et’s face it. Nobody has enough time to read all of the Star Wars content in existence. From the back catalog of hundreds of Legends novels, the ever-expanding collection of Canon stories, plus comics from Marvel, IDW, and Dark Horse, there’s a lot to tackle. All in the midst of responsibilities like working, cooking, cleaning, laundry, walking the dog or cat (do people walk cats?), it’s hard to find enough time to enjoy all of the stories written in a galaxy far, far away.
The sheer volume of content alone is reason enough to need multiple media for the enjoyment of Star Wars. That’s the thing about audiobooks—you can listen while you do all of the other things that take you away from what matters most.
But Star Wars audiobooks aren’t simply a convenient crutch for the time-crunched. There’s a lot that audiobook productions add to the experience! Between the sound effects of a TIE Fighter flying overhead, the iconic snap-hiss of a lightsaber, or the cacophony of a blaster brawl, the team at Penguin Random House Audio elevates the writing of the outstanding authors into a full-sensory Star Wars experience. Not to mention the addition of John Williams’s magical, award-winning music! Add in the masterful performances from some of the most talented voices in the galaxy and you’re left with some of the best Star Wars content ever produced.
Don’t be fooled, though—just because audiobooks lend themselves well to multitasking doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to binge them all in a weekend like an 8-episode Netflix series. Between Canon and Legends, adult, young adult, middle-grade, a handful of young reader adventures, even audio dramas—there’s almost as many Star Wars audiobooks as there are planets in the Star Wars galaxy.
Difference Between Canon & Legends
So what are you getting into? What type of Star Wars audiobook will you choose? Will you stick to your favorite film characters, or dive into the deep, dark corners of Star Wars storytelling? After all, some books are more sci-fi than others, some explore the romantic angle, and others are more Indiana Jones-esque.
There’s a major divide in Star Wars publishing that massively altered the outlook of the way stories were told. When Disney purchased Lucasfilm in 2012, the ramifications eventually reached the pages of our bookshelves in 2014. And it’s simple, honestly. Any Star Wars story told before April 2014 was labeled “Legends,” a separate “what-if” continuity existing separate and apart from the official continuity. After all, if JJ Abrams was going to be beholden to the decades of Star Wars storytelling that came before Episode VII, he was going to need years to cover all that content!
Labeling the older books and comics as Legends cemented the previously published stories into their own closed continuity, opening the door for more stories going forward. Nevertheless, now that half a decade has passed since that fateful day, Canon storytelling has expanded the universe in wonderful ways in its own unique direction as compared to the books of years gone by.
Both universes are full of wonderful stories. All Star Wars is good Star Wars.
Want to know about Corran Horn? You’ll need to look in Legends. Yrica Quell? Canon. Doctor Aphra? Canon. Tahiri Veila? Legends. Thrawn? Both! Need more help? We’ve got plenty of reading guides to help you along the way.
What Makes Star Wars Audiobooks Different?
While Star Wars has by no means cornered the market on audiobooks, they have certainly established a culture of excellence and a massive catalogue of incredible productions from which to choose.
Under the leadership of Nick Marterelli at Penguin Random House, working alongside some of the finest vocal talent in the galaxy, the team behind Star Wars audiobooks brings the text from the writers and editors at Del Rey and Disney Lucasfilm Press to life. While most audiobooks are nothing more than a narrator reading the text on the page, when you select a Star Wars audiobook you’re getting a near-filmic experience: creative voices for alien creatures, iconic sound effects during massive battle scenes, all underscored by John Williams’s cinematic soundtracks.
Add in the magic of imagination and in many ways the experience of listening to a Star Wars story in this format rivals the experience of watching the films themselves.
The amount of talented individuals who have lent their voices to numerous Star Wars projects is staggering. A handful of recurring narrators tend to work on multiple Star Wars projects a year, with the recent addition of many new voices as well, depending on the tone of the book and the voices of the primary characters. They have certainly become as iconic as the actors who portray the characters in the film and tv media, and rightfully so!
