ooks and comics have been a part of the Star Wars universe since the beginning. The first book, the novelization of the original film, Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker, hit store shelves before the movie even came out!
Not knowing how well his project would do at the box office, George Lucas then commissioned Alan Dean Foster (who had ghostwritten the novelization), to write Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, the first true novel of the Expanded Universe.
That book was originally envisioned as a potential low-budget sequel, but with the phenomenal success of Star Wars, the franchise was set to blast into hyperspace. Hundreds of books followed, blazing a trail into what would come to be affectionately known as the EU.
What is Star Wars Legends?
For more than 35 years, writers and artists produced hundreds of novels, comic books, young adult novels, and children’s books that expanded the Star Wars universe beyond the films.
In fact, Timothy Zahn’s early 90’s Thrawn trilogy (Heir to the Empire, Dark Force Rising, and The Last Command) is often credited with reinvigorating the franchise and its fanbase.
Of course, all that material can make it difficult to figure out where to start—it was already confusing me in the early 2000s! Fortunately, we’re here to help you make sense of it all!
If the sheer number of titles wasn’t baffling enough, in 2012 Disney bought Lucasfilm and began making plans for the future of Star Wars. In order to avoid having the newly announced films restrained by already existing plotlines, Lucasfilm essentially reset the entire Star Wars universe back to factory settings.
In one fell swoop, everything published up until April 2014 was rebranded as “Legends.”
The change was upsetting to many who felt that stories they had grown to love over the years no longer mattered, but here at Youtini, we know that they still matter! The stories are still out there, they’re still fun, and Youtini celebrates them all.
Canon vs. Legends in Star Wars Books
So, aside from the publication date, what is the difference between Legends and Canon? We have a full guide that provides an in-depth answer here, but the short version is this: Star Wars Canon stories—the films, the Clone Wars, Rebels, and Resistance television series, things confirmed through official sources, and material published since 2014—are part of the official LucasFilm storyline.
Legends, on the other hand—those books and comics from before the reset—are not considered “history.” That doesn’t necessarily mean they didn’t happen, they just didn’t make the in-universe history books or holovid documentaries.
In fact, some elements from Legends have actually been brought into the new Canon. This includes a number of ships, planets, and species, as well as some major characters like Grand Admiral Thrawn.
How to Tell the Difference Between Canon and Legends Star Wars Books
Luckily, telling the difference between Canon and Legends books is really simple, though not necessarily obvious. If you are holding a Canon and a Legends Star Wars book, there are obvious visual differences between them.
Reprints of Legends books since 2014 have a helpful gold banner across the bottom or top that simply says “Legends,” while Canon books have no such branding. New Legends books are also all paperback and physically shorter than both hardcover and paperback Canon books.
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If you’re at a used bookstore or shopping on eBay, it can get trickier; older books don’t have the gold banner, and older hardcovers are the same height as new Canon editions. Fortunately, you can always rely on the Youtini Bookshelf, which lets you switch between Canon and Legends and makes it easy to tell where a given book belongs.
The Star Wars Legends Timeline
The Star Wars Legends timeline encompasses more than 25,000 years, spanning the origins of the Jedi Order and Sith, the Clone Wars, the fall of the Empire, and generations beyond. Just like the volume of titles, the expansive timeline can be difficult to figure out.
In addition to being expansive, the Legends timeline can get a little...messy.
Some books span several years, such as Darth Plagueis which begins 67 years before the Battle of Yavin (BBY) and ends during The Phantom Menace.
Other books and series overlap each other, such as the three books in Brian Daley’s Han Solo Adventures, all of which take place sometime during the same timeframe as Rebel Dawn, the last installment of A.C. Crispin’s Han Solo trilogy. Youtini has you covered there, too, with an interactive timeline that shows the placement of every single Canon and Legends Star Wars book that has ever been written. With a resource like that at your fingertips, you don’t need to let anything stop you from enjoying decades’ worth of Star Wars storytelling!
Reading Star Wars Legends Books For The First Time
The Best Star Wars Book Reading Order
Once you’ve decided to read Star Wars Legends books, what’s the best way to jump in? With such a richly detailed fictional history and the Youtini timeline and the Legends era guide to help you, you may have had the idea of reading according to in-universe chronological order.
