66 thoughts on “Discussion: What was your first Star Wars novel?

  1. Joel

    “Star Wars” – that is,
    Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker (Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope) by Alan Dean Foster & George Lucas (0 BBY).

    In fact… I read it BEFORE the first time I saw ANH on May 25th, 1977.

  2. Dunc Post author

    I was thinking of disqualifying the novelizations, but heh.

    Mine was Heir to the Empire, and I picked it off my parent’s bookshelf because I’d just seen all the movies (well, the OT: It was ’91) and I wanted to know what happened after.

    I still say that’s the best place to start the EU. ;)

  3. Jerry "Trooper Jerry" Olp

    My first SW novel was the novelization of “The Empire Strikes Back”. My step-dad had a copy of the “A New Hope” novelization, but I didn’t read that til much later.

  4. Austin

    Thinking back, I had lousy first encounters with Star Wars books. My first experience pre-novel was Zorba the Hutt’s Revenge. Party at Han’s floating house on Bespin! The first actual novel I bought was Cloak of Deception, which has bored me to tears every time I try to read it. I’ve never finished. I think it was my second novel that saved me. I was able to read Shatterpoint, which I absolutely loved. If I had picked up anything else after COD, I doubt I would be into the EU at all.

  5. xadrian

    Heir to the Empire, and then I went on a tear by buying everything I could until about 96, that included Tales of the Jedi comics from Dark Horse. I’m a big fan of really old prelude stuff. I never got into much of the Young Jedi Academy. I loaned all my SW novels to a girl I worked with who was a fan, and then she moved out of state and took them with her. Didn’t buy many after that.

    As far as new to the EU, HttE is quintessential EU. I’d also recommend the Corellian Trilogy and the afore mentioned Tales of the Jedi comics.

  6. MizzeeOH

    Vector Prime. Looking back on it now, I wish I had started with a series/book chronologically before that more – like Heir to the Empire – but at least I wasn’t that confused with things. :P And it did get me into the EU completely, so I suppose that means it wasn’t too bad of a book to start with.

  7. paul

    I believe I read the ANH novelization first, but I wouldn’t really call that my first SW novel. Really and truly it was Heir to the Empire, my older brother read them and let me borrow them

  8. Eric Geller

    Crystal Star. I’ve been hooked ever since. :P

    For reals though, I think it was something from the X-Wing or NJO series. I honestly can’t remember (and don’t have any records of) which specific book I picked up first, but I’m guessing it was from one of those collections, because they were the books I read in the earliest part of my fandom. I couldn’t have been much older than 14 at the time. I read voraciously for several years while at boarding school.

  9. Paula

    I also started from the beginning with the ANH novelization. In fact, it was the tattered copy found by my mother that convinced her that Star Wars wouldn’t be too scary for me.

    If we’re taking out the ANH novelization, then it would be “Splinter of the Mind’s Eye.” I was nine and figured I couldn’t understand it because the book was too hard for me.

    Little did I know it was just that the story just didn’t work.

  10. Eric Duhamel

    I first read Star Wars (ghost-written by Alan D. Foster) and the next two movie novelizations. They were on my parent’s bookshelf so this was rather circumstantial, but I only remember Star Wars and I thought it was rather well-detailed and interesting.

    I read the teaser paragraph or the first couple paragraphs of a couple of Star Wars EU books at a library. I’m assuming they were along the “Heir to the Empire” line, but I didn’t get the chance to read any further since then, which was sometime in the early/mid-nineties.

    The last book I’ve read is the novelization of The Force Unleashed, and sometime in my life I read some of Yoda’s Jedi Trivia book, I think.

    Out of the few I’ve read, I’d heartily recommend the original Star Wars novelization. I’d LOVE to actually finish reading Heir to the Empire, and I’m very interested in the Brian Daley(sp?) Han Solo trilogy.

  11. Andrew Liptak

    The Courtship of Princess Leia – I think – or Heirs of the Force. One of those books, and shortly thereafter, Heir to the Empire. I didn’t really get into things until I first read Kevin J. Anderson’s Jedi Academy Trilogy. All downhill from there.

  12. Erika Kim

    Upon casting my mind back, I think that the “Young Jedi Knights” series was my first, contrary to my revisionist thinking that “The Last Command” was the first. I know that Jaina, Tenel Ka, and Mara Jade were quickly added to my list of favorite book heroines around the same time, so maybe I read both at the same time. I’ve been known to do stuff like that.

