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Star Wars Novels

Garp

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I listen to audiobooks almost exclusively when it comes to Star Wars, so here are my recommendations:

Audiobooks: 

  • The Han Solo Trilogy by A C Crispin (Paradise Snare/Hutt Gambit/Rebel Dawn). Early Han up to meeting Luke & Obi-wan in the cantina.
  • Death Troopers by Joe Schreiber. Star Wars & zombies. The prequel, Red Harvest, isn't nearly as good.
  • I, Jedi by Michael A Stackpole, which is a companion piece to the Jedi Academy Trilogy by Kevin J Anderson (Jedi Search/Dark Apprentice/Champions of the Force). This series doesn't get a lot of love, but I find it enjoyable.
Audio dramas:

  • Tales of the Jedi & Dark Lords of the Sith - Old Republic era
  • Soldier for the Empire: The Legends account of rebels stealing the Death Star plans.
  • Rebel Agent: A prequel & sequel to Soldier for the Empire. More adventures with Kyle Katarn
  • The NPR audio dramas of A New Hope/Empire Strikes Back/Return of the Jedi. Mark Hamill is Luke for the first two; Anthony Daniels appears throughout. Also features Billy Dee Williams.
  • Rebel Mission to Ord Mantell: Same crew that produced the NPR dramas. Tells the tale of the bounty hunter Han met on Ord Mantell, as mentioned in Empire Strikes Back.
  • Smuggler's Gambit/Bounty/Revenge: A trilogy of live audio dramas from various Star Wars celebration events. 
  • Dark Empire I & II/Empire's End: The Emperor is back, and Luke turns to the Dark Side. Again, not a fan favorite but I like them.
  • Crimson Empire: Sequel to the above trilogy.
Fan Audio Dramas: These can be very hit or miss, but here are a few good ones to try:

  • Outcasts: Old Republic Star Wars
  • Rise of the Nobility: A flashback drama that takes place during The Phantom Menace.
  • Marvels: A mostly tongue-in-cheek series based on early Marvel comic Star Wars, featuring Jaxxon the 'rabbit'.
  • In the Shadows: Excellent production, good voice acting. Set before A New Hope and featuring some EU characters.
  • Codename Starkeeper: Set after Return of the Jedi. The sequel, Colonel Ledok and the Mission to Qalabar, was more of a spoof.
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Masirimso17

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wilhelm scream said:
In my opinion, the worst Star Wars novel is The Old Republic: Revan. Because it does such a poor job at resolving The Exile's story and continuing Raven's. It's ignores major characters from the Knights of the old Republic games and ruins the characters of Revan and the Exile. Good thing this video created an alternate ending to the novel (skip to 2:15:30 to see it): 

I read Old Republic: Revan. I was hooked, and I loved the first half. Once it switched to the Exile halfway through, it all went downhill. I hated it. It should have been written by Chris Avellone.
 

TomH1138

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Terrific choice for a topic!

My feeling on the SW novels, comics, etc., is somewhat conflicted. On the one hand, I understood that Disney didn't want to be bogged down with 20+ years of continuity, and sifting through thousands of pieces of media was too overwhelming a task. A clean sweep was likely the only real option. When I saw fans throwing tantrums on Facebook or YouTube, it seemed absurd and childish to me.

However, in some cases, the original stories were more in fact more entertaining than the new ones. The new Marvel stuff is OK, but there was some really great Dark Horse stuff that's sadly been tossed aside. And particularly the loss of any Timothy Zahn novel is just painful. (I know that Zahn has now brought Thrawn back into canon with a new novel, but for some reason I'm just not excited about reading the reboot.)

Of course, many angry SW fans seem to have forgotten that a clean continuity wipe was already done in 1991 to make way for the new media of that time. I almost wish instead that Lucasfilm had held on to a select number of stories from the previous two publishing periods (1976-1990 and 1991-2014). If they had asked me which ones to keep, these are the ones I would have picked (Warning: Some SPOILERS ahead!):

The audio dramas, novelizations and comic book adaptations of the movies: Lucasfilm used to say that all the films and their adaptations were canon, unless there was some contradiction, in which case the films overrule the other sources. Lately, Lucasfilm has said that the movies and new TV cartoons are canon, but conspicuously don't mention the adaptations.

