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A novel by R.A. Salvatore (2002, Del Rey)
Book 2 of the Star Wars Prequels
22 years before Star Wars: A New Hope

An investigation into an attempted murder leads to love for one Jedi, and the discovery of clone and droid armies.



4 stars

Read January 26th to 31st, 2014 in hardcover, for the 2nd time  
    The novelization of this movie makes the movie much better. Attack of the Clones is my least favorite of the Star Wars movies, but this book is better than all the novelizations except for the brilliant Revenge of the Sith. It takes a mediocre love story and fills it in, so that it defines the book, even becoming the most believable part of the story! Every part of the movie that required emotional attachment is made a hundred times better here. It's only unfortunate that the author could not continue this through the climactic battle, and especially the final scene, in which he simply describes events from a narrator's point of view. Those could have used more introspection, as well.

Spoiler review:

My full spoiler review is actually below, in more detail than I could possibly give these days. I had forgotten how good this novel really was, how it built on everything from the movie, improving every single aspect of it. The author kept in much of Anakin's whininess, and some of the awkward dialog, but that was easily passed over as he dove right back into the characters' introspections.

My comparison below with The Phantom Menace isn't quite fair, either, as that author did expand several scenes, and gave a limited amount of introspection. Unfortunately in that book, much of it was from Anakin's point of view, which I thought rather strange.

I can also finally answer some of the questions I asked in the review below. Palpatine is a risk taker. He proved that ultimately in Revenge of the Sith as he bet his life that Anakin would save him from Mace Windu. He undoubtedly would have had various paths for the clones to be discovered. The Separatists were defeated on Geonosis, but the clones would have to keep fighting the longer war against the droid armies. I guess one of the advantages of seducing a fallen Jedi is that he comes already trained. The young readers' book Legacy of the Jedi shows that Dooku had dabbled with the Dark Side even before he was a Padawan, and always had a lot of pride. It also showed that he and Qui-Gon never had a real relationship, and if we accept that continuity, then there is no way Qui-Gon would join with Dooku.

Regarding Senate politics, I still can't figure out how the Senate could so easily transfer power to create an army to the Supreme Chancellor, yet not agree to create that army by themselves in the first place. Finally, it's unfortunate that we don't get to know more about Qui-Gon's transition to the spirit world even in Revenge of the Sith. But at least we get a hint that Yoda was able to speak to Obi-Wan's former master.

I liked just about everything about this novelization. It expanded on everything that needed expanding, at least until the end. The only inconsistency I saw in the novel was the fact that Taun We had seen Jango after his return from Coruscant before Obi-Wan arrived. Why then did she ask how his trip had gone when she introduced the Jedi to him? In the movie it is clearly implied that he arrived back from the assassination attempt only shortly before. But that is a minor point in an otherwise very well-written book. Besides, the father-son scenes were well worth the inconsistency.

I only wish the author had continued to expand on the inner emotions during the Battle of Geonosis, and especially the aftermath. The fight scenes were shortened to good effect, and the lightsaber fights were expertly described. But when Obi-Wan, Mace and Yoda meet to discuss the Clone Wars and Darth Sidious, and especially the secret wedding between Anakin and Padme, we really needed a lot more introspection. Instead, it was a word-for-word translation from the screen to the page. We didn't even get a character's points of view, as it is all told from a narrator's voice.

Still, though unfortunate, the ending doesn't completely define the book. It is the development of the love story that I noticed most. And to be able to make this story come alive for me is a great thing.


4 stars

Read June 24th to 30th, 2002 in hardcover  
    Very interesting, it moves with much better pacing than the movie, and offers intriguing insights.

My first comparison with this book is the novelization of Episode I: The Phantom Menace. That book was simply a translation of events onto the page. There was no internal contemplation, no thinking about events. I would have certainly loved to have gotten into Qui-Gon's head as he is talking about the Living Force, or his thoughts with regard to Shmi or Anakin. Unfortunately, that book now seems as hollow at the events-focused Approaching Storm.

In this novelization, there are so many extras, it's amazing. It takes the middle section of the movie, which was rather slow, and revitalizes it. Most importantly, it makes the love story between Anakin and Padmé more realistic, more gradual. We see most of it through Padmé's eyes, and we can see her breaking down, giving in. It is true character development, as opposed to the brief glimpses that we see in the movie.

What also helps tremendously are the scenes that are in the book, but which never made it into the movie. Perhaps they will appear on the DVD. The book actually starts a month before the movie does. Obi-Wan and Anakin are traveling to Ansion -where Anakin has bad dreams about his mother, which were never mentioned in The Approaching Storm. Was it possible that Anakin was thinking of his mother and not Padmé during his troubled interludes in that book? It felt more to me like he was thinking about Padmé, but it's possible I was mistaken.

