“What if I told you that the Republic was now under the control of a Dark Lord of the Sith?”
On May 25, 1977, one of pop culture’s most recognizable villains appeared onscreen for the first time.
It began with Darth Vader, the more-machine-than-man who could end a person’s life without even touching them. His armies of white-armored soldiers were ruthless (though they had terrible aim) and his weapon of choice, a space station the size of a small moon, could destroy entire planets with a single command.
As fans would soon learn, every Sith Lord is either a master or an apprentice -- there are always two, never more, never fewer. The villain everyone thought was the worst of them all turned out to be nothing more than the servant of a much greater threat. The man, called Palpatine, could summon and disperse lightning at will, and he cared for nothing more than being the most powerful being who ever lived.
Fast forward to the heartbreaking story of how a hero becomes a villain -- a young Anakin Skywalker, innocent and powerful though possibly conceived from darkness, will not remain innocent forever. He would one day become Darth Vader, and once he did, he would do terrible things to prove his worth to his master, as all apprentices of the dark must do.
But the films were only the beginning. Pick up even one novelization from the original six Star Wars movies and you’ll quickly realize there is much more to the story. Star Wars books, since their start, have always served to fill in gaps, flesh out characters, and continue unfinished storylines. And no faction of characters benefits more from these enhancements than the villains.
Since the beginning, the list of Star Wars villains has grown. Each story poses a protagonist against their greatest enemy and forces them to confront their greatest fears. Some stories are even told from the villains’ perspective, painting the side we’ve always seen as the hero as the opposing force to be extinguished for the very first time.
From Vader to Palpatine, Krenic to Tarkin, and ancient lords like Bane to hardened warriors like Phasma, villains are just as crucial to the story of Star Wars as the heroes they fight against. Every tale has two sides, after all, and to understand the full picture, we must first examine the events from all sides.
Chances are, even if you’re a hero at heart, there’s at least one villain in a galaxy far, far away that you’re itching to learn more about. What was Vader doing as his children were growing up? Was Palpatine’s story of Darth Plageuis just a story, or something more? How did Thrawn become the only alien species to rise through the ranks of the Empire -- and where did he even come from?
The answers to many of your questions can likely be answered in a Star Wars book. Star Wars books about villains are plentiful, and once you begin exploring these stories, you’re going to have a hard time pulling yourself away from them.
Want to dive deeper into the stories surrounding the “bad guys” of Star Wars? Here’s your chance to read them all.
Being a Jedi turned Sith and finding redemption, Revan has become one of the most powerful Force users by practicing balance between the light and dark sides. Learning how he broke free of the dark side but continuing to draw on its power of his own will puts powerful Force use into perspective.
This novel takes place after the Knights of the Old Republic video game, starting with Revan and Bastilla contemplating their future together. But a threat to the galaxy begins to reveal itself, forcing Revan to leave his wife and unborn child behind to make sure the world is a safe place for his family in the years to come. On the way he encounters Scourge, a Sith strong in the dark side of the Force who intends to break his willpower.
Darth Malgus is a testament to how the Sith embrace emotions to fuel their power, as opposed to the Jedi who shun those feelings altogether. He will do whatever it takes to keep his power in check, even if it tears him up inside. But that’s how the Sith operate. Pain and anguish only makes them stronger.
With Revan no longer an obstacle, the Sith move in on the Jedi temple on Coruscant to eradicate the enemy with Darth Malgus leading the attack. When Malgus learns that the Sith Empire and Galactic Republic were planning a peace treaty, he takes matters into his own hands to prevent such a disgraceful act that would only cease their growing strength.
The history of the Sith was forever changed after Darth Bane's climactic victory at the end of the first book of his lauded trilogy. Decimated by the though bomb, the Order lay in ruins as a single master escaped the planet with his new apprentice, and thus, the Rule of Two was born. This novel continues the masterful legend of Bane as he simultaneously trains the newly appointed Darth Zannah and begins searching the galaxy for the most heralded objects of Sith lore: the fabled holocrons.
Bane's pursuit of this arcane knowledge is treacherous, to say the least, but his raw power and ironclad will encase him with an armor unlike anything the galaxy has ever seen. With his legacy at stake in the form of a brilliant young woman, Bane shows readers once again that he will stop at nothing to create the order that will one day destroy the Jedi once and for all.
The final chapter of Darth Bane's legend allows the reader to witness just how magnificent and horrifying the ultimate power of the Dark Side can be. Decades have passed since Dessel escaped the Apatros mines to ascend to his rightful place as the Sith'ari, and as Bane begins to realize the true cost of such power, fear begins to fester within his mind.
Fear that he will run out of time. Fear that his apprentice lacks the ambition to continue his great work. Fear that his knowledge and passion will die with him.