Perhaps most recognizable and prolific among Star Wars audiobook narrators is Marc Thompson. Among his specialties are his Yoda impersonation, Han Solo voice, an earnest and naive version of Luke Skywalker, and an unbelievable number of creative alien voices to round out the hives of scum and villainy. Thompson narrated the entire Fate of the Jedi series, the Aftermath series, and the recent Thrawn books. He’s delightful, hard working, and we even interviewed him on The Living Force!
Known for his dark side characters such as Darth Bane, Jonathan Davis is a staple of Star Wars audiobooks. Davis’s impeccable Obi-Wan Kenobi impression makes for one of the very best Star Wars audiobooks in 2011’s Kenobi by John Jackson Miller. He is often enlisted to read the books with villainous protagonists such as the Darth Bane Trilogy.
As much as we love the likes of Thompson and Davis, male narrators just don’t quite do justice by the voices of the female characters. Maarleveld has the most Star Wars books to her name out of female performers, narrating Most Wanted, Leia: Princess of Alderaan, and Alphabet Squadron.
Clone Wars star Catherine Tabor returned to the role of Padmé Amidala for E. K. Johnston’s Young Adult Padmé stories: Queen’s Shadow and Queen’s Peril. It’s an absolute delight to have her back giving voice to the character that she’s come to epitomize (alongside Natalie Portman, of course).
Ashley Eckstein, the voice of Ashoka, narrates the audiobook of, you guessed it, Ahsoka, by E. K. Johnston. Who else but Ashley could bring Ahsoka to life?
The new anthology book comprising a collection of short stories, Clone Wars: Stories of Light and Dark features Sam Witwer (Darth Maul), Matt Lanter (Anakin Skywalker), James Arnold Taylor (Obi-Wan Kenobi), Corey Burton (Cad Bane), Nike Futterman (Asajj Ventress), Olivia Hack (Katooni) alongside Tabor as Padmé. It’s truly a milestone among Star Wars audiobooks as well as a treat for Clone Wars fans.
History of Star Wars Audiobooks
Star Wars audiobooks have come a long way. As is the case with all things Star Wars, the journey from then to now isn’t exactly a straight line—after all, we’re talking about a franchise that began with its fourth chapter! This is due not only to the radical changes to the way we consume audio—from cassette tapes to CDs to MP3s—as well as the rise in the audiobook medium from being exclusively for enhanced accessibility and bored truck drivers to being a wholly valid reading medium to itself.
While the majority of Canon books exist in unabridged audio format, there are actually quite a few unabridged Legends audiobooks as well. Basically anything written in the 2010s is unabridged—the entire Fate of the Jedi series, Honor Among Thieves, Kenobi, and Darth Plagueis as a few notably excellent examples.
All of the OG Legends books, on the other hand, are severely abridged so that they could fit an entire book onto a pair of cassette tapes. We really wouldn't recommend any of the abridged Legends books at or around 3 hours in length. Around 2007 the length of the abridged Legends books was doubled as the format switched to CDs, and the quality greatly improved. These longer versions merely cut a few subplots from the story and include titles like the Force Unleashed books, Legacy of the Force, and the latter half of the New Jedi Order.
Good news—you don’t have to try to track down a cassette player or find your CD cleaning cloth. All Star Wars audiobooks are now available entirely unabridged through Audible! It’s an incredible time to be a consumer of Star Wars audiobooks with Audible.
Best Star Wars Audiobook Overall
When it comes to definitively declaring one Star Wars audiobook to stand out among the rest, it’s hard to give the honors to any other book. The massively collaborative project, retelling A New Hope from the perspective of forty different characters from the pen of more than forty different authors, the collaboration goes to the next level with the audio version. Not only does it employ the vocal talents of the best of the best like Thompson, Davis, and Maarleveld, Jon Hamm narrates the Boba Fett story, Neil Patrick Harris voices Beth Revis’s story, and author Daniel José Older reads his own story, “Born in the Storm.” It’s truly the crowning achievement of Star Wars audiobook production, soon to be followed by a highly-anticipated sequel!
For more info about From a Certain Point of View, visit our Official Book Profile where you can find additional staff comments, user reviews, and affiliate links to order the book directly and help Youtini out in the process.
