“Wars do not make one great.” — Yoda
What does it mean to be a hero?
By definition a hero is someone admired for their bravery when faced with a challenge. In the context of a war in the stars, most idolized are the heroes of the battlefield. Until the end of the Clone Wars, the Jedi were the Galactic Republic’s heroes. Following the defeat of Emperor Palpatine, Luke Skywalker and his allies made the ultimate sacrifices to save the galaxy.
But not all heroes wear armor. Some of them forgo helmets and blasters in exchange for diplomacy or knowledge.
Star Wars has opened fans’ eyes to the many different forms of heroism that can exist in a single galaxy. You can be a senator’s daughter; the son of a Jedi; a queen. You can also be a smuggler; a former stormtrooper; a nobody from nowhere. No matter who you are or where you come from, you, too, can be a hero.
The expanded tales of your favorite Star Wars heroes are waiting for you. Here’s our list of top picks from the Star Wars timeline.
The relationship between Jedi Master and Padawan is tumultuous as often as it is tight. Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi Wan Kenobi know this fact all too well. In the midst of their struggles to work together, Qui-Gon gets an offer that would allow them to part ways forever. However, after being sent on what may be their final mission together, Qui-Gon begins have visions that cast everyone’s future into doubt.
Claudia Gray once again does what she does best by delivering a moving, impactful story that delves into big questions surrounding the Force. She was entrusted with hugely important characters and uses them expertly.
After the events of Order 66, survivors of the Jedi Purge must navigate the galaxy undetected. It's been a year since Ahsoka Tano watched the Galactic Republic fall, and she's leaving yet another planet to dodge Imperial suspicion and start over. Again. Something strange is happening, however, and she can't help but let her curiosity get her into serious trouble.
E.K. Johnston's young adult novel builds an important bridge between the Ahsoka we knew from The Clone Wars and the Fulcrum we meet in Star Wars Rebels. It's in this story that our hero must come to terms with her past and discover the role she is meant to play in her darkened galaxy's future.
In keeping with Alderaanian tradition, Princess Leia undergoes her Day of Demand, where she claims her right as heir to the throne and sets forth how she will prove herself worthy. Yet things have been tense between her and her adopted parents, Queen Breha and Viceroy Bail Organa. As Leia - also a member of the Empire's Apprentice Legislature - undertakes her challenges of the Body, Mind, and Spirit, she learns more about her adoptive parents than she ever suspected and begins her own journey that will forever change the galaxy.
Claudia Gray excels at taking on the challenge of portraying one of the most important and beloved characters in the entire Star Wars mythos, and along the way treats us to compelling depictions of other on-screen characters as diverse as the former Captain Panaka, the future Vice Admiral Holdo, and Bail Organa. This book presents the not-to-be-missed backstory of how Leia became the fearless rebel we meet, and love, in the films.
Following Order 66, General Obi Wan Kenobi vanished from the galaxy along with all the other Jedi. Years later, he re-emerged as a crazy old hermit by the name of Ben to play a hand in the fate of the galaxy. However, much more happened in the preceding years than one might expect. Even on a backwater planet like Tatooine, there is conflict, and soon Ben finds himself wrapped up in a decades-long feud between the moisture farmers and their arch nemeses, the Tusken Raiders. Ben must find a way to get to the bottom of an ever-deepening mystery that lies beneath the conflict while also keeping his identity—and his true purpose on Tatooine—a secret.
Kenobi is hands down one of the best books in the Expanded Universe. John Jackson Miller crafted a well-written, easy-to-read piece that not only focuses on one of the most beloved characters in all of Star Wars, but also manages to fill in a crucial gap in the story between movie trilogies. It takes the Western influences in Star Wars and runs with them to create not only an engaging story, but an essential one.
The Paradise Snare offers a glimpse into some of the most formative years of Han Solo’s life. After getting away from a rough upbringing on Corellia, Han looks to make his way in the galaxy as a pilot. Being new to the scene, he takes up a less than desirable job running cargo for priests in a religious colony on the planet Ylesia. However, dark secrets about the true nature of the colony soon emerge and force Han to make the toughest decision of his young life: stay and help the colonists or save his own skin.
AC Crispin pens a beautiful story with this novel that offers a rich, rewarding insight into Han’s earliest years. It’s one of the deepest dives you can take into the history of Solo. As the book progresses, readers will note more and more familiar characteristics of the galaxy’s scruffiest nerf herder.
Hailing from a time before anything like the Extended Universe was even conceived, Brian Daley's Han Solo Adventures combines three tales of our favorite smuggler as he travels the corporate sector with Chewbacca in a constant search for the next big score.
Han Solo At Star's End puts the fearsome duo inside one of most bizarre and diabolical prisons they could ever imagine. Han Solo's Revenge takes Han across the galaxy in search of vengeance that is owed upon someone who thought they could cheat this fierce Corellian during a cargo shipment. Han Solo and the Lost Legacy throws assassins and murderous robots at Han and Chewie as they attempt to find a long fabled treasure of indescribable value.
This collection puts all of Han's original adventures in one easy package that is essential for any fan of the scoundrel with a heart of gold.
When Jyn Erso joined the ranks of the Rebellion in an attempt to free her father from the Empire's grasp, she brought along a remarkable set of skills. These abilities allowed her to complete the most crucial mission of her life in service of the Rebels, but where did she acquire those techniques in the first place?
Enter Rebel Rising. Beth Revis takes us into the depths of Gerrera's Partisans as a young Jyn Erso learns how to fight, how to survive, and perhaps most importantly...how to know who to trust. Loyalty and betrayal intermingle marvelously in this Young Adult foray into the Erso Family Canon.
Heir to the Jedi, published in 2015, was the third novel in the new canon and picks up just after a New Hope in the timeline. The novel describes a mission given to Luke by Admiral Ackbar, to go undercover and rescue a captured cryptographer that is being used by the Empire. Luke teams up with Nakari, who also desires to fight against the Empire, aboard her yacht, as the two undertake the espionage mission.
The novel is unique in its first-person narrative, giving us a look inside the mind of Luke just after the death of Obi-Wan and destruction of the first Death Star. It provides an interesting perspective on Luke acquiring new Force abilities as he learns more. Reviews on the novel are mixed and reception was generally lukewarm–the story is not outstanding, but it is recommended reading for fans of Luke Skywalker and those looking to read more about his exploits with the Rebellion.
After the fall of the Empire, the Senate is split into the Populist and Centrist parties. Both profess the goal of restoring the Republic, though they are unable to set aside their opposing views. Tired of the pointless bickering within the Senate, Leia takes on one final mission before retiring. However, the mission proves to be bigger than she originally thought, inducing chaos and unveiling corruption.
Leave it to Claudia Gray to make politics exciting with action and drama! Bloodline is also an excellent gateway into the sequel trilogy, making this an essential read for fans interested in that era.