Crystal Starr Light's Reviews > Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

Star Wars Episode VI by James Kahn
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Jul 15, 14

bookshelves: star-wars, boys-boys-and-not-a-girl-in-sight
Read in July, 2010 — I own a copy, read count: 2

"It was this that the Alliance was fighting to preserve: furry creatures in mammoth forests"
Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa, and Lando Calrissian have a daring plan to rescue Han Solo, who is in the clutches of the evil Jabba the Hutt on Tatooine. Near Endor's moon, the Emperor builds an even bigger, more forboding Death Star: one that could destroy the Rebel Alliance once and for all.
NOTE: Based on novel and audiobook.

I Liked:
I rate novelizations on two primary criteria A) how the book is written and B) what new aspects are shown in the book. My complaint from the last two classic Star Wars novelizations was how little new, insightful material there was.
Return of the Jedi remedies that in many ways. Despite its quick pace and action sequences, the book has a startling amount of "behind the scenes"--some of the first clues for fans about the prequels. These occur mostly when Obi-Wan and Luke are discussing his father. Here, we learn that A) Anakin didn't realize Luke and Leia's mom was pregnant, B) Owen was Obi-Wan's brother (Man, Owen was mean to call Obi-Wan a "crazy, old fool"!), C) that Jabba the Hutt was a Jedi killer, and D) that Gamorreans hate droids (didn't know that one before!). (But, see below.)
But the highlight is the in-depth character insight. The two main characters we see are Luke and (surprisinigly) Vader. Luke contemplates the Emperor and Vader's destructions on numerous occasions. In the elevator, he considers overthrowing his father and taking Vader's place at the Emperor's side. In the presence of the Emperor, a lot more insight into his character is given, his struggles, and his temptations along with the knowledge that the Emperor feared Luke would turn against him. We even get to learn that the Emperor knew Yoda! And, kudos to Kahn for giving the very first Vader POV, one that gets deep into his mind (and is a nice parallel to Revenge of the Sith written by Stover). Vader here fears his son will kill him, is enraged at his son's resistance to the Dark Side, and reminisces on his long dead wife. It's touching and a nice sense of closure.
The characters are again, well written. Luke makes a nice change from farm boy to Jedi. His insight into his temptation is by far the best described in the classic trilogy. Leia has "de-iced" without becoming a damsel in distress, and Han's edges have smoothed over just a wee bit.

I Didn't Like:
Unfortunately, most of the coolest "behind the scenes" of the novelization (specifically about the prequels) have been retconned. As we know from Revenge of the Sith, Anakin knew Padme was pregnant (though, surprisingly, neither knew she was pregnant with twins). Padme didn't hand Luke to Obi-Wan and take Leia to Bail. Owen is Anakin's step-brother, not Obi-Wan's brother. Jabba the Hutt has never been shown in the prequels to be a Jedi Killer (though, that would make that Clone Wars movie interesting!). This isn't exactly a fault of the novelization, but it is too bad that the continuity doesn't line up.
While there is more extra information, particularly at the end when Luke is facing off with Vader and the Emperor, most of the story is strictly a retelling of the movie, slightly dressed up. I wish a few deleted scenes or more character insights had appeared.

Dialogue/Sexual Situations/Violence:
Little to none.
Oolah the dancing girl, and Leia later on. Han becomes jealous of Luke and Leia.
Luke and his friends make an explosive escape from Jabba the Hutt. Several major characters die.

Overall:
Of all the classic trilogy novelizations, this is by far the best. It gives good insights into Luke, nice tidbits about the prequels (unfortunately, most of these don't even apply to continuity anymore), and a good telling of the story. It's not much different than the movie, but it still is worth reading at least once, particularly for Star Wars fans. 3.5 rounded generously to 4 stars.
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