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Star Wars, Episode 1: The Phantom Menace Hardcover – April 21, 1999

4 out of 5 stars 401 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Alexander Adams, the actor who reads this full-length novelization of Star Wars, Episode I: The Phantom Menace, actually manages to do Jar Jar better than Jar Jar himself. Although he does sound a bit like a well-meaning dad doing an impression of the gangly amphibian for his kids, that added bit of restraint and unaffected goofiness actually works. Likewise, Adams's voice--all earnest and NPR-smooth--does good service to the rest of the cast, especially with Jedi teacher Qui-Gon Jinn and (surprisingly) Queen Amidala. (Only Anakin proves a little hard on the ears at first, perhaps a little too nasal.) The book's narrative receives the same competent treatment as the dialogue, with the added oomph of both John Williams's stirring score--woven in unobtrusively--and short suites of Lucasfilm sound effects that accompany every spike in the action, whether it's R2's beeping or the metallic bang of blaster fire.

Modern marketing has made movie novelizations a necessary evil and hence suspect, but Terry Brooks proves a deft embellisher of Lucas's well-loved epic, skillfully splicing in scenes and dialogue to fill out the breakneck, foreshadowing-filled story line of Phantom Menace. But that shouldn't be surprising: Brooks has long been the equal or better of Lucas when it comes to storytelling, most notably in his long-lived Shannara series, which began with The Sword of Shannara back in 1977, the same year Star Wars hit theaters. (Running time: 9.5 hours over eight discs) --Paul Hughes --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Fans expecting a typical movie novelization--one that simply parrots the screenplay for Episode I--will be pleasantly surprised. Brooks, with Lucas' cooperation, has created something else altogether; a larger story that includes all of what you've seen onscreen, but also delves deeply into the history of the galaxy and the life and mind of Anakin Skywalker."
--The Star Wars Insider

--The New York Post

From the Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • Series: Based on the Screenplay and story by George Lucas
  • Hardcover: 324 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey; 1st edition (April 21, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345427653
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345427656
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (401 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #45,752 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By EA Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 28, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Only "Trials and Tribbleations" has put me into the story in a better style. Second best in a bunch of books that tend to be overblown and often lose me in yards of useless exposition.
Terry Brooks does a wonderful job describing the characters and their situations. He creeps into the heads of the characters and helps bring them to life further in the way only an author can. Qui-Gon Jinn is especially vibrant.
There are some inconsistancies. The end battles and swordfighting in the book is somewhat different, I think, from the movie's version; it includes many lines of dialogue cut from the movie (not that I'm complaining); Jar Jar seems more competent; and Brooks seems to be very vague on Queen Amidala's clothing. None of these significantly detract from enjoyment of this novel. Read it if you've seen the movie! You will not be disappointed.
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By A Customer on November 15, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Star Wars fans the world over have been waiting sixteen years for the newest installation of the greatest saga of all time. In May, Americans got their first look at the newest movie and, for the most part, have been extremely happy. Some, however, were disappointed with the appearance of the novelization before the movie, in many cases letting loose secrects they did not want to know. Many were surprised, however, when, upon seeing the film, many of the story elements present in the novel were not in the movie. This is where the strength of "The Phantom Menace" novelization lies. Here, we are presented with an extended vision of the plot, one which captures the vison and excitement of the film, yet manages to add more than would be possible on the screen. We get an extended history of the Sith, given to us by Darth Sidious himself, as well as some more background about Anakin. In addition to the background, Brooks forshadows the next episode with Anakin's dreams about the future. He does it in his usual artful and elegant prose, reminding one of his "Shannara" books. All in all, this book is a very entertaining and exciting addition to an already great movie.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
How you rate this book depends on what you consider its purpose. If you are looking for new revelations and new story lines, as compared to the movie, you will be somewhat disappointed. But as a simple re-write of the movie, together with some additional insight into the characters' thoughts and motives, this is a pretty good book.
I have to confess I was looking for more from the book. Brooks does a good job of explaining each scene, and even adds in a couple scenes that did not appear in the movie. So while his writing is unspectacular, he does do a very good job of concisely--if unexcitingly--describing each scene, piece by piece.
I also came away from the book with a greater sense of cohesion to the story. The movie, which I enjoyed immensely, left me slightly confused as to why the various characters did such and such, and what they hoped to accomplish in each scene.
Brooks also did a good job of making some sense of the movie's opening: why Naboo was central to the Trade Federation's attention, and why a small out-lying planet would matter much in the grand scheme of the Empire.
Overall a good book. I found the last 50 pages or so quite compelling, not wanting to put it down. Considering its purpose, this is a good book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
While Episode I is far from a great film, Terry Brooks does a terrific job putting this story into words. In comparison with the novelizations of Episodes II and III, it is not quite as strong, but that does not diminish what a joyful experience reading this book can be. It adds depth to the characters (which is much needed due to their stiff portrayals in the film). The novelization also helps put flesh on and reason onto the socio-political conflict that is central to the story (whereas the problem is convoluted at best in the movie).

The book’s strongest points are the way it helps the reader get into the heads of the characters–young Anakin and Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn in particular. Episode I was ambitious in all that it tried to accomplish. Unfortunately, only so much can be achieved in the time-span of the film. The advantage of reading the story in this format is that there is much more time and page-space to work with. Brooks is able to introduce Anakin far earlier in the book, helping establish him as a main character with whom the reader should empathize. Qui-Gon receives his due in this book as well. He is firmly placed as a strong-willed Jedi who sets his own agenda, and his ideological conflict with his apprentice and the Jedi Council works to propel the drama forward.

I genuinely smiled throughout the reading of this book, enjoying the story without the cynicism that is difficult to shake when watching the dated CGI. The best part – you can give the characters new voices in your head while you read and put your imagination to work as you enjoy a story that is much better as a book. You can even play Duel of the Fates and the march of the Trade Federation while you read to spice things up if you like.
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Format: Hardcover
With the theatrical release of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith only months away, it seems like a good time to begin preparing myself for the new film. While I did not judge Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace as harshly as many Star Wars fans did, there can be no doubt that the film paled in comparison to the force of the original trilogy. Even as a six-year old child, everything about the first Star Wars film in 1977 seemed seared into my memory, and it somewhat saddens me to know that the children of this generation, after seeing The Phantom Menace for the first time, will never know the power and obsessive joy that the original Star Wars trilogy invoked in the children of my generation. Frankly, after two viewings of Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace a few years ago, only bits and pieces resonate in my memory, and I really do need to review the people and events of this film (as well as Episode Two: Attack of the Clones) before I feel ready to see Episode Three.

The powers that be certainly found an illustrious author to transform George Lucas' screenplay and story into novelized form. I've been a fan of Terry Brooks ever since reading The Sword of Shannara as a child, and Brooks has done a thoroughly professional job with this novel. Everything that happened in the film is described with great discernment, the furious action of intense scenes such as the battle between Qui-Gon Jinn and Darth Maul is vividly rendered, the moments of light humor are translated expertly to the page, and the emotional aspects of the plot, especially those concerning Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala, are drawn in tender yet meaningful strokes. This is truly a commendable and faithful novelization of the film.
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