In particular, Brian Daley's excellent radio dramas flesh out A New Hope with story details not seen anywhere else or (to my knowledge) contradicted in any other media. Unless there's a contradiction (such as the wrong Jabba in the Marvel comic), I say, let these stories stand!

Knights of the Old Republic: I'm not a skilled enough gamer to have beaten even the first game, but I love the story, and I had a friend tell me the rest of the amazing story for the first two games. As far as I know, the Old Republic MMO is still going on, and its canonicity is somewhat in question, other than a vague statement from Lucasfilm that pre-2014 media doesn't count. (It started before 2014, but continues after that.) It's far enough away from anything else Lucasfilm is doing in the timeline, and fans love it, so why jettison it?

Darth Plagueis: A story set shortly before Episode I that excellently resolves a small unanswered question from the prequels that will probably never be addressed in the new canon, so it should stay.

Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader: While most of the story involves a group of Jedi trying to escape after the post-Ep. III purge, there are a bunch of terrific little nuggets that patch up plot holes from the prequel trilogy.

Kenobi: A fun adventure that happens to Obi-Wan during his years of waiting on Tattooine.

Death Troopers: While I tend to like Star Wars better when it's more innocent and makes me feel like a kid again, this creepy pseudo-zombie story is actually quite effective for most of its run. In the end, it unfortunately turns into a gory mess (but what did I expect of a zombie novel?), but I really enjoy seeing something think outside the box on what a Star Wars story can be.

The original Han Solo novel trilogy: Again, Brian Daley knew how to write these characters like practically nobody else, except possibly Lawrence Kasdan. All of these stories are stand-alone, so leaving them as canon wouldn't hurt anything.

The Force Unleashed: Another video game with an outstanding, unique story. The second one doesn't need to be canon, though.

Splinter of the Mind's Eye: The very first post-Star Wars novel written in 1978. Unlike most of the other items on this list, maybe this one actually needs a rewrite, since many of its pieces no longer fit canon, but it's a fun, campy Buck Rogers-esque adventure for Luke and Leia.

Screams in the Void: The only Marvel comic story from 1977-86 really acclaimed by the fans, set between Empire and Jedi. Some elements of this story did eventually make it into the 1991-2014 continuity.

Shadows of the Empire: Perhaps a tad overrated, as the story was stretched a bit too thin across its various forms. Still, it was a huge cultural touchstone for SW fans in 1996, and I've really grown to love Brian McNeely's soundtrack. (The Nintendo 64 video game is also considered one of LucasArts' higest achievements.)

The Thrawn Trilogy: Timothy Zahn gave us the best Expanded Universe novels with this trilogy, and the two best characters of the EU in Mara Jade and Grand Admiral Thrawn. This is the story that absolutely shouldn't have been removed from canon more than any others. Unfortunately, Lucas had such an inexplicable hatred of Mara that he wouldn't even allow her to be parodied on Robot Chicken. Nonetheless, she could have appeared in this story (and then never again) without drastically affecting the canon.

Dark Empire: The very first Star Wars comic set in the second publishing era, this story went further than I could ever imagine any writer being allowed to go since. It's a huge shake-up for all the characters. Tom Veitch delivers a stunning story that's amazingly illustrated by Cam Kennedy.

Anyway, those are the ones I would have picked, if they had asked me, which they wouldn't, and which they wouldn't want to. I do wonder if the fallout from the fans would have been less intense if a few stories had been saved, but maybe it would have just led to more angry fans saying, "Well, why didn't you save *my* favorite story?" *shrug* Oh, well!

What would other people have picked?

P.S. What happened to the "Spoiler" button on the menu? I can't find it for some reason.
 

