here’s been an awakening. Have you felt it?
The Skywalker Saga may have concluded with Episode IX, but in some ways the Star Wars Canonical timeline is just beginning. Since 2014, a plethora of Star Wars novels, young adult books, and comics have been filling the galaxy far, far away with new Canon adventures. But with so much content to enjoy, it can be hard to decide what to read next.
That’s where Youtini comes in.
Whether you’re a seasoned reader looking for your next Canon pick or a newcomer wondering what the heck Canon even means, we’ve got your back. With this handy guide, you’ll be enjoying your next Star Wars Expanded Universe book in no time.
What is the Star Wars Expanded Universe?
Believe it or not, there was once a time where Star Wars existed as a single film. No sequels, TV shows, books, or comics. George Lucas wasn’t even sure the movie would be a success before its release, so he commissioned Alan Dean Foster to write the novel Splinter of the Mind’s Eye as the framework for a low-budget sequel should the original prove less than stellar.
Of course, Star Wars turned out to be a smash hit, negating the need for a failsafe. Nevertheless, Foster’s novel ushered in what would become known as the Expanded Universe or EU: the collection of content comprising stories outside the Original Trilogy of films. In the years following, Star Wars novels and comics built the EU into a living, breathing galaxy for fans to explore.
What are Canon Star Wars Books?
Remember in 2012 when Disney acquired Lucasfilm and announced a new Star Wars trilogy? As fans geared up for the first Skywalker Saga film in a decade, Lucasfilm chose to clean up the Star Wars timeline and more clearly define what content aligned with the films. This led to the formation of Canon content; the stories that officially happen in the same continuity as the films.
In general, books released after April 2014 are now considered Canon. Those hundreds of books and comics that came before? They now reside under the Legends banner. Think of these stories as sort of myths and fables and, well, legends about your favorite characters.
So how do you tell the difference between Canon and Legends? Great question.
Take a peek at the cover. If there’s a gold Legends banner at the top, you can be sure it’s not a Canon novel, and therefore not part of the official continuity. But what if you’re shopping for used books that don’t have the banner? We’ve got you covered! Check out the Youtini Timeline to tab between Legends and Canon lists and see where your book belongs.
(By the way, Legends content makes up some of our favorite books ever. Head over to our list of Best Legends Star Wars Books of All Time to check out the very best Legends has to offer).
Where Should I Start With Canon Books?
Quick note here: this list comprises the best Canon books of all time, not necessarily the best Star Wars books to read first. For that, check out our Getting Started Guide, which goes over our picks for the six best Star Wars books to get you started on your EU journey.
The last few years have also seen the emergence of a brand new era in Star Wars storytelling with The High Republic. If you want to get started on this exciting galactic chapter, we have an entire guide just for that as well!
The books in this guide, however, represent the highest quality and most critically acclaimed in Star Wars Canon. Thus, they are the Best Star Wars Canon Books of All Time.
How We Review Books
A search for the best Star Wars books will net you lists from big-name websites that have nothing to do with Star Wars.
Not at Youtini.
It’s our job to scavenge the galaxy and find the best Star Wars content for you. No Jedi mind tricks or click-baity articles here. Just honest reviews from Star Wars experts who are fans like you.
Sure, reviewing any kind of fandom is a subjective experience, but this is our mission. It’s why we developed an entire Youtini Review System. Our reviewers rate books based on plot, characters, originality, writing, and entertainment categories and attach an overall label from Masterpiece all the way to Mediocre.
Make sense? Okay, prepare for the jump to hyperspace! Let’s get to the list!
Best Canon Star Wars Novel Overall
Lost Stars by Claudia Gray
From the rise of the Rebellion to the fall of the Empire, Claudia Gray immerses readers in some of the Original Trilogy’s most important moments, all through the eyes of two original characters, Thane Kyrell and Ciena Ree.
Bonding over their love of flying, Thane and Ciena befriend each other at an early age. When they enroll in the Imperial Academy, it seems their dreams have finally come true. But as their relationship progresses from friends to perhaps something more, Thane finds himself increasingly disillusioned with the Empire as he witnesses first-hand the horrific tactics used to maintain its ironclad rule.
Set to the backdrop of the OT’s most memorable battles, Thane and Ciena begin to realize their political and ideological differences, and their choices lead to drastic consequences that threaten to destroy their bond.
The epic scale and story of star-crossed lovers who find themselves on opposite sides of a war not only makes Lost Stars our pick for Best Star Wars Canon Novel but one of the Foundational Five Books we recommend every Star Wars fan read first.
For more info about Lost Stars, 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 Canon Adult Star Wars Novel
Light of the Jedi by Charles Soule
Rich with Force Lore. An all-new Star Wars era. Some of the most compelling original EU characters ever written. And the start of a multi-year, multimedia story.