  13. Kelly

    I tried to read the “New Hope” novelization, but couldn’t get through it. Ditto “Splinter.” My first SW novel that I devoured was “Heir to the Empire.” In fact, that book pretty much reignited my love for Star Wars.

  14. Christopher

    “Heir to the Empire.” It was recommeneded to me by a friend who was already reading the expanded universe. I started with that book and haven’t looked back since.

  15. Nancy

    The first SW novel I read was “Heir to the Empire”…but before that I listened to the audio version of “Dark Force Rising” (cassette tapes found randomly in a friend’s car). I was already a SW nut so I devoured DFR without really knowing what it was. And I loved it! I was a trifle confused about the plot (starting with the middle book FTW) but that didn’t matter. It was fun and interesting, the movie characters were spot on (I thought) and the new characters were kick ass.

  16. Nanci

    Wow, my answer is basically the same as Dunc’s. I had just seen the OT for the first time in the summer of ’92. My dad had Heir to the Empire and gave it to me to read. It soon became my property, then I went and bought Dark Force Rising, only to be seriously bummed when I found out that I had to wait another year for The Last Command. (Could you imagine the outrage if people had to wait a year in between books of a trilogy nowaways?) Then I was sad because I thought there would be no more books after TLC. Ha. Hahahahahahaha. Oh, if I could go back in time and tell 12-year-old Nanci not to worry about a lack of Star Wars books, ever.

  17. Eric

    Heir to the Empire. . . my parents wouldn’t buy it (I was 13 when it came out) so I had to wait for the library to get it. After that I bought every Star Wars book the day it came out… and generally didn’t go to bed until I had finished them. Yes, even did that with the Crystal Star. Oh, to be young and dumb again.

  18. Sean

    The first SW novel I read was “Shards of Alderaan” by Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta, which was book 7 of the Young Jedi Knights series. I was 11 and the shiny foil cover in the library attracted me. Even though it was book 7, it was pretty straight forward and I immediately understood who the characters were and what was going on. The whole premise blew my mind: Han Solo’s kids are Jedi, have their own spaceship, are friends with Chewie’s nephew and have a mini C3PO that can be worn on their belts? AWESOME! I still love the series, even though it hasn’t aged that well. At the time it made me want to be a Jedi too. I made a lightsaber with a broom stick, some purple paint and duct tape, and I began constructing my own Imperial shuttle in the basement with a refrigerator box and tons of white paint. I need to go back and read those books again. They really jump-started my young imagination.

  19. SarahSparrow

    I know for certain that the first non-novel Star Wars book I read was The Glove of Darth Vader. I’m not as certain, but I think the first Star Wars novel I read was Heir to the Empire.

    I think they were just the first Star Wars books I noticed on my elementary school library’s shelves after I saw the movie. I would definitely recommend HttE to a fan of the Original Trilogy. Mara Jade easily became my favorite EU character for a long time after that.

  20. Tom

    Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina. My best friend was reading it at lunch and for whatever reason, it looked interesting. I borrowed it and thought it was pretty good, but nothing too special. Months later, I saw an interview in Inquest Magazine with Timothy Zahn, mentioning his Thrawn Trilogy books, and asked my friend about them. he couldn’t put them in my hands fast enough.

    That was 1994, and I was 15. That was the beginning of it all. I’ve read almost every novel that has been released, and own every one since 1999.

  21. farmboy_ck

    Dark Force Rising. I actually read the second and third books of the Thrawn trilogy before the first. Oh yah, that book got me to enjoy reading. Now I have about 80 Star Wars novels!

  22. Fenchurch

    Other than the original Star Wars novelization, it was Splinter of the Mind’s Eye. Or does that one count?

  23. retroboy77

    Balance Point. And it actually hooked me, if you can believe it. I read Star by Star immediately after that and I became obsessed, started at the beginning and haven’t looked back.

  24. Aaron

    The Last Command. And it was pretty confusing for obvious reasons. Second came Heir to the Empire. Which cleared some things up but not all. I seriously thought I had missed 50 books in between ROTJ and the Thrawn trilogy. Which today is probably true but back then it was just the good old Zahn writing style: Throw things out there, people will figure them out eventually. Or not. ;-)

  25. Ozzel

    Shadows of the Empire. It was the summer of ’99. I was high on TPM, and I wanted more. And since I was already familiar with SOTE (from friends who had read it and/or played the game), it seemed the obvious choice.

