Star Wars - Revenge of the Sith
by Matthew Stover
Published by Del Rey
Scott's Rating: 3 out of 4
Mike's Rating: 4 out of 4
This is the novelization of the final Star Wars prequel.
Some years after Episode II, the Clone Wars reach a climax. After the evil cyborg General Grievous kidnaps Supreme Chancellor Palpatine in a daring raid, it?s up to Obi-Wan and Anakin to save the day. Amid a vicious space battle around Coruscant, the Jedi board the cornered Separatist command ship to save their leader. There, Anakin and Obi-Wan have their final duel with Count Dooku. Unfortunately Anakin taps into the Dark Side to defeat his enemy. It ends up being his first major step in becoming Darth Vader.
After successfully saving Palpatine, Anakin returns home after 5 months to find Padme pregnant. However, the joyous occasion is marred by a vision of Padme dying in childbirth. Desperate to save her, Anakin looks everywhere for a way to keep her from dying. It is then that Palpatine reveals himself to be the Dark Lord of the Sith and offers Anakin a way to save Padme. Will Anakin remain loyal to the Jedi and the Republic or will he forsake his training and Obi-Wan in order to save his wife and child?
Everything leads to a final confrontation between Yoda and the Emperor, the Jedi and the Clonetroopers, and Obi-Wan and Anakin. Unfortunately, we know the conclusion all too well.
So this is it! The final Star Wars feature film in book form. I spoiled myself silly a long time ago, so there were no real surprises for me here. Still, it didn?t make it any less enjoyable to dive into the novel (and the audio book) and be transported to a galaxy far, far away.
I think the real appeal of this book is that it allows Stover to get into the heads of the characters in a way that can?t be done in the movies. You know exactly what Mace Windu is thinking as he faces off with Palpatine. You follow Anakin?s logic (or lack thereof) as he proceeds down the path to the Dark Side. You even learn more about what Bail Organa, C-3PO, and Count Dooku think as the events unfold around them. It helps the movie make a little more sense.
I particularly liked a couple of the revelations that those inner thoughts gave. For example, you learn a lot more about why the Jedi forbid love and attachments. This becomes exceptionally clear as Anakin becomes Darth Vader. Yoda also comes to a striking revelation about how to best fight the Emperor ? you don?t fight him at all. As they battle it out in the Senate, he realizes violence just breeds violence. It makes Luke?s refusal to fight the Emperor and Darth Vader all the more poignant in Return of the Jedi. Luke?s way was the only way to defeat the Emperor.
I also loved a scene where Qui-Gon, in a disembodied voice, tells Yoda that he?s found the secret to eternal life. It takes love rather than hate in order to live forever. Ironically, it?s the one thing the Sith desire most and the one thing they can never have. Not only does it steer the prequels back to their spiritual origins but it sums up what the Saga is all about. (Unfortunately I think this scene may be cut from the theatrical release.)
Stover does a good job emphasizing that this story is about a hero making a deal with the devil and ultimately paying the price with his soul. It?s quite easy to see how Palpatine manipulates Anakin through the entire tale and ultimately even pulling him from the brink of death to serve him. It is also emphasized that Darth Vader, when he?s more man than machine, isn?t nearly as powerful as he was when he was mostly human. This explains why he never is able to overthrow the Emperor and why Luke was finally able to best him in Return of the Jedi.
You know, I just don't have sufficient laudatory resources remaining to do another Stover review. Just go here. Or here.
Unfortunately, the novelization of Revenge of the Sith isn?t quite as good as the other prequel novelizations. For one thing, it doesn?t provide as many side stories or background stories as the other books. For example, The Phantom Menace novelization had quite a few chapters of story before it even got to the point where the movie started. That?s not so here (thanks to Labyrinth of Evil filling in most of the gaps before Revenge of the Sith). While it still expands on the film, it doesn?t appear to do so to the degree of the others.
Second, it doesn?t mention some noteworthy aspects of the film. Chewbacca makes no appearance whatsoever in the book. Yoda and Sidious? battle is quite brief. The chase between Grievous and Obi-Wan also seems rather abbreviated. I don?t believe this is Stover?s fault, though, because the movie is in a constant state of flux right up until opening. He can?t catch everything.
The book also has the same pitfalls as the films. Any time there?s discussions of the Senate or politics, the story drags to a halt. And any time Padme and Anakin profess their love for each other, it seems terribly awkward. Fortunately, there?s plenty of action to keep things moving.
While I generally like Stover?s style of writing, there were a few points that bothered me about it. In some of the opening battle scenes, the pacing slows to a crawl and Stover goes on numerous divergent thoughts. For example, in the middle of an intense battle we stop to hear the story of how Anakin traded C-3PO for R2-D2 with Padme. It?s a nice bit of backstory, but not in the middle of one of the most intense Star Wars space battles ever made. There are other examples of this through the opening of the book. The story only really gets moving when all that is put aside. Throw in a very awkward moment where Obi-Wan examines Anakin?s butt and you see how it isn?t all agreeable writing.
The rest of my gripes are really Lucas? fault. First off, I didn?t see why Padme was so attracted to Anakin. Frankly, he?s a jerk. Padme, who was a ruler of a planet and is supposedly a ?take no crap? senator, is reduced to being a battered wife who ultimately dies at the hand of her husband while professing there?s still good in him. It?s not that much different from a beaten woman who insists the guy who just abused her is still a good guy that loves her. It?s a hard argument to buy. Anakin Skywalker is also revealed to not only be a wife-beater, but a child killer. This is the character on millions of toys and who kids will dress up for on Halloween? Anakin is extremely easily duped and is also shown to be a gullible pawn. His stupidity and evil acts make it hard to believe he has any good in him. It certainly makes it hard to accept that he can just chunk the Emperor down a shaft in Return of the Jedi and immediately offset the evil he did in the previous years. Seeing him appear as a happy ghost with dancing Ewoks doesn?t exactly leave one with a sense of justice having taken place.
Overall, though, it?s nice to see all the dots connect in this story and the two trilogies come together as one Saga. I am left wondering ?What?s next for Star Wars??
The "This is" segments were a great device, but I have to admit, he came a hair's breadth away from going too far with them in Part 1. Seems like if the section had been a little longer we would've gotten "This is Obi-Wan Kenobi's overcooked lunch".
The slaughter of some of the Jedi at the Temple is rather graphically depicted. The sound of splattering gore and sizzling lightsabers accompanies the audio book version.
Stover didn't write the last two novelizations.