayal, and deception.
Not to mention the indisputably best all-time Vader scene, where he ravaged the Rebels in pursuit of the Death Star plans at the end of Rogue One!
In the Expanded Universe, the Dark Lord has received dedicated attention across Canon and Legends, prose and comics. Darth Vader is to Star Wars what Wolverine is to the X-Men universe; he’s everywhere all the time, having virtually every corner of his chronology fleshed out. Just when you think we couldn’t get any more Vader, yet another mind-blowing book is published. The remarkable thing is that the vast majority of Darth Vader stories are remarkably well-written. If you’ve come to love Vader through the films, you’re in for a treat in the EU.
This guide is specifically for the Vader side of Skywalker; for more on the Jedi, Anakin, we’ve got a guide in the works for him too! With Vader, you can’t go wrong with any of these recommendations. A good starting point would be either Revenge of the Sith’s novelization (one of our foundational five EU books!) for an in-depth perspective on Anakin’s fall to the Dark Side. Legendary comics creator Charles Soule recently wrapped up his masterpiece series, Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith, which begins shortly after ROTS and wrestles with everything from Vader’s lingering desire to rescue Padmé from death to his complicated feelings for Palpatine to his quest to defeat the last of the Jedi and construct his iconic Sith lightsaber. Lords of the Sith was one of the first books under the umbrella of the new canon, and serves as an outstanding Vader/Palpatine team-up story as they look to squash the threat of the Ryloth rebellion. While it doesn’t explicitly feature Darth Vader himself, Bloodline is included because it explores the story Leia discovering the truth about her father’s true identity.
But we can’t leave out Legends! James Luceno’s Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader told the story of Vader getting acclimated to the armor and to his new Sith persona, seeking to prove himself in the new Empire as he tracks down a band of renegade Jedi survivors. This theme of taking out remaining Jedi pervades this era, as is seen in the Purge comics and in The Force Unleashed.
This barely scratches the dark surface of the galaxy’s greatest cyborg, and will without a doubt be doubled before we know it. Love him or hate him—perhaps both—Vader is irresistible for his potential in storytelling. When you’ve read a few of these, you’ll never underestimate the power of the Dark Side again.
Our team is hard at work building out this collection. Stay tuned!
Books in this Collection
Vader: Dark Visions (Trade Paperback)
Age Of Rebellion: Darth Vader
Tales from the Empire
Culled from the pages of the Star Wars Adventure Journal, one of the most popular Star Wars magazines in the field today, comes this exciting new short-story collection. Here are stories from such award-winning and New York Times bestselling authors as Timothy Zahn, Michael A. Stackpole, and Kathy Tyers as well as exciting newcomers, including Erin Endom, Laurie Burns, and Patricia A. Jackson. From the desperate flight of a civilian mail courier carrying vital Rebel intelligence through an Imperial blockade, to a suicidal commando raid on an impregnable Imperial prison, to a Corellian smuggler mysteriously hired by an actor turned Jedi Knight turned Imperial assassin for one final transformation, these tales capture all the high adventure, imaginative genius, and nonstop action that are the hallmarks of the Star Wars saga.
Legends Epic Collection: The Empire Vol. 1
Vader Down: (Trade Paperback)
Two of the biggest titles in comics collide in the first crossover of the new Marvel age of Star Wars! When Darth Vader accidentally finds himself facing off against the Rebel Fleet on his own, he is sent crashing onto a nearby planet. Will the Rebels seize this opportunity to put an end to one of their greatest enemies – or will they be made to feel the full power of the Dark Side? The Sith Lord may be down, he isn't out! All your favorites are here, old and new, good and evil: Luke! Vader! Leia! Aphra! Han! Threepio, Artoo, Triple-Zero and BT-1! And, in a hair-raising battle of the Wookiees, Chewbacca versus Black Krrsantan! Roooarrgh ur roo!
COLLECTING: STAR WARS: VADER DOWN 1, STAR WARS 13–14, STAR WARS: DARTH VADER 13–15
Purge (Graphic Novel)
Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith Vol. 1 (Trade Paperback)
From acclaimed writer Charles Soule comes a brand-new, exhilarating series exploring Darth Vader's early history. Picking up directly where Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith ends, follow Vader as he receives his legendary red lightsaber and witness Vader's rise to power as a Dark Lord of the Sith!
Darth Vader and the Ninth Assassin (Hardcover)
A ninth assassin—more deadly than the eight who came before—has been hired to murder Darth Vader. Elsewhere, another threat to the Empire has made itself known, and will take Vader on a hunt for an ancient evil… All the while, the ninth assassin lurks, waiting for the perfect moment to strike! Collects the five-issue miniseries.