    And would I recommend it as a jumping on point for others? Yeah, I think so. It’s pretty accessible for newbies, and it’s a fun read.

  26. Austin

    I wouldn’t recommend Shatterpoint as a good starting place. It worked for me, but the style of the novel is something that most people will either love or totally hate. If you read Shatterpoint first and hated it, it could really turn you away from Star Wars books, even though there are few other books like it. It’s not a good example of what most SW novels are like.

  27. Paula

    If we’re talking starting-off places, I usually like to ask them what they liked best about the movies.

    If they mention the ships and technology, I get them into the X-Wing series. It has enough tech to get them excited and strong characters to get them intrigued.

    If they’re more about the characters, I refer them to HTTE.

  28. Jennifer B

    Mine was totally Splinter of the Minds Eye. WOW! I feel old. LOL I also remembering reading the Han Solo Trilogy, but I don’t remember when that came about. I do remember Splinter though. I was excited to read it.

  29. Cy

    My first Star Wars novel was either Dark Force Rising or Jedi Search. I maintain that the Jedi Academy series was good, but my bias against the Thrawn trilogy may stem from the fact that I read them totally out of order.

    The Courtship of Princess Leia came shortly after that, unfortunately.

    My first experience with Star Wars fiction of any kind was a NJO-era story in Insider, though, before I knew there were novels.

  30. megara

    After seeing the Special Edition trilogy in theatres in 1997, I ran out and bought Truce at Bakura because it had Leia on the cover. But then I borrowed Heir to the Empire from the library, and took off from there.

    I remember waiting anxiously for VotF after reading SotP–I couldn’t believe I had to wait a whole year, to find out if Mara was OK.

  31. Raquel

    Well, not counting the movie novelizations, it was ‘Heir to the Empire’, and I absolutely loved it. It’s still one of my favourite all-time books, along with ‘Dark Force Rising’ and ‘The Last Command’.

  32. TB5918

    Timothy Zahn’s ‘Heir to the Empire.’ It captured the tone and spirit of the films, and was cool to get a glimpse of what happened after ROTJ.

  33. ImperialGirl

    Heir to the Empire. I distinctly remember seeing my mother reading it in the car when we were at the barn (my brother must have been riding and I was done and waiting.) I hadn’t given SW much thought in years at that point, so the cover and it being unfamiliar caught my attention. So Mom gave it to me to read when she finished, and the rest is history.

  34. jawajames

    my first Star Wars novel i think was “Han Solo at Star’s End” – checked it out from the library as a kid. I think they also had “Han Solo’s Revenge” and one of the Lando books. My dad found one of the other Lando books somewhere else.

    I got the paperback edition of Heir to the Empire around the time of my sixteenth birthday and a family vacation to the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone. My copy of HTTE took quite a beating.

  35. jawajames

    and Xen: that cover is awesome. it’s the cover art from “George Lucas: The Creative Impulse” but with the Indiana Jones part on the right turned into a star field.

  36. Fred Herman

    The initial ANH novelization, then either Splinter of the Mind’s Eye or Han Solo at Stars’ End, whichever came out first in paperback. I remember that before the movie actually came out, the novelization’s cover and what few snippets of the text I skimmed in the bookstore had a certain magical quality that diminished a bit once I’d seen the actual film–as was also true of flipping through the movie’s program book (remember those?) before vs. after the movie–though I still think it’s a fine novel in its own right.

    SotME and HSaSE–and even the novelization, to some extent–presented a slightly harder-edged, more nastily/semi-realisticly violent version of the SW universe, which at nine or so I found disturbing. But I recall all three as being decent old-school *science fiction adventure* novels, and would recommend them all on that basis.

  37. SammyGirl

    The “Star Wars” novelization followed by ESB & ROTJ novelizations. I bought them all while lurking in the used books section at Dr. No’s for about .50 apiece. Spent most of high school skipping class at that comic book store.

    After awhile I stopped collecting SW stuff because I felt there was nothing new left, no new stories, why bother. And then … I’d just gotten home after several months overseas and I was walking out of the new “Star Tours” ride at Disney World and there in the gift shop was a wall filled with copies of “Heir to the Empire” … and I was hooked again. Still my favorite novel trilogy 20 years later.