We believe that it can be a difficult way to go, and you certainly shouldn’t feel like you have to do it that way. We developed what we think is the best Star Wars reading order and four-step plan, but the best order to read Star Wars books is one that suits your tastes—a reading order that will keep you reading.
To help you figure out what that is, Youtini offers The Youtini Reading Order. It breaks Star Wars books down into four different levels to help guide you in selecting your next read, while at the same time giving the flexibility to pick and choose what appeals to you.
Youtini also offers a vast array of Reading Guides that have been painstakingly selected by members of our team and are designed to help you find books and comics focused on the characters, themes, events, and time periods that interest you most.
The Best Legends Star Wars Books to Read First
If you’ve never read Star Wars Legends before, we recommend starting with our foundational books. These will help you get a feel for what Legends has to offer, and perhaps even give you an idea of what aspects of the Star Wars universe you’d like to explore further.
If you want to skip the line and jump right into the #1 book, you’ll want to pick up the Revenge of the Sith Novelization by Matthew Stover. A novelization is really the best book? Yes. Yes it is. This novelization expands an already fantastic story with new scenes, dialogue adjustments, and masterful tone shifts all approved by George Lucas, himself. For more information on Revenge of the Sith and more phenomenal Legends books, be sure to click the link above.
The Best Star Wars Legends Books of All Time
Youtini scores books based on the quality of the plot, characters, originality, and sheer entertainment. Of course, people have their own ideas about what makes some Star Wars books better than others. As you read them, you’ll come up with your own hierarchy, too!
Not surprisingly, our review process results in a bit of overlap between the best books to read first and the best Star Wars Legends books of all time. They’re all very good, and our foundational books and our reading order were specifically chosen to be good places to start exploring what’s available—and of course, that includes showcasing some of the franchise’s best!
Based on our scores, these are our top five Star Wars Legends books of all time, along with comments from some of our team members’ reviews:
Revenge of the Sith, by Matthew Stover (9.9)
“This is the best Star Wars book. I'm not sure how much more emphatically I can state that. Matthew Stover elevates Revenge of the Sith far past what exists on the screen to a tale of brutal heartbreak and emotional distress with the best prose that the Star Wars universe has ever seen. This is what a novelization should be. This is what a Star Wars book should be.” – Eric
Kenobi, by John Jackson Miller (9.8)
“You can feel every ounce of love and appreciation for Star Wars and Obi-Wan that went into the creation of this book. It’s a true and timeless gift to the Expanded Universe.” – Andrew
Rebel Dawn, by A.C. Crispin (9.1)
“As Han nears where we meet him in the beginning of A New Hope, more familiar faces and places begin to pop up, and Han gets even closer to the scoundrel we know and love.” – Charles
Heir to the Empire, by Timothy Zahn (9.0)
“Timothy Zahn told a story that showed what Star Wars books had the capacity to be. … And to have his story so masterfully intertwined with familiar characters from the original trilogy was an essential yet brilliant move at the time. Zahn showed readers and Star Wars fans that these characters could live on in other mediums even after the movies were over. If you haven't read this book yet, do it - and don't stop with this one. Keep going!” – Meg
Darth Bane: Path of Destruction, by Drew Karpyshyn (9.0)
“Darth Bane: Path of Destruction was my first EU novel and I'm glad I started here. I'm a big fan of the Sith, and this book is basically about the origins of their kind and of the "Rule of Two" that we see being honored in the films. It was fun to learn more about the dark side users while meeting a new one in the process.” – Heather
The Best Star Wars Book Series
A unique and, for many, fun aspect of Legends is its series, some as large as nineteen books. The new characters we meet get the chance to have their own galactic-scale arcs, and we get to tag along!
Han Solo Trilogy by A.C. Crispin
Before the 2018 movie showed us Han’s backstory, A.C. Crispin’s trilogy gave us the chance to follow him from his rough childhood on Corellia through his racing days and time in the Imperial navy right up until his fateful encounter in the Mos Eisley cantina.
Republic Commando by Karen Traviss
In this five-novel tie-in series to the Republic Commando video game, Karen Traviss follows Omega Squad—a group of Clone Troopers who are each the sole survivor of their previous units—through the Clone Wars, the fall of the Republic, and the rise of the Empire.
X-Wing Series by Michael Stackpole & Aaron Allston
These ten novels from Michael Stackpole and Aaron Allston focus on two squadrons formed by none other than Wedge Antilles. The books primarily cover a six-year span starting a couple of years after the Battle of Endor, while the tenth installment is set 40 years after Return of the Jedi.
