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The Essential Atlas
by Daniel Wallace & Jason Fry, Illustrated by Ian Fullwood, Modi, Chris Reiff, and Chris Trevas

Published by Del Rey


Adrick's Rating:   4 out of 4


Navigate the Star Wars universe as you never have before–with this fully illustrated, full-color guide that maps the entire galaxy.

You know the planets–from Alderaan and Corellia to Tatooine and Zonama Sekot–and the star systems, from the Deep Core to the Outer Rim. But now, for the first time, you can pinpoint their locations and chart the travels of your favorite characters through the vast reaches of space. Star Wars: The Essential Atlas is a galaxy-spanning trove of vital statistics and information ranging from the astronomical and geographical (“Systems, Sectors, Oversectors, and Regions”) to the historical and political (“The Sith Empire” and “The Great Hyperspace War”). Encompassing the entire Star Wars canon, including all the films, and the Clone Wars television series, plus the novels, comic books, video games, and more, this volume is packed with dozens of detailed maps and charts, as well as pertinent data and accompanying facts on

• the Empire: its length and breadth, political regions, populations, trade routes, major attractions, and trouble spots

• the Clone Wars: the trajectory of this decisive conflict across the universe, data on key battles and major Loyalist and Separatist worlds

• the adventures of Han Solo: the heroic rogue’s exploits throughout the galaxy–including his captaincy of the Millennium Falcon and his first, fateful meeting with Chewbacca–before his life-changing alliance with Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi

• the Sith Wars: the progression of the universal clash between the ancient Jedi Order, their dark side counterparts, and the Mandalorian warriors who fought against both orders

• and much, much more

From Hutt Space to the Unknown Regions, from the Knights of the Old Republic and Episode I to the Fate of the Jedi and Legacy era, Star Wars: The Essential Atlas is the ultimate gateway to space fantasy’s most brilliantly imagined and endlessly intriguing galaxy.....



Adrick:

    It’s next to impossible for me, as an Expanded Universe fan, to review this book objectively. So I’m just going to take this review one word at a time, and we’ll see how it goes.

This book is big. Collectors of the Essential Guide series will note that it is larger than most installments, all the better to showcase the amazing galactic maps within. Fans will find a wider perspective of the Star Wars galaxy than ever before. Gone are the days when only a handful of planets receive attention (well, not quite; there is a section of noteworthy planets.) The Atlas gives more attention to the galaxy as a whole than any Guide before it.

This book is essential. This is the reference guide that, once you have it, will make you wonder how you lived without it. Thanks to the extensive maps, which cover most major worlds and regions, and the even more extensive index (see below), you can find any planet from any story you might be reading, and follow the characters from one system to the next. Whenever I start reading a Star Wars story now, I find myself constantly picking up the Atlas to see where the action takes place.

This book is unprecedented. Not only is there no other Star Wars reference book with this kind of all-encompassing detail, there is no other franchise that has had this kind of treatment in book form. For proof of this, one need only look at the 14 page index in the back, which lists almost every single star system ever mentioned in a Star Wars product, from 1976 onward. For the first day I had this book, I played a game called “Stump the Atlas”, in which I tried to think up obscure planets to see if they made it into the index. How about “Vatleria”, the planet from a Star Wars Tales comic paying tribute to the Fantastic Four? Yep, it’s there. Ok, well how about Kobal’s World, mentioned in a throwaway line in the U.K. Marvel comics in the eighties? Check. What about Aaron, from an ancient computer game tie-in to the Droids animated series? It’s there too. Many of these obscure planets also appear in the maps themselves.

This book is engrossing. From the get-go, the Atlas features speeches, interviews, lectures, and documents from the Star Wars galaxy to make the content come alive. One section on the founding of the Hydian Way trade route is presented as a program for an opera based on historical events. I found myself so caught up in that brief summery that I almost forgot I was reading a description of a fictional opera that never existed and would never be performed. Indeed, I was disappointed when the “Historic Notes” pointed out that some of the opera was historically inaccurate—in spite of the fact that the entire book is fiction. To me, this small section of a reference book was more engaging than some of the novels I’ve read.

This book is awesome. It’s a book by Star Wars fans for Star Wars fans. You’ve got war maps, political maps, maps of exploration, movie maps…You simply can’t pay an average freelance writer enough money to conduct the amount of research that has gone into this book. This book has anything a fan could ask of it, and more.



Adrick:

    This book permanently places just about every planet in the Star Wars galaxy into relatively small regions of space. This is great for fans…for now…but I can foresee problems getting authors to follow the locations presented in the index.

The excellent artwork in the Atlas tends to get pushed to the side--there’s some wonderful full color work here, with lots of details, but you have to squint to see it. I suppose this allows for more text—I just wish we could have big pretty pictures as well. Also, the binding is pretty flimsy…I don’t know how well it’s going to hold up, considering how often I plan on using it.



Adrick:

    Greenface. It has no place in galactic theater.


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