Best Star Wars Canon Audiobook
Author: Timothy Zahn
Narrator: Marc Thompson
Perhaps no character is as iconic in the Star Wars Expanded Universe as is Grand Admiral Thrawn, or Mitth’raw’nuodo for short. From his breakout appearance in Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire to numerous Legends novels and short stories to the his re-canonization in Season Three of Star Wars Rebels to the Rebels tie-in informal Trilogy comprised of Thrawn, Thrawn: Alliances, and Thrawn: Treason, Timothy Zahn clearly struck gold with the creation of his original art-loving villain. While we could only imagine his cold, calculating, condescending voice for decades, Lars Mickelson expertly brought character to life in Rebels. Remarkably, Marc Thompson does a near-perfect procsimily of Mickelson’s Thrawn voice in his recent audiobooks. This is certainly the case with Thrawn: Ascendency: Chaos Rising, the first in an all-new trilogy chronicling Thrawn’s up-and-coming adventures among the Chiss military out in the far reaches of the Unknown Regions—beyond a galaxy far, far away.
Beyond Thompson’s chill-inducing Thrawn voice, Chaos Rising ranks at the top of the charts among Canon books because of the absolutely excellent blend of Star Wars sound effects, soundtrack, creative character voices, and entertainingly compelling narration.
For more info about Thrawn Ascendancy: Chaos Rising, visit our Official Book Profile where you can find additional staff comments, user reviews, and affiliate links to order the book directly and help Youtini out in the process.
Author: Claudia Gray
Narrator: Jonathan Davis
Star Wars audiobook veteran Jonathan Davis brought Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan to life in Claudia Gray’s prequel masterpiece, Master and Apprentice. Not only does it add tremendous depth to The Phantom Menace, Gray explores the web of relationships between Dooku, Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, and Rael Aveross—an original character who served as Dooku’s apprentice before Qui-Gon. Davis does a masterful job in immersing the listener in the world of Episode I as his Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan voices are nearly indistinguishable from those of Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor.
For more info about Master and Apprentice, visit our Official Book Profile where you can find additional staff comments, user reviews, and affiliate links to order the book directly and help Youtini out in the process.
Best Star Wars Canon Audiodrama
The choices of Star Wars audiobooks are nearly limitless—Legends, Canon, Old Republic, New Republic, stories of the light side, dark side, scoundrels, even horror! But when it comes to Star Wars audio dramas, the choices are more limited. They are, after all, massive productions.
With a full cast recording with a talented stable of voice actors, plus everything we know and love about traditional audiobooks with the score and sound effects, audio dramas are essentially audiobooks taken to the next level. The audio drama is a callback to a bygone era of storytelling when radio plays were more reasonable to produce and distribute to the masses than tv and film. Star Wars has a rich history with the medium as well, which is why it is so exhilarating to see the powers-that-be turn their attention to the format once again. NPR produced infamous audio drama adaptations of the Original Trilogy plus about a dozen adaptations of Legends comic story arcs (which admittedly, like long-lost Holocrons, are hard to acquire at the moment).
There are currently two Canon audio dramas and we highly recommend them both.
Author: Cavan Scott
Full cast performance
Cavan Scott, a massive fan of the medium, wrote the first Canon audio drama, Dooku: Jedi Lost. It follows Asajj Ventress in the early stages of her apprenticeship under the tutelage of the Dark Lord as she digs into Dooku’s past in order to serve him in the present. It adds tremendous depth to the most underrated and misunderstood Sith Lord as well as delivers a much-needed Asajj Ventress story at a point in her history that is largely undeveloped.
The performances really bring the story to life—especially Orlagh Cassidy as Asajj Ventress, Euan Morton as Dooku. Morton’s Dooku does take some getting used to. After all, he’s portraying a much younger character than Christopher Lee’s aged Sith Lord in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith.
Most memorably, Dooku: Jedi Lost contains an incredibly spooky dark side Force vision that, when experienced in audio, will chill send chills down your spine like no other moment in Star Wars storytelling.
For more info about Dooku: Jedi Lost, visit our Official Book Profile where you can find additional staff comments, user reviews, and affiliate links to order the book directly and help Youtini out in the process.
Author: Sarah Kuhn
Full cast performance
Chelli Lorna Aphra made her debut in 2015’s Darth Vader comic series by Kierron Gillen and has gone on to headline two ongoing comic series, including Simon Spurrier’s GLAD award-winning run. But in order to fully enjoy the lauded recent work, there is a lot to digest—a pretty common problem with Star Wars literature.
