I must admit, after reading 80 novels/novellas…my anticipation for Revenge of the Sith was quite possibly the highest of any novel I’ve ever read. The conclusion of The Malazan Book of the Fallen and the conclusion of The Wheel of Time, as well as DragonLance Chronicles and Stephen King’s Dark Tower series would certainly rank up there. But I really do think that RotS takes the cake. After all, this is the book in which Anakin turns to the dark side. This is the book in which the clones turn on the Jedi and execute Order 66. This is the book in which almost all of the Jedi are wiped out after being (cleverly) spread thin throughout the far reaches of the galaxy.
Although I’ve seen the movie three times, I made sure not to see it at all in the past two years and thus not since I started reading these books. This is the first time I’m reading the novel without the movie fresh on my brain. And since this novel is actually a continuation of Labyrinth of Evil, I’m literally sucked into the story.
This is the culmination of 80 books. Sith vs. Jedi whittled down to Darth Bane’s idea of one Master and one Aprrentice. And after 1000 years, just two Sith have come to this – full control of the Republic, with the Jedi running around like headless chickens. The Jedi is closing in on Palpatine, but Palpatine already has everything laid out just the way he wants it.
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
I’m unfamiliar with Matthew Stover’s work, other than Shatterpoint, and I was curious why the Star Wars bigwigs went with him after going with Terry Brooks and R.A. Salvatore – authors who are more popular – in the first two movie novels. But Shatterpoint was a great book, and Stover did a good job with this one as well.
As an aside, I added further background to this novel by watching about 15 of the Clone Wards TV episodes. I plan to power through them (with my kids) and discover the fates of Darth Maul, Ahsoka, Ventress and Barriss Offee.
RotS was an exciting book. And as a whole it was brilliant – when taken with all the background and build up. The movie fell short because they couldn’t cram all of that into two or three hours, nor could they entice people to do the reading. But consider, this book had to follow certain rules laid out in the original Star Wars trilogy. It had to:
1. Have a falling out between Obi-Wan and Anakin
2. Somehow give Anakin children without him knowing
3. Detail how Jedi was a vast religion involving an army of great power, yet was almost entirely wiped out.
4. Explain how the Dark Side came to rule the galaxy
5. Anakin turns into half-machine and becomes Darth Vader
6. Build a storyline about other cultures and planets, particularly the Hutts, the Mandalorians (Boba Fett)
7. Explain how such a massive army was put together and willing to be so loyal to a man dedicated to evil.
Under these guidelines, write this book.
Now, Stover had the help of over a dozen other authors in writing up background, etc. But he did a great job in putting this novel together and wrapping up answers to all of those questions very neatly. What we’re left with are minor things, such as Darth Vader never acknowledging his buddy R2D2 in the original trilogy, or how Obi-Wan is in his late 50s in A New Hope…yet looks in his late 60s.
But this was everything I was looking forward to, with some added background (Anakin wiping out the Trade Federation and company in a little more detail, or Padme and Organa trying to do their part in having Palpatine give back his powers and perhaps even step down, or the Jedi making moves to stop Palpatine from assuming full control, etc).
Kit Fisto is among the Jedi who accompany Mace Windu to arrest Palpatine? I didn’t know that. His head ends up on the Chancellor’s desk.
Excellent, satisfying book and makes the movie 10 times more enjoyable.
Republic Commando: Order 66
I’ll include this one here since I’ve read it before I was able to post and it’s related to RotS. This is the fourth and final Republic Commando book and it ties into the happenings in RotS via updates on “General Kenobi” (who is apparently a glory-hog idiot) and Palpatine (who is an idiot for spreading the army so thin), and one of the squads (Delta) is on Kashyyyk (Wookie planet) fighting there when Yoda arrives. While all this is going on, Kal Skirata is trying to pave the way for his clone “sons” to desert the army and disappear to his home planet. They would take the former Jedi Bardan Jusik and current Jedi Etain Tur-Mukan with them. Bardan, who left the Jedi Order in Part 3, is full-on Mandalorian now. Etain marries the clone Darman. Three other clones marry – Atin marries Laseema, the Twi-lek waitress, the Null commando Ordo marries the treasury agent Besany, and Fi marries the Mandalorian who helped him recover from his head trauma (Parja Bralor). Dar and Etain’s son, the baby Kad, is also brought to safety.
When Order 66 is announced, they make their move to escape. A main character is killed and while I’m all for a plot twist like that – I thought that the method of the killing was terrible. It wasn’t necessary, nor was it believable (when there were 100 more believable ways to go that were available).
In short, it was a novel that was drawn out somewhat with extra narrative that wasn’t necessary, and had an ending that was only half-satisfactory. Some plot points were interesting and made it a worthwhile read, but unless you were hardcore into Star Wars books, I’d give this one a pass.