More importantly, though, Padmé is on Naboo, acting as a senator. She interacts with her sister and her niece and nephew, which hints at her solitude, the conflict between her career and her desire for a family, for unconditional love. This adds immensely to the weight upon her, getting the stage set for Anakin's reappearance into her life, which has been personally unfulfilled, opening the door a crack for the passion that Anakin has for her to break through.

But it also makes it seem like Padmé is latching onto the first person who declares his love for her. Seeing as this is a typical idea in movies, where this happens all the time, it's not so bad as it might seem. But she hadn't thought of Anakin for years, which makes their relationship seem more like a rebound on her part -not from another lover, but from loneliness. Stepping into that crack in her defenses, Anakin's obsession overwhelms her, so that he doesn't give her the opportunity to think it through, and she must give in. But who knows: at "her age", Anakin might be the only suitor who would come calling. I don't think so, but then, I am obsessed with her too! But Padmé seems to think so, and that's what is important.

Padmé's family also helps make the situation more realistic. I wonder whose last name is Amidala? I was certain that Padmé's real last name was Naberrie, and that Amidala was just her political name. I wonder, because it is never explained. Her father's last name, I am certain, is Naberrie.

But I just loved their dinner conversation, and after-dinner conversation. Her parents and sister want her to retire. Their concern is so real, so touching. They also want her to fall in love, so desperately that they, too, are willing to settle for the first person she brings home. They don't understand the life of duty above love. They think, like all parents, that she should settle down and have a family. And they can see Anakin's love for her shining through -as well as her attraction to him, even if it isn't love yet. That gives more weight to Padmé's statement later on that they "would be living a lie -one we couldn't keep secret anyway". Their love is so obvious, to everybody, that there is no way they could keep it secret.

The other extended scenes were even better. Once again, we start a month before the movie does, this time on Tatooine, in the Lars homestead. The first chapter was brilliantly wonderful! I love Owen and Beru. They are perfect, and fit perfectly in with the roles they will take in A New Hope. Every scene they appeared in, except for the awkward "small-talk" between Beru and Padmé near the end of their stay, were stolen by those two. I especially loved the sarcastic barbs traded between Beru and her future father-in-law. That hit home. The food-fight was wonderful. I can see Beru being such a fun-loving person, with an attitude and a wit to match that of Cleigg Lars. Everything about them felt like a real family.

Of course, we get Shmi's viewpoint about her extended family, how she loves them all, how Beru will fit into the family perfectly whenever she and Owen get married. We see how she put coverings on C-3PO, and how she always talked about Anakin and hoped to see him again, wondering where he was, how he was succeeding at being a Jedi Knight. It was very touching. After she is captured by the Tusken Raiders, we actually get to see the chase by the moisture farmers, and the way Cleigg loses his leg, and only four people return. Very powerful stuff, written extremely well by this talented writer.

The rest of the story follows the movie very well, words describing events, and adding thoughts to them, making them come alive. The chase at the beginning went on for a little too long -something that happens in the movie, as well. But the climactic battle, both in the arena and afterwards, between the clone troopers and the droid armies, and then between the Jedi and Count Dooku, were really exciting. I especially liked the description of Dooku's fighting style, and the explanation that it was very different, in an ancient style long ago abandoned by most Jedi -and that's why he had the upper hand. And then there was the description of Yoda's fighting.- how he barely even seemed to touch the ground, or even the Count's lightsaber. He truly is a Jedi Master. And I think he wanted to keep Dooku alive, which is why he failed in capturing his former apprentice.

I feel the same way about the rest of the book as I did about the movie. Some things were good, others left me unimpressed -but that's more a problem with the story than with this book. After all, the story wasn't conceived by the author. But it looks like the author tried to tidy it up a bit. And the things that he has the characters think, and the things that he says from a narrative point of view, really made me think about the way things in the Prequel era are progressing. And so I have a few questions...

1. How much does Palpatine know?!? Did he know that Jango Fett would use a Kaminoan poison dart to kill Zam Wesell? That is the only reason Obi-Wan found out about the Clone army. I imagine that the original plan was for the separatists to attack with their droid army, and then somehow, for the clone army to be discovered -but how would that have happened? I wonder about what his backup plan was. The same thing happened in The Phantom Menace. Things didn't go as planned, but the end result was pretty much the same. Here, the clones have taken the war to the separatists. But I can't figure out what the Clone War is that Yoda talks about. Will the clone army continue to attack, even worlds that are not threatening to separate? Or will they even attack worlds that have already separated -will they force these planets back into the Republic? I want to know more... Hopefully Episode III will answer some of this.