DominicCobb

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Gaith said:
DominicCobb said:
I finished Heir to the Empire earlier this year and thought it didn't really live up to the hype.

!!! Does not compute!  :p  I re-read it earlier this year and found it awesome as always. I love how tactile Zahn makes the universe feel, with journeys that take days, Luke temporarily de-powered, wobbly military bearing in the Imperial Navy, all that stuff.

Haha those are the exact kind of things I hated about it.
 

TomH1138

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Reading (or watching) anything after years of hype only ever seems to ruin the experience. When a work of art or entertainment is allowed to take people off guard, it's great. But after years of hearing (or reading) people say, "This is the greatest thing ever," the work in question can rarely ever hope to match up.

I love the Thrawn trilogy, but I can easily see it not holding up for someone else.
 

TomH1138

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We have a lot of similar tastes! 

Garp said:
I listen to audiobooks almost exclusively when it comes to Star Wars, so here are my recommendations:

Audiobooks: 

  • The Han Solo Trilogy by A C Crispin (Paradise Snare/Hutt Gambit/Rebel Dawn). Early Han up to meeting Luke & Obi-wan in the cantina.
  • Death Troopers by Joe Schreiber. Star Wars & zombies. The prequel, Red Harvest, isn't nearly as good.
  • I, Jedi by Michael A Stackpole, which is a companion piece to the Jedi Academy Trilogy by Kevin J Anderson (Jedi Search/Dark Apprentice/Champions of the Force). This series doesn't get a lot of love, but I find it enjoyable.
I never read the young Han Solo Trilogy. It'll probably be completely contradicted by the upcoming movie, but it's probably very good on its own terms.

Agreed about Death Troopers.

I never got around to "I, Jedi" after I read "Union" (the comic) by the same author. Even though it involved the marriage of two of my favorite characters, I thought the writing was just dreadful on it. Maybe Stackpole is better at novels than comics?

Garp said:
Audio dramas:

  • Tales of the Jedi & Dark Lords of the Sith - Old Republic era
  • Soldier for the Empire: The Legends account of rebels stealing the Death Star plans.
  • Rebel Agent: A prequel & sequel to Soldier for the Empire. More adventures with Kyle Katarn
  • The NPR audio dramas of A New Hope/Empire Strikes Back/Return of the Jedi. Mark Hamill is Luke for the first two; Anthony Daniels appears throughout. Also features Billy Dee Williams.
  • Rebel Mission to Ord Mantell: Same crew that produced the NPR dramas. Tells the tale of the bounty hunter Han met on Ord Mantell, as mentioned in Empire Strikes Back.
  • Smuggler's Gambit/Bounty/Revenge: A trilogy of live audio dramas from various Star Wars celebration events. 
  • Dark Empire I & II/Empire's End: The Emperor is back, and Luke turns to the Dark Side. Again, not a fan favorite but I like them.
  • Crimson Empire: Sequel to the above trilogy.
I never read "Tales of the Jedi" because it didn't appeal to me at the time. But I loved "Dark Empire" by the same creative team, and I love "Knights of the Old Republic" which is a similar idea. So I should give those a try!

YES to the NPR audio adaptations. Love them!

I debated whether or not to include "Rebel Mission to Ord Mantell" on my list. Brian Daley's script is outstanding as always, but the replacement for Luke Skywalker and some of the actors are a bit painful to listen to. Maybe it was the direction on that one that went astray, or maybe they didn't have as much time to rehearse on that as they did for the NPR episodes. Nonetheless, I can see why you'd include it!

I only ever heard "Smuggler's Gambit" and enjoyed it very much. I didn't know there were two others! I'll have to look them up. (Also, despite the professional quality of the productions, I believe these belong in the "fan audio dramas" category, as they weren't produced commercially by Lucasfilm, as far as I know.)

Are the "Dark Empire" comics really not liked by fans? The first one was immensely popular, and I loved it! (Of course, I'm just one person, but I've never heard others speak ill of it.) I'll grant you that I didn't enjoy the follow-ups nearly as much as the first series.

