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4.6 out of 5 stars78
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on December 4, 2007
The "Essential Guide" series to the Star Wars universe has (perhaps surprisingly) never had a book devoted entirely to the "Force". And this one does not disappoint! The attempt at an "in-universe" historical style (supposedly, the "author" is a Jedi in the New Jedi Order) makes it immersive and fun to read. The information deals with a wide variety of Force-related subjects that any Star Wars fan would be interested in: from the origins and history of the Jedi and Sith orders to the construction of lightsabers and Jedi martial arts. The only thing that I personally felt to be missing is a more "scientific" or "physical" explanation of the Force and its workings (like in-universe scientific theories on how the Force is produced and how it interacts with regular matter and energy), but that might have conflicted with the "historian's perspective" that it adopts instead.
Despite any shortcomings in the text itself, however, the illustrations alone make it worth the complete 5 stars! They are simply breathtaking... and the amount of time and sweat put into them by the artists must have been staggering. It's strange to say it, but it feels more like an art book than a dry listing of Star Wars lore! Any Star Wars fan would love these wonderful works of art!
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on January 7, 2008
This book is necessary for all fans. It's like.. the Star Wars Bible!
It's a canon in-universe source as well!

Wookieepedia Page - [...]

So Basically This is a Historical (in-universe) Text. It is written by Tionne Solusar in the year 40 A.B.Y; for those who do not know she is a Jedi Historian. Her subject is to explain the conflict between the Jedi and the Sith from it's beginnings to as far as she can tell (40aby, but another takes over in the end to tell the Legacy comics stuff which is RAD). She is a Historian first and a Jedi second she says basically and she takes a neutral stance on the facts.

There are also, First-Hand Accounts from characters. Like just straight-up transcripts of Holocrons. There's things like Mace Windu explaining Vaapad, Luke Skywalker expressing his views on the Dark Side and the mistakes he made during his training (Episode V), Dooku giving an account of pretty much everything he did becoming a Sith and his views on the force. [some of these have completely changed the way I view parts of the movies]

Part 1 is an incredible timeline, and the basic history of everything from the 100yrs Darkness, the Great Hyperspace War etc up to Luke Skywalker's Duel with Lumiya.

Part 2 is about the Jedi. You get things like Cin Drallig's actual classes (from a recording), Descriptions of Force-Abilities, all the different lightside views on the force, Lightsaber Combat etc.

That's all I'll go into for more info check out the Wookieepedia Page

The best part is the Index in the back. If you aren't convinced you need this book. Go to Borders or whatever read the Intro by Tionne Solusar and lookup some favorite characters in the index to see how many pages they are on cause they really crammed almost everything into this.

Oh and the art is just.... Incredible. When I got mine I spent 2 hours just looking at the pictures alone.. It's amazing
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on February 12, 2008
First, the book is beautiful and I love it. I certainly don't regret buying it.

Second, I am disappointed in it. I, too, was hoping for more philosophical meat.

The art is amazing - I have to constantly resist the temptation to cut out pages and frame them! I'm glad I never bought the Essential Chronology because this is enough of a chronology plus oodles of other historical details. I think it's superior to the Essential Chronology.

What this book lacks (and I know I'm not alone in thinking these are what people expected the book to contain):

This book lacks descriptions of The Force. Surprising, huh?

The book IS a great history of the Jedi and Sith. It also goes in depth into different Force powers (which, honestly, I could have done without)and construction of light sabers and schools of light saber fighting styles. So, if, when reading the novels you just can't get enough of Mace Windu discussing Vapaad, well, you'll like this book. But, again, this book is a history of people, events, and techniques.

This book IS NOT about the Force.

I thought I was just being picky when I couldn't find anything to explain the difference between the Living Force and the Unifying Force. But then another review pointed out something even more conspicuous by its abscence and I couldn't believe I didn't notice it - NO discussion of light versus dark! There are countless lists and entries about people who are on the light or dark side but very little discussion of what that means or what their motives are. Although, you do get entries "written" by Luke Skywalker and Count Dooku about their experiences with the dark side.

