• Dylan Kling

EU by the Numbers: Ranking the Star Wars Legends books by Era

A bit over two months ago I set out to find out what were the best and worst books in the EU. Not by one person's opinion, but the opinions of the masses to get a rough estimation of what the fans consider to be the best and worst books. In that quest I scoured five of the most popular websites that allow users to give ratings to books. These being Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, LibraryThing, and anobii. I compiled all 1,522,923 user ratings on those sites of the over 280 EU novels into excel sheets so I can break down that data. Last month I compared the books to each other, ranking them and then breaking down the numbers further first looking at the adult novels, then the YA novels then all together. If you just want to see that or an explanation in how I got the numbers and the methods I used to calculate them you can do read it here.


Today is the last of the articles that I originally planned for this series back when I started, and will be looking at each era within the Star wars Legends timeline and how the books of that era stack up. This will be covering both adult and YA books but I can do further articles on each of those individually if there is enough demand for it.


Now if you've read my previous articles in this series where I explain the difference between the average and weighted average and what that means you can skip the next paragraph. But for those that don't I'll run through it again.


Lets say you have 10 books, each have a number of people that have given it a rating out of 5 stars, and an aggregated rating based on those ratings. How would you determine what the average rating of these books are? Well you could just take each book's aggregated rating and add them together then divide by 10. This would be the standard way of calculating averages and would give you a rating that was the average of the 10. However, what if those books don't have the same number of ratings? What if one or two books have well over twice the number of ratings as the others? Well to calculate the ratings by average wouldn't be fair, as more people have given those books the ratings they have than the others. So you could figure out the total number of stars each book got by multiplying the aggregated rating by the numbers of ratings. Then add each book's total number of stars together, and divide by the total number of people that gave a rating. This would give you a weighted average, and ensure that those books that more people gave a rating to are weighted more than those books that didn't. For the more mathematically inclined the formula looks like this.



Now if you aren't familiar with the nine eras in legends they are give or take

Before the Republic 37000 BBY - 25000 BBY

Old Republic 5000 BBY - 100 BBY

Rise of the Empire 100 BBY - 0 ABY

The Clone Wars 22 BBY - 19 BBY

Dark Times 19 BBY - 0 ABY

Rebellion 0 ABY - 5 ABY

New Republic 5 ABY - 25 ABY

New Jedi Order 25 ABY - 40 ABY

Legacy 40 ABY and beyond


Books that span multiple eras or have flashbacks were categorized in the era where a majority of the story took place. Listing them by Star Ratings from highest to lowest we get the following two lists for the average and weighted average.


So with all of that here is the ranking. I didn't leave number ranks as this list is a lot smaller than all the others. And as always this is not by opinion. This is just the data of over 1.5 million user star ratings. So don't get mad at me if your favorite era didn't do as well as you think it should.

(Left Average, Right Weighed Average)


Interestingly the top three eras don't change but the others are completely jumbled up. Number of books doesn't seem to have any appreciable effect on how highly rated they are.

Old Republic being the highest is no surprise, Clone wars in second is interesting as it it controversial with MMP and TCW fans each thinking their part of clone wars is the best and either not knowing or hating the other. But what I think what happened is that MMP fans were the only ones leaving star ratings on MMP books and TCW fans were the only ones that left star ratings on TCW. Thus it comes in second.


To further see the difference between the average and weighted average I calculated the percent difference and sorted them by highest.


You'd expect that the era with the most books would be the highest here and that is the case. This is most likely due the the fact that the era in question, the New Republic Era contains the Thrawn Trilogy which as I have covered in previous articles is a complete outlier when it comes to the number of ratings. The difference likely is due to the high variability between that trilogy and everything else. Second is rebellion which is somewhat famous for having a lot of books of veritable quality so no surprises there. Rise of the Empire however despite having the second highest book count is actually the third most consistent between the two ways of calculating the averages.


Finally a look at the total ratings and ratings per book. This is more a pseudo measure of popularity as more ratings means more people have probably read it, but it is a bit imperfect for this as it is only showing how many people had a strong enough opinion to leave a user star rating. But the numbers are interesting nonetheless so I'll include them.


(Left Total ratings, Right Ratings per book)


So at the time of writing this, which is in mid July that is all I have planned for this series. Sorry it took so long to come out, Blame Matt and his insistence that we always be a month and a half ahead of articles. But if any of you have given any good ideas throughout my coverage of these numbers that I haven't already done I'm sure I'll be publishing those findings in, maybe a month or two I honestly don't know. But as always leave your thoughts, observations, and suggestions in the comments. And until next time.


This article is part of a series of articles, click here for the previous article in the series

To see more EU news, updates, and original content about the Expanded Universe, click here!

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