New Jedi Order by Various Authors
The New Jedi Order series, nineteen books by a team of authors, chronicles the invasion of the galaxy by a new species two decades after the Battle of Endor. The handful of knights in Luke Skywalker’s restored Jedi Order and the fragile ew Republic are all that stands between the galaxy and catastrophe.
Legacy of the Force by Various Authors
Set four decades after the Battle of Yavin, this nine-book series portrays the galaxy recovering from the previous war. The Galactic Federation of Free Alliances, the New Republic’s successor state, finds itself in rising conflict with Corellia as the Solo and Skywalker children face their own destinies.
Star Wars Audiobooks
If you’ve never listened to audiobooks before—or, if you have, and felt they weren’t for you—you gotta listen to a Star Wars audiobook.
Like other audiobooks, they’re both convenient and entertaining, but Star Wars audiobooks are in a league of their own.
With the music and sound effects from the films as well as top-notch production and impressive voice actors, you’ll feel like you’re right inside of the films!
If you’re ready to explore Star Wars Legends audiobooks, be sure to take advantage of a free Audible book from Youtini! Some of our favorites include the Bane and Thrawn trilogies as well as Darth Plagueis and Kenobi.
And don’t just take our word for it! We were lucky enough to interview renowned audiobook narrator Marc Thompson on The Living Force Podcast where he shared all his knowledge about what goes into creating these incredible productions.
Star Wars Legends Comics
Comics have been a part of the expanded universe almost as long as the novels, with the first issue of the original Marvel Star Wars run hitting shelves in April 1977.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that just because they’re comics they can be dismissed as “just for kids.” Talented artists and writers have been weaving compelling Star Wars stories and impactful visual art for decades.
Marvel’s original run lasted from 1977 until 1986 and gave us 107 issues. They include some outright wild stories, and some of them can feel like they’re barely Star Wars! But at the same time, they offer a fascinating look into off-screen Star Wars storytelling in the early years of the franchise and are definitely worth checking out!
In the early ’90s, Dark Horse picked up the license and gave us even more tales including Tales of the Jedi, The Force Unleashed, and Dark Empire, spanning from the origins of the Jedi Order itself to more than a century after the Original Trilogy before the Disney purchase returned the license to Marvel in 2014.
Over the past several years, Marvel has been gradually re-releasing many Legends comics as Epic Collection trade paperbacks, and these make a convenient way to enjoy these classics.
The Best Legends Star Wars Comics to Read First
The Knights of the Old Republic, by John Jackson Miller and various artists
This 56-issue series serves as a prequel to the popular Knights of the Old Republic video games while also introducing a compelling cast of original characters. Now available in three Epic Collection volumes, this is a must-read if you’re a fan of the game or even just curious about that era.
The Clone Wars, by various authors and artists
This three-volume series collects 45 single issue comics and 7 comic short stories set during the Clone Wars. They pre-date the popular computer-animated Clone Wars television series and present not only entertaining stories but also a fascinating look at storytelling in that era of the Star Wars timeline before George Lucas brought on Dave Filoni and introduced us to the likes of Ahsoka Tano.
The New Republic, by various authors and artists
These four volumes present more than 50 single issues and eighteen shorter stories all set after Return of the Jedi and include the entire run of the popular X-Wing: Rogue Leader and X-Wing Rogue Squadron series. These tie into the novel series, and if you’re a fan of starfighters (or just Wedge Antilles), they’re definitely worth checking out!
Legacy, by John Ostrander and various artists
This series collects nearly 60 issues into three volumes and follows the story of an heir to the Skywalker legacy more than a century after the original trilogy. It’s as far into the future as anything in the Star Wars franchise and turned out to be one of Dark Horse’s best-selling series as well as a favorite of many Expanded Universe fans.
Get Started Reading Star Wars
With resources like our timeline, Bookshelf, Reading Order, and guides, Youtini is here to help you get the most out of your Star Wars reading experience! There’s even an entire community full of like-minded fans and readers just like you—check us out and say “hello there” on our Discord and in our Facebook group.
If you’ve been curious about Legends but unsure of where to start, let us be your guide. Pick a title from our foundational books and begin your own exploration of the Star Wars universe today!