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
"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
"BREATHLESS . . . FILLED WITH ACTION FROM PAGE ONE."
--The New York PostFrom the Paperback edition.