It’s that most wonderful time of the year: When all the Star Wars gift books come out. So which ones are worth putting on your gift list for the year?
If you have enjoyed J.W. Rinzler’s previous explorations into A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back, then you are going to flip over his look at The Making of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. It’s just as full of interesting stories and pictures and documents as the previous ones.
Rinzler has had unprecedented access to the archives and to the key players involved with the movies. George Lucas has done several reviews of his material to make sure things are captured correctly. He was also able to find lost interviews and pictures that complete the story for those who are no longer with us.
So yes. This is definitely one to put high on your wish list. However, if you are not an OCD completist nut like myself, you might choose to go the Enhanced Edition route and read it on your Kindle, instead. The book is heavy. The print is small for my old eyes. (Old Fart Fan, here.) And while it’s delightful to spend a few hours doing nothing but flipping pages and looking at the glorious pictures and layout, reading it on a Kindle-compatible device is much easier on both the eyes and back. Plus, the Enhanced Edition also had some pretty amazing video and audio that hasn’t been seen before. SO cool.
Go forth. Add it to the list.
Santa Maul would approve if you decided to put both the book and the enhanced versions on it. It’s only right.
Last week, Konami introduced Star Wars: Force Collection, a card battling game for mobile platforms (Android/iPhone/iPad). I think I’m addicted to it, but I can’t say that I’m actually having any fun. It has plenty of Star Wars graphics and sounds, but has very repetitive and incredibly simple gameplay, though it may appeal to those who like to accumulate rewards and level up. Here’s my review and a simple gameplay guide and tips for Force Collection:
Razor’s Edge is the first book of the Empire and Rebellion series but it is, as promised, very much a standalone story.
I found the book to be a bit of a throwback – in a good way. Like Kenobi, it’s a straightforward, streamlined Star Wars story, though this one wouldn’t have been out of place back in the Bantam era… If you look back at it with a warm fuzzy glow that erases most of the silly parts.
Minor spoilers beyond this point.
Kenobi is John Jackson Miller’s second Star Wars novel and his first featuring a movie character, and quite possibly the best one of the year thus far.
This is a Star Wars novel fitting firmly in the current trend of books that require one to know very little beyond the films themselves. In fact, it’s exactly the kind of novel whose lack we’ve been mourning for quite some time: An character-centric adventure that doesn’t have galaxy-shaking consequences and is none the less exciting or interesting for it.
Minor spoilers beyond this point.
I’m so glad there’s going to be a sequel trilogy, because I can only imagine how much more disappointed I’d be in Crucible if that wasn’t a factor.
It’s not that I was expected a masterpiece, mind you. I freely admit that Denning’s books have never been favorites of mine. But I was hoping for something a little bit different this time. Something at least a little fresher than what we’ve been getting in the ‘modern’ era of the Expanded Universe. Something that lets the Big 3 go off into retirement with one last fun adventure.
Crucible is not that book. It’s just more of same uninspired EU we’ve been getting far too much of in this era – very much a followup to Fate of the Jedi – trying too hard to be profound and failing.
(Yes, there are spoilers beyond this point.)
Dawn of the Jedi: Into the Void is not really my kind of Star Wars book. It’s very much not my era and while I’ve bought some of the Dawn of the Jedi comics, I haven’t actually read any of them yet. But you know? I tried it, and despite my long tendency to not get more than a chapter or two into most Star Wars books set before Return of the Jedi, I kept reading. And I actually enjoyed it.
The Dawn of the Jedi period – introduced in a a comic from John Ostrander and Jan Duursema – is set about 36,000 years before A New Hope, in the earliest days of the Jedi (here called Je’daii) before the Old Republic. Into the Void is actually my first encounter with it, and while some questions are certainly raised, I think it’s safe to say that one doesn’t to know anything about the comics to enjoy the book.
Some spoilers beneath the cut, but nothing major.
Ascension is the second to the last in the Fate of the Jedi series. It picks up where Conviction left off: the Jedi coup that brought down Chief of State Natasi Daala has left a large hole temporarily filled by Wynn Dorvan, Senator Haydnat Treen, and Saba Sebatyne. This triumvirate, an emergency leadership put in place during a rough transition of power, was not meant to last long. Encouraged by the revolutionary group Freedom Flight and the efforts of the peaceful rebel leader Rokari Kem of Qaas, planets across the galaxy are abolishing slavery and clamoring to join the Galactic Alliance. In the midst of political meetings discussing which planets are ready to join, political rivals seeking to take power for themselves begin making plans that could have large repercussions for these mostly non-human worlds.
We’re heading into the final stretch of the season for Star Wars: The Clone Wars, with the last two episodes of the Ahsoka arc coming this way in the next two Saturdays. ‘Sabotage’ put a terrorist attack on the Jedi Temple, with Ahsoka catching the culprit, but ‘The Jedi Who Knew Too Much’ now has Ahsoka on the run, framed for killing that suspect, and some clonetroopers I do a little reviewing and catch up on other reviews and news for The Clone Wars:
I’ve been struggling with how to approach this arc, and I guess I wasn’t the only one. When these four episodes premiered at Celebration VI, it looked as if Lucasfilm wasn’t sure what to do with them. Maybe the Powers That Be™ thought the story skewed a bit too young, maybe they were considering it for a possible spin-off series, maybe they just didn’t know if it was any good. Those are all guesses, I honestly have no idea. All I know for sure is this: I won’t review this arc. I can’t.
Here’s why. If you haven’t seen this arc, it’d be a crime to ruin any of it for you. This is the flat-out best work this show has ever done. The characterizations are smart and layered, the action is breathtaking, the emotions are earned, the gags are funny, the pacing is superb, the casting is brilliant and the voicework in general is a joy to hear. In short, each and every creative decision is terrific. Even characters who should be tired by now feel fresh and surprising. So instead of a review, consider this a challenge: if you don’t watch The Clone Wars, take my word for it and check out these four episodes. I’ll burn you a DVD if you can’t find them on your own! This show keeps managing to top its own high-standards, and this storyline really illustrates just how far the series has come.
One of the weird realizations about The Big Announcement is that if they’re going to make Episodes VII through IX, there’s no reason they won’t make Episodes X through XII as well. And if you find the idea of endless Star Wars movies a bit jarring, well, you’re not alone. But the truth is, we’ve already seen new Star Wars movies, because that’s what The Clone Wars has become: a series of longer-form stories, told over several installments. Yes, there are some standalone episodes throw in (and they’re almost always terrific), but it seems like these mini-movies are now the dominant mode. And that can be good. And that can be bad.
Editor’s note: This review covers the whole Onderon arc, episodes 5.02 – 5.05: ‘A War on Two Fronts,’ ‘Front Runners,’ ‘The Soft War,’ and ‘Tipping Points.’