Darth Vader and the Ghost Prison (Hardcover)
A traitorous uprising against the fledgling Galactic Empire leaves Emperor Palpatine close to death. Saving the Emperor—and the Empire—appears to be a lost cause... unless Vader can uncover the secrets of the Jedi Council and locate the mysterious "Ghost Prison." Collects the five-issue miniseries.
Darth Vader (2015) Vol. 1: Vader (Trade Paperback)
The original Dark Lord of the Sith stars in his first ongoing series! Ever since Darth Vader's first on-screen appearance, he has become one of pop-culture's most popular villains. Now, follow Vader straight from the ending of A NEW HOPE (and the pages of the new STAR WARS comic book) into his own solo adventures – showing the Empire's war with the Rebel Alliance from the other side! But when a Dark Lord needs help, who can he turn to? As Vader pursues a very personal vengeance against the Rebels and investigates the Emperor's secret machinations, he clashes with weapons scavenger Aphra and deadly Battle Droids, and returns to Geonosis to build an army. But some very powerful people don't want him to learn the truths he seeks! Guest-starring Jabba the Hutt, Boba Fett and more! Collecting DARTH VADER #1–6.
Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader
Throughout the galaxy, it was believed that Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker–the Chosen One–had died on Coruscant during the siege of the Jedi Temple. And, to some extent, that was true. Anakin was dead.
From the site of Anakin Skywalker’s last stand–on the molten surface of the planet Mustafar, where he sought to destroy his friend and former master, Obi-Wan Kenobi–a fearsome specter in black has risen. Once the most powerful Knight ever known to the Jedi Order, he is now a disciple of the dark side, a lord of the dreaded Sith, and the avenging right hand of the galaxy’s ruthless new Emperor. Seduced, deranged, and destroyed by the machinations of the Dark Lord Sidious, Anakin Skywalker is dead . . . and Darth Vader lives.
Word of the events that created him–the Jedi Council’s failed mutiny against Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, the self-crowned Emperor’s retaliatory command to exterminate the Jedi Order, and Anakin’s massacre of his comrades and Masters in the Jedi Temple–has yet to reach all quarters. On the Outer Rim world of Murkhana, Jedi Masters Roan Shryne and Bol Chatak and Padawan Olee Starstone are leading a charge on a Separatist stronghold, unaware that the tide, red with Jedi blood, has turned suddenly against them.
When the three narrowly elude execution–and become the desperate prey in a hunt across space–it’s neither clone soldiers, nor the newly deployed stormtroopers, nor even the wrath of the power-hungry Emperor himself they must fear most. The deadliest threat rests in the hideously swift and lethal crimson lightsaber of Darth Vader–behind whose brooding mask lies a shattered heart, a poisoned soul, and a cunning, twisted mind hell-bent on vengeance.
For the handful of scattered Jedi, survival is imperative if the light side of the Force is to be protected and the galaxy somehow, someday reclaimed. Yet more important still is the well-being of the twin infants, Leia and Luke Skywalker, the children of Anakin and his doomed bride, Padmé Amidala. Separated after Padmé’s death, they must be made safe at all costs, lest the hope they represent for the future be turned to horror by the new Sith regime–and the unspeakable power of the dark side.
After the fall of the Empire, the Senate is split into the Populist and Centrist parties. Both profess the goal of restoring the Republic, though they are unable to set aside their opposing views. Tired of the pointless bickering within the Senate, Leia takes on one final mission before retiring. However, the mission proves to be bigger than she originally thought, inducing chaos and unveiling corruption.
Leave it to Claudia Gray to make politics exciting with action and drama! Bloodline is also an excellent gateway into the sequel trilogy, making this an essential read for fans interested in that era.
WITNESS THE BIRTH OF THE RESISTANCE
When the Rebellion defeated the Empire in the skies above Endor, Leia Organa believed it was the beginning to a lasting peace. But after decades of vicious infighting and partisan gridlock in the New Republic Senate, that hope seems like a distant memory.
Now a respected senator, Leia must grapple with the dangers that threaten to cripple the fledgling democracy—from both within and without. Underworld kingpins, treacherous politicians, and Imperial loyalists are sowing chaos in the galaxy. Desperate to take action, senators are calling for the election of a First Senator. It is their hope that this influential post will bring strong leadership to a divided galaxy.
