Wookiee Hut Book Reviews presents:
Revenge of the Sith
Review by ShadowChaser

Author: Matthew Stover

Rating: 5/5, or Death Star — blows 'em up!

Warnings: Massive spoilers ahead for those who’ve not seen or read Revenge of the Sith.

“This story happened a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. It is already over. Nothing can be done to change it.

It is as story of love and loss, brotherhood and betrayal, courage and sacrifice and the death of dreams. It is a story of the blurred line between our best and worst.

It is the story of the end of an age.

A strange thing about stories —

Though this all happened so long ago and so faraway that words cannot describe the time or the distance, it is also happening right now. Right here.

It is happening as you read these words.

This is how twenty-five millennia come to a close. Corruption and treachery have crushed a thousand years of peace. This is not just the end of a republic; night is falling on civilization itself.

This is the twilight of the Jedi

The end starts now.”

And the end was good. Real good. It gave the story of Anakin’s betrayal, his first dark deeds, the horrors of war, and the climatic battle between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker — all in full detail. Some of its gory, some of its saddening, but this is what Matthew Stover is best at.

He shows the humanity of each character we’ve come to love and adore through the movies and other novelizations of the Prequel Trilogy. Revenge of the Sith’s novelization is probably one of the best Star Wars novels I’ve read so far. Stover is best known for his New Jedi Order book Traitor featuring Jacen Solo. Stover takes George Lucas’ idea for RotS and makes it into a visual picture in our heads.

At the time of this review, the movie isn’t out yet, but after reading it, it makes me want to see the movie all the more (though tinged with a slight worry as novelizations tend to be a bit better than movies and based on my opinion of Lucas’ track record for his Prequel — especially Attack of the Clones ... well ...).

We start straight off into the Clone Wars and though there are some references to the cartoon Clone Wars shown on CartoonNetwork, one can get a bit muddled in the beginning as to what’s happening, especially if you didn’t see the last episode of the cartoon and understand that Chancellor Palpatine was captured by the half droid, half Kaleeshian General Greivious and held hostage.

Obi-Wan has achieved the rank of General through his achievements in the Clone Wars and his former apprentice, now Jedi Knight, Anakin Skywalker is a Commander. Both have grown beyond Master and Padawan relationship to become best friends and comrades-in-arms. However, darkness has all but completely clouded Anakin as the war has hardened him to the point where his fear has grown enormously. We learn that he fears death — he fears the death of those closest around him, and especially of his five-month-pregnant wife, Padmé.

And this fear translates into the reason why he turned to the Dark Side of the Force (though after NJO one can really say there is no light nor dark, there is only the Force. It is based on how you manipulate the Force whether you are ‘classified’ as Light or Dark). Anakin turned because through the subtle manipulations of both the Jedi Council and of Palpatine that he was pulled in two different directions. He finally made the choice to choose his own path, not to let others choose it for him — and thus his reasoning to save his wife was to join the Dark Side and learn its ancient sorcery to find a way to save her and his unborn child.

To see this aspect of Anakin’s downfall made me realize that Darth Vader isn’t someone to be feared, but someone to be pitied (and I expect to be choked to death anytime soon for writing that statement). Someone who was only trying to save all those he loved from death. Through a conversation between Mace Windu, Yoda, and Obi-Wan we learn that Obi-Wan has realized Anakin’s true being — loyalty. He’s not loyal to the Jedi cause like the others; he’s loyal to people and expects that kind of loyalty in return.

* * * * *

“Understand exactly where your concern lies, I do not.” Yoda’s green eyes had gone softly sympathetic. “Named must your fear be, before banish it you can. Do you fear that perform his task, he cannot?”

“Oh, no. That’s not it at all. I am firmly convinced that Anakin can do anything. Except betray a friend. What we have done to him today ... ”

“But that is what Jedi are,” Mace Windu said. “That is what we have pledged ourselves to” selfless service — “

Obi-Wan turned to stare once more toward the assault ship that would carry Yoda and the clone battalions to Kashyyyk, but he could see only Anakin’s face.

If he asked me to spy on you, do you think I would do it?

“Yes,” he said slowly. “That’s why I don’t think he will ever trust us again.”

He found his eyes turning unaccountably hot, and his vision swam with unshed tears.

“And I’m not entirely sure he should.”

* * * * *

Ultimately, the story and friendship between Obi-Wan and Anakin is broken when Anakin chooses his own path and turns to the Dark Side. He is given the name of Darth Vader and does the will of Palpatine. His first task is to slaughter all of the Jedi, including the children, at the Temple. And he mostly does it without flinching ... which is horrific, but it is also understandable seeing that the cruelty he has kept within himself has been unleashed.

His next assignment takes him to Mustafar to kill the remaining leadership of the Separatists. After Obi-Wan had defeated General Greivious on Utapau, he returns to Courscant and finds out that Yoda is one of the few Jedi left. The rest were either killed by Anakin’s hand or by the clone troopers that had a directive built into them, to be activated at a certain time.

He heads out to Mustafar to stop Anakin and along with him is Padmé who wants to go along to try to stop her husband. However, once they disembark, Anakin gets the wrong message about Obi-Wan and Padmé and nearly kills his now nine-months pregnant wife. Obi-Wan makes the decision to stop his former apprentice and fights him.

Their battle is long and full of anguish. I could almost taste the angst in the book as I read it, but it seems to me that Obi-Wan is the better swordsman ... and neatly slices Anakin’s good arm and both legs off, making him tumble into a lava pit.

He then leaves him there, unable to finish the job and sensing that Palpatine has come to Anakin’s rescue, and leaves with Padmé. They rendezvous with Bail Organa in the Tantive IV and there Padmé gives birth to twins, Luke and Leia. Which one is first, I’m not telling.

Anakin is reborn as Darth Vader’s true form, the imposing case of black and electronics ... and the Empire is born. The slave boy from Tatooine did bring balance to the Force. There was over a millennia of Light and now there will be years of Darkness.

But, it is not over yet as there is still hope — Luke on Tatooine, Leia on Alderaan.

Okay, after that long description, there is one bone I must pick with this novelization. Stover’s writing style is just a bit weird. He goes from past to present tense in little bits of thought pieces. It’s a good style, except I’m more used to the straight out style of writing, so reading this for the first time was a bit hard. The story itself is very well written and the characterizations are by far, one of the best I’ve read of any prequel story. There are tie-ins to many other prequel novels and set ups for the movie.

One scene even features a certain Imperial named Needa who was in The Empire Strikes Back. That was a good cameo. But ultimately, we find that Naboo survived the birth of the Empire, but whatever happened to it in the future ... one will never know.

And it is all such a brilliant set up for Episode IV.

Now I’m going to go watch Episode IV — and laugh my head off.

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