While Aphra’s story is certainly one of the most exciting and engaging elements of the 2015 Vader series, she is nevertheless an ancillary character. That’s why the Doctor Aphra audio drama is so needed. On the one hand, it serves as a reintroduction to her character for newcomers who might want to dive into her independent comic run, and on the other hand is a reimagining of her story arc from the comic. Told from her point of view as an unreliable narrator, Emily Woo Zeller captures the charm of the lovable rogue archaeologist in all of her unbelievable misadventures. Oh, and did we mention there are murderous droids?
For more info about Doctor Aphra, visit our Official Book Profile where you can find additional staff comments, user reviews, and affiliate links to order the book directly and help Youtini out in the process.
Best Star Wars Legends Audiobook
Author: James Luceno
Narrator: Daniel Davis
Did you ever hear the tragedy of Darth Plagueis the wise? No, really. Have you actually heard the audiobook, Darth Plagueis, written by legendary Star Wars author James Luceno and voiced by Daniel Davis?
As Davis’s only Star Wars audiobook, he brings a level of gravitas to the dense drama that chronicles Darth Sidious’s rise to power alongside his master’s quest to manipulate the midichlorians in order to engineer eternal life. He enlivens a host of voices, including the titular Plagueis both before and after receiving an artificial ventilator to assist his breathing (which sounds absolutely excellent in an audiobook) as well as the weasley and wicked young Palpatine. The book’s shining moment is Palpatine’s grandiose speech to his dying master that’ll have you cackling like you’ve just accessed unlimited power for yourself.
For more info about Darth Plagueis, visit our Official Book Profile where you can find additional staff comments, user reviews, and affiliate links to order the book directly and help Youtini out in the process.
Author: John Jackson Miller
Narrator: Jonathan Davis
Johnathan Davis’s Kenobi is a seamless mix of Davis’s impeccable Ewan McGreggor impression fused with the ethos of the classic western John Jackson Miller so perfectly captured in the Legends universe’s epic finale. As Kenobi, Davis captures lightning in a bottle as he is able to convey the heartbreak and hopelessness that came with the fallout of losing his apprentice in Revenge of the Sith.
Add in Miller’s original characters and all of the familiar sounds of Tatooine—from landspeeders, dewbacks, Tusken Raiders, to even a Krayt Dragon—the audiobook elevates the story from a homerun to a grand slam.
For more info about Kenobi, visit our Official Book Profile where you can find additional staff comments, user reviews, and affiliate links to order the book directly and help Youtini out in the process.
Author: Drew Karpyshyn
Narrator: Jonathan Davis
Beyond our top recommendations in each category, a number of Star Wars audiobooks are worth mentioning—the Darth Bane Trilogy by Drew Karphysyn, read by Johnathan Davis, is a rare example of an entire Legends trilogy available in unabridged format, with Davis brining just the right amount of dark edge to his voice to bring the books to life in a way that cements the series as one of the best.
For more info about Darth Bane: Path of Destruction, visit our Official Book Profile where you can find additional staff comments, user reviews, and affiliate links to order the book directly and help Youtini out in the process.
Author: Christie Golden
Narrator: Janina Gavankar
Not only did Janina Gavankar bring Inferno Squad Captain Iden Versio to life in 2017’s Battlefront II campaign, but she even enlisted her services to voice Versio in Inferno Squad, the prequel novel as well. A consummate professional, Gavankar does a lovely job in creating a seamless transition from the audiobook to the game.
For more info about Battlefront II: Inferno Squad, visit our Official Book Profile where you can find additional staff comments, user reviews, and affiliate links to order the book directly and help Youtini out in the process.
There’s almost as many incredible Star Wars audiobooks as there are planets in the galaxy or lightsabers in General Grievous's cloak. If you’re wanting to give one a try, the Force is with you!
Be sure to take advantage of the free Star Wars audiobook download you get when you sign up for Audible through Youtini! Get ready to wash your dishes, sweep your floors, and walk your dog like never before. Don’t have a dog? You can get one for free when you sign up with Audible. Well. . . maybe not. . . but wouldn’t that be awesome?