Star Wars: Thrawn – Alliances by Timothy Zahn (Century, 2018) Zahn’s big picture storytelling doesn’t amount to much but Thrawn remains good value in the moment – a military virtuoso with Sherlockian powers of observation and deduction. Here the chronologically removed but intertwined narratives pair him with both Anakin Skywalker and Darth Vader.
Star Wars: Tarkin by James Luceno (Del Rey, 2014) A relatively slim Star Wars volume, sketching out Tarkin’s formative years in flashback while teaming him up with Vader for a runabout battle of wits against anti-Imperial dissidents. Luceno provides constructive character development for Tarkin, Vader and the Emperor pre Episode IV.
Vader’s Little Princess by Jeffrey Brown (Chronicle Books, 2013) A peon to parenthood, expressed through a comic (and comedic) imagining/retrofitting of the father/daughter relationship between Darth Vader and Princess Leia. Amidst the Star Wars in-jokes, there lie such simple pleasures as tiny Leia cutting love hearts from Vader’s cape.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story dir. Gareth Edwards (2016) Vader seems oddly diminished and the Ewok-on-a-hot-tin-roof scene-cutting may bamboozle new viewers; but other than this, Rogue One is rousingly true to the sea change of ’77: SF, action, drama, comedy. Alan Tudyk steals the show as the mordant, Marvin-like droid K-2SO.
Star Wars: Splinter of the Mind’s Eye by Alan Dean Foster (Del Rey, 1978) Set and first published between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, Foster’s hurriedly written, workmanlike tie-in novel sends Luke and Leia on a meandering, curiously pointless quest, before pitting them (belatedly) against an ineffectual and always-likely-to-be canonically suspect Darth Vader.