As audiobooks continue to grow in popularity, one venerable sci-fi franchise has been there since day one and continues to produce exciting and dramatic saga. From the read along records of the seventies, through the books on tape of the nineties and the streaming services of today, Star Wars audiobooks continue to take listeners to a galaxy far, far away. Here are 27 of the best.
Star Wars Read-Along Record
In an age before home video, let alone DVD, Blu-ray or streaming, for millions of Star Wars fans the original Star Wars book and record set was the only way to experience the movie outside of the cinema. The Read-Along Record told the full story of Star Wars (this was years before it was subtitled A New Hope) along with a book that contained a transcript of the story and lots of colour photos, all at 33 1/3 rpm. All together now, “You will know it is time to turn the page when you hear Artoo-Deetoo beep like this…”
Shadows of the Empire by Steve Perry
Shadows of the Empire tells the story of what happened between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi as Luke, Leia, Lando and Chewie try to save Han Solo from Boba Fett and Jabba the Hutt. Shadows was a massive event for Lucasfilm which included a video game, a comic book and even a newly composed soundtrack by Joel McNeely. Elements of the soundtrack are included in this audiobook, read in a suitably dramatic fashion by Anthony Heald.
Lost Stars by Claudia Grey
In Star Wars Han Solo asks Luke “What do you think? A princess and a guy like me..?” Lost Stars asks a similar question. It’s a love story about two pilots who fall in love and who then find themselves on opposing sides as the war rages between the Rebellion and the Empire. Pierce Cravens captures the romance and tragedy in a story that is literally about star-crossed lovers.
Catalyst by James Luceno
Rogue One is one of the highlights of the Disney era and Catalyst, the prequel-to-a-prequel, adds greater depth to the story, exploring what happens when a man’s good intentions are manipulated and warped by others, the “others” in this case being Orson Krennic. Narrator Jonathan Davis manages to portray a situation spiralling out of control with all its accompanying tensions in an engaging and effective manner, making Catalyst a gripping listen.
The Force Awakens by Alan Dean Foster
“Chewie, we’re home”. It’s difficult to over-exaggerate how excited people were for The Force Awakens, the first new Star Wars film in a decade and the first “new” story for 32 years. For fans of the novels it was really important that Alan Dean Foster wrote the adaptation. Foster was the ghost writer (working from George Lucas’ script) of the original Star Wars novel from 1976 and wrote the pre-Empire follow up Splinter of the Mind’s Eye 1978. Marc Thompson’s performance doesn’t disappoint and having him as the narrator helps tie this story into the Aftermath trilogy.
Return of the Jedi Radio Drama by Brian Daley
After more than a decade, Brian Daley returned to the Star Wars universe to pen the final chapter of the Star Wars radio dramas, telling the story of Jedi in six episodes, including several scenes not included in the movie. The voice talent involved includes Anthony Daniels as C-3PO, Ed Asner as Jabba the Hutt, Ed Begley Junior as Boba Fett, John Lithgow as Yoda and Martin Jarvis as Barada.
Light of the Jedi by Charles Soule
Light of the Jedi marks a key moment in the Star Wars saga, launching the new High Republic strand which will be culminating in the Disney+ series Acolyte. As such, this first novel in the series really had to land and the characters and situations had to resonate. One again narrator Marc Thompson really saves the day, his dulcet tones adding depth and personality to a slew of new characters and his delivery of the dramatic countdown to destruction that frames the first part of the story adding palpable tension.
Dark Force Rising by Timothy Zahn
Dark Force Rising is arguably the Empire Strikes Back of the original Thrawn trilogy, especially when Luke’s training with C’Baoth is contratsed to Yoda’s on Dagobah. The characters are developed, the secrets of the experiments with cloning are revealed and the story build towards its conclusion. The highlight of the original production of this audiobook however was the narrator, none other than C-3PO himself, Anthony Daniels. At a time (1992) when there was no new Star Wars planned for either television or cinema, hearing Daniels reading Threepio’s lines whilst the John Williams score played in the background and the original movie sound effects were utilised to help bring the galaxy to life was something special.
Lords of the Sith by Paul S. Kemp
Jonathan Davis does an amazing job on Lords of the Sith, bringing to life two of the most iconic voices in the Star Wars galaxy. Vader and Palpatine are trapped on Ryloth and the whole planet wants them dead. This intriguing two-header explores the relationship between the two Sith, revealing just how manipulative Palpatine can be. The supporting characters, especially the gutsy Isval, are memorable and well-developed, making this a very enjoyable audiobook.