Garp said:
Fan Audio Dramas: These can be very hit or miss, but here are a few good ones to try:

  • Outcasts: Old Republic Star Wars
  • Rise of the Nobility: A flashback drama that takes place during The Phantom Menace.
  • Marvels: A mostly tongue-in-cheek series based on early Marvel comic Star Wars, featuring Jaxxon the 'rabbit'.
  • In the Shadows: Excellent production, good voice acting. Set before A New Hope and featuring some EU characters.
  • Codename Starkeeper: Set after Return of the Jedi. The sequel, Colonel Ledok and the Mission to Qalabar, was more of a spoof.
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I've never tried any of those. Thanks for the recommendations!
 

DominicCobb

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TomH1138 said:
Reading (or watching) anything after years of hype only ever seems to ruin the experience. When a work of art or entertainment is allowed to take people off guard, it's great. But after years of hearing (or reading) people say, "This is the greatest thing ever," the work in question can rarely ever hope to match up.

I love the Thrawn trilogy, but I can easily see it not holding up for someone else.

This is most certainly true, though I honestly think that the book was written by and for people who just have a different idea of what constitutes a good "Star Wars" story than me. To me, it felt like it was written for a different series (though not so much so that it came back around to being interesting in its own right like Splinter of the Mind's Eye).
 

TomH1138

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Sure, that makes sense.

Star Wars are novels are always a challenging combination. A novel inherently can't be visual or as fast-moving as a Star Wars movie. Novels are about details, and about what people think more than what they do. So if the author leaves out those things to make it more Star Wars-y, the novel gets boring, IMO.

I went through a period where I thought Zahn was overrated, but I re-read "Heir" about a year and a half ago, and I thought, this one really does hit the right balance of being Star Wars and being a novel at the same time.

Your mileage, of course, may vary.  :cool:
 

Garp

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TomH1138 said:
I never read the young Han Solo Trilogy. It'll probably be completely contradicted by the upcoming movie, but it's probably very good on its own terms.

It's one of my favorite trilogies. It obviously ticks a lot of the boxes you would expect - how Han met Chewie, how Han won the Falcon, etc - so I expect there to be some crossover with the Ron Howard film. It'll be interesting to see how much outside of that is similar.

TomH1138 said:
I never got around to "I, Jedi" after I read "Union" (the comic) by the same author. Even though it involved the marriage of two of my favorite characters, I thought the writing was just dreadful on it. Maybe Stackpole is better at novels than comics?

I have 'Union' too, but just for completion as it fills a major gap in the novels. 'I, Jedi' is a first person narrative, so it's not to everyone's tastes.

TomH1138 said:
I debated whether or not to include "Rebel Mission to Ord Mantell" on my list. Brian Daley's script is outstanding as always, but the replacement for Luke Skywalker and some of the actors are a bit painful to listen to. Maybe it was the direction on that one that went astray, or maybe they didn't have as much time to rehearse on that as they did for the NPR episodes. Nonetheless, I can see why you'd include it!

Yeah, it's not up to the standard of the original NPR dramas, but it's a good enough companion piece, I think.

TomH1138 said:
I only ever heard "Smuggler's Gambit" and enjoyed it very much. I didn't know there were two others! I'll have to look them up. (Also, despite the professional quality of the productions, I believe these belong in the "fan audio dramas" category, as they weren't produced commercially by Lucasfilm, as far as I know.)

You should be able to track them down on YouTube.

TomH1138 said:
Are the "Dark Empire" comics really not liked by fans? The first one was immensely popular, and I loved it! (Of course, I'm just one person, but I've never heard others speak ill of it.) I'll grant you that I didn't enjoy the follow-ups nearly as much as the first series.

My impression was that many fans didn't like them, but that's just reading reviews online. I don't collect comics and so only know of them through these audio dramas.

TomH1138 said:
I've never tried any of those. Thanks for the recommendations!

You're welcome.
 

theryaney

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Finished Aftermath: Life Debt and Empire's End.