But he is not the only one looking towards the future. Throughout this novel, Bane and Zannah transcend the titles of master and apprentice as they both attempt to ready themselves for the only end that the Rule of Two can offer them.
Will their dynasty continue? Or shall the Sith be lost to history?
Every great story has a great villain; or, in the case of Star Wars, a great band of villains. Darth Bane: Path of Destruction focuses on one of the most indispensable Sith Lords in history and chronicles his rise to power as well as its reverberating effects on the future of the galaxy that culminate in the Emperor and Darth Vader.
Karpyshyn manages to flesh out a story that fans didn’t know they needed. It provides a better understanding of what it truly means to be a Sith. Even the most fervent fans of the Light Side will find themselves cheering for one of the most power-hungry villains in all of Star Wars as he claws his way from humble beginnings into a position of ultimate power. By the end of the first book, you’ll be scrambling to pick up the sequel.
Did you ever hear the tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise? It's a sprawling tale that establishes several important origin stories for characters fans know well. Readers learn how Plagueis seduced Palpatine to the dark side and how their alliance led to the Sith apprentice’s ultimate betrayal of his master. This is how darkness truly began to rise.
Revenge of the Sith reveals the tragedy of Anakin Skywalker and the creation of Darth Vader as the cloaked titan screams “Nooooo” in agony before taking his side next to Darth Sidious as he accepts his fate.
Dark Lord: Rise of Darth Vader is what happens next.
Witness Darth Vader in his prime right after the events of Order 66 on his mission to hunt down the last known remaining Jedi.
What if Vader had taken on a forbidden apprentice with whom he planned to overthrow the Emperor’s reign? The Force Unleashed answers this question by following the story of the nameless apprentice as he carries out several missions at Vader’s bidding. However, as he explores the galaxy and builds new relationships with those other than his merciless master, the apprentice begins to question his own role in the fate of the galaxy.
In The Force Awakens, Sean Williams composes a brand new story perfectly wedged into a well-known time period complete with a full cast of refreshing new characters. As a stand-alone or a part of the larger saga, this story is a fun read for any fan.
In the second installment of this series, a new version of Starkiller returns! However, this Starkiller is desperate to break free of Vader’s influence, knowing that his master has no loyalty to him. With a head full of memories and Force visions that don’t add up, Starkiller escapes and searches for the comrades he once knew: Juno and Kota. With the right help, Starkiller has one mission in mind: to end his struggle with Darth Vader once and for all.
Sean Williams manages to further enmesh Starkiller into the fabric of the Original Trilogy by pulling in even more familiar faces. Fans of Starkiller, Darth Vader, or avid video gamers who want to read the story they’ve already played should definitely pick this up.
After destroying the second Death Star and freeing the galaxy from the Emperor’s clutches, Luke, Han, and Leia find themselves trying to lead the fledgling New Republic into a new age. However, in the far reaches of space, a new threat rises from the ashes of the Empire in the form of Grand Admiral Thrawn. Despite only having the remains of the Imperial military at his disposal, Thrawn’s intellectual prowess promises to push our heroes to their absolute limits.
Timothy Zahn changed Star Wars forever when he released Heir to the Empire in 1991, and it continues to have a profound impact on the fandom to this day. It proved that Star Wars could not only live beyond the story of the original films, but that it could thrive. All Expanded Universe books were born out of the spirit of this novel, making it essential reading for all fans.
The New Republic is already on the brink of collapse with Grand Admiral Thrawn’s plight to re-conquer the galaxy, but its problems are far from over. A traitor has found its way into the highest level of its leadership at the same time as Luke Skywalker has been lured away by the promises of the long-forgotten, unstable Jedi Jorus C’baoth. Just as things seem as dark as they can get, Han and Lando learn that Thrawn is on the brink of making a discovery that could bring an end to the New Republic altogether.
The second installment of the Thrawn trilogy manages to raise the stakes even higher than the first. Timothy Zahn—like Grand Admiral Thrawn himself—is in top form in this novel.
Grand Admiral Thrawn and his Imperial remnants make their final push to regain control of the galaxy with a strike at the very heart of the New Republic. As Leia struggles to hold government—and her family—together, Han and Chewbacca go on a mission to rally their fellow smugglers to the cause. As Luke returns to lend his help, it quickly becomes apparent that his most daunting challenge still lies ahead: confronting the darkness in himself.
Zahn rounds out this triumphant trilogy with a final chapter that worthy of its predecessors. Readers who have followed Thrawn’s story to this point will be riveted until the final pages that give a fitting end to one of the most formidable villains Star Wars fans have ever known.
