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A novel by Matthew Stover (2005, Del Rey)
Book 3 of the Star Wars Prequels
19 years before Star Wars: A New Hope

After rescuing Chancellor Palpatine from the Separatists, Obi-Wan goes in search of the military master-mind, while Anakin slowly descends in fear and doubt to the Dark Side.



Read March 13th to 23rd, 2008  
    Of all the Star Wars movie novelizations, this is by far the best of them. Normally a novelization simply describes what was done, and gives the dialog. Even Attack of the Clones, which professed to go beyond the movie, was little more than that. On the opposite end of the scale, we have the Star Trek Deep Space Nine final episode, What You Leave Behind, which did a horrible job of a good episode.

In this case, the book is like the movie, but different. Some scenes, like R2D2 squaring off against battle droids on Grievous' ship, are omitted altogether, and for good reason. Here, we get thoughts and feelings, motivations and background, so that it feels like a novel and stands alone as such. It's almost as if the movie was made from the novel.

Having said that, there were things I didn't like about the novel, primarily dealing with style. The present-tense passages, often starting with phrases like "this is Anakin Skywalker", or "this is how it feels to be Obi-Wan right now" left me annoyed. It breaks into the story unnecessarily. If the author had continued with the narrative the way it was up to those points, I would have liked it better.

As with the movie, I didn't believe Anakin's sudden obedience to slaughter all Jedi. His attitude in the book is much, much darker than in the movie, making his fall to the Dark Side much more believable. Still, although the author added passages to explore motivations in other questionable passages from the movie, I wasn't convinced that Palpatine had shown Anakin why ALL the Jedi must die, including potential young future Sith apprentices like the younglings.

The book starts out almost right after Labyrinth of Evil ends, with Obi-Wan and Anakin popping out of hyperspace into the battle around Coruscant. Indeed, this novel contains more than its fair share of references to that novel, including the search for Sidious and Mace Windu's lightsaber battle with Grievous. I was pleasantly surprised, as it made the transition much more continuous. 

The author spends a full 150 pages exploring the dynamics between Obi-Wan and Anakin as they rescue Palpatine. That would seem like excessive time over a much shorter sequence in the movie, except that he really does it well, and it was by far my favorite part of the book. In a novel like this one, it is necessary to show how much of a friendship these two characters have, such that they are almost inseparable, so that their fall from friendship at the end is such a huge contrast. Indeed, it is shown that Anakin is well balanced when Obi-Wan is around, but as soon as his former mentor is out of the picture, Anakin starts to have doubts. This is when he killed an unarmed Dooku out of hatred. This is when he fell to the seduction of the Dark Side. In fact, Anakin often laments that he wished he could talk to Obi-Wan, because Kenobi would know how to make things clear.

I especially liked Dooku's point of view. If we didn't already know it, Dooku reveals in the first pages of the book that Palpatine is Sidious. He wonders about testing Anakin, and how he would make himself suffer the indignity of being "captured" by the young Jedi. As the battle progresses, he realizes how much Anakin has grown since they last fought, and he finds himself in trouble. He realizes how he has been sacrificed, then, when Palpatine tells Anakin to kill the Sith lord.

Several of the locations and events were different enough that I wondered how long before production had started was this book written. However, the scene in the opera house, as I understand it, was a relatively late addition to the movie, and to incorporate it into the book would have been a challenge if that was the case. The changed events are mostly better, simply because they have the opportunity to expand several conversations. I didn't really like the way the Council seemed to be acting for Anakin when Yoda went to Kashyyyk, though, as I didn't find it necessary.

Obi-Wan was my favorite character of the book, here, and it seems that he was the author's favorite, also. His style is described as attuned to the living Force, so that he becomes one with it and can do anything. He is described as the most powerful Jedi, different from Anakin, who is raw force. Obi-Wan is refined, calm, and at peace. When the time comes to battle Grievous, he lets everything go. This is what it means to have no attachments. When Anakin turns to the Dark Side, Obi-Wan realizes that he has become attached to the young man, and when necessary, lets that attachment slide away, as well. Obi-Wan embodies, here, what Yoda means when he tells Luke in The Empire Strikes Back that the Dark Side is not stronger. Yoda's comments here aside, I believe Obi-Wan could have defeated Palpatine if he had gone to the Senate chambers.

The climactic battle was short compared to the opening sequence, because it was mainly a visual scene, better suited to a movie screen than to a description in a book. Still, the author injects some of the counterpoint to their friendship from the earlier scenes.

Padmé gets more to do here than in the movie. She doesn't want to know about the Alliance to Restore the Republic that Mon Mothma, Bail Organa and Garm Bel Iblis are organizing. Interesting that those three did not add their signatures to the list of two thousand senators who wanted Palpatine to organize peace talks. It seems that everybody knows how corrupt Palpatine is, but few are willing to oppose him. Palpatine even shows Anakin that he knows about their marriage. Even Obi-Wan knows Anakin's thoughts regarding Padmé, though he pretends not to, for Anakin's sake. Apparently, though, voluminous robes are sufficient to hide the fact that Padmé is five months pregnant from everybody.

There is a lot to like about this novel, and little to dislike. I was very much impressed with the depth of character the author brought to what could have been another dry description of a movie script. Instead, this was different ... but the same.




A graphic novel by Doug Wheatley and Miles Lane (2005, Dark Horse Comics)


Read August 5th, 2013, in hardcover  

It must be very difficult to decide what to put into a graphical adaptation of a long movie, but that doesn't excuse the fact that most of the movie was lost in this one. The artwork was great -I really loved the way the artists drew and colored Obi-Wan. No space was wasted, but several times I felt like I had missed some key moments. On the other hand, some scenes were made just a little more powerful. I still didn't believe in Anakin's conversion to the Sith, but there was some dialog between Anakin and Palpatine that made their connection even stronger than it is in the movie.


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