A Reader's Guide to Rogue One - Part 1: Books
Rogue One is my favorite Star Wars movie for so many different reasons and we have been absolutely blessed with literary content surrounding this masterpiece of a film! There are 6 novels (not including the novelizations), at least 4 short stories, 3 comic series arcs, a one-shot comic, and a "Star Wars Adventures: Tales From Wild Space" comic in addition to adaptations that make connections to Rogue One.
There is so much out there and it is all wonderful! I love how the canon has seamlessly incorporated various aspects of this movie in such a way that it feels like the story has always been there--an exceptional feat. In this article, I’m going to cover the 6 books that have connections and in a later article will cover the short stories and comics. All of the books listed here are prequels to the film.
We’ll start with the adult book that was a perfect segue if read before seeing the movie, something I was lucky enough to be able to do--Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel by James Luceno. Here we see the birth of Jyn and her very early childhood, first on Vallt (in captivity at the hands of Separatists) and then on Coruscant (where Galen works on Project Celestial Power). We also witness the rise of Krennic and learn about his past as he slowly becomes Director of the Advanced Weapons Research Division of the Imperial Security Bureau. Needless to say, the galaxy moves from being a Republic to being an Empire over the course of this book and it is fascinating seeing how the government transitions so seamlessly as if it was primed and ready to become an Empire from the moment Palpatine became Chancellor. It is laid out clearly how Galen (someone who truly does care about others) got suckered into working on a super-weapon. Krennic told him he was working on more efficient energy sources by way of the kyber crystals so that poorer worlds would have a better chance at life. And we even get to see the construction of the Death Star by Geonosian workers--a wonderful and apt connection to the prequels. This novel contains a great deal of intrigue, government cover-ups, backstory, and perfectly slides right into the movie itself. It is the quintessential Rogue One companion and I have high hopes that Resistance Reborn will do the same for The Rise of Skywalker!
If you’ve ever said something to the effect of, “I didn’t really connect with Jyn Erso” or “I don’t know enough about her to care about her as a character,” look no further than Rebel Rising by Beth Revis. This young adult novel delves super deeply into Jyn’s experiences post-Lahmu--both during and after Saw took care of her as his ward--and in thus doing develops her motives and life experiences to help us understand her character more in depth. Let me tell you right now, this girl never had it easy. From the moment she was born, she was essentially imprisoned (as shown in Catalyst), and she spent her formative years as a part of what was basically a terrorist organization. The fact she had such a problem signing on to the Rebellion makes perfect sense when taking this book into account.
Wrea, where Jyn lives with Saw, is a planet in the Outer Rim covered in mostly water and dotted with islands. The two seem to live pretty much by themselves on this planet except for the frequent visits by various fighters loyal to Saw’s cause. The pair practice combat against strung up defunct droids and empty clone armor both with blasters and hand-to-hand weapons. And out on missions, Saw’s Partisans carry out acts of unspeakable violence, acts even Saw doesn’t want Jyn to actually see.
Eventually the moment comes when Saw leaves Jyn and it is a truly heartbreaking scene with Saw barely alive and Jyn hiding away, knowing he’s going to come back for her. Jyn gets a second chance at life on Skuhl, an Outer Rim planet covered in seas of blue-green grass, where she becomes part of a family...until the Empire arrives and she escapes (again, everything around this escape is heartbreaking) to Five Points Station, her last way point in the free world before being taken to prison on Wobani. This novel leads us up through the moment in the Rebel briefing room where General Draven, Mon Mothma, and Cassian Andor ask for her help, that moment carrying so much more impact for what the rest of the book contains.