Set two hundred years before The Phantom Menace, Light of the Jedi kickstarts the High Republic publishing program with the lauded and legendary comics writer Charles Soule's first prose Star Wars novel. The book follows Jedi aster Avar Kriss, Padawan Bell Zettifar, and a ragtag band of evil space Vikings as they navigate the explosive Great Disaster rocks the galaxy to its core.
The success of the entire High Republic initiative all depended on the character and world building of Light of the Jedi, and the fact that Soule was able to introduce an entire new age of Star Wars while also telling one of the most emotionally satisfying stories we’ve ever read is nothing short of miraculous.
For more info about Light of the Jedi, 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.
Master and Apprentice by Claudia Gray
Get used to Claudia Gray appearing on this list. In this book, the Master of Canon herself examines the complex bond between Jedi and apprentice, following Qui-Gon Jinn and his padawan, Obi-Wan Kenobi, as they struggle to work together.
On a mission to resolve a political dispute on the planet Pijal, the two Jedi’s already tumultuous relationship is put to the test when Qui-Gon receives an offer that would allow him to part ways with Obi-Wan forever. Terrorist attacks against Pijal’s government and an unfolding conspiracy push their connection to the breaking point, and each will have to decide if they can remain Master and Apprentice.
Readers gain insight into Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan’s contrasting personalities, learning what makes them tick, how their differences threaten to split them apart, and ultimately why Obi-Wan chooses to train a newly-freed slave named Anakin Skywalker.
Gray sets these interpersonal conflicts to great Star Wars action sequences, at the same time offering fascinating glimpses into some unseen aspects of the Force.
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 Canon Star Wars Young Adult Novel
We already gave Lost Stars the title of Best Overall Canon Novel, so which other books make our list for best Young Adult reads?
Leia: Princess of Alderaan by Claudia Gray
Leia remains one of the strongest and most beloved characters of the Original Trilogy and beyond. In this Canon novel, we get to journey through the young princess’s formative moments, watching how she refines her courage, tactical ability, and political savviness as she undertakes the challenges of body, mind, and heart to prove she’s worthy of Alderaan’s throne. And when she starts to uncover her adoptive parents’ long-kept secrets, she begins down a dangerous path that takes her under the shadow of the Empire.
In Leia: Princess of Alderaan, Gray is doing what she does best: intimately connecting with characters during grand moments on a galactic scale. Amid challenges, political intrigue, and the excitement of first romance, Leia learns first-hand how complicated the galaxy can be. But despite heartbreaks and setbacks, she discovers something deep within herself. Something that will shape her into a future Rebel warrior and leader of the Resistance.
For more info about Leia: Princess of Alderaan, 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.
Queen's Peril by E.K. Johnston
In this prequel to 2019’s Queen’s Shadow, E.K. Johnston follows Padmé through her election as Queen of Naboo, her introduction to Captain Quarsh Panaka, and the assembly of her entourage of handmaidens. In individual vignettes, we see Panaka recruit each one and get a glimpse of the unique strengths each brings to the group, and the novel shows how they integrated into a cohesive team to serve and protect their Queen.
Johnston deftly weaves this arc into the events going on in the galaxy at large, and we see how the foresight of Padmé and Panaka pay off as the handmaidens each play vital roles in the momentous events about to embroil their homeworld. Along the way, Johnston successfully imbues each of these characters with unique personalities despite their work in a calling that demands they blend into the background. She also excels at portraying an ensemble of strong female protagonists who succeed because of their distinctly feminine strengths.
For more info about Queen’s Peril, 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 Canon Star Wars Audio Drama
Dooku: Jedi Lost by Cavan Scott
Star Wars audiobooks have long boasted high production values and great narration, but nothing tops Dooku: Jedi Lost. With a full voice cast set to John William’s thrilling music, this audio original fully immerses listeners in one of the most engaging stories in the EU.
When Dooku charges his new assassin, Asajj Ventress, to locate his missing sister, she uncovers records detailing her master’s former life as a rising star in the Jedi Order. Taken at a young age to be trained in the Force, Dooku leaves behind a privileged life and a father who wants nothing to do with him. He grows in power and eventually takes on an apprentice, Qui-Gon Jinn, before a threat to his homeworld forces him to decide where his loyalty lies. Increasingly disenchanted with the Jedi and with a growing interest in ancient Sith relics, Dooku begins down a path to the Dark Side, one Asajj will have to decide if she should follow.
Scott adds such depth and nuance to Dooku’s character that you might find yourself rewatching Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith with a greater appreciation for the Count of Serenno. Plus, the whole production is so entertaining, you’ll end up driving around the block just to listen for another five minutes.
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.