As the daughter of Darth Vader, Leia faces with distrust the prospect of any one person holding such a powerful position—even when supporters suggest Leia herself for the job. But a new enemy may make this path Leia’s only option. For at the edges of the galaxy, a mysterious threat is growing. . . .
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
Every Star Wars movie has an accompanying novelization, but none so impressive as Revenge of the Sith. While it expertly tells the story of the film, it also manages to add to it in unexpected ways. Not only is it the best novelization, it’s a fantastic work of fiction in and of itself.
Matthew Stover outdoes himself in this novelization by painting Obi Wan, Anakin, and the rest of the Jedi as glorified super heroes in the eyes of the common man in the Star Wars universe. Somehow, this raises the stakes of one of the most intense episodes of the saga and makes Anakin’s ultimate fate even more impactful.
The turning point for the entire Star Wars saga is at hand
After years of civil war, the Separatists have battered the already faltering Republic nearly to the point of collapse. On Coruscant, the Senate watches anxiously as Supreme Chancellor Palpatine aggressively strips away more and more constitutional liberties in the name of safeguarding the Republic. Yoda, Mace Windu, and their fellow Masters grapple with the Chancellor’ s disturbing move to assume control of the Jedi Council. And Anakin Skywalker, the prophesied Chosen One, destined to bring balance to the Force, is increasingly consumed by his fear that his secret love, Senator Padmé Amidala, will die.
As the combat escalates across the galaxy, the stage is set for an explosive endgame: Obi-Wan undertakes a perilous mission to destroy the dreaded Separatist military leader General Grievous. Palpatine, eager to secure even greater control, subtly influences public opinion to turn against the Jedi. And a conflicted Anakin–tormented by unspeakable visions– edges dangerously closer to the brink of a galaxy-shaping decision. It remains only for Darth Sidious, whose shadow looms ever larger, to strike the final staggering blow against the Republic . . . and to ordain a fearsome new Sith Lord: Darth Vader.
The Force Unleashed
What if Vader had taken on a forbidden apprentice with whom he planned to overthrow the Emperor’s reign? The Force Unleashed answers this question by following the story of the nameless apprentice as he carries out several missions at Vader’s bidding. However, as he explores the galaxy and builds new relationships with those other than his merciless master, the apprentice begins to question his own role in the fate of the galaxy.
In The Force Awakens, Sean Williams composes a brand new story perfectly wedged into a well-known time period complete with a full cast of refreshing new characters. As a stand-alone or a part of the larger saga, this story is a fun read for any fan.
The overthrow of the Republic is complete. Absolute power now rests in the iron fist of Darth Sidious–the cunning Sith Lord better known as Emperor Palpatine. But more remains to be done. Pockets of resistance in the galaxy must still be defeated and missing Jedi accounted for . . . and dealt with. These crucial tasks fall to the Emperor’s ruthless enforcer, Darth Vader, who in turn has groomed a lethal, nameless Sith apprentice to secretly dispatch the last of his masters’ enemies. This acolyte’s journey will take him across the far reaches of the galaxy and test him with shattering revelations that strike at the very heart of all he believes, stirring within him long-forgotten hopes of reclaiming his name . . . and changing his destiny.
Compared with other villainous characters in the Star Wars universe, very little is known about Grand Moff Tarkin. Yet he remains one of the most hated Imperials of all time. He’s the one who gave the command that left Alderaan in ruins. He is unsympathetic and menacing. A man of true evil.
Leave it to James Luceno to craft a Wilhuff Tarkin origin story audiences never knew they needed. Five years after the birth of the Empire, we meet a man who has yet to rise through the ranks to become the tyrant we know he will become. Tarkin’s refusal to let anyone or anything stand in his path will get him exactly where he wants to go … but not without cost.
He’s the scion of an honorable and revered family. A dedicated soldier and distinguished legislator. Loyal proponent of the Republic and trusted ally of the Jedi Order. Groomed by the ruthless politician and Sith Lord who would be Emperor, Governor Wilhuff Tarkin rises through the Imperial ranks, enforcing his authority ever more mercilessly . . . and zealously pursuing his destiny as the architect of absolute dominion.
Rule through the fear of force rather than force itself, he advises his Emperor. Under Tarkin’s guidance, an ultimate weapon of unparalleled destruction moves ever closer to becoming a terrifying reality. When the so-called Death Star is completed, Tarkin is confident that the galaxy’s lingering pockets of Separatist rebellion will be brought to heel—by intimidation . . . or annihilation.