Thrawn by Timothy Zahn
Thrawn by Timothy Zahn brings back a beloved Legends character to the world of Star Wars novels after his return in Rebels. He’s in safe hands here as Zahn is of course the character’s creator, first introducing him in 1991’s Heir to the Empire. Thrawn is a fantastic audiobook, a mixture of traditional narration and first-person monologue from Thrawn himself. Marc Thompson’s narration is incredibly evocative and he completely captures the essence of Thrawn and his aide Eli Vanto. Each chapter starts off with Thrawn mulling over the art of war, each monologue accompanied by haunting original music composed for this production making it a cut above most audiobooks.
Dooku: Jedi Lost by Cavan Scott
Cavan Scott’s Dooku: Jedi Lost explores what sent Count Dooku away for the Jedi and towards the Dark Side. This is a audio drama but, unlike most of the other audio dramas on this list, is not an adaptation but a completely original production. As the writer of Marvel’s High Republic series and IDW’s Star Wars Adventures, Scott knows his Star Wars and his love of the characters really shines through here. The production values are excellent as are the cast’s performances. Running for over six hours, Dooku: Jedi Lost is longer than most audio dramas but it’s fast moving and exciting secret history.
Empire Strikes Back Radio Drama by Brian Daley
Brian Daley’s follow up to the original Star Wars radio drama is a truly epic affair. Once again a full voice cast re-create the excitement of the original movie, weaving in deleted scenes and all-new elements. Until the Disney take-over, the radio dramas were considered as much “canon” as the movies themselves so it definitely worth listening to this 10 part, almost 4 ½ hour version of Empire. The voice cast includes Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Billy Dee Williams and John Lithgow.
Bloodline by Claudia Grey
Claudia Gray’s novel Bloodline is a thoughtful and engaging journey into the mind of Princess Leia. The Empire is destroyed Leia has to cope with coming to terms with the fact that the man who tortured her and watched as her home was destroyed was actually her father, as well as dealing with the aftermath of what would happen if the truth were to get out. The voice actor January LaVoy does a fantastic job of bringing Leia to life, really putting the listener in mind of the late Carrie Fisher.
Planet of the Hoojibs
Planet of the Hoojibs is an adaptation of the classic Marvel comic story “Plif” originally written by David Michelinie. First released in 1983, the year Return of the Jedi was released, it’s a real treat for old school fans to hear the voices of comic book favourite Plif, a sort of telepathic space rabbit, thanks to Ted Kryczko’s production and beautifully illustrated in the accompanying booklet with art from Greg Winters.
Last Shot by Daniel Jose Older
Last Shot is an interesting idea; a story focusing on those old scoundrels Han Solo and Lando Calrissian set taking in their swashbuckling past and more pedestrian present day as Solo takes on the most dangerous challenge of all: fatherhood! January LaVoy is a very charismatic Lando and Star Wars regular Marc Thompson yet again brings Han Solo to life in all his irascible glory.
William Shakespeare’s Star Wars by Ian Doescher
And now for something completely different. Star Wars with its romance, adventure, intrigue and magic has always has takled themes that could be described as Shakespearean. In this wonderfully enjoyable audio drama, this takes on a whole new dimension as familiar Star Wars voice actors such as Marc Thompson and Jonathan Davis perform A New Hope as if it were written by William Shakespeare! Hear you find, in iambic pentameter of course, an often-hilarious retelling that’s a treat for the ears.
Tarkin by James Luceno
It was novelist James Luceno who explored the inner workings of Palpatine and his master in Darth Plagueis. In this novel the eponymous Grand Moff Tarkin takes centre stage. This audiobook explores his rise to power, his relationship with Darth Vader and his role in developing the Death Star. Voice actor Euan Morton captures Tarkin’s sinister, clipped voice in this chilling Star Wars adventure.
Myths and Fables by George Mann
Myths and Fables is well worth a listen, partly because it’s so different from most Star Wars audiobooks. It is essentially a book of folk lore and fairy tale, but one set in the Star Wars universe. Narrator James Monroe Iglehart is perfectly suited to this sort of storytelling and the re-orchestrated John Williams music adds a magical quality to this audiobook. Its fantasy elements and characters make it a perfect Star Wars audiobook for the whole family to enjoy.
