(2016) Alexander Freed, Century, £20, hrdbk, 323pp, ISBN 978-1-780-89478-2
“Rebellions are built on hope.”
The novelisation based on the film and importantly on both the script and screen story; which means there is a tad more material than was seen onscreen, all firmly based on the Star Wars franchise.
Everything is connected, especially when it comes to that energy field known as the Force, and thus all things Star Wars are connected with an amazing forty years passing since the release of the original film. Since then we’ve had films that are sequels, and prequels , making up their own trilogies and we are in a cycle of another sequel trilogy and a young Han Solo film is almost upon us, but someone must have looked at Star Wars: A New Hope and thought: “Wait a minute how did the rebels actually get the plans for the Death Star?”. Well, if you have seen the film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story you’ll know the answer, and if you haven’t seen that film, then the answer also lies within the pages of this novel by Alexander Freed.
In the rebooted timeline, which is now official canon, thus consigning all those other Star Wars novels to some alternative fantasy timeline, we are in the end days of stage three of the story arc, in the shadow of the film Revenge of the Sith and in the company of some pretty good novels like Lords of the Sith and Tarkin and the TV series Rebels. Alexander Freed is a solid choice for writing this book as he has previous form having penned the Star Wars: Battlefront Twilight Company novel which in the new official timeline is actually set in the future after this novelisation, beneath Star Wars: A New Hope. Confused? Well, do not worry, you are in safe hands. For a start, Freed can write, which is always a good thing when writing any novel, and he has shown that he can write ensemble pieces about a cast of characters trying to live through grim, hard times beneath the marching boots of countless Stormtroopers. He can also do pretty large-scale action sequences involving spaceships, down to land battles, down to the more intimate hand to hand, or blaster to blaster street-fighting (or make that running through spaceship corridors) stuff. Everything is connected, so not only does Freed have the screen story and the Rogue One script to play with, he also riffs off James Luceno’s Rogue One novel Catalyst which features some of the characters who appear in the film, notably Orsen Krennic and scientist Gelan Erso which told the story of their friendship and the development of the Emperor’s super weapon, capable of destroying entire planets.
Hardcore Star Wars fans will have seen the film several times, and can quote the dialogue at will, and because they are under some Jedi mind control, will have had no choice but to buy this book for their burgeoning – and never-ending – Star Wars collection. What they get for their money is a fairly straight version of the film with the odd expanded scene, and more importantly some insight into the minds and motivations of the main characters. On the downside, there are a few interruptions to the plot with various interludes, taking the form of “supplemental data” that comes as “Rebel Alliance Intelligence Updates”, “Battle Station Engineering Notes”, even a “Sunset Prayer”. I found these a bit unnecessary and tending to slow up the main plot, but fortunately they weren’t that many of them, and they were a tad long to exist as footnotes.
All in all, this is a must buy for Star Wars fans everywhere and is pretty critic-proof, no doubt qualifying as a New York Times bestseller through sales alone, and hats off to a great front, and especially, back cover by Elizabeth A. D. Eno. Surely that image and strap line has featured on lots of spin-off merchandise? If it has not then the studio has missed a trick.
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