Until then, however, insurgency remains a genuine threat. Escalating guerrilla attacks by resistance forces and newfound evidence of a growing Separatist conspiracy are an immediate danger the Empire must meet with swift and brutal action. And to bring down a band of elusive freedom fighters, the Emperor turns to his most formidable agents: Darth Vader, the fearsome new Sith enforcer as remorseless as he is mysterious; and Tarkin—whose tactical cunning and cold-blooded efficiency will pave the way for the Empire’s supremacy . . . and its enemies’ extinction.
Throughout all Star Wars stories, you’d be hard-pressed to find two villains held in higher regard than Darth Vader and Grand Admiral Thrawn. Though they operate entirely differently, both are incredibly effective tools of the Emperor. When they’re sent to the planet Batuu on the same mission, they must find a way to work together. However, sparks fly as memories of a mission long past involving a younger Thrawn and Anakin Skywalker resurface…
Timothy Zahn weaves together the prequel era with the rebellion era in this novel that manages to pull together some of the biggest names that Star Wars has to offer. While attempting to balance the prowess of Vader with the intellect of Thrawn, it manages to offer a glimpse in the characters’ futures as well as their pasts.
"I have sensed a disturbance in the Force."
Ominous words under any circumstances, but all the more so when uttered by Emperor Palpatine. On Batuu, at the edges of the Unknown Regions, a threat to the Empire is taking root—its existence little more than a glimmer, its consequences as yet unknowable. But it is troubling enough to the Imperial leader to warrant investigation by his most powerful agents: ruthless enforcer Lord Darth Vader and brilliant strategist Grand Admiral Thrawn. Fierce rivals for the emperor's favor, and outspoken adversaries on Imperial affairs—including the Death Star project—the formidable pair seem unlikely partners for such a crucial mission. But the Emperor knows it's not the first time Vader and Thrawn have joined forces. And there's more behind his royal command than either man suspects.
In what seems like a lifetime ago, General Anakin Skywalker of the Galactic Republic, and Commander Mitth'raw'nuruodo, officer of the Chiss Ascendancy, crossed paths for the first time. One on a desperate personal quest, the other with motives unknown…and undisclosed. But facing a gauntlet of dangers on a far-flung world, they forged an uneasy alliance—neither remotely aware of what their futures held in store.
Now, thrust together once more, they find themselves bound again for the planet where they once fought side by side. There they will be doubly challenged—by a test of their allegiance to the Empire…and an enemy that threatens even their combined might.
Lords of the Sith
The most iconic Sith duo is that of Darth Sidious and Darth Vader. When it comes to the films, the immense power of their strengths combined remains to be seen. Lords of the Sith offers the display of unrivaled power that we deserve, and Paul S. Kemp delivers those brutal moments in vivid detail.
The magnitude of chaos and destruction unleashed by the Sith Lords is emphasized alongside the sheer terror and hopelessness of the rebels attempting to fight against them. Their despair is even more apparent through the eyes of Cham Syndulla, Hera Syndulla’s father and rebel leader of Ryloth, showing that even the most courageous minds are no match for the dark side.
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. . . .
When the Emperor and his notorious apprentice, Darth Vader, find themselves stranded in the middle of insurgent action on an inhospitable planet, they must rely on each other, the Force, and their own ruthlessness to prevail.
“It appears things are as you suspected, Lord Vader. We are indeed hunted.”
Anakin Skywalker, Jedi Knight, is just a memory. Darth Vader, newly anointed Sith Lord, is ascendant. The Emperor’s chosen apprentice has swiftly proven his loyalty to the dark side. Still, the history of the Sith Order is one of duplicity, betrayal, and acolytes violently usurping their Masters—and the truest measure of Vader’s allegiance has yet to be taken. Until now.
On Ryloth, a planet crucial to the growing Empire as a source of slave labor and the narcotic known as “spice,” an aggressive resistance movement has arisen, led by Cham Syndulla, an idealistic freedom fighter, and Isval, a vengeful former slave. But Emperor Palpatine means to control the embattled world and its precious resources—by political power or firepower—and he will be neither intimidated nor denied. Accompanied by his merciless disciple, Darth Vader, he sets out on a rare personal mission to ensure his will is done.
For Syndulla and Isval, it’s the opportunity to strike at the very heart of the ruthless dictatorship sweeping the galaxy. And for the Emperor and Darth Vader, Ryloth becomes more than just a matter of putting down an insurrection: When an ambush sends them crashing to the planet’s surface, where inhospitable terrain and an army of resistance fighters await them, they will find their relationship tested as never before. With only their lightsabers, the dark side of the Force, and each other to depend on, the two Sith must decide if the brutal bond they share will make them victorious allies or lethal adversaries.