Prep for The Last Jedi with 2017’s Impressive Lineup of New Star Wars Novels

May the Fourth be with you! We’re currently in what qualifies as a “slow” period for Star Wars fandom, between the DVD release of Rogue One and the second trailer for The Last Jedi, which means it’s a great time to celebrate Star Wars Day—and plan out the balance of our year’s galaxy far, far away-related reading. This year has already seen some exciting books in the expanded universe (Thrawn!), but last month’s Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim gave us plenty more to look forward to, and featuring some major, top-line talent at that. Here are the biggest books coming out of the Star Wars galaxy between now and the release of The Last Jedi.

Phasma, by Delilah S. Dawson
Phasma! A name that inspired terror and dread throughout the galaxy in the lead-up to The Force Awakens…until we saw the movie, and discovered she’s mostly there to look cool and set up an admittedly great gag about a trash compactor. Yes, build-up of the Gwendoline Christie character prior to the release of the film was a little, er, overblown, but it looks like 2017 might be her year: now, she has a motivation—a real reason to get back at our heroes. She also has her own novel, penned by one of our favorite SFF authors (you might also know Delilah S. Dawson as Lila Bowen, who has appeared on our best books of the year list two years running). We don’t know much about Phasma’s star turn in this new novel under the Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi banner, but it promises to reveal a bit about her heretofore mysterious past.

Leia, Princess of Alderaan, by Claudia Gray
Claudia Gray’s Lost Stars was a highlight of the run of books leading up to Episode VII. Last year, she told a very different type of story in Bloodline, about a mature Senator Leia Organa navigating New Republic politics and developing into the general we met in the film. If it wasn’t the best Star Wars book of 2016, it was darned close, so we couldn’t be more excited to learn she’s revisiting Princess Leia, this time as a 16-year-old, prior to the events of A New Hope. It’s a good time to pay tribute to the character (RIP forever, Carrie), and there’s no author we’d rather see take on the task, even if it means there’s a strong chance of tears. It’s under the Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi banner, so it’s also possible the book will offer clues about the upcoming movie.

The Legends of Luke Skywalker, by Ken Liu and J.G. Jones
Ken Liu is a writer of brilliant short SFF and mold-breaking epic fantasy novels who also made a name for himself for his artful translations of Chinese science fiction into English. He’s won just about every major award in the genre, providing yet more proof the Lucasfilm powers that be are willing to shoot for the moon (that’s no moon!) when it comes to bringing big-name writers into the fold. In The Legends of Luke Skywalker he’s writing a collection of what are being described as myths and tall tales about the galaxy’s most famous farmboy-turned-Jedi. Graphic novel all-star J.G. Jones is credited with an art assist. This one should be fun.

Battlefront II: Inferno Squad, by Christie Golden
Battlefront: Twilight Company was the last canon novel to tie in to a video game, and it was, we’re happy to say, really good. Alexander Freed’s book told the story of a handful of front-line soldiers for the Republic, eschewing legendary heroes and mystical powers in favor of the describing the gritty, dangerous lives of the women and men truly feeling the heat in the fight to restore the Republic—Rogue One before there was a Rogue One. Christie Golden’s followup shifts focus to the Empire and, specifically, Inferno Squad: elite soldiers and spies tasked with bringing down the Partisans, the rebel faction lead by Saw Gerrera before his death in Rogue One. It sounds perfect for fans who like their Star Wars with more of the “wars” bit.

From a Certain Point of View
Jimmy Carter was president when Star War: A New Hope blasted into theaters 40 years ago this month, and the most obvious tribute to that legacy will be the jillions of people that will line up for the newest movie in the franchise. There’s nothing wrong with looking back, though, and this celebratory volume seems like the perfect way to do it. A big—maybe the biggest—factor in the longevity of the saga is the sense there’s a whole universe going on outside the camera frame, and that each character, no matter how weird, or green, or villainous, has her own story to tell. In this anthology, more than 40 different writers tell forty different stories of some of the folks that our heroes met on their journey in A New Hope, showing us scenes from the first movie from a wildly different perspective.

Marvel Graphic Novels

Doctor Aphraby Kieron Gillen and Kev Walker
It’s tough to introduce a new character in a tie-in book or a comic that transcends the material, but we can add one more to the list of names that includes Mara Jade and Grand Admiral Thrawn: Doctor Aphra, a standout character in Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larocca’s Darth Vader series. The archaeologist was recruited by Lord Vader following the Battle of Yavin as a valued (as much as Vader values anyone) sidekick and droid expert. Aphra managed to walk a very fine line with the Sith Lord for quite some time; even as she admired him and served willingly, she was too smart not to realize her days were numbered in the presence of someone so ruthless. Having ultimately faked her death to escape his displeasure, she’s now on the run, seeking out rare artifacts in order to pay off her debts. Naturally, she’s joined by the other two breakout characters of Marvel’s run: her trusty but utterly homicidal 3-PO/R2 analogues 0-0-0 and BT-1.

Star Wars, by Jason Aaron and Salvador Larroca
The main Star Wars book has two new volumes coming out this year. July sees Yoda’s Secret War, an interlude from the main story that digs deep into the journals of Ben Kenobi to share a previously untold adventure with Master Yoda. October’s The Screaming Citadel, a crossover with the Doctor Aphra book, involves Luke reluctantly teaming up with the infamous archaeologist to infiltrate a mysterious gathering and take on the most dangerous woman in the galaxy.

Poe Dameron, by Charles Soule and Phil Noto
Likewise, the ongoing Poe Dameron book from Charles Soule and Phil Noto is also getting two new collections. The book deals with Poe’s elite Black Squadron (under the command of General Leia) just prior to The Force Awakens. Not only is it filling in events in that time frame, it’s also introduced an impressively complex new villain in the First Order’s Agent Terex. The Gathering Storm finds Poe and the gang searching for a traitor in their midst, while Volume 3 sees the loss of a comrade, and involves more of the ongoing struggle between Captain Phasma and the difficult-to-manage Terex.

Darth Vader—Dark Lord of the Sith, Vol. 1, by Charles Soule and Jim Cheung
Speaking of Charles Soule, he’s joined by Jim Cheung for a new ongoing series starring everyone’s favorite Sith Lord. This series follows the rise of Vader in the immediate aftermath of Revenge of the Sith, charting his rise from charred husk to the Emperor’s fearsome right-hand guy. The last Vader series represented the very best of Marvel’s output, so there’s every reason to have high hopes for this one.

Darth Maul, by Cullen Bunn and Luke Ross
Finally, Palpatine’s other ill-fated apprentice, Darth Maul, gets his own series set in the years before The Phantom Menace. That movie established his cool factor, but other canon media has shown a character who’s much more complex than the devil-faced Sith Lord with the fancy two-sided lightsaber. Bounty hunters Cad Bane and Aurra Sing feature in the story of the rise of Darth Maul and the reasons behind his quest for vengeance.

How are you celebrating 40 years of Star Wars?

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