The High Republic: Tempest Runner by Cavan Scott
The first audio drama of The High Republic Era tells the story of the infamous tempest runner, Lourna Dee. Through a series of conversations with confidants and action filled flashbacks, Lourna’s evolution is showcased by world class vocal performances and thrilling production sequences.
With the future of The High Republic being written by Jedi and Nihil alike, Tempest Runner fleshes out one of the major players that will be undoubtedly crucial in the initiative for years to come.
For more info about Tempest Runner, 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 Canon Star Wars Standalone Novel
Dark Disciple by Christie Golden
The original cancellation of The Clone Wars left a few narrative threads untied including the fate of Count Dooku’s former servant, Asajj Ventress. In fact, an entire multi-episode arc centering on the assassin turned bounty hunter went unproduced. Dark Disciple brings that story to light, offering fans the chance to learn what happened after Dooku turned on his pupil.
After Dooku orders the heartless massacre of a refugee ship, the Jedi Council decides it must take drastic measures to eliminate the Count of Serenno. They risk calling on Asajj Ventress to assassinate her former master, pairing her with Jedi Master Quinlon Vos to get the job done. But when feelings emerge between the pair, Asajj must strengthen her resolve to carry out her vendetta and finally let go of her Sith past.
Golden does a great job shining a light on Ventress’s tortured past and casting shades of moral ambiguity on her former deeds. Adding romantic undertones brings on another layer of complexity as readers begin to hope her broken heart is capable of loving another. Overall, Dark Disciple offers a satisfying story for fans who demanded more Ventress.
For more info about Dark Disciple, 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.
Brotherhood by Mike Chen
After an explosion devastates Cato Neimoidia, the jewel of the Trade Federation, the Republic is blamed and the fragile neutrality of the planet is threatened. The Jedi dispatch Obi-Wan Kenobi, one of the Order's most gifted diplomatic minds, to investigate the crime and maintain the balance that has begun to dangerously shift.
As Obi-Wan investigates with the help of a heroic Neimoidian guard, he finds himself working against the Separatists who hope to draw the planet into their conspiracy—and senses the sinister hand of Asajj Ventress in the mists that cloak the planet.
Amid the brewing chaos, Anakin Skywalker rises to the rank of Jedi Knight. Despite the mandate that Obi-Wan travel alone–and his former master's insistence that he listen this time—Anakin’s headstrong determination means nothing can stop him from crashing the party, and bringing along a promising but conflicted youngling.
For more info about Brotherhood, 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 Canon Star Wars Series
Thrawn Ascendancy Trilogy by Timothy Zahn
Timothy Zahn is the OG Star Wars author, having reinvigorated the EU with his seminal Thrawn series in the early 90’s. Grand Admiral Thrawn proved such a popular character that his legacy transcended Legends with his Canon debut in Star Wars: Rebels. He then returned to literary form with Zahn’s Canon Thrawn trilogy and the subsequent prequel, the Thrawn Ascendancy trilogy.
The series explores the early years of the future Grand Admiral as he navigates the militaristic and political structures of the Chiss Ascendancy. Although Thrawn begins as a relatively low ranking officer, his unparalleled sense of cunning along with his magnificently loyal allies allow him to rise through the Ascendancy as they face their greatest threat in centuries.
The Ascendancy trilogy showcases Zahn’s astonishing talent for world building as he crafts every piece of the Chiss hierarchy with meticulous precision, and the results provide one of the most fleshed out parts of the Star Wars mythos despite being completely separated from the main events of the Skywalker Saga. Beginning with Youtini’s Book of the Year from 2020, Chaos Rising, the Ascendancy trilogy is a must read for all present and future fans of Mitth’raw’nuruodo.
For more info about Thrawn Ascendancy, visit our Official Series Profile where you can find additional staff comments, user reviews, and affiliate links to order the books directly and help Youtini out in the process.
Alphabet Squadron Series by Alexander Freed
Freed excels at putting the “Wars” in “Star Wars,” offering up exciting space battles, plenty of dog fights, and countless explosions. His particular talent is in fine form with Alphabet Squadron, which sees a team of New Republic pilots cobbled together from former Rebel and Imperial service to pursue the formidable Shadow Wing, a deadly TIE fighter force exacting revenge in the wake of the Empire’s defeat at Endor. Comprising five classes of personal fighters including the X, Y, A, B, and U-wing, the aptly-named Alphabet Squadron makes a uniquely versatile strike force, but its individual members will have to learn to work together if they are to locate and destroy Shadow Wing.
Throughout the series, Freed examines the psychological tolls of war and loyalty in ways we’ve never seen in the Star Wars universe, and by the final chapters, the lines of “good” and “bad” are blurred so intensely that you’ll be questioning your own sense of morality right alongside the characters in each cockpit.