  38. Erika (Jawas Read, Too)

    My first was HttE! It was completely by luck that it wasn’t anything else. I had just gotten into Star Wars and went to see which EU books our local library had. It was either start that trilogy or the JAT. Thankfully, I realized one was chronologically before the other and picked Thrawn over well.. yeah. That.

  39. Nathan P. Butler

    Heir to the Empire . . . sort of. It was the first I read, but I didn’t pick it up as a kid until Dark Force Rising was out in hardback, so I got that and the paperback of HTTE at the same time.

  40. hexterah

    Mine was Heir to the Empire. I loved the movies and wanted more of the Big Three’s adventures so that’s where I went to start. That’s when I discovered the mess of characters that were new to me — after that I began devouring EU books. Shortly after finishing the Thrawn Trilogy, I reached the JAT and my dorky little self had a giant crush on Kyp Durron. :|

    ( HE WAS SO REBELLIOUS AND COOL, GUYS. D: )

  41. S.

    Pretty certain my first one was The Courtship of Princess Leia, cause I was fifteen and into romances, but Heir to the Empire and Zahn’s trilogy was a close second because before I realised the authors didn’t necessarily publish in any specific order I was trying to read the book in chronological order. If I were recommending somewhere to start, it would be with Zahn’s trilogy.

  42. Kristen

    My first novel was HttE back in 2005 when I was in sixth grade. I remember finishing The Thrawn Trilogy & Jedi Academy Trilogies then, but it wasn’t until last year that I decided to read the majority of post-ROTJ novels.

    My first SW book, though, was The Glove of Darth Vader. Yeahhhhhh.

  43. Alex Johnson

    The first one I read in its entirety was the first Jedi Apprantice novel. Not the best place to start in the EU, but for a young kid who’d become addicted to the movies, especially te prequels, it worked out well.

  44. SarahBear

    My first book was The New Rebellion. I stumbled onto it at the library and was hooked after that. I read the Zahn trilogy next, and have loved Star Wars and Mara Jade ever since. :)

  45. Amaranthine

    I first read the novelizations, but as for EU books, I read “Young Jedi Knights: The Lost Ones.” by Kevin Anderson. I had heard of the EU before, and I was bored, so I picked it out of the shelves on the library. I thought the picture of Tenel Ka on the front was Mara, though.

  46. @Pete_Morrison

    I had two firsts. Way back when I was a little kid my mom picked up Heir to the Empire for me and I was blown away. Of course I never got the pun of Talon Karrde’s ship’s the “Wild Karrde” until I re-read it as an adult. But Zahn’s writing captured my imagination and got me lost in the GFFA.

    I lost track of the Star Wars novels once I got into High School and College, but stumbled upon a used copy of Vector Prime at a Salvation Army, on a whim I picked it up and the NJO re-ignited my passion for Star Wars.

    Thanks to George Lucas, Timothy Zahn and R.A. Salvatore.

  47. Debra

    Mine was a paperback version of ANH novelization. It was read so many times that it actually split in half, right around that picture section that was in the middle.

    If we ignore the movie novelizations, then the first would be Splinter of the Mind’s Eye. I was 14 at the time and I was convinced that the book was proof that Luke and Leia were destined to be together.

  48. Tish

    I saw HttE on a table at the B.Dalton in my office building over lunch and spent the next few days sneaking back into the store. I finally bought it, tore off the cover, asked it to be double wrapped and hid it in my car. In those days, I treated Star Wars books as akin to pornography. I read the end, the attack on the shipyards, in a parking lot when I was supposed to be at a seminar and was SOO PISSED when I realized it was part 1 of a trilogy. I bought DFR the day it came out, and then panicked when I was overseas and would miss the release of TLC. I got one copy via diplomatic bag and the first thing I did on returning to the States after a year away in the former Soviet Bloc was to curl up with TLC and a Diet Coke. I hid all three books in my underwear drawer with the radio drama until I was outted during an apartment move and my husband discovered the dresser’s contents.

  49. Dunc Post author

    The underwear drawer will always crack me up, Tish.

    I never hid them in the house because, well, I was a teenager. And I always carried them around without jackets because that’s just how I was taught, but I will still not carry books face-out in the bookstore. It’s not so much shame these days as it is just kind of a habit. (I do find many, many SF/F covers embarrassing, but that’s just the graphic designer in me.)

    I did, however, store the WEG stuff in a baby bathtub under my bed. Not quite sure why. Maybe gaming stuff was my geeky litmus?

