Star Wars has a rich history of tie-in stories, from somber explorations of space politics to weird, goofy adventure. Disney’s revamped canon has been in place for almost ten years, since 2012. The first novel in the new canon, 2014’s A New Dawn, realigned the books with what Lucasfilm would eventually do with the Sequel Trilogy under the new ownership.
If you want to read the canon books in chronological order, where do you start? And where do they fit with regards to the movies? This list includes both adult and YA novels, and does not include audio dramas, direct movie adaptations, or middle grade books. Reading all of the books in chronological order is a big endeavor, especially since more come out every year. Whether you want to start at the beginning or jump around depending on what era you care about, here’s our guide to what’s what…
Before the Prequels
If you’re starting to read in order, The High Republic series is first up. This ongoing series is set about 200 years before anything else. Since the Sith haven’t yet risen to power, it’s an opportunity to show the Jedi at their heyday and the Republic free of corruption. Start with Light of the Jedi, the kickoff, but this series is meant to be able to be read in any order.
Next, two books set up the characters in the Prequel trilogy: Master & Apprentice follows Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon, detailing Jedi philosophy and where Qui-Gon and others try to sway or bend it. Queen’s Peril shows how Padmé met her handmaidens and shaped them into the spies and warriors seen in the next movie…
The Prequel Era
Continuing Padmé’s adventures, Queen’s Shadow shows the teenage queen’s transition to galactic senator. It answers some questions about how the galaxy’s politics work and shows the very beginnings of the Rebellion.
The Rogue One prequel Catalyst sets up some of the major players in the formation of the Death Star project, forming a backdrop for the movie with author James Luceno’s typical knack for pulling together disparate parts of canon into a consistent whole.
The Thrawn Ascendancy series (two books currently with a third on the way), takes place mostly in the far-off Chiss empire. While mostly a vehicle for Sherlock Holmes-style mysteries in the type of space war that made Grand Admiral Thrawn a famous Legends character, these books also connect to what some major human characters were doing during the Clone Wars.
Dark Disciple is an artifact of the period where it seemed The Clone Wars would never come back to the screen. Based on unused scripts for the TV show, it follows the fate of dark Force user Asajj Ventress.
After Revenge, But Before Hope
After the fall of the Jedi, the galaxy becomes a harsher place. Dominated by evil characters like Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine, it’s time for stories of the Empire like Lords of the Sith. Vader’s right-hand man gets his own backstory in Tarkin.
But all is not lost: the novel Ahsoka follows the former Jedi into the very early days of the Rebellion as she makes new friendships and works to save a world from destruction. Street kids Han and Qi’Ra start their respective journeys through the galactic criminal underworld in Most Wanted. It’s a direct prequel to Solo: A Star Wars Story.
As the dark reign of the Empire continues, the good guys try to piece what’s left of their alliance together. A New Dawn, a prequel to the Star Wars Rebels animated series, shows how Jedi-in-hiding Kanan Jarrus met Rebel pilot and spy Hera Syndulla. They’ll both be major players in this era and beyond outside the movies. This book also introduces Rae Sloane, an Imperial commander who is at the center of many of the developments that lead from the Empire to the First Order in the Sequel Trilogy. Two heroes of the Rebellion, Jyn Erso and Princess Leia, get YA backstories in Rebel Rising and Leia: Princess of Alderaan respectively.
One of the most well-regarded books in this era is Lost Stars, which spans the galactic civil war and follows completely original characters. A star-crossed love story, it starts before the Original Trilogy and continues beyond the end.
Another book that spans this era is Battlefront: Twilight Company. Despite ostensibly being a tie-in to the Battlefront (2015) video game, this book also follows standalone characters in a motley infantry unit throughout the war.
The new canon Thrawn series also picks up here, with the first, titular novel Thrawn showing the alien strategist meeting the Empire and showing his tactical skill while also furthering his own plans. Thrawn: Alliances sends him on an adventure with Darth Vader offering flashbacks to Anakin Skywalker, and Thrawn: Treason pits him against an alien menace in the time of the construction of the first Death Star.
The Original Trilogy
Many of the books in this era span multiple movies, so we’ve erred on the side of Wookieepedia and listed the books by where they start. Battlefront II: Inferno Squad follows Imperial commando Iden Versio and her team — also the main characters of the Battlefront II (2017) video game campaign — through Imperial action and some changes of heart.
A relatively little-known title, Heir to the Jedi follows Luke Skywalker as he tries to piece together what it means to be a Jedi. Published in 2015, it’s one of the earlier books in the Disney reboot.
After Return of the Jedi
The era between the Original and Sequel trilogies is perhaps the richest when it comes to books filling in the gaps between the movies. With about 30 years in between, there’s plenty of time. And the books have the chance to answer some major questions: How did the galaxy fare with the former Rebellion, now a New Republic, at its head? And why did that New Republic become ripe for attack from a relatively unknown threat in the First Order?
The Aftermath series maps this era out, establishing that Emperor Palpatine initiated the Operation Cinder mass destruction plan after the moment of his death. Detailing some of the political struggles on both the New Republic and Imperial sides, it continues Rae Sloane’s story and establishes some hints as to what the First Order grew from. The Battle of Jakku is a key moment in this era, marking the formal victory of the New Republic over the remnants of the Empire.
The Alphabet Squadron series is military fiction set in the New Republic, using the concepts set up in Aftermath as a backdrop for a much smaller scale story. Former Imperial Yrica Quell and Hera try, and sometimes fail, to keep a volatile band of pilots together against an elite Imperial squadron.
A tie-in to Solo, the novel Last Shot bounces between this era and the Imperial era to show Han Solo and Lando Calrissian’s clash against a criminal with some dangerous tech.
The young adult adventure Poe Dameron: Free Fall fills in the backstory of the titular character, including explaining how he met the drug runners from The Rise of Skywalker.
Bloodline is another major pushpin in the timeline, exploring Leia Organa’s role in the New Republic senate and how dissent there paved the way for the First Order. A brief appearance of a very young Ben Solo is also a point of distinction.
The Mad Max-inspired adult novel Phasma explains why the First Order enforcer is so ruthless.
The Sequel Trilogy
One of several tie-ins created around the opening of the Disney Parks, Galaxy’s Edge: Black Spire throws readers into the conflict between the Resistance (a splinter group of the New Republic, now all that’s left of it) and the Imperial-derived First Order.
Resistance Reborn explains where some of the pilots making up The Rise of Skywalker‘s climatic battle came from, but it’s also a sort of capstone on the post-Original Trilogy era of books, pulling on a lot of story threads from Bloodline. Leia, Rey, Poe, Finn, and Rose search for allies in the brief period between the two final films.
A Crash of Fate is another Galaxy’s Edge tie-in, this one a teen romance set in and around the park’s in-universe setting.
None of the books have ventured past Episode IX yet. Right now, Star Wars publishing is focusing on expanding the High Republic and the era between the Original and Sequel trilogies, including a mysterious upcoming novel about The Mandalorian. With the new canon here to stay, there’s surely a lot more to come.