2. If Tyranus hired Jango Fett to create a clone army in place of Sifo-Dyas ten years ago, was he an apprentice to Sidious right after Maul died? How quickly did he get turned to the Dark Side of the Force? I guess we will find out in Episode III, once again, since it should happen to Anakin then. I thought it took a long time to nurture Maul; how long had Palpatine been courting Dooku? But I also wonder if Dooku is planning to betray his master. Giving the name of Sidious as a Dark Lord of the Sith, and telling Obi-Wan that he is in charge of the Senate, seems like it might be a betrayal. Given that Vader was, according to the expanded universe, always plotting against his master, I suppose it should not be a big surprise if this is so.

3. If the Senate could easily vote "special powers" to Palpatine, why could they not use the same efficiency to vote for the creation of a Republic Army? And I don't understand what Bail Organa was saying when he mentioned that Amidala could be the only one to start this vote. Was he not in opposition to the army? Would he then not be reversing his decision as well?

4. I find it very interesting that Yoda and the Jedi do not know about the spirit staying in the realm of the living after death. If Qui-Gon is the first to do so, Yoda and Obi-Wan, as well as Anakin Skywalker, must have studied this possibility later on. I really hope we get some information on this in Episode III.

But the most interesting parts of the book are the parts that are not in the movie. They gave more insight, and made the movie make a little more sense. We hear about the twenty people who have left the Jedi Order -perhaps this is only in recent times, for it sounds like a very few for an organization thousands of years old. Obi-Wan gets a scary vision of Anakin and Dooku superimposed. His thoughts made the scene with the Jedi children more clear, when we learn of his presumption, and the presumption that adults and Masters can make: it doesn't occur to him or Yoda that the archive records could be altered -only to the younglings. And I thought Padmé's barb to Dooku after he offers her release on certain conditions was very well placed. He claims it is democracy, but she knows that it is really what the Empire will become: survival of the fittest, with blackmail and bribery all the way to the top. There were also some neat scenes that expanded the father-son relationship between Boba and Jango Fett, which I enjoyed immensely.

So I really enjoyed this book, and it is worth reading, just for the expanded roles that everybody has. It offered many more insights than the movie, because we could get inside the characters' heads. And that seems to be more important in this movie than in any of the others, especially concerning the love story, which was otherwise underdeveloped.



A graphic novel by Henry Gilroy, Jan Duursema, Ray Kryssing, and Drew Struzan (2002, Dark Horse Comics)


4 stars

Read on January 25th, 2003  
    Quite impressive, I must admit. Although the colors were not as vibrant as they could have been, the art had so much detail, and the story seemed even tighter than the movie.

The advantage to a graphic novel is also its disadvantage. Graphic adaptations cannot be too wordy, nor can they convey everything that a movie or book can. The authors have to be very sparing in what they include. For this adaptation, it is a great advantage, as the movie was not as tightly scripted as it should have been. Much of the dialog differs from the movie, even slightly, and in almost every case, it ends up being better than the script.  The best dialog from the movie, like the meeting with Watto, is left unchanged.

The graphic novel also shortens many of the long overdrawn sequences from the movie, making them more palatable. Fast panels show us the speeder chase through Coruscant, and later, the ground battle on Geonosis is much reduced, improving the flow of the movie.

The battles, however, cannot convey the sheer spectacle on the drawn page, at least not in this case. It's been a couple of years, but I remember vividly the spectacular battles drawn in the X-Wing comics, especially Mandatory Retirement, as well as Crimson Empire. Those details are not replicated here. Although the lightsaber fights fare better, they can't do justice to what the movie provides, which makes this a good compliment to the film.

Having just re-read The Phantom Menace graphic novel, I noticed some similarities of style, and while they improved on the flow from that book, many of the things that I fault there appear in this book as well. Apparently the writers didn't have the dislike I do of the numerous narrative boxes, telling us what is going on, while we can see that for ourselves.  Still, there seemed to be fewer of those, as the action didn't move from place to place as often as in that book. One improvement in this book is giving Obi-Wan some thoughts when he is hanging from the droid over Coruscant. Unfortunately, that is the only scene where we get to delve into the characters' heads. Otherwise, it's completely vocalized.

One set of narrative boxes that I did like was the apparent defeat of Dooku at the hands of Yoda. Those boxes could have been his thoughts as he realizes that he has to get away instead of fighting a losing battle, and is presented more clearly than in either the movie or in the novelization.

The artistry gives us nice details in most every scene. Impressive full page spreads of Padmé and Anakin kissing on Naboo, and the first time we see the clone troopers, deserve the space devoted to them. Shmi's death looks a lot better than it did in the movie, though Padmé's recovery after her fall on Geonosis was missing, and needed to be shown. I liked the inclusion of the "deleted scenes", especially the trial on Geonosis and Padmé's reappearance at the Senate at the beginning. (She also seems to show a lot more cleavage in this book than in the movie -I'm sure she can use her sexiness to great advantage in her profession...)

In all, much more structured than Episode I, and though not a perfect graphic novel story, it was a very good adaptation.


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