And THAT is, for me, the selling point of the book. It is written from a Jedi historian's point of view as if someone collected all this knowledge from all the canon and expanded universe material for the Jedi library. Me, personally, I hunger for more stuff about Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon and I get some - but not a lot - of that.

Many of the entries are written by certain Jedi, like Obi-Wan, which is insanely cool ... and then commented on and addended by some Jedi named Tionne Solusar. So you get it from the perspective of characters you know and love with some third-party hindsight knowledge sprinkled on top.

What I found most useful: A piece written by Obi-Wan, Tionne, and Yoda FINALLY sorting out and clearly explaining the Sifo-Dyas/Darth Tyrannus/Kaminoans situation. I have been searching the interweb for, like, 2-3 years trying to figure that crap out. Speaking of Dooku, there's a LOT on him in here - way deeper stuff than you may have read in Legacy of the Jedi by Jude Watson (good book, BTW) - including his "resignation letter" if you want to call it that.

Final verdict: Buy it, but hopefully, I've saved you from being disappointed or unpleasantly surprised.


"The overriding philosophy in Episode I - and in all the Star Wars movies, for that matter - is the balance between good and evil. The Force itself breaks into two sides: the living Force and a greater, cosmic Force. The living Force makes you sensitive to other living things, makes you intuitive, and allows you to read other people's minds, et cetera. But the greater Force has to do with destiny. In working with the Force, you can find your destiny and you can choose to either follow it, or not." - George Lucas
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on October 12, 2011
Coming in at a heavy 231 pages, Star Wars: The Essential guide to the Force offers a very large overview of the history of the Force and the people who shaped our understanding of it. Here is a list of what the book offers.

1- History and holocrons - Covers the history of Holocrons, Significant battles
2- The Jedi - Jedi evolution, Force-sensitive abilities, Jedi spirits, Detecting Jedi powers, The Force as a source of energy, Force anomalies, Lightsabers
3- The Dark Side - Dark Jedi. Dark side disciples, Under Exar Kun's influence, Luke Skywalker on the Dark Side
4- The Sith - The Darth title, Gatekeeper of the Telos holocron, The Dark Side compendium
5- Other Force-using organizations
6- The Chosen One

1- The quality of both the paper and the printing is outstanding.
2- The images, both artistic drawings for the book and the images that were done for the comic books, are great.
3- The book covers a wide array of both historical and personal events that formed the Jedi order and the Sith.
4- The writing, which is in first-person, gives the reader a more personal connection to the words on the page.
5- Gives the reader a glimpse into the future of the franchise with information that is beyond the current novels.
6- Covers more than just the Jedi and the Sith. The book delves into more information of lesser known characters.
7- Gives information on technology, teachings and religions of both the Sith and Jedi.

1- Doesn't give any more information into what the Force truly is. It has been described as a religion and/or a practice. It would have been nice to learn more of the science or faith behind the mystical power that surrounds us all.

