Top critical review
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More a history of the Force than anything else
on April 26, 2009
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 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".
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.
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