Catalyst by James Luceno
Photo Courtesy of Wookiepedia
Now this is what you really need to read before Rogue One hits theatres, and you’ve got just enough time to do it. Set towards the end of the prequels, Catalyst follows the tangled relationship between Galen Erso, father of protagonist Jyn, and big baddie Orson Krennic as Krennic begins to prey on Galen’s research to build that dreaded Death Star. It also features Lyra Erso, Jyn’s mother, in a prominent role. Which is good, since she’s most likely going to get shoved in the fridge within the first five minutes of Rogue One.
The book is not required reading before seeing the film, but if you read it it will add background to the Ersos as well as Krennic. The book is heavy on the techno-science jargon, but Lyra, Galen, and Krennic are engaging characters and the book sets the backdrop for a thrilling film. We can only wait and see how these relationships play out.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Ever wanted to see a version of the prequels that weren’t, well, what they were? The Clone Wars is an animated look at the titular conflict between the Jedi/Republic and the Sith/Separatists. It presents a likable Anakin Skywalker, an ever-charming Obi-Wan Kenobi, and introduced the world to Ahsoka, Anakin’s spunky padawan who remains one of Star Wars’s best characters. By turns action-packed and heartwrenching, the series is everything the prequels wanted to be and more.
If you don’t have time to binge six seasons and a movie (literally), then make sure to check out season five’s arc set on the planet of Onderon, where we’re introduced to a young Saw Gerrera. Saw will be making his big screen debut in Rogue One, but if you’re curious about the character’s backstory then watch his animated self fight to defend his homeworld in one of the show’s best storylines.
The Aftermath Trilogy by Chuck Wendig
Photo Courtesy of Wookiepedia
Curious about what happened after the second Death Star was destroyed? Wonder how long it took the Empire to surrender and the new Republic to begin rebuilding the galaxy? Then Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath trilogy is the series for you. Set a year after Return of the Jedi, the books follow Norra Wexley, former Rebel pilot, and her band of misfit allies as they work to destabilize the Empire and deal with the trauma left over from the war. The second novel in the trilogy, Life Debt, even features Han Solo and Leia Organa in major roles, and drops teases for what Luke’s been up to since he redeemed Darth Vader.
Packed with memorable characters, including Star Wars’ first openly gay protagonist, the books are an exciting ride through a yet unexplored part of the Star Wars universe. The third book, Empire’s End, is out in February, giving you just enough time to catch up before the final chapter is unveiled.
Star Wars Rebels
Photo Courtesy of Wookiepedia
Another animated show, but this one is for those of you who can’t get enough of the Rebel vs. Empire conflict. The show centers around a small group of Rebels, including Jedi Knight Kanan Jarrus and his padawan Ezra Bridger, as they struggle against the Empire. The show has featured cameos from Tarkin, Leia, and Darth Vader, and currently features famous Legends villains Grand Admiral Thrawn as the season’s main villain.
While it takes some getting into, the show is more than worth your while if you’re as obsessed with this era of Star Wars history as I am. Plus, producers promised tie-ins to Rogue One and future Star Wars films in upcoming episodes, so if you’re hungry for hints about what will happen next, this is definitely the show for you.
Bloodline by Claudia Gray
Photo Courtesy of StarWars.com
Who doesn’t love Leia Organa, the Last Princess of Alderaan, Slayer of Hutts, and Mother of Ewoks? No one, that’s who. And Bloodline finally delivers the Leia-centric story fans have been waiting for. This isn’t about Leia as a wife, mother, or sister; this is about Leia the politician, leader, and human being. We get to see her before Kylo Ren ran off and she and Han split as she deals with the rising threats within the new Republic.
This book had input from Episode VIII director Rian Johnson, so keep your eyes peeled for anything that might tie into the upcoming film. But the book is worth a read alone for the character study of Leia it provides. It also canonizes the fan nickname Huttslayer, rather than the dated and hideous Slave Leia name, and that alone gets five stars from me.
The Poe Dameron series by Charles Soule
Admit it, everyone’s got a soft spot in their heart for ace pilot Poe Dameron, a.k.a. the future Mr Finn. This ongoing comic series takes a look at Poe prior to his adventures in The Force Awakens, as he and the rest of his squadron try to track down the map to Luke Skywalker. There are twists, turns, and, of course, appearances by everyone’s favorite droid BB-8. The series isn’t packed with hints about Poe’s future adventures (unless you count the lack of any significant other to get in the way of him romancing a certain former stormtrooper), but it’s a fun read packed with great characters and great action.
There’s a lot of Star Wars lore out there for fans to peruse outside of this list, but if you’re looking for a jumping off point, then here’s your guide. Go forth and may the Force be with you!
Written by Kate
Current obsessions: Star Wars, the Star Wars cast, Shondaland, any and all sci-fi TV shows, diversity in YA novels, yoga, red lipstick, female characters, coffee, sloths, my cat, having too many opinions about pop culture.
Kate grew up along with the rise of the internet and as a result spends way too much time having lots of opinions and picking fights about female characters. She saw Star Wars when she was six and has been ruined ever since. Her bylines have appeared on Women & Hollywood and AfterEllen.com, and she one day hopes to write and direct professionally. Until then, she spends her free time geeking out about pop culture from a feminist perspective and playing with her cat, Poe Dameron.