Once you get finished with the first one, which I admit is a total bore but has a reasonable story, you're really in for a treat. Life Debt was quite nice. Han was used well, as well as the NR here, which is more focused and also Leia. Empire's End focuses actually mostly on Rae Sloane and like the title, the fall of the Empire, why, Palpatine's plans, and the First Order.
 

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I'm on a half marathon training routine and the long runs are really getting to me. I want to try an audio book. I've never been a fan of the EU. I read the  Zahn books in the 90s when they were released and hated them. Are any of the new canon books worth listening to for someone like me? I especially want to have Williams' music.
 

DigModiFicaTion

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I really don't care for the prequel movies, but Labyrinth of Evil by James Luceno was pretty good.
 

theryaney

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Moe_Syzlak said:
I'm on a half marathon training routine and the long runs are really getting to me. I want to try an audio book. I've never been a fan of the EU. I read the  Zahn books in the 90s when they were released and hated them. Are any of the new canon books worth listening to for someone like me? I especially want to have Williams' music.

Definitely. The music is Williams and the stories are quite nice. I've never really been a fan of the EU either.

Perhaps if you tell me what kind of period (prequel, original, or sequel), specific characters, or focus on the empire or the rebels, I could help you pick a good book to start.
 

Moe_Syzlak

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theryaney said:
Moe_Syzlak said:
I'm on a half marathon training routine and the long runs are really getting to me. I want to try an audio book. I've never been a fan of the EU. I read the  Zahn books in the 90s when they were released and hated them. Are any of the new canon books worth listening to for someone like me? I especially want to have Williams' music.

Definitely. The music is Williams and the stories are quite nice. I've never really been a fan of the EU either.

Perhaps if you tell me what kind of period (prequel, original, or sequel), specific characters, or focus on the empire or the rebels, I could help you pick a good book to start.
I'm not really picky on period. Obviously, like most, I don't really like the prequels, but I'm not against good stories featuring those characters. The OT is obviously my favorite of the movies. I also don't really care about canon and non-canon; I just don't want something that blatantly contradicts the movie stories as I think that would be distracting.
 

DigModiFicaTion

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I always enjoyed the Jedi Academy series, but those are obviously not inline with the new movies
 

Moe_Syzlak

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Can anyone answer a couple of questions about the Aftermath books?

1. Does reading these books help to make TFA seem less stupid? 

2. Is there a Williams soundtrack and special effects on the audiobook?
 

theryaney

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Moe_Syzlak said:
Can anyone answer a couple of questions about the Aftermath books?

1. Does reading these books help to make TFA seem less stupid? 

2. Is there a Williams soundtrack and special effects on the audiobook?

1. I don't understand the question. What thing do you not like about TFA?

2. Here is a sample so you can expect what you get. The music (recognizable ones, at least) comes at the end of a chapter or an emotional moment usually, but not always.

https://mobile.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/Aftermath-Star-Wars-Audiobook/B011PVXPO0
 

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Moe_Syzlak said:
1. Does reading these books help to make TFA seem less stupid? 

75d04e6391b674bcd218f9cde76271f9e546ebd8_hq.gif
 

DigModiFicaTion

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I think I get what you mean Moe. Sadly, if you don't like the movie, no amount of good writing will make it less "stupid". Labyrinth of Evil was pretty good, and the novelization of episode III was ok, but neither could save Revenge of the Sith for me.
 

Moe_Syzlak

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Well, maybe I should have said characters behave stupidly. We have 30 years or so from the end of the Empire and the Republic does nothing about a reforming Empire (for all intents and purposes) building a planet sized weapon!? So a "Resistance" to the new Enpire forms within the Republic? In short, it seemed to me that a lot of exposition was left on the cutting room floor. I'm wondering if the books fill in some of that so that it doesn't seem as though everyoneis brain dead. 

Edit: and if the books provide a plausible reason for R2 to be comatose and then suddenly wake up when needed, that alone would be enough
 
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