Can’t end the year without a list, can we? Here are our staff’s picks for the ten best books of the year.
Be sure to check out more favorites at StarWars.com. They asked us to do the literature portion, but other contributers include Kyle Newman, Ashley Eckstein, TFN’s Eric Geller, Steve Sansweet, and Bonnie Burton!
10. Star Wars Year by Year: A Visual Chronicle by Daniel Wallace, Pablo Hidalgo, Gus Lopez, and Ryder Windham
Rounding out the list is the one book that has it all. Expanded Universe history? Check. Oddball merchandise? Check. Museum exhibits? Early versions of Yoda? Mark Hamill on Broadway? Check, check, and you better believe it. Star Wars Year by Year compiles over four decades (yes, four) of highlights, lowlights, and trivia – think of it, perhaps, as The Essential Franchise Chronology. But its scope goes beyond Lucasfilm productions. The authors also spotlight various milestones in science, pop-culture, and politics, giving readers a sense of the events that helped shape Star Wars, as well as how Star Wars changed the world. – Stooge
9. The Old Republic: Fatal Alliance by Sean Williams
Setting the stage for the eventual release of The Old Republic MMO, Fatal Alliance builds up the worlds and character types, and then throws them all into the fray against a new threat. Sean Williams captures the look of this era, and brings together some new enjoyable characters. It’s a heist caper that unfolds into a tale of espionage and war. It takes a little while to set up the players, but the endgame is well worth it. – James
8. Millennium Falcon: A 3D Owner’s Guide by Ryder Windham
The saga’s most iconic ship is revealed! Ryder Williams’ text is sparse but clever, the illustration work by Chris Trevas and Chris Reiff shines, and the layer-by-layer design is icing on the cake. Kids will love it and adults will delight in the technical specs and (in-character!) modification notes. It’s a just plain fun book – certain to entrance even the most jaded fan for at least a little while. – Dunc
7. Fate of the Jedi: Vortex by Troy Denning
With Luke and Ben and their new Sith allies having defeated a more sinister evil, you’d think that Troy Denning would take it easy on the Jedi Order, but Abeloth’s demise in Allies is just the beginning of a series of explosive events. Faster that you can say “Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal”, the Sith bring it. Chief of State Daala brings it. The Mandalorians bring it. Tahiri’s prosecutor brings it. So it’s up to a couple of Jedi, and Han and Leia to strike back – and when they bring Lando and droids to help, you know it’s going to get heavy as the Jedi shake things up against their adversaries. – James
6. The Sounds of Star Wars by J. W. Rinzler and Ben Burtt
A book that needs a volume button? Not to worry, this is more than just a gimmick. To fully explore the audio awesomeness of Ben Burtt, The Sounds of Star Wars has a built-in soundboard which plays over 200 (unmixed!) effects from that galaxy far, far away. So you can read about the crazy ways he made these sounds, then listen to the fantastic end results! Plus, Mr. Burtt has enough behind-the-scenes stories to fill ten volumes – and for a quadruple Oscar-winner, he’s remarkably humble. – Stooge
5. Clone Wars Gambit: Stealth by Karen Miller
The fourth in a series of adult Clone Wars novels, Gambit: Stealth is the first in a two part finale that contemplates the brotherly relationship between Anakin and Obi-Wan in a way that really has never quite been done before. Karen Miller examines the human element of these two Jedi in a book that goes above and beyond a dire mission on Lanteeb. Beneath the more immediate plight of Lanteebans and its strategic importance in the war, is the wonderfully insightful study of Obi-Wan learning to let Anakin make his own mistakes and Anakin realizing he will always be Obi-Wan’s student. It’s a bromance like no other with lightsabers, chase scenes, and a woe begotten tribe of villagers who, if they knew he was there, would cry out, “Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.” – Erika
4. Star Wars Art: Visions
There’s been quite the movement lately to class up Star Wars collectibles, and while some of it baffles us mightily, it’s hard to deny that Visions was a resounding success. The visuals have always been an integral part of Star Wars, from McQuarrie straight on down to fandom itself, so taking the torch to fine artists brings yet another facet of the saga to light. Please sir… Can we have some more? – Dunc
3. Fate of the Jedi: Backlash by Aaron Allston
Luke and Ben temporarily abandon their search into Jacen’s past for this adventurous side trip to Dathomir. Hot on the heels of new Sith acolyte, Vestara Kai, the pair venture forth into the land of rancors and witches, but not without, as the Beatles would put it, a little help from their friends. Backlash was a great turning point in the Fate of the Jedi series. The strange new Lost Tribe of the Sith are brought to the forefront, maintaining the dark and revelatory momentum the series has set for readers. Despite a grave premise (Luke is on trial!), Backlash is a welcome reprieve. And to dissuade any doubt to the contrary: Han Solo gets a flame thrower, Dathomiri males have been emancipated, and Daala exhibits symptoms of regret. Aside from that, this novel is noteworthy for the Olympic style Dathomiri games alone. – Erika
2. The Jedi Path by Daniel Wallace
You have to love a book that comes up to greet you. The mechanism and sound effects alone would make this book worth the purchase. But the “textbook” is a masterful blending and spackling of hundreds of fiction and non-fiction Star Wars properties. Add in hand-written notes from several characters through the ages that are spot-on and lots of fun little trinkets? It’ll make you giggle like Palpatine striking down a minion. – Paula
1. The Making of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back by J.W. Rinzler
A follow-up to The Making of Star Wars, this book continues the tradition of giving us pretty much every detail on the development of Empire from concept to release. It’s filled with so many amazing pictures and exhibits direct from the Lucasfilm Archives that it takes two hours just to look at those. Trying to read it all? Maybe we’ll be done with it by next year’s list. – Paula
Agree? Disagree? Give us your take in the comments.