After stumbling upon an exiled Chiss on an abandoned planet, the Empire quickly realizes they may have found a new weapon. With his powerful intellect and devastating cunning, Thrawn is soon enrolled in the Imperial Academy on Coruscant along with Eli Vanto, new cadet for the Empire, serving as his translator. Despite mounting unhappiness with the unusual pair’s success, Thrawn and Eli climb the ranks in the Imperial military, just in time for a clash with a mysterious adversary known only as Nightswan…
Any villain as monumental as Grand Admiral Thrawn deserves an equally prodigious origin story, and this book delivers. With a healthy serving of mysteries to be solved, this tale of an unlikely alien’s climb to the zenith of the Empire is one of the Zahn’s most intriguing yet.
Throughout all Star Wars stories, you’d be hard-pressed to find two villains held in higher regard than Darth Vader and Grand Admiral Thrawn. Though they operate entirely differently, both are incredibly effective tools of the Emperor. When they’re sent to the planet Batuu on the same mission, they must find a way to work together. However, sparks fly as memories of a mission long past involving a younger Thrawn and Anakin Skywalker resurface…
Timothy Zahn weaves together the prequel era with the rebellion era in this novel that manages to pull together some of the biggest names that Star Wars has to offer. While attempting to balance the prowess of Vader with the intellect of Thrawn, it manages to offer a glimpse in the characters’ futures as well as their pasts.
Asajj Ventress did not deserve the pain she endured as a child, but she endured it all the same. While most know her as the relentless, hardened Sith apprentice who will stop at nothing to please her master, there’s a much less sinister side to her -- one that may even be capable of falling in love.
There were many stories originally meant to complete The Clone Wars that never got their chance to be told. But Ventress’s journey deserved a proper ending, and it got exactly that. In this story of love, loss, and triumph, watch as the villain you thought you knew transforms into a celebrated hero of the Republic.
The most iconic Sith duo is that of Darth Sidious and Darth Vader. When it comes to the films, the immense power of their strengths combined remains to be seen. Lords of the Sith offers the display of unrivaled power that we deserve, and Paul S. Kemp delivers those brutal moments in vivid detail.
The magnitude of chaos and destruction unleashed by the Sith Lords is emphasized alongside the sheer terror and hopelessness of the rebels attempting to fight against them. Their despair is even more apparent through the eyes of Cham Syndulla, Hera Syndulla’s father and rebel leader of Ryloth, showing that even the most courageous minds are no match for the dark side.
Compared with other villainous characters in the Star Wars universe, very little is known about Grand Moff Tarkin. Yet he remains one of the most hated Imperials of all time. He’s the one who gave the command that left Alderaan in ruins. He is unsympathetic and menacing. A man of true evil.
Leave it to James Luceno to craft a Wilhuff Tarkin origin story audiences never knew they needed. Five years after the birth of the Empire, we meet a man who has yet to rise through the ranks to become the tyrant we know he will become. Tarkin’s refusal to let anyone or anything stand in his path will get him exactly where he wants to go … but not without cost.
The Force Awakens introduced Star Wars fans to a new kind of villain -- a female stormstrooper commanding her troops behind reflective chrome armor. Through the end of the film, Captain Phasma remained mostly a mystery. Who was she? Where did she come from? And why did she look different than all the other stormtroopers?
Delilah S. Dawson managed to answer all of our burning questions about this antagonist in her adult novel, Phasma. Throughout the book, readers learn the ruthless extremes the character takes in order to survive, and how she finds herself among the high ranks of the First Order, despite never having heard of them before.
Deep in the trenches of the Galactic Civil War, there is no more time for games. Rebel Alliance troops must run headfirst into Imperial territory in order to gain ground, risking everything for even the smallest chance of victory.
The fiercest of them all, a group of soldiers bound by loyalty and their collective hatred of the Empire, is known as Twilight Company. Always eager for a fight, they embark on a mission that could jeopardize everything the Alliance has worked for. But if Twilight Company emerges victorious, their efforts could bring new recruits to the cause and increase the Rebellion’s chances of winning the war.
It’s not often we get to see conflicts in the Star Wars saga from the other side’s point of view. In most Star Wars stories, the heroes are Jedi, rebels, the “good guys.” We forget that from the point of view of an Imperial, the rebels are the evil ones, the ones that must be stopped: the “bad guys.”
In Christie Golden’s Inferno Squad, the attack on the first Death Star is an offense that must be avenged. Iden Versio and her team of special Imperial agents must go undercover to infiltrate Saw Gerrera’s group of Partisans and eliminate their threat. A prequel to Battlefront II, this book offers a new perspective on the aftermath of the events of A New Hope and what remaining Imperial troops were forced to endure in order to survive.