BattleTech lore spans over 1,100 years of wars, events, people, and space exploration, from an alternate version of the Cold War era to the far-flung future. Harebrained Schemes' BattleTech is set in the year 3025, a critical epoch where humanity has been in fractious decline due to centuries of continual warfare with no end in sight.
Like many games that come from tabletop beginnings, BattleTech world-building is split between a variety of novels, sourcebooks, and other supplements—enough to satisfy any lorehound for a lifetime. Here's a brief smattering of recommended readings to really get you invested in the universe of BattleTech.
The Warrior Trilogy
(Warrior: En Garde, Warrior: Riposte, Warrior: Coupé)
This series takes place across the 3020's and establishes a number of characters and organizations that become continually important for the BattleTech timeline. Written by Michael A. Stackpole (who also wrote the special novellas released with HBS' BattleTech), these books deal with the political and military machinations taking place in the core of humanity known as the Inner Sphere. There are also awesome mech battles, of course.
(Lethal Heritage, Blood Legacy, Lost Destiny)
Another era-defining series, these three books capture a picture of the Inner Sphere and its warring Great Houses immediately before the apocalyptic Clan Invasion and their response to the threat of total annihilation. Continuing with the approach of the Warrior trilogy, Stackpole introduces new scions of previous heroes and villains and advances the political landscape. The Clanners and the strangeness of their society and obvious military might are also introduced here.
Illusions of Victory
A personal favorite, Illusions of Victory skips forward over a decade after the start of the Clan Invasion and centers on the game world of Solaris VII. Solaris is a political microcosm of the rest of the Inner Sphere, and rumblings of civil war within neighboring Great Houses has everyone on edge. This book is notable for its entirely standalone nature, being supported by existing lore but not requiring previous knowledge to become immersed. It's a good sampling of everything the BattleTech universe has to offer in terms of action, suspense, intrigue, and giant robot duels. —Ryan Burrell
Technical Readout: 3025
Nominally a resource for tabletop gameplay stats, TRO 3025 is chock full of lore write-ups and full page illustrations for mechs, vehicles, and even spaceships present in the BattleTech universe. Many of these military assets are downgraded remnants from the glory days of the ancient Star League, with in-world deployment histories and notable pilots. This book established the format for all later Technical Readouts as a mixture of mechanics and storytelling.
No article about BattleTech lore would be complete without mentioning the definitive BattleTech wiki, Sarna.net. I made heavy use of Sarna in researching story elements for the BattleTech: Restoration campaign, and it's quickly become one of my favorite resources for deep-diving into the lore and history of the setting. —Andrew McIntosh
Ryan Burrell is a systems and UI/UX designer at Harebrained Schemes, working primarily on its combat gameplay and MechLab experience. He's been enthralled with BattleTech for over 20 years after grabbing his first Technical Readout at the age of 10. His favorite mech is the appropriately named "Awesome." Andrew McIntosh is the principal writer of BattleTech, and has been writing games for HBS since Shadowrun: Dragonfall. His favorite mech is the humble Urbie, a 30-ton trashcan with an enormous gun and stubby little legs.