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Learn About Darth Vader

A guide by Abel G. Peña (Southern California)

Products sampled from this guide:
So, you’ve watched all the Star Wars movies a dozen times, seen Anakin become Darth Vader and become Anakin again, and you still need more. More Vader. Well, here are some essential books to feed your Sith need.

For an excellent narrative overview of Vader's life, check out Star Wars: The Rise and Fall of Darth Vader. This book tells the story of Anakin Skywalker from his own perspective, from his time as a slave on Tatooine through to his transformation into Vader until ultimately dying in his son’s arms. The adolescent novel weaves an impressively coherent narrative through thirty years of Star Wars stories featuring the Dark Lord of the Sith. You can also check out Vader: The Ultimate Guide, a collector’s book that gives a summary of Vader’s story as well as a brief history of Vader’s fraternity, the Dark Lords of the Sith, a dissection of the lightsabers he owned, his suit and armor (including what all those do-hickeys on his chest are for), and the stats and backgrounds of the vehicles and ships he uses throughout the Star Wars saga. It also includes interviews with all the actors that have portrayed Vader or contributed to the role in some significant way, as well as a look at some of the most interesting Vader paraphernalia. The book also contains the short story “In His Image,” the first Vader story to take place after Revenge of the Sith. Star Wars: The Complete Vader takes an even deeper look, explaining the origins of the character's creation, delving into his fictional history, and examining his massive cultural impact.

Star Wars, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith by Matthew Stover is the book adaptation to Episode III, and a great companion to the film. Here you’ll get pretty deep inside Vader’s head, all the juicy psychological stuff that explains in great detail why he made the decision to take the quick and easy path of the dark side. After you’re through feeling sorry for Anakin, you can get acquainted with his new and improved butt-kicking evil alter ego in "Purge," found in Endgame (Star Wars: Clone Wars, Vol. 9), as well as Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader (Star Wars), in which Vader struggles to come to terms with his new existence, physically and mentally. Both pick up where Episode III left off.

Now, before you pop in that DVD of Episode IV: A New Hope, explore a quiet meditation on marriage to the dark side in Star Wars: Dark Times, Vol. 1: Path to Nowhere, as the Sith who was once a slave boy realizes his new master the Emperor not only intends to institutionalize human(oid) bondage but expects Vader's complete subordination to his will. Then, for a change of pace, enjoy the heck out of the showdown you've always wanted to see. Marking their earliest encounter, in Star Wars - Boba Fett: Enemy of the Empire our favorite Dark Lord takes on our favorite bounty hunter for the title of baddest bad guy in the galaxy. Don't look for much substance here, just a good tongue-in-cheek build up to a right bada** brawl.

The timeframe after A New Hope is one of the most rewarding for Vader stories. Strange and unexpected tales come out of this time period. The story “The Savage Heart” in The Imperial Perspective (Star Wars: Empire, Vol. 3) shows what happened to Vader immediately following the movie, after he careens in his fighter away from the Death Star. An alternate account of what happened to Vader is told in the choose-your-path book Scoundrel's Luck (Star Wars). This one is more for hardcore Star Wars fans, but don’t let the format of the book fool you. Written by popular Star Wars author Troy Denning, the story has a twist that would make Keyser Söze blush. Ultimately, these two differing accounts of Vader's adventures at this time are reconciled along with the Dark Lord’s appearance in Darth Vader's Return (Star Wars Missions, No. 17) in the aforementioned Vader: The Ultimate Guide.

Remember Vader’s comment, “The Force is strong with this one” about the mysterious X-Wing pilot who destroyed the Death Star? Well, find out how Vader discovered the Rebel pilot’s identity as that of his own son Luke in the old school Dark Encounters (Star Wars: A Long Time Ago..., Book 2) and the more recent Star Wars: Vader's Quest. Either one of these will give you the story, though I personally prefer the classic version. Finally, before sliding The Empire Strikes Back into your player, get thrown for a loop with Splinter of the Mind's Eye (Star Wars). Also adapted into a comic book, Splinter of the Mind's Eye (Star Wars) will forever change your perception of Luke and Vader’s duel in Empire. This is a can’t miss story.

At last, before finishing off the saga with the final movie, pick up Shadows of the Empire (Star Wars). This is a fun romp that goes into Vader's rivalry with a crime kingpin who's got a grudge against the Dark Lord. Vader's got to keep him from killing Luke in order to try to turn his offspring to the dark side one last time in Return of the Jedi.

There are several other interesting Vader stories, including the highly enjoyable Star Wars: The Original Radio Drama, the rife-with-intrigue Betrayal (Star Wars: Empire, Vol. 1), and the infamous The Glove of Darth Vader (Star Wars Jedi Prince, Book 1), but this is a good list to start satisfying your Vader craving.

Happy reading!

Products mentioned include:
1.  Star Wars: The Rise and Fall of Darth Vader  by Ryder Windham
$12.16 Used & New from: $0.01
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2.  Vader: The Ultimate Guide [Special Limited Edition]  by Karen Traviss
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3.  Star Wars: The Complete Vader  by Ryder Windham
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4.  Star Wars, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith  by Matthew Woodring Stover
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5.  Endgame (Star Wars: Clone Wars, Vol. 9)  by John Ostrander
$14.05 Used & New from: $0.97
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6.  Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader (Star Wars)  by James Luceno
$7.19 Used & New from: $0.01
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7.  Star Wars: Dark Times, Vol. 1: Path to Nowhere  by Welles Hartley
$13.13 Used & New from: $0.01
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8.  Star Wars - Boba Fett: Enemy of the Empire  by John Wagner
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9.  The Imperial Perspective (Star Wars: Empire, Vol. 3)  by Ron Marz
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10.  Scoundrel's Luck (Star Wars) 
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11.  Darth Vader's Return (Star Wars Missions, No. 17)  by Ryder Windham
Used & New from: $14.98
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12.  Dark Encounters (Star Wars: A Long Time Ago..., Book 2)  by Various
$26.96 Used & New from: $2.50
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13.  Star Wars: Vader's Quest  by Dave Gibbons
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14.  Splinter of the Mind's Eye (Star Wars)  by Alan Dean Foster
$7.19 Used & New from: $0.01
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15.  Splinter of the Mind's Eye (Star Wars)  by Alan Dean Foster
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16.  Shadows of the Empire (Star Wars)  by Steve Perry
$7.19 Used & New from: $0.01
4.3 out of 5 stars   (388) | 2 customer discussions
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17.  Star Wars: The Original Radio Drama [Audiobook] [Unabridged]  by Lucasfilm Ltd.
$26.15 Used & New from: $22.16
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18.  Betrayal (Star Wars: Empire, Vol. 1)  by Scott Allie
$10.73 Used & New from: $0.01
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19.  The Glove of Darth Vader (Star Wars Jedi Prince, Book 1)  by Paul Davids
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Author

Abel G. Peña (Southern California)
Qualifications: Star Wars Author
Last updated: 3/14/10
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