All Feedback is Appreciated. Thanks and good reading.
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on June 27, 2012
Star Wars woke up in me a desire to study this stuff, since Lucas took mostly Chinese ideas for this, including particularly the Tao Te Ching. The Rhyming Tao Te Ching is my favorite approach. Sun Tzu's Art of War is also worth reading. I also found: Urban Shaman,Secrets of Shamanism: Tapping the Spirit Power Within You,Amazing Secrets of Psychic Healing,You the Healer: The World-Famous Silva Method on How to Heal Yourself and Others,Shadow Strategies of an American Ninja Master,The Art of Chi Kung: Making the Most of Your Vital Energy,Redneck Shaman,The Future Is Yours: Do Something About It!Matrix Energetics: The Science and Art of Transformation, and Theta Healing: Introducing an Extraordinary Energy Healing Modality. Why do I mention all these books? Because each has a piece of the pie, to following abilities. I'd mention more, except Amazon has a limit of 10. I mention books like this to see what other people will cite; I have found some real gems, by seeing what books people compare a book to. This is a good book, with what I thought was useful material. I bought it for a Star Wars freak I know, and he liked it a lot.
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I'd grade this book on two levels. First, I'd give it 5 stars for the illustrations. Chris Trevas and Tommy Lee Edwards have produced some of the most stunning Star Wars artwork in this volume. They depict scenes from the movies in semi-mythological styles, and also bring to life key characters from the Expanded Universe. Some of this artwork has already become canon (indeed, most of the pictures on Wookiepedia of EU characters are either from book covers or this book). So, even though this isn't an art book, the illustrations alone are worth the price of admission.

Unfortunately, I did find the text to be a bit lacking. I've personally never been a big fan of in-universe journals or memoirs from key characters. They always come off as fan fiction or just diminish the character. I mean, is a Sith Lord going to seem nearly as threatening after reading his diaries? This is a tough style of fiction to pull off, and Jedi vs. Sith just isn't the right place for it. The text is OK overall and has some amusing stories about the origins of the SIth and Jedi, but I prefer the third-person style of the Essential Atlas.

Overall, I'd definitely recommend this book for Star Wars fans, ESPECIALLY if you're into the Expanded Universe.
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on February 15, 2008
Like most of the people who bought this book I thought it was as it said a guide to the Force. Really its a guide to the Force users the Sith, the Jedi, the Dark Side, the Light Side, the abilities, holograms and the Chosen One. Yet it so good that I can't be disappointed that it wasn't what I thought. I enjoyed reading the Jedi and Sith "holograms" as they left their own views on events and things. Naturally the Sith are more amusing since they won't devolge too much infomation until you prove yourself and bring them a dead body which they really encourage...and Palpatine's views on things. I couldn't help but think of thinking of Obi Wan's saying of different points of view which you defiently see in the Jedi and Sith's different interpetations of things. I liked learning of the different techniques, abilities and the Forms of the Jedi. Luke's recording on his own journey on the dark side. I also enjoyed Leia's recordings on learning about her father, mother and their marriage. I also liked the story Pooja (Padme's niece) of her two meetings of Anakin. Althought I'm still hoping for a complete book on Luke and Leia learning of their mother, Anakin and Padme's relationship and their Naboo relatives this was a nice and unexpected surprise. The pictures were beautifully done.
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on November 2, 2015
I did thoroughly enjoy this book ... mostly. I like to try to stay close to what is most commonly considered as Star Wars canon and unfortunately this book destroys that on too many occasions. One of the worst examples is a story told by Leia about how she and Luke fought Vader side-by-side AFTER the battle of Yavin. Worse, they didn't yet know they were related to him. Come on people, did you even see the movies? And even worse still, this unbelievable story was actually saved into a Jedi Holocron. Did I miss the "alternate reality" movie which completely changed Star Wars history? And of course, Leia died during this battle with her already dead dad, but Luke resurrected her with a crystal. Come on authors, Star Wars is a great story as-is. It's not necessary to reinvent it into something different.
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If you ever wanted to learn the ways of the Force, "Jedi vs. Sith" is the way to go. This book goes through the whole history of the Jedi and the Sith all the way from 7000 BBY through to about 40 ABY, when Tionne Solusar compiled and wrote the book. We are treated to Holocron messages and other recordings by the great Jedi Masters and Sith Lords, right along with Tionne's notes and interpretations. It felt so realistic, like I was reading a history book for a college course in that galaxy far, far away.

Ryder Windham is expert in writing the characters' voices as they would speak through the records and the Holocrons. Mara Jade was just as tough and agitated as she would be in giving her account. That's so her! We also see Leia and Luke, Darth Bane, Darth Vader and Darth Sidious.