This leads us to Guardians of the Whills by Greg Rucka, a truly unique view into Baze Malbus and Chirrut Imwe’s lives and minds over a three month time span a few months before the events of Rogue One. This middle grade novel has such a different format and style from any other Star Wars book I’ve read, with it peering into emotions, sensations, and feelings from Baze and Chirrut as they experience inner turmoil and hardship time and time again both in regards to the Empire’s tightening grip on Jedha and their new relationship with Saw’s Partisans. The way this is executed is brilliant and the book is such a smooth read. The content and musings are all very adult for this being a young reader so don't let that label scare you away. We learn that Chirrut is not Force-sensitive in any sense but perhaps is Force-intuitive. For example, the narrative says, "Chirrut Imwe was not a Jedi. He was not, by any means a Force user. But what he could do, what he had spent years upon years striving for the enlightenment to do, was-sometimes-feel the Force around him. Truly, genuinely feel it, if only for a moment, if only tenuously, like holding his palm up to catch the desert sand that blew into the city at dawn and at dusk. Be, however fleetingly, one with the Force." But this book doesn't lack action either, that's certainly there in spades, with Chirrut and Baze deeply in the middle of it all.
The Solo: A Star Wars Story adult novelization by Mur Lafferty surprisingly has a connection to Rogue One in the Epilogue and it is beautiful! Jyn at the young age of 11 and Enfys Nest at the maturing age of 18 meet. Enfys warns the young girl that people will underestimate her because of her age and says, "Make them regret it." Jyn ends up turning this back on Enfys saying that Saw will underestimate her. The narrative then says, "Enfys smiled to herself. The girl learned fast. They might be in good hands after all." And we all know that they most certainly were! You can definitely tell through this interaction that Jyn is a smart and confident girl...the same girl who about a decade later rallies an entire cadre of Rebel soldiers to disobey orders and go onward to the fight of their lives.
A super fun entry into Rogue One lore is the middle grade novel The Mighty Chewbacca in the Forest of Fear! by Tom Angleberger, starring, of all characters, K-2SO!...disguised as an Imperial cargo droid with the call sign K-2SB. He’s just as K-2SOy as ever, always complaining in his lovable deadpan manner. One of my favorite lines from him was "Requesting permission to use deadly force."...against a herd of tooka-cats.
At one point toward the beginning, he is asked to cart around an anti-grav crate for them to carry supplies in and he can't let the fact go that he gets the crate safely from one point to the next. The whole situation is, simply put, hysterical. The plot of the story is that Chewbacca is on a mission across the planet Ushruu, along with a girl named Mayv, a tooka-cat named Goldie, and K-2SO of course, to find an ancient Sith tome and bring it back to a woman who is holding Han hostage! But K-2SO is there because he’s on his own mission from Cassian and doesn’t want the Sith tome ending up in the hands of Palpatine. So although he’s a good guy, his plan is to thwart the mission at whatever cost possible. The Chewie content is fantastic here as well!
And lastly, we have Leia, Princess of Alderaan, a young adult novel by Claudia Gray in which Leia is 16. Toward the beginning of the book, she aids Wobani before it was an Imperial prison world. At this time it is filled with refugees. Apparently it was a farming and manufacturing planet barely able to function beyond subsistence...then Palpatine stepped in with a "Commodities Enhancement Program" that came with impossible quotas leading to a destitute Wobani population and a barren planet.
The young princess oversteps her role and acts before her father Bail can carry out his own plan to help the ailing planet. I love getting these connections to how planets came to be what we know of them as in the movies. This was a bit of deeply interesting lore that made the Wobani prison camps all the more saddening.
So that's it for novels that include connections to Rogue One. As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, we are blessed! These aren't just direct movie tie-in novels, but also novels that deepen our understanding of characters and planets, enriching a story that I personally believe is already fantastic. But I can't complain when they want to give us even more! Stay tuned to discover where else the canon literature connects to this Star Wars story...
Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel by James Luceno
Rebel Rising by Beth Revis
Guardians of the Whills by Greg Rucka
Solo: A Star Wars Story: Expanded Edition by Mur Lafferty
The Mighty Chewbacca in the Forest of Fear! by Tom Angleberger
Leia, Princess of Alderaan by Claudia Gray
I am so excited to have joined the Beyond the Blast Doors Star Wars conversation! As a person who is deeply passionate about every aspect of the galaxy far, far away, I'm always looking for ways to spread my Star Wars joy and love. I've spoken at cons and written articles on a variety of topics but one of my biggest passions is the canon literature. I hope to help you find your way through the Maelstrom because what is out there is truly amazing!