Fiction Reviews

Star Wars Trilogy

(2017 edition) George Lucas, Donald F. Glut & James Kahn, Arrow, £12.99, pbk, 675pp, ISBN 981-1-784-75938-4


The Star Wars franchise is a machine that has been captivating audiences for forty years. The re-release of the novelisations of the original trilogy – Star Wars (later re-titled as A New Hope, Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi is an opportunity to purchase a nice new paperback of the stories to mark the occasion.

It terms of content, there is no essential difference between this copy and the 25th anniversary edition, released in 2002. However, the comparative quality of the product is clear to see. The page count of the 25th anniversary edition was 504 pages; the new edition is 675 pages. Looking inside, the larger font and better spacing(leading) on the page, definitely makes for a better reading experience for tired eyes.

However, some of the issues pertaining to the previous edition. The novelisation of A New Hope is well known to have been ghost written by Alan Dean Foster, but George Lucas remains credited with it on the cover. However, Alan Dean Foster does have a section in the About the Authors section at the back of the new book, which is very encouraging to see, at last.

The novelisation of A New Hope is not great and certainly doesn’t live up to its cinematic treatment. However, the subsequent treatment of Empire Strikes Back is much better, and the adaptation of Return of the Jedi is excellent. I first read this when I was eight, back in 1984 and fell in love with it. The writing of the action sequences is incredibly vivid and imaginative, a particularly difficult task when you are attempting to compliment and compete with the visual imagery of the film.

The unique experience of the novels has changed over the years. Back in mid-eighties, a reader might ‘binge-read’ the trilogy or read the excellent comic book adaptations, as these would be a way in which they could experience all three stories in one sitting. The subsequent release to video, to DVD, Blu-Ray and streaming, has provided generation after generation with access to Star Wars. There are probably less homes in the United Kingdom and the United States of America that do not have access to a copy of the films than homes that do.

Fans of the series might be looking for additional insights and canonical details. These are not immediately apparent, and one or two things have been changed subsequently but, really, the book is worth it for James Kahn’s writing. A chance meeting between Kahn and Spielberg during the production of E.T., which Kahn ending up acting in, resulted in the writer getting a slew of opportunities to adapt a series of cinematic works, one of them being Return of the Jedi. The way in which Kahn handles the task projects confidence to the reader and must have set a standard for subsequent Star Wars novels from Timothy Zahn and Michael A. Stackpole, both of which take their visual clues from the films in a similar way to Kahn.

For the third part alone, the beautiful new cover and the nicely spaced typeset, this republication of the Star Wars trilogy is well worth a read.

Allen Stroud

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