First of all, I would like to say that I am a huge Star Wars fan. I have seen each of the Star Wars movies multiple times. I have won a game of Trivial Pursuit: Star Wars. I have learned a few Star Wars themes on the piano. And yes, I do like Episode I – III, even if The Phantom Menace has Jar Jar and Attack of the Clones has the whole Anakin and Padme “romance” that just didn’t feel authentic. I found that I did not really empathize with Anakin as he turned to the Dark Side in Revenge of the Sith (I’m sorry, do these count as spoiler alerts? I just always have this assumption that everyone has watched Star Wars).
All of this changed, however, once I read Matthew Stover’s Revenge of the Sith (except Jar Jar’s pointlessness; that will always remain). Stover brings you into the minds of Anakin, Padme, Obi Wan, Count Dooku, Mace Windu, and even C3PO. All of sudden, everything made so much more sense.
For those of you who might not be familiar with Star Wars, this book takes place during a war in which the Supreme Chancellor of the Republic (the good guys) is kidnapped by Count Dooku and General Grievous (the bad guys). Anakin and his former Jedi Master, Obi Wan, are sent to save the Supreme Chancellor and capture the evil duo. The Jedi are a group of humans and aliens that have a special connection to the Force which allows them to basically be superhumans. Anakin is not like the other Jedi. In fact, he is supposed to be the Chosen One, chosen to bring balance to the Force (whatever that means; the Jedi don’t really know what it means, either). But the Hero With No Fear, as he is known throughout the galaxy, is actually consumed by fear. Namely, fear of the death of those he loves. A Jedi is not really supposed to have such attachments to people, or things. But Anakin, who is secretly married to Senator Padme Amidala, does love. He is haunted by the fact that he wasn’t able to save his mother from death a few years ago, and now he is plagued with dreams in which his wife dies in the very near future.
This book follows Anakin’s journey as he tries to find a way to save his wife and understand his place in the world, but this man is tormented. He doesn’t realize that there are people taking advantage of his fears to make him into the person they want him to be. Much of this internal conflict is implied in the movie, but in this book, we really get into Anakin’s head. We see why he does the things that he does, and we feel his pain. We see how he deals with being torn between two loyalties, and we see when he comes to the realization that what he really feared all the time was himself.
I think this was a well written book. It took the movie and brought it to life. The fighting scenes were vivid, with explanations of different Jedi combat styles that drew me into the Star Wars universe. I felt like now I understood why Anakin acted the way that he did because I felt his pain and his fear. I saw why people could not help but love Anakin. There is a scene in which Padme says to Obi Wan, “You love him too, don’t you?” Obi Wan is not even supposed to love, being a Jedi, and although he would sacrifice any other Jedi’s life for the greater good, as they would do to him, he knows he wouldn’t do the same to Anakin. This book wasn’t just adding a few details to a script and calling it a novelization.
When I was reading the last few chapters of this book, I was sitting on a bench in FIU. If I was at home, or someplace less public, I would totally have cried. Instead, I had to settle with blinking away a few tears. Ok, it may seem like this might be a common theme with me, getting emotional over books, but this does not always happen, trust me. It is a testament to how well written the book is, how well the author is able to make you connect to the characters, to feel their hearts break.
I would recommend this book for those in high school and up. The movie was rated PG-13, and this book has its share of violence and can be somewhat gory at a few points.
Even if you haven’t been exposed to Star Wars before, this book is definitely worth the read. I’ve read the novelizations for Episodes I – III (written by three different authors) and I feel that Matthew Stover did the best. Revenge of the Sith tops them all.