  50. Donsinluv

    Courtship of Princess Leia. Found it by mistake at a Rite Aid next to middle child’s Karate studio in Aquia Towne Center in North Stafford, VA on a very hot August evening. Ended up sneaking to Potomac Mills Mall (Books a Million) for all the rest. Hid them in my nightstand until we moved to VA Beach the next year. BTW, saw some guy recently (he must have been about 25 or so) reading an old copy of Heir to the Empire in the International waiting area at Dulles. He was completely rapt. Some things never die.

  51. Tish

    For years, I tore the covers off and turned the spines inward into the bookshelf and hid others in a basket in the closet. I only paid cash and would never go to the same bookstore twice in a row. I finally “came out of the underwear drawer” when I was doing some research on what Lando had been up to in the Corellian trilogy. I had to pull all the books out and spread my research out on the basement floor. The spousal unit asked, “WHERE did ALL these COME FROM?”
    But back to the question at hand, I thought Nanluz and I were the only female SW fans in the universe. It was HttE that brought me to that community called fandom that I had no idea even existed. Well, that and the Who Luke Should Marry Boards on AOL.

  52. jt

    Foster’s novelization in 1977, kiddies.
    Then Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, and then the ESB novelization… and then everything else that came out, as it came out, until the end of the NJO series, which is when I gave up.

  53. RayH

    Labyrinth of Evil.

    Standalone, ties-in to my favorite film, very attractive to me at the time, and it’s something I would like to revisit in the future. :)

  54. Chris (The Exalted)

    The Truce at Bakura. Great book considering I’d just watched ROTJ and that book starts the day after the film.

    What I considered to be the start of the EU for a long time. Like until I discovered Amazon and a part-time job ;)

  55. Mr.B

    Shadows of the Empire. Such a great book. Wonderfully connecting ANH and TESB, great new characters and great look on well known characters, especially Darth Vader. I still believe it’s one of the best of EU.

  56. Mark 'Lightsabre' Newbold

    The original novelization of Star wars for me, followed closely by Splinters and the Solo trilogy.
    As an old school fan I’d say the best starting point would be the Solo Trilogy, but understand more modern fans would say HTTE (which I enjoyed but was never bowled over by).

  57. Dunc Post author

    There really is no one right place to start the EU that will work 100% of the time for everyone. I think HttE probably casts the widest net, but it’s not fail-proof. So if you’re recommending, you need to ask (like Paula said WAY earlier) what they liked best about the movies, or their favorite characters, or whatever.

    I mean, for me, I really don’t care what Han Solo did *mumble* years before ANH. But I would like to know what he’s doing 5 years after ROTJ. And I wouldn’t even know what to tell a big PT fan, because I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of novels in that era I’ve been able to finish, let alone actually liked.

    That said, I would still probably go with the Zahn recommendation myself. It’s the safest bet.

  58. kataja

    I think it was ANH but I know it was straight after seeing ESB (I don’t think the ESB novel was translated back then yet and I read it in finnish, I was only 11). I remember lurking in the english paperbacks, out of myself of excitement since there were pics from the films in them… Splinters was translated soon after but for some reason I never found a translation of ROTJ. In 2006 I finally discovered EU and started off with Heir to the Empire since I heard that Luke’s future wife made her entrance there ;D
    I’d recommend it anytime!

  59. Linzero

    Hmmmm, I’m sure I was reading the Young Jedi Knights series when I was younger, but the first Star Wars book I definitely remember reading was The Mandalorian Armour. I think from there on I went to the New Jedi Order Series, and then everything I could get my hands on after that.

    The day I was at the library and a fellow Sci-Fi fan put his whole collection on the donation shelf was one of the highlights of my life. I think I went home with 40 SW books, many hardcover, all in pristine condition. I’m surprised my bookshelves haven’t collapsed.

  60. LtNOWIS

    It’s not a novel, but the book that brought me into the EU was The Essential Guide to Vehicles and Vessels. I read that book ’til it almost fell apart.

  61. Ki-Aaron-Mundi

    “Shadows of the Empire.” I’m not completely sure why, though my hunch is it was the only Star Wars book my school library had. I believe that was followed by the “Tales of…” books, then the Bounty Hunter Wars trilogy, then the Thrawn Trilogy.

    I’d recommend SotE as a starting point for its sheer accessibility. But as others point out, what someone liked about the movies–or the era they’re most interested in exploring–would have a lot to do with what I’d recommend.

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