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Star Wars, Episode I: The Phantom Menace Mass Market Paperback – February 29, 2000
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“Breathless . . . filled with action from page one.”—New York Post
From the Inside Flap
In barren desert lands and seedy spaceports . . . in vast underwater cities and in the blackest depths of space . . . unfolds a tale of good and evil, of myth and magic, of innocence and power. Based on the screenplay by George Lucas, this novel by master storyteller Terry Brooks probes the depths of one of the greatest tales of our time, providing rich detail and insight into the minds and motives of the characters--and shedding bold new light on Lucas' brilliant creation.
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, an evil legacy long believed dead is stirring. Now the dark side of the Force threatens to overwhelm the light, and only an ancient Jedi prophecy stands between hope and doom for the entire galaxy.
The Jedi Knight Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice, young Obi-Wan Kenobi, are charged with the protection of Amidala, the young Queen of Naboo, as she seeks to end the siege of her planet by Trade Federation warships. This quest brings Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, and one of the Queen's young handmaidens to the sand-swept streets of Tatooine and the shop where the slave boy Anakin Skywalker toils and dreams of finding a way to win freedom from enslavement for himself and his beloved mother. His only hope lies in his extraordinary instincts and his strange gift for understanding the "rightness" of things. It is this unexpected meeting that marks the beginning of the drama that will become legend . . .
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There is a good pace to the book and I found it enjoyable.
This edition also has a short story Darth Maul: End Game. This expands Darth Mauls' backstory and fills in gaps in the film with what he was doing 'offscrene'. In this story we see more of Dath Sidious and what he expects from Darth Maul.
This is also an enjoyable story
The biggest problem I had was the dialogue; nearly every spoken line was taken directly from the film. Read: cringeworthy (Anakin’s especially, just as in the movie). I will admit that it was better to read it than hear it, so maybe that’s why I was able to not roll my eyes as much. The book also suffers from repetitive descriptions. Do we really need to be told every other page that Panaka and Windu are dark-skinned? Or that Jar Jar has a “billed face”? Or be reminded of the characters’ full names each time the scene changes?
I may be speaking out of bias (because I’ve come to adore Qui-Gon and Padme), but I also felt that a few key scenes were glossed over too quickly. The rift between Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan when the Master decided to train Anakin, Qui-Gon’s death and its impact on Obi-Wan and Anakin, and Anakin’s separation from the mother he loved so fiercely; both were extremely important, yet with a few words they were over and done with, each character seemingly fine with life mere moments after the events. Obi-Wan at this point is still very much a slave to his emotions and that feeling of betrayal was something significant for him, even when Qui-Gon explained that he thought his Padawan ready to become a Knight. It also would have been nice to have seen Obi-Wan have more time to get a handle on his rage and grief at losing his Master and life-long friend, or to give Anakin a few paragraphs of struggling to overcome his separation anxiety from the only life he’d ever known and the only person he’d ever loved.
Speaking of moving too quickly, I still don’t like how fast Anakin’s and Padme’s relationship developed. Paralleling Rose and the Doctor’s shift in affections changed in Doctor Who, one moment Anakin and Padme are friends, the next they’re in love? I understand the love-at-first-sight motif and the love-stronger-than-anything device and their prevalence within Anakin’s life story, but this book did nothing to ease that transition that made me scratch my head during the film.
Although I do have several complaints, there are a few good things that I did like. My dislike of Jar Jar was lessened thanks to Brooks going deeper into his emotions and insecurities. I also greatly enjoyed Maul’s appearances, brief as they were, because of the further insight afforded to him; I never really felt connected to him during the movie, so it’s through the books that I’ve come to like him. Brooks didn’t disappoint me on that front.
Overall I felt that this particular attempt at a novelization fell short of what it could have been. If it had been given twenty additional pages of insight into the various characters and the emotional trauma they were subjected to throughout the story I would have rated it higher. I don’t know how much of that was because of contractual obligations or simply Brooks’ style, but in the end it doesn’t matter; this was a mediocre adaptation at best, sad to say.