If you’re like me and were disappointed with The Rise of Skywalker and the sequel trilogy in general, I have good news for you. The Star Wars universe is ever-expanding with the new season of The Clone Wars now streaming. Along with a plethora of announcements for future film projects. But amongst the promise of exciting new viewing entertainment, there’s a part of Star Wars that exists quietly. In its own peaceful little bubble live its canon novels. 

For those of you who haven’t yet been convinced, the novel has not been eclipsed by cinema just yet. With the recent announcement of a series of novels and comics set in the era of the Old Republic, Lucasfilm has acknowledged this. Set in the golden age of the Jedi Order, Star Wars: The High Republic will feature a new cast of exciting characters who fight for the prosperity of the galaxy. As exciting as the news is, I can’t help but think of how many will miss such an expansive edition. Too many haven’t yet been convinced of the greatness of Star Wars novels.

So, as a way to reflect on my own reading journey in my favourite galaxy far, far away, and to introduce those of you who don’t yet know the brilliance of these novels, I’ve compiled a handy list of the top five Star Wars canon novels. Based on my own opinion, of course. These are books you should be picking up if you’re a huge fan, even if you’re not an avid reader. And for you timeline obsessed nerds, I’ve placed these novels in chronological order based on when their stories are set.

Dark Disciple by Christie Golden (19 BBY)

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What’s that? A protagonist forced to work with their enemy is one of the greatest tropes in literary history? Well, knowledgeable reader, I totally agree, and in Dark Disciple, Christie Golden dishes up this delicious drama on a silver platter. Starring the infamous Asajj Ventress, and pure of heart Jedi Quinlan Voss, these two wildly different characters team up to defeat the evil Count Dooku. Originally scripted for episodes of The Clone Wars television series, this novel includes all its familiar wit and fun storytelling prowess.

Set to a darker tone than what we usually see in the series, this novel excels at getting the reader to fall in love with one of the Separatists’ most cunning fighters. Asajj’s character goes through a whirlwind of development, but even as she feels herself pulled to the light, she worries that the adverse is happening to her new disciple. Considered the most light-hearted of the Jedi, will Quinlan Voss resist the temptation of power that awaits him on the dark side, or will he cave into it, assisted by Ventress?

Ahsoka by E. K. Johnston (18 BBY)

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Ahsoka Tano, no longer the naive Padawan she once was, is hiding from the Empire. Ahsoka by E. K. Johnston chronicles the events following Order 66. Detailing her fight with Maul, her escape with Rex, and her days hiding her force powers, the main story in this novel follows a shellshocked girl struggling with her loneliness and onset trust issues.

Hopping from planet to planet, Ahsoka has been forced to take on fake identities to skirt the Empire’s prowling presence. But of course wherever Ahsoka goes, trouble follows, and she can’t seem to keep out of other people’s struggles. With her skills, she leads an uprising, which in turn leads her to the Rebellion. Along with the inclusion of a few familiar faces, this story not only shows the real effect Order 66 had on Ahsoka, but also answers a few important questions. How did she survive the Jedi purge? How did she acquire her badass white lightsabers? Read this thrilling novel to find out. 

Battlefront II: Inferno Squad by Christie Golden (0 ABY)

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‘The Rebellion may have heroes like Jyn Erso and Luke Skywalker. But the Empire has Inferno Squad.’ With a summary like that, who wouldn’t be enticed? Forced to be on the defensive after the devastating annihilation of the Death Star, the Empire is desperate for an upper hand. Thus the Inferno Squad, featured in EA’s popular title Battlefront II, are called upon to be the Empire’s last saving grace. This novel features Iden Versio, a now beloved character in Star Wars lore. It shows what she was up to before the events of the video game.

The Inferno Squad’s first order? To infiltrate the remainders of Saw Garrera’s Partisians, now a dwindling rebellion force known as the ‘Dreamers’. Aiming to take them down from within, Iden finds this task even more difficult with the threat of discovery looming. She has been well trained for this; she and her squad are the Empire’s best, but how will she face the cruelty of the Empire when she’s there to witness it first hand, from the perspective of her enemies? Those who know Iden’s fate in Battlefront II will find this an enlightening read. Even those who are in the dark about the events following the novel will enjoy this tale of espionage.

The Aftermath Trilogy by Chuck Wendig (4 ABY)

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Did I say only five novels? My bad. This trilogy deserves to have an all encapsulating single spot because it’s just that great. Set after the defeat of the Empire, the Aftermath trilogy poses the question: is war really ever over? While most of the rebellion is celebrating, retired fighters are encountering a new problem. While the Empire has been destroyed, storm troopers and corrupt alliances remain. On a lot of backwater planets, imperial control is still tight, despite the lack of higher-ups.

We follow a ragtag crew including a mother/son duo and their pet assassination droid, a bounty hunter, an ex-imperial torture officer, and the Rebellion’s second-most famous pilot. They discover a plot that could reassert Imperial control and give birth to a second incantation of the wicked Empire. A plan devised by Darth Sidious himself.

Bloodline by Claudia Gray (28 ABY)

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Bloodline is the start of the tragedy that is Ben Solo. After fighting and defeating the Empire, Leia Organa thought the hardest part was over. But with the rise of the New Republic comes its own share of issues, each more sinister than the last. Taking place six years before Episode VII: The Force Awakens, this story delves into how the New Republic was primed to fall to the evil First Order.

Leia must maneuver around complicated politics and corrupt leaders. She will confront that the peace she fought so hard to build is crumbling before her. Terrorist attacks and shady dealings punctuate each of Leia’s struggles to keep the New Republic unified. As she finally amasses a plan to deal with these issues a bombshell is dropped. This revelation ruins her reputation, and if you think about it, would’ve made Ben feel ultimately betrayed since he was not trusted with this secret. While the ending of this story results in the formation of the Resistance, the complications of the revealed secret bear heavily on Leia and Ben’s fate.

Honorable Mentions

Queen’s Shadow by E. K. Johnston (28 BBY)

Thrawn by Timothy Zahn (13/11 BBY – 2 BBY)

Last Shot by Daniel Jose Older (7 ABY)