"Jedi vs. Sith" also touches on Jedi powers, the building of lightsabers, the different dueling forms. It includes information on Sith Alchemy, the Rule of Two, Sith weapons. I found it much more eye-opening to the ways of the Force than Jedi Path.

The best thing about the book is the illustrations. They are beautiful. Everything is as I would have imagined. Even scenes straight out of the movies are very well done. I recommend it as a must have for Star Wars collectors.
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I have been a Star Wars fan for about 12 years now, so wanting to learn a little more about the Force seemed a good next step.

Written from Tionne's point of view, this book details the evolution of the Jedi, Sith, and other Force Users, explains certain powers each has, and other tidbits about the Force all brought in one text.

I Liked:
I really enjoyed how the author took the movies, books, comics, video games, and more and put all the Force concepts under one roof. I have been mostly a book and movie fan, so I have missed out on loads of Force information found only in the comics and video games. Fortunately, this book connects the dots and gives a much larger picture to the Force--spanning all eras--more than just the books and movies could provide.
Having Tionne "write" or "compile" the "holo"/book was very clever. It is a quirky way to approach this book, something slightly different from other Essential Guides (particularly the New Essential Guide to Characters).
Also, the epilogue is very interesting. I won't blow away too much of the suspense, but it is completely compatible with how Tionne introduced the Guide.
The illustrators have outdone themselves in this book. Seriously, they need to pat themselves on the back. Characters like Luke Skywalker, Darth Maul, Darth Vader, Githany, Aurra Sing, Qui-Gon, and Obi-Wan really come alive in the vivid colors and beautiful shading. Many of these would be absolutely gorgeous hung on the walls.
Lastly, a few of the "holograms" were really well done. I really truly believed that characters like Tionne, Count Dooku, Mace Windu, and Leia Organa left behind these messages.

I Did Not Like:
My major complaint and the biggest reason this loses serious stars is because the book reads less like a guide of the Force and more like a history text of the Force. Most of the book centers around recounting important events in the movies, books, or comics with very minimal revelation of the Force concepts. I appreciate how the book ties in all eras and mediums, but had I wanted a history of the Force, I could've saved the $25 on this book and checked it out on Wookieepedia. The holos spend more time detailing the events of the movies in extreme detail that doesn't quite make sense when recounted from the person making the holo (I enjoyed the movies, but if I wanted a recap of the podrace or something, I'll watch the movies, thank you) or books or comics which star the characters and less about Force Powers, Saber Forms, or using the Force, which one would assume would be in a book called "The Essential Guide to the Force".
Many of the holos are very Jedi-biased. I suppose this makes sense, as the compiler (Tionne), was a Jedi, but still, I found it very frustrating. There were copious Jedi views of the Sith training, but no Sith views of the Jedi training. And while some of the "holograms" were well done, other characters, such as Obi-Wan (particularly when speaking about Aurra Sing, which comes off rather strange), Mara Jade (who feels completely off kilter from any book I've read), and Luke Skywalker feel so unlike their previously established characters or incredibly stiff that I had to remind myself who was "speaking".

Dialogue/Sexual Situations/Violence:
No dialogue.
Sexual situations are minimal to none.
Violence is probably the worst as epic battles are related, but nothing really noteworthy.

If I could choose two words to describe this book, it would be "boring" and "redundant". It is great to see all this Expanded Universe in one place, to see how it relates, and to see the epic story. And many of the "holo" entries are pretty well done (a few aren't, but isn't that always going to happen?). But I've read many of the books, seen the movies. I don't want a book to basically give a retelling of these from a character's point of view, with only a slight connection to the Force thrown in for good measure. Perhaps this wouldn't be so bad if the author actually told about the Force, but instead, most of the book feels like a history of the Force. Even the gorgeous pictures can't bring this book back from the black hole it sucked itself into. 2 stars.

Brought to you by
*C.S. Light*
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