For more info about Alphabet Squadron, visit our Official Series Profile where you can find additional staff comments, user reviews, and affiliate links to order the books directly and help Youtini out in the process.
While we consider Revenge of the Sith one of the greatest Star Wars books of all time and include it in our Essential Six Books for EU reading, its murky legitimacy in the Canon forces us to classify it as a Legends novel. Therefore, our pick here represents a film novelization that’s Canon through-and-through.
Solo: A Star Wars Story: Expanded Edition by Mur Lafferty
It’s no secret Solo: A Star Wars story suffered a troubled production before its release. With the firing of the film’s original directors, last-minute revisions to the script, and multiple scenes reshot to accommodate an altered on-screen tone, many fans couldn’t help but wonder if some things in Han’s origin story got lost in the shuffle. Fortunately, Lafferty gets to expand on the film’s foundational ideas by exploring additional scenes and character moments that ended up on the cutting room floor.
Serving as a sort of “director’s cut,” readers are treated to sequences that flesh out Han’s time in the military, bridge the gap in Qi’ra’s story from her space port capture to Dryden Vos’s yacht, and offer a better glimpse into L3’s fate. In addition, Tobias and Val’s more fully realized relationship serves up an even stronger gut punch during the train heist on Vandor-1.
Solo is everything a film novelization should be: it stays true to the movie even as it enhances and adds to what we experience on screen. If you left the theater wanting more Han and Qi’ra, this is the book for you.
For more info about Solo: A Star Wars Story: Expanded Edition, 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.
The Rise of Skywalker - Expanded Edition by Rae Carson
The larger-than-life conclusion to the Skywalker Saga sees the return of the infamous Emperor Palpatine as he looks to complete his ultimate goal - absolute, uncontested control of the galaxy.
He recruits Kylo Ren to aid his conquest and to defeat the Jedi one last time by eliminating the powerful scavenger, Rey. The Rise of Skywalker is a blisteringly-fast-paced team-up adventure of epic proportions, with plot twists and breathtaking action at every turn. At its heart is a story of legacy, bloodline, and found family.
Written by Most Wanted’s Rae Carson, this expanded edition fills in the gaps in Episode IX’s story to create a cohesive and emotional conclusion to the greatest fantasy saga of our generation.
For more info about The Rise of Skywalker: Expanded Edition 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.
Bloodline by Claudia Gray
Two decades after the destruction of the second Death Star, the New Republic government nominates Leia Organa for the office of First Senator, an official who would wield considerable authority over the military and economy. As the daughter of Darth Vader, Leia knows better than most the danger inherent in any one person holding such a powerful position. But with attacks against the New Republic and whispers of the First Order mounting in strength, Leia’s intended retirement seems out of the question, and her return to service will form the beginnings of a new Resistance.
Gray continues her reign as queen of the Canon EU, this time immersing readers in Leia’s world of political intrigue, scandals, and backstabbing power grabs. In Bloodline, we witness the galaxy’s restless state in the years leading up to The Force Awakens and Leia’s many struggles that inform her character in the Sequel Trilogy.
For more info about Bloodline, 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.
Resistance Reborn by Rebecca Roanhorse
Reeling from the Battle of Crait, Poe, Leia, Rey, and Finn work to recruit allies from across the galaxy to continue the fight against the First Order.
Rebecca Roanhorse flexes some serious Star Wars muscle in her debut EU novel, and she absolutely nails it. Resistance Reborn is everything a lead up to Episode IX should be: engaging action, great moments with characters we love, and an exciting build up to the end of the Skywalker Saga. Plus, Roanhorse tips her hat to veteran readers by peppering the pages with Canon references even as she delivers a solid story newcomers will find easy to follow.
For more info about Resistance Reborn, 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.
Rebel Rising by Beth Revis
When Jyn Erso joined the ranks of the Rebellion in an attempt to free her father from the Empire's grasp, she brought along a remarkable set of skills. These abilities allowed her to complete the most crucial mission of her life in service of the Rebels, but where did she acquire those techniques in the first place?
Enter Rebel Rising. Beth Revis takes us into the depths of Gerrera's Partisans as a young Jyn Erso learns how to fight, how to survive, and perhaps most importantly...how to know who to trust. Loyalty and betrayal intermingle marvelously in this Young Adult foray into the Erso Family Canon.
For more info about Rebel 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.
As much as we’d like to think these picks are the final word on Canon books, the truth is we have a virtually endless supply of Canon material coming our way. This guide, however, will remain your definitive resource for the best Canon novels the EU has to offer, so check back here for updates as more books release. In the meantime, head over to our Release Schedule to see what’s coming down the pipeline.
Now that you’re a Canon expert, be sure to check out our other reading guides and our Youtube channel! Then head over to our Discord to hang out with the friendliest Star Wars community in the galaxy and let us know what you’re reading!