Aftermath by Chuck Wendig
Aftermath by Chuck Wendig got a lot of criticism when it was released as a novel, mainly because as the book (with its two sequels) that led into the Force Awakens, there was very little of the characters of the original trilogy visible and only Ben Solo of the new characters appears. Even then, he’s just a baby! As a Star Wars story however it’s a great adventure with its central group of protagonists Norra Wexley, Sinjirr, Jas Emari and Temmin feeling like fresh additions rather than stereotypical rehashing of well-loved character types. There are lots of new characters and situations here and veteran narrator Marc Thompson vividly brings everything to life with his great performance.
Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn
Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire might be a Legends book but its characters and situations, from the Emperor’s storehouse Mount Tantis to the sinister Grand Admiral Thrawn, are having a major impact in the current Disney era in both The Mandalorian and The Bad Batch. There are actually two great Heir adaptations, the most recent read by Marc Thompson and the older nineties version read by none other than Denis Lawson, otherwise known as Wedge Antilles.
Asoka by E.K. Johnston
Thanks to the last series of The Mandalorian, Asoka is probably more popular than ever. This audiobook, set after Emperor Palpatine unleashed Order 66, wiping out most of the Jedi, takes us from those dark days to her joining the Rebellion, taking in Obi-Wan, Bail Organa and the droids R2D2 and C-3PO along the way. The standout element of this audiobook is that it’s narrated by none other than Ashley Eckstein who voiced Ahsoka on the Clone Wars and Rebels animated series.
Darth Bane: Path of Destruction by Drew Karpyshyn
The Phantom Menace revealed that “Always two there are, a master and an apprentice”. Path of Destruction delivers the history of the set, stretching back 1000 years before the ents of the prequel trilogy, telling the story of the rise of Darth Bane. Regular Star Wars audio performer Jonathan Davis does a great job of conjuring up Bane and the other supporting characters, making this well worth a listen.
Dark Empire by Tom Veitch
Dark Horse’s Dark Empire comic arrived at a time when we needed it, five years after the cancellation of the Marvel series and before the conclusion of the first Thrawn trilogy. It’s an epic tales set a handful of years after the original trilogy, featuring the return of Emperor Palpatine and Boba Fett, decades before The Rise of Skywalker and The Mandalorian. This full cast audiodrama with John Williams’ soundtrack and Ben Burtt’s sound effects also features the return of Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian.
Dark Disciple by Christie Golden
Dark Disciple from Christie Golden is actually based on unfinished episodes of the Clone Wars animated series and focuses on fan-favourite characters Quinlan Vos and Asajj Ventress who have both walked the line between light and dark. The narrator is the incomparable Marc Thompson who yet again manages to bring two very different, complex characters to life.
From a Certain Point of View by Various Authors
There have been many Star Wars anthologies over the year but the first From a Certain Point of View collection is a cut above most. In part it’s to do with when and where it’s set (slap bang in the middle of A New Hope). What elevates this audiodrama though is the excellent voice cast. Not only does it include the cream of the Star Wars audiobooks narrators such as Marc Thompson, it also features stellar performances by Hollywood A-listers like Neil Patrick Harris and Jon Hamm, something unheard of (literally) since the original radio drama. Featuring 40 different stories, there’s something here for everyone.
Darth Plagueis by James Luceno
Darth Plagueis tells the story of the rise of Papatine from his boyhood to the events of The Phantom Menace. The tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise, as revealed in Revenge of the Sith, is what pushes Anakin Skywalker to take the final step towards the Dark Side of the Force. The audiobook tells the full story of Plageuis’ training of Palpatine in all its sinister detail, making full use of the original movie soundtrack and sound effects. Daniel Davis is perfectly cast as the voice of the Sith, bringing both Palpatine and Plagueis to life.
Star Wars Radio Drama by Brian Daley
One of the earliest Star Wars audio productions is also one of the finest. Written by Han Solo
at Star’s End author Brian Daley. The 13 part series with a run time almost four hours longer
than the original film, features all of the deleted scenes from the original script and so much
more including one of Princess Leia’s “mercy missions”, proof that Luke is “one of the best
bush pilots in the outer rim”, Bail Organa, the stealing of the Death Star plans, a mention for
Boba Fett and original trilogy actors Mark Hamill and Anthony Daniels. The Force is definitely
strong in this one!
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