7 Books Star Wars: Rebels Fans Will Love Just As Much As The Show!
By: Meg Dowell
Saying goodbye is never easy. When Star Wars Rebels fans bid farewell to the characters that started feeling a lot like family, hearts were broken. Tears were shed. And millions of questions left everyone wishing for just one more season. Just one more finale.
Though it doesn’t look like we’ll be seeing more of The Ghost crew onscreen anytime soon, there’s more to their and other Rebels characters’ stories. You may not find them in TV show form, but there’s one place you’re sure to run into them: Canon Star Wars books.
Want to know more about your favorite hero or villain? Need more stories to hold you over until Star Wars Resistance? Books are your best, and most intriguing, bet.
Here are the books you can dive into ASAP if rewatching Rebels just doesn’t quite satisfy your hunger for more.
Thrawn by Timothy Zahn
Grand Admiral Thrawn nearly takes down Ezra and his fellow rebels more than once in the final two seasons of the show. He’s a unique character -- the only nonhuman serving Emperor Palpatine. But where did he come from? How did he earn such a high-ranking position in such a ruthless military?
Timothy Zahn originally introduced Star Wars fans to Thrawn in his Legends trilogy featuring the expert Chiss military strategist. However, after the establishment of the new canon, Zahn was given the opportunity to resurrect his creation in 2017. That’s right. The character you came to hate onscreen -- maybe even admire a little, let’s be honest -- has an origin story. And you’ll find it in Thrawn, the first Canon novel to feature the character.
The sequel to the original Canon novel, Thrawn: Alliances, released in July 2018, continues Thrawn’s story and further expands the alien’s relationship with both Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader, or as he originally knew him...Anakin Skywalker.
Ahsoka by E. K. Johnston
When viewers left Ahsoka Tano at the end of The Clone Wars, we didn’t expect to see her again as a key player in the early years of the Rebel Alliance. When a much older version of her appeared on Rebels, a dozen questions surfaced. How did she become the original Fulcrum? What has she been doing since leaving the Jedi Order? And how did she get two white-bladed lightsabers?
All these questions -- and more -- are answered in E. K. Johnston’s novel, Ahsoka.
We’re also introduced to one of the original inquisitors, which pursue Ezra and Kanan throughout the beginning of the show and are currently seen in the Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith comic book series.
A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller
This novel from John Jackson Miller is a prequel to Rebels, set six years before the premiere episode of the show. It follows two of the show’s fan favorites, Caleb (Kanan Jarrus) Dume and Hera Syndulla as they join forces against the Empire for the first -- and thankfully, not the last -- time.
We learn more about Kanan and Hera’s relationship as the show progresses into its final seasons, but all love stories have a beginning, and Miller tells theirs brilliantly (as always). It almost makes you want to watch the entire series again, knowing their full history. If you feel like sobbing uncontrollably all over again, that is.
Catalyst by James Luceno
In the final season of the show, we learn what the Empire is really doing on Ezra’s home planet Lothal. After seeing possibly the biggest kyber crystal ever found, you might have wondered why it took the Empire so long to build a Death Star powerful enough to destroy an entire planet.
Catalyst follows Orson Krennic’s quest to “recruit” Galen Erso to the project that would eventually produce the Death Star we all know and hate. A prequel to Rogue One, this novel enriches the Star Wars stories that take place during the rise of the Empire (and the Rebellion) and helps us understand the sacrifices that were made to form a rebellion built on hope.
Rebel Rising by Beth Revis
After losing her parents at the hands of the Empire, Jyn Erso falls into the arms of Saw Gerrera, a rebel who promised to take care of her if Lyra and Galen one day couldn’t.
We see a much more familiar, harsher side of Jyn’s apparent savior when he appears in Rebels, often going against the wishes of Mon Mothma and other early leaders of the Rebel Alliance to target the Empire in his own way.
Gerrera’s extreme efforts to bring down the Empire were both unpopular and, often, inhumane. But Rebel Rising shows a slightly softer -- yet still ruthless -- side of the man carrying the weight of decades’ worth of loss and grief.
Jyn, like the main Rebels cast, was an unknown force against the Empire until she became part of Star Wars Canon. This novel helps show viewers and readers alike how all the seemingly unrelated pieces start coming together leading up to the events of A New Hope.
Lords of the Sith by Paul S. Kemp
Rebels did many things well. Its characters and their backstories created an unexpected layer of emotion in a show marketed primarily toward children. The ongoing theme of family bound the characters together, as well as the viewers who tirelessly rooted for them.
Later in the show, we eventually learned that Hera’s father, Cham Syndulla, led the Free Ryloth movement against the Empire -- and that their relationship went sour when she left their home planet to join the fight elsewhere.
As the rulers of the Empire, Palpatine and his apprentice Lord Vader make significant appearances throughout the show -- the Emperor, especially, during the final few episodes of the series.
Lords of the Sith further ties the political struggles of Rebels into the larger Star Wars narrative by explaining Ryloth’s ongoing struggle to free themselves from oppression, and even gives us another glimpse into the relationship between Vader and his master.
Leia: Princess of Alderaan by Claudia Gray
The first time we met an Alderraanian princess, she was a young senator on a “diplomatic mission” aboard her father’s ship. We’ve seen a slightly younger version of this princess only once on-screen: In the first season of Rebels.
Even though Leia Organa only appears in one early episode of the show, Leia: Princess of Alderaan isn’t just a book about its title character. It goes into detail regarding her parents’ involvement in establishing the Rebel Alliance -- and how she eventually got involved, despite knowing nothing about their efforts at first.
Claudia Gray’s young adult novel, like Rebels, shows us the early events of the Galactic Civil War through the eyes of -- basically -- a child forced to grow up far too early.
As we’re learning more and more with the release of each new Canon story, you’re going to miss out on a lot if you follow only what appears on-screen.
Rebels may be over. But the stories that surround many of its characters and the time periods before and during the show are ready and waiting to be enjoyed.
If you’re still wandering around with an empty feeling after finishing that last episode, now’s the time to do some further reading. You won’t regret it.
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About Meg Dowell
Meg is a health science writer by day and a Star Wars enthusiast 24/7. What started out as one spontaneous movie night with her dad quickly morphed into a lifelong quest to read everything that has ever been written about the world’s greatest fictional galaxy. She lives in Illinois with her cat, dog, and medal-worthy book collection, and believes any conversation in which Star Wars references are applicable is one worth having.
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