ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO CHARACTERS By Andy Mangels (1995, Del Rey)
Read in 1998
I enjoyed this guide at the beginning, but I know why it is not meant to be read cover to cover.
It was a really good refresher on what happens in the novels, comics and
films, indexed by character. Because of when it was published, it
only covers characters from books that were published before the Young
Jedi Knights: Shadow Academy.
ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO VEHICLES AND VESSELS By Bill Smith (1996, Del Rey)
Read in 1999
This guide was quite technical. For a fictional universe, that's quite a sad statement.
I did read this one cover to cover as well, but browsed through a lot of
the text, and almost completely ignored the sketches. There were
small fragments of the stories from the Star Wars universe, but not enough
that I would even browse through it again.
ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO WEAPONS AND TECHNOLOGY By Bill Smith (1997, Del Rey)
Read in 1999
Like the guide to Vehicles, this one was quite dry. The author tried to make it more
realistic by including specifics about the range, model number and manufacturers.
But I think that bogged down any explanations about any of them.
I liked a few of the descriptions, but not enough to keep it even as a
ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO PLANETS AND MOONS By Daniel Wallace (1998, Del Rey)
Read in 1999
Because of its publishing date, this guide makes the best synopsis guide so far. It covers
all books published before The Hand of Thrawn and the Rise of the
Diversity Alliance, indexed by planet. It even includes a list of where the
information for each entry came from. Often this was from many books.
Since I've almost completely forgotten the events from the original Thrawn
trilogy, it was a nice refresher.
ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO DROIDS By Daniel Wallace (1999, Del Rey)
Read in 1999
More interesting than the books about inanimate objects, since droids have personalities,
too, but still not very interesting. Still, there was more reference
to manufacturing and corporate procedures than what the droid actually did,
in most cases.
ESSENTIAL CHRONOLOGY By Kevin J. Anderson and Daniel Wallace (2000, Del Rey)
Read February 1st to March 9th, 2002
A terrific refresher to the entire series before the New Jedi Order,
including The Phantom Menace (the only Prequel
story included). The authors were very fair about what they described, not
favoring any particular books over others, placing the same emphasis on the good
and the bad. I wonder at some of the stories they didn't mention, like the
early X-Wing comics, rather gathering them into the the general phrase "several exploits". I liked the way the authors brought everything together, linking all the events,
and extrapolating between them; even the academic fiction surrounding the whole
book was amusing rather than irritating. Two things could improve this
volume immeasurably, though. First, the drawings and sketches were
terrible! We needed some photos, or better sketches, like in the other
guides. The second thing would be a better bibliography. I want to
know where the small snippets came from. From references in later novels,
events that came years or decades earlier are known. But the bibliography
doesn't tell us which stories they came from, and I am certainly not going to
reread the entire set of books looking for those references, including the game
journals and short stories. As a whole, the book was fantastic, though. A worthy reference, with accurate summaries of most stories. Definitely a
A GUIDE TO THE STAR WARS UNIVERSE By Raymond L. Velasco
This original guide has a neat cover -the best thing going for it- with the Imperial bunker
on Endor and its shield generator dish. It covers everything from
the original Trilogy, Splinter of the Mind's Eye, the newspaper strips,
and the first Ewok adventure. It wasn't very well organized, and
the things/ people that were covered seemed to be picked at random.
A GUIDE TO THE STAR WARS UNIVERSE, SECOND EDITION By Bill Slavicsec
This guide was organized a little better than the first guide, but still seemed a little random
in the items the author chose to write about. It covers everything
published up to the original Dark Empire comics. I didn't read it
cover to cover, but flipped through it every time I read a new Star Wars
book -or every time I couldn't fall asleep!
THE STAR WARS ENCYCLOPEDIA By Stephen J. Sansweet (1998, Del Rey)
This one is sitting nicely on my bookshelf, where I flip through it every time I read a new book
that contains references to the older books. It
is organized like a real encyclopedia, and covers everything up to, but
not including, I, Jedi. I kind of wish they had waited until the
first generation of books was finished, before publishing this one.
But it seems thorough in what it covers.
STAR WARS TECHNICAL JOURNALS By Shane Johnson
Read in 1997
At the time, I thought these three Technical Journals
were worth the money. Then they published it in the giant silver hardcover
version, combining the three into one volume. I don't think the hardcover
is worth it. Even the three magazine format editions are a little low on
substance, now that I look at them. The first one is on Tatooine, followed
by Imperials and Rebels. None are that striking in either the images or
the text or schematics.
COMICS COMPANION 2006, Dark Horse Books By Ryder Windham, Daniel Wallace
Read September 7th to 14th, 2017 A capsule summary of all
comics published by Dark Horse, with limited behind-the-scenes
information and cross-references.
A nice refresher to the
comics that I used to own, but it felt rushed. I enjoyed reliving the
stories that I’ve read many years ago, and appreciated the
cross-references. The descriptions are dry; for a companion guide, I
would expect - and desperately want – some background information. The
small capsules that we are given insufficient, except in a few cases.
Add in plenty of spelling mistakes, forgotten references, and some
outright omissions (such as the Dark Forces trilogy, which admittedly
is more text than artwork, but still published by Dark Horse), and I
think the book could have used more time with the editors.
This book is supposed to be something that readers can look up and
recall (hopefully favorably) the comics that were written in what is
now termed the “legacy” era. In giving summaries, it does a good job,
but it is inconsistent about revealing spoilers. Some comics get large
descriptions about what happens, while others remain vague. Still
others have lots of details but skip the main point, instead switching
to a spoiler box on the same page that tells us who died, or of a
The point is to tell us what happened, but
in a few rare cases, it also gives details about why the comic was
made, or why changes occurred, difficulties, or even continuity
issues. Those were the best part of the book, because I learned
something more about the comic and the universe behind it. Additional
commentary, in the vein of The Deep Space Nine Companion, would have
been very welcome.
It looks like this book was rushed into
publication, too. Several glaring errors in references are easy to
spot (especially when the XX placeholder is still in the text).
Pictures from the comics should have been put on the same page as the
summary, or else had a caption giving us the reference.
book is a companion for comics readers, but only in the sense that I
can revisit the comics without sitting down to read them, most of
which -almost all of which- are scattered around the pages of my
website. I’m happy to see that I didn’t miss any significant
storylines of this era of the comics.