And by recent, I mean, within the last couple of years.
Star Wars: Tarkin
This novel explains the rise and career of Wilhuff Tarkin, up to his appointment as a Grand Moff. It jumps from period to period (boy, young Judiciary Force commander, Imperial Officer), skipping over his appearances in Clone Wars. If you thought Tarkin just got a bad rep for blowing up an entire planet just to test the Death Star, but was otherwise an okay guy, then this book will correct you of that gross misjudgment of character.
Star Wars Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel
This novel starts right near the end of the Old Republic, and goes up to a couple of years before Rogue One: A Star Wars Story starts. It is primarily a story about Galen Erso and Orson Krennic, particularly since Jyn isn’t born, and when she, is she is a young child. It explains some of the hardships it took to construct the first Death Star aka, the 20 year project to build a moon-sized space station. (And yet, they built a second functional one like 4 years later which was larger in size). This book doesn’t exactly endear anyone to Galen Erso, either.
Star Wars: Ahsoka
This novel explores the life of Ahsoka Tano between the time she left the Jedi Order in Clone Wars up to her appearance in Rebels. Ahsoka is just trying to make a life for herself post Jedi Order, until she starts to encounter Palpatine’s plans to not only eradicate the Jedi, but to make sure a new generation doesn’t show up later. The book is fairly similar to Star Wars: A New Dawn, in that you see a Jedi trainee post Order 66 find their way drifting towards rebellion of the Empire.
Star Wars: Aftermath: Empire’s End
I didn’t read the other two Aftermath books, but this novel details the Battle of Jakku and how the Empire came to be defeated, and how The First Order came into being. I read this book because a YouTube video I watched eluded to information about Snoke in it. I got nothing more from the book than the single sentence that was stated in the video. Also, in this book Jar Jar Binks is alive and living in disgrace on some random planet. Probably to make sure people didn’t think he was Snoke.
Star Wars: Bloodline
This novel details how Leia Organa went from being a prominent political figure (after the New Republic was founded) to becoming a general in the Resistance. Luke Skywalker and Ben Solo are completely absent, and Han Solo is mostly absent.
Star Wars: Thrawn
Perhaps the most popular Legends character, Thrawn crawled out of exile to come into full Star Wars canon via Rebels. Here, his discovery on a remote planet and being brought to Palpatine’s attention is told nearly the same as was in the short story Mist Encounter at the end of Star Wars: Outbound Flight (Legends). The book then follows him through his Imperial Navy career until reaching the rank of Grand Admiral. A followup book is to be released in 2018.
Star Wars: Phasma
Some people love Captain Phasma, that character you see for two minutes in each The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. This book tells of Phasma’s origin story (as told second hand by a resistance fighter under interrogation) and her introduction and rise in The First Order. To me, it helps explain why Phasma was willing to lower the shield generator in The Force Awakens.
Star Wars: The Legends of Luke Skywalker
This book is a collection of stories told second or third hand to children on a spaceship while in transit. All of these stories are the same, in that some people get into trouble, and someone who may or may not have been Luke Skywalker intervenes and then disappears. None of these stories provide any insight into what Luke Skywalker has been doing for the last 30 years, unless all he does is aimlessly wander the galaxy helping a few people at a time. One story takes place during and immediately following the Battle of Jakku (although his presence is not mentioned in Aftermath: Empire’s End). So at least in The Last Jedi when Rey tells Luke she is from Jakku and Luke knows that planet, this is one possible reason why (the other one being that the Battle of Jakku was probably pretty well known throughout the New Republic). Perhaps the fault it mine, for hoping a book coming out a few weeks before The Last Jedi would have some meaningful information about Luke, but since it didn’t, I did not enjoy this book at all.