Alex 's Reviews > Star Wars, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Star Wars, Episode III by Matthew Woodring Stover
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's review
Nov 06, 11

bookshelves: star-wars, science-fiction
Read from November 01 to 06, 2011

Matthew Stover is a greater talent than Charles Dickens, Henry James and Proust all rolled into one. Ok, perhaps not. Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith may not be *quite* as good as A Tale of Two Cities but it surely takes some kind of genius to take a Lucas prequel screenplay and turn it into a 5-star worthy novel; Lucas' movie, Revenge of the Sith is, afterall a laughable mockery of what originally made Star Wars so great. It's easy to write-off a terrible movie as badly written when one sees the finished result when in fact that problem lies elsewhere. Lucas' characterisations are wooden, badly acted, spout terrible dialogue and jump around horribly overproduced CGI sets. Perhaps these things led me to be overtly hung up on the implausibility of the central focus of the script, Anakin's hasty switch to the dark side, a seemingly irrational decision to turn his back on the Jedi Order and become evil through the hope of saving his one true love.

These problems still exist within Stover's novel, of course, but I felt much more inclined to overlook them since – unlike when I watched Lucas' movie – I was enjoying myself reading it so much. In place of Lucas' lamentably sloppy direction we have a quality author at the top of his game who is able to paint the picture of a convincing and entertaining sci-fi opera with ridiculous ease. Within the first hundred pages, an extended sequence in which Anakin and Obi-Wan rescue Palpatine, kill Dooku and battle with General Grievous I felt completely immersed in the Star Wars universe in a way I hadn't since watching the original trilogy as a child. The writing isn't always dense, deep or lyrically beautiful but it is slick and made for the perfect space opera, shifting effortlessly between thoughtful scene setting, entertaining battle scenes to fully fleshed out character bios and convincing and credible emotions when its needed. Whereas, for instance, most novelization writers would simply detail the opening scenes of the movie, throwing in the occasional emotional phrase and internalised thought to break up the monotony and make the character seem real, Stover really switches it up and makes the screenplay his own by creating his own narrative structures, focusing on character more than event and making every single segment feel important to the bigger picture. When Anakin kills Dooku in the movie, Palpatine snarls and Anakin he simply kills Dooku (Lucas cuts away, of course, de-emphasizing the moment); it's just another run-of-the-mill action scene. When Anakin kills Dooku in the novel, there's drama and content. It feels hard fought, emotional and staggeringly important.

More importantly Stover understands the Star Wars universe better than Lucas himself does nowadays. Whereas Lucas thinks that Star Wars is primarily about entertaining children, Stover gears his material firmly towards older teenagers, making it feel lived in and dangerous rather than childish. Also, whereas Lucas plays Anakin's transition from good to bad as a personal melodramatic tragedy, Stover treats it as pure crazed insanity. It's still unbelievable and over the top, of course, but Stover has belief and conviction in his material and he has the weight of his novel behind him to such an extent that I was twitching nervously as Anakin runs around slicing people to bits, feeling that this was genuinely quite an awful thing to have happened. I cared that Palpatine brought down the Republic, I cared that Padme died and I cared for the eventual fate of baby Luke and Leia.

Why did I care? Because this novel is just such a lot of goddamn fun. Whilst there are a lot of ideas about light, dark, the force, Shatterpoints and copious amounts of other Jedi nonsense included within, it doesn't expect you to buy it as a deep and meaningful Shakespearian tragedy, but as the light hearted exciting epic that Star Wars was always meant to be. This is the Star Wars prequel that we'd all been waiting for, for years. This is the prequel that Lucas failed to deliver. This is a right good laugh and a highly recommended read. No, it really isn't Shakespeare, sorry but it deserves every one of its five stars regardless.
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Reading Progress

11/01/2011
10.0% "That's Star Wars Episode III - Revenge of the Sith. Also known as "The One In Which Vader Yells NOOOOOOOOOO""
11/01/2011
25.0% "This is absolutely terrific. The best novelisation of Revenge of the Sith that I've ever read."
11/03/2011
50.0% "This is terrific, easily the best franchise tie-in novel I've ever read. Stover turns the script for this movie into something thoughtful, intriguing and exciting. I really can't wait to see how he deals with the climax."

Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by Daniel (new) - added it

Daniel Swensen Holy moley, I guess I have to read this now.


Alex :D

I would definitely recommend it to anyone with even a passing interest in the prequels. You might not enjoy it quite as much as I did - it definitely hit the right chord with me - but I'd be pretty confident that you'll come away thinking "yeah, that was a better interpretation of the story than Lucas gave it".


Tsukino Hikaru My only addition to your review is that if you read the other novels of the clone wars you will come to realize there is nothing sudden about Anakin's fall, and shatterpoints are explained in the book of the same name. Stover is merely wrapping up the drama that many other great writers have built up in their books, while still making it stand alone as a movie novelization.


Carsten S Reviewer: You obviously do not know much about Star Wars. Your lack of knowledge about Shatterpoint demonstrates that clearly.


Jevron McCrory The review stands on it's own, having said that. This is a BRILLIANT book!


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