The sad thing about this trilogy is that the new Star Wars movie will render it non-canon. This trilogy starts four years after the Return of the Jedi and the Rebels are attempting to rebuild the Republic and obliterate the remaining traces of the Empire. Emerging from the edges of the galaxy, Thrawn, one of Palpatine’s former Grand Admirals, begins to enact n intricate plan to defeat the New Republic and raise the Empire once more. He recruits the insane clone of the Jedi Joruus C’Baoth in order to help him in his quest. The trilogy shaped the beginning of the expanded Star Wars universe and introduced several staple characters, such as the smuggler Talon Karrde and Mara Jade, the future wife of Luke Skywalker. Zahn does a credible job of depicting Luke, Leia, Han, Chewbacca, RSDS and C3PO, even though they are all now middle aged. Thrawn is a ruthless and shrewd villain who is also quite intelligent. The leaders of the New Republic soon find themselves in a fight for survival. One of the few artistic license Zahn indulges in is the creation of some new characters, planets, and settings. All of which are necessary for an original narrative. Overall, The Thrawn Trilogy is a strong addition to the Star Wars Universe.
Set twenty-one years after the Rebel Alliance destroyed the Death Star and defeated the Empire, The New Jedi Order series explores the repercussions of these events. This is a series of nineteen canon novels and develops the lifestory of many of the minor characters in the expanded universe. The main narrative arc revolves around the Yuuzhan Vong invasion of the galaxy approximately twenty-six years after the events of The Return of the Jedi. The New Republic and the Jedi struggle to keep the new alien race at bay as the invasion pushed forward in a relentless attempt to annihilate or occupy the galaxy. One of the problems the New Republic have in combating this race is that the Yuuzhan Vong exist outside of the Force, shun mechanical technology in favor of genetically engineered organisms, and practice a religion that values suffering and pain. The title of the series refers to the new Jedi Order that was established after the Great Jed Purge and the collapse of the Galactic Empire. Under the guidance of Luke Skywalker, The Jedi Knights were slowly reestablished. This is one of the longest continuous series in the Expanded Star Wars Universe. Overall, The New Jedi Order received mixed reaction from fans due to the dark tone and various character deaths. However, the series was a huge commercial success and paved the way for numerous other multi-book others.
Stackpole rose to dominance in the Star Wars book universe with the publication of the X-Wings Series. I, Jedi is the first Star Wars novel to be written in a first person narrative. This introductory tale runs parallel to and slightly embellishes Kevin J. Anderson’s Jedi Academy Trilogy. In this novel Stackpole adds a new student to Luke Skywalker’s roster, Corran Horn. Like Han Solo, Horn is a Corellian, independent, hard headed, and lusting after adventure. Horn also has the blood of the Corellian Jedi Sect running through in his veins. When the novel beings, Horn is a gifted pilot for the Rogue Squadron and is fighting a pirate threat rising against the New Republic. After returning he discovers that Mirax is missing and her only hope of rescue is dependent upon him joining the Jedi Academy and learning to master the Force. However, his progress is slow and his hot headiness gets him in trouble. Soon he leaves the Academy and Luke fears that Horn might be tempted by the Dark Side. I, Jedi is written as if it Horn’s journal and presents two distinct narrative arcs. The first arc establishes the main characters and the second arc adds some much needed depth and characterization. This is one of the longest standalone novels in the Extended Universe and is an excellently crafted story.
I, Jedi, Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM, 1998, 9780553506020
One thousand years before the time of the Empire and Emperor Palpatine there was an era when the Sith numbered in the thousands, if not the millions. The Sith are involved in a galaxy wide war for domination against the Republic and the Jedi who use the Light Side of the Force. This conflict is beginning to sap the numerous star systems of both natural resources and young people, who are being constantly recruited for the armies on both sides. Amongst this conflict arises Dessel, a young cortosis miner on the desolate world of Apatros. Dessel has had a hard life that is dominated by never-ending toil and an abusive father. Instead of being worn down by these events, Dessel turns his rage inwards and uses it to draw strength from. His rough work has hardened his spirit and turned him into a physically imposing figure. Eventually he learns about his affinity for the Dark Side and ends up on the Sith planet of Korriban to be trained in the ways of the Force. Eventually he adopts the name Bane and fully surrenders himself to the dark side. This trilogy details how the Sith went from numbering in the thousands to only two Sith Lords shrouded in secrecy. Bane is a terrifying villain who would give Emperor Palpatine a run for the title of most evil Sith.
Before Harry Potter, this series was one of the more popular young reader series. At least amongst the people I knew. The series is geared towards the middle school-junior high aged readers. So the series is not as complicated as the rest of the books on this list. However, it maintains a special place in my memory bookcase. I remember eagerly awaiting each new installment and devouring the books as quickly as possible. The books address issues such as racism, drug abuse, family, and student-mentor relationships. And the series also introduced several notable characters who were later featured heavily in the New Jedi Order, Dark Nest, and Legacy of the Force. Originally the series was meant to only have six novels but was expanded into fourteen. It covered three major narrative arcs: 1) the young Jedi Knights’ battle against the dark Jedi Brakiss and the Shadow Academy; 2) the fight against the Diversity Alliance, a group of non-humans trying to annihilate the New Republic; 3) the young Jedi Knights’ relationship with Aja Gallandro. The Young Jedi Knight Academy develops Jacen and Jaina, the twin children of Han Solo and Princess Leia. Other characters include Lowbacca, Tenel Ka, and Anakin Solo. Overall, the series is well written and moves at a quick pace. It remains one of my favorite Star Wars book series.