Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Shepherd492 reviews: Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith

Revenge Of The Sith (Matthew Stover)


The Revenge of the Sith novelization closely follows the events of the movie, but with a moderate amount of dialogue adjustments, and some bonus scenes.

The bonus scenes are mostly good. Many of the earlier scenes focus on Grievous and Dooku, trying to build Grievous into an effective villain and delve more into Dooku's character prior to his final fight. The Grievous scenes are below average, he beats up on cowardly Neimoidians and gets upset, nothing special there. Dooku's scenes are fantastic however. Not only do they build up to one of the best written duels in Star Wars literature, but they also serve to illustrate just how much Dooku knew about Sidious' plans, and what he was hoping to achieve.

The bonus scenes for the rest of the book mostly concern scenes detailing the beginning of the Rebel Alliance. Padme gets most of her screen time in these scenes, and they are important in the overall story, but here the plot doesn't really go anywhere. The rebels are in agreement that it will be a long time before they can actually take action, so these scenes are very dialogue heavy, with no resolution.

The movie scenes have also been re-worked. Dooku now has a full blown conversation with Anakin and Obi-Wan before fighting, and Anakin has a great scene shortly after learning Palpatine's identity where he struggles with the knowledge of what he has done while Palpatine tries to persuade him. The Utapau scenes were also re-written to give more time to the bodyguards. Order 66 and Yoda on Kashyyyk are completely omitted.

Though Anakin's fall is more convincing, the plot is still riddled with holes. Padme's death is one of the most inexplicable events in the Star Wars universe, and little is done to make sense of it here. Sidious being able to rescue Anakin still doesn't make any sense at all, because he was worlds away and Anakin was on fire and sliding into a bank of lava. The Jedi's passive actions towards the Chancellor are also ill explained.

Other than the plot holes from the movies, the writing style mostly suffers due to pacing. Anakin and Obi-Wan's rescue of Chancellor Palpatine takes up over 1/4th of the book, but the events from Order 66 to the end only take up around eighty pages. This leads to several key events feeling rushed, in particular Obi-Wan's duel with Anakin and Yoda's duel with Palpatine. These encounters lack all the weight of Anakin's stellar duel with Dooku, and even Windu versus Sidious. Instead, they feel like flat play by plays in order to stay under a certain page count. If properly elaborated on, these duels could've been stellar. As it is, they are a rushed last second thought to a story that burns itself out after the second act.


Characterization is almost entirely great. Although the technique may feel lazy, ("This is how it feels to be..."), the characterization is spot on, and manages to evoke some emotion from otherwise lifelike characters. Paragraphs dedicated to Anakin show his deterioration over time, and the final pages of the book that deal with his awakening in the iconic armored suit are incredible. They manage to convey all of the rage, hatred, and shame that the movie missed. Instead of the laughable "NOOOOOOOOOOOO", we are treated to one of the finest pieces of writing in the book, that really captures Anakin well.

Nearly every character is explored here. Windu even gets a great paragraph about his devotion to the Republic and civilization prior to his fateful duel with Palpatine. Obi-Wan's portrayal as something like the perfect Jedi is an interesting take on the character, and Dooku's uncertainty and arrogance fit perfectly. His character was marred by a bit of racism that hasn't really been seen in any other sources, but overall he is one of the best characters in the book.

Padme and Grievous are given rather brief characterizations, and it would have been great to explore Padme a bit more as she is constantly pushed to the side or mischaracterized in Clone Wars literature. Sidious could've been more detailed, but his description as a "shadow" after his revelation to Anakin was poignant, as was his dialogue with Anakin shortly after.


Hands down, this book has some of the best writing in Star Wars. The book starts with an opening detailing the "End of the Age of Heroes", that managed to capture the mood of the film perfectly. Future passages build on the foreshadowing and impending doom for many of the characters. The unconventional characterization technique is well realized. The writing flows and augments the concepts. My favorites were Dooku's realization that Sidious tricked him, Vader at the end of the novel, and Windu before confronting Palpatine. All of these are really great though, though Padme inexplicably doesn't get one.

The early space battle is a bit boring, and definitely overlong, but future battles are excellent. The book doesn't really focus on the action, but instead the thoughts of the characters as they are involved in the action. This is a very powerful way to connect the reader to the action, and makes up for the unexciting descriptions of the action at hand. Without this technique, the duels would be extremely boring, as the fight between Anakin and Obi-Wan lacked any emotional resonance. The author doesn't describe the physical characteristics of the duel very well, but the mental aspect is absolutely fascinating here.

The dialogue has also been largely re-worked. The aforementioned "NOOOOO" is cut in favor of no dialogue in that scene. Also, the banter between Dooku and Anakin is significantly improved. Lines between Grievous and Obi-Wan lack the same punch, though the duel is handled relatively well. The terrible dialogue between Padme and Anakin is still mostly in place though.


One of the greatest Star Wars books I've read, pacing problems do not ruin a fantastic adaptation of the mediocre film. Read for the great insights on nearly every character, and for a different perspective on the events in the movie. The writing is also some of the best in the EU, and this is one of the few books that I can safely recommend to non-Star Wars fans/readers.

Final Score


1 comment:

  1. Pretty Good :) But I think that the flaws you said contributes closely to the story- if not the ROTS novelization, it contributes to the whole saga. This is my favorite book. Not only Star Wars, but every single book I have ever read.