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A novel by Terry Brooks (1999, Del Rey)
Book 1 of the Star Wars Prequels
32 years before Star Wars: A New Hope

Two Jedi try and settle a blockade on the planet Naboo, face a Sith Lord, and discover a boy with unusual strength in the Force.




Read January 5th to 21st, 2014 in hardcover, for the 2nd time  
    I liked the added detail the book gave compared to the movie, especially since we could get inside the characters' heads. The author seemed to pick some strange choices for point of view characters at times, which was distracting. But for the most part, the book was quite enjoyable. It obviously can't have the visual aspect, and the author gives way too much detail in some parts, while skipping over it completely in others, but overall, the book is worth reading, if only to give this movie some more depth.

Full spoiler review:

As I mentioned below, the novelization of this movie resolves some of the questions raised in the movie, leaves others open and undiscussed, and introduces some of its own. In general, the book was as enjoyable as the movie, but for those who don't like Jar-Jar, he hardly takes up any space, and of course there are no awkward visuals -so it might be better in that respect.

There is mention as the dropships are landing on Naboo that three broke off from the main group to land in a different area of the planet, and these are the ones Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan were on. This explains maybe why they had to go  through the planet's watery core to get to Theed. But how did Boss Nass know the Jedi were looking for that particular city? Presumably there are others, as the dropships must have landed in that location for a reason. But later in the book, just like in the movie, the army of the Gungans (Boss Nass' Gungans) and the Trade Federation droid army meet, and it doesn't seem like either of them have to travel halfway around the planet to do so.

The single droid control ship that remains around Naboo is a major sore point for viewers of the movie, and here it is explained in one line -the Trade Federation doesn't need a blockade any more, since they control the surface of the planet. But it does seem strange that they wouldn't keep a backup nearby.

I liked the way we get to see Anakin before the Jedi meet him, as he crashes the podracer, which he only mentions in the movie, and visits Jawas to trade for what I believe to be the hyperspace parts Qui-Gon needs for the Queen's ship. He also has an interesting encounter with a Tuskin Raider, whom he rescues from a rockslide and watches over through the night. I wonder how much information the author had on the second movie while writing this. As always, it's nice to get inside the characters' heads, the way we can't do so fully in the movie.

While the book improved on many things, it also somehow got the origin of the Sith wrong. I suppose it wasn't completely wrong, as some Jedi did split from the Order to become Sith, but that wasn't their origin, which of course was on Korriban, as documented in Golden Age of the Sith. But the passage seems to have been written without the knowledge of the Knights of the Old Republic comic series. On the other hand, the author might say this was just Qui-Gon's knowledge, which was incomplete...

In all, the book left the story intact, with only a little embellishment, and didn't detract from it much. I was happy to note that unlike The Sword of Shannara, the author did not ramble on for too long. A few chapters were too extended, and those reminded me of the aforementioned book, but it didn't happen too often. Most of what the author added was quite beneficial, and gives Star Wars fans a little more information than was presented in the movie -which is what a novelization is supposed to do.


4 stars

Also read June 16th to 21st, 1999 in hardcover  
    This was quite reminiscent of the movie, but it gave more detail, in character's thoughts and motivations. The Gungan language had obviously not been completely formulated by the time it was written. A couple of plot holes still loomed, like the Sith using a trace when there was no response to the message, but other strange things that happened in the movie were given more time here, and seemed to be explained properly. All in all, the best of all the novelizations of the movies.

There were, however, a few strange things that I thought could have been omitted, like the spacer talking to Anakin, and his fight after the pod race. I also cringed at the "I'm going to marry you someday" that Anakin says to Padmé. That kind of talk, even from such a young boy, is extremely embarrassing to read, even if he thinks she's an angel. I don't want to hear it.




A graphic novel by Henry Gilroy, George Lucas, Rodolfo Damaggio, and Al Williamson (1999, Dark Horse Comics)


3+ stars

Read on January 12th, 2003 for the second time  
    Alright, so this book was not as impressive the second time around. Although strangely enough, as I am ready to watch the movie once more, this has whetted my appetite even further.

I can't complain about the plot, which is very thin in places, with uninspired dialog, because that is not the fault of the graphic novel writers. They do a good job at making much of it exciting, but not an expert job. As an adaptation, this book left a lot to be desired. If I didn't know the story so well, I think it would have been confusing. I think this book was really meant as an accompaniment to the movie, not to be read beforehand. This is because it jumps around all over the place, never with a logical order. So much of the story is necessarily omitted that a lot of the plot actually doesn't make sense!

Knowing the story helps immensely, however, and makes this a smaller issue than it might have been. Similarly for the portrayal of the characters. They look reminiscent of the actors in the movie, but are enough their own visages that it is unnerving.

The one thing that drove me nuts, however, was the constant use of text boxes to tell us where we were! If I wasn't familiar with the story, I would have needed more signposts than they gave. Knowing the story, I certainly didn't need "meanwhile, back in the hangar...", especially when the next frame says "meanwhile, among the Gungans..." or something like that! Instead of telling me that "Captain Panaka clears a path...", show me -actually, that frame does show me, so what is the point of the narrative?

The artwork had moments of good and bad. I loved seeing Naboo from space, as it had an effect that made it seem separate from the rest of the page. The viewscreens were also suitably grainy, another effect that I generally love. There was lots of background stuff in some scenes, where others were perplexingly barren. Most of the time, the colors were fairly muted; fortunately the reactor room was quite vibrant. I would like to know how Obi-Wan would be separated from Maul by only two small beams, though. By the looks of it, he could have ducked under them or leapt over. I guess the final effect wasn't finished at the time of writing. The same goes for the final frame, which depicts Obi-Wan, Anakin and Jar-Jar in the same vein as Han, and Chewbacca at the end of A New Hope, which makes it rather embarrassing.

A nice companion to the movie and the novelization, this book has a hard time standing on its own. It is nowhere near as good as it was the first time I read it, in the full enthusiasm of the first Star Wars movie in sixteen years. Things don't seem as compelling or passionate as they should have. As a refresher for the movie, however, it is quite acceptable.


5 stars

Also read on June 6th, 1999  
    This graphic novel made me feel like I was in the movie theatre again. And it made me desperately want to go see the movie again, right now! It's hard to rate the book honestly, because it brought so many feelings forward from the movie. We'll see after the hype dies down.  

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