- Author: R.A. Salvatore
- 314 pages
- Published in 2002
- Novelization of the Film
What It’s About:
Again, as I did with The Phantom Menace, I’m assuming that if you’re here, you’ve seen the movie and I don’t need a detailed synopsis of the story.
In short, it’s ten years after TPM, and Anakin has trained under Obi-Wan as his Padawan. He’s now a young man, and on his return to Coruscant from a mission, he meets Padme again. Padme, aka Senator Amidala, is in Coruscant for an important vote in the Senate; she wants to vote against creating an army for the Republic against the Separatists led by Count Dooku. After an attempt on her life, Anakin and Obi-Wan are assigned to protect her. After another attempt to kill Padme, Obi-Wan investigates on Kamino, where he discovers the clone army; while Anakin is sent with Padme back to Naboo–where they promptly fall in love.
From there, the story leads to Geonosis, where the Clone Wars truly begin.
As with TPM, there are extra scenes at the beginning of the book that help establish character, setting or plot, rather than get right into the action as the movie does. Here’s a few:
- The book begins with a dream of Anakin’s–a nightmare about his mother, Shmi Skywalker. He has this dream on board a ship with Obi-Wan, on their way to a mission on Ansion. The nightmares will figure heavily on Anakin’s decisions and actions in the story.
- One extra set of scenes I liked was Shmi’s life with the Lars family before she is abducted by the Tuskens. She is truly happy with Cliegg Lars, his son Owen, and Owen’s girlfriend, Beru Whitesun. She loves Owen as her own, though there is a hole in her heart where Anakin used to be. She misses him terribly, but knows he is where he’s supposed to be. I loved getting a bit more about Shmi and her life with the Lars’.
- Before Padme returns to Coruscant for the all-important vote in the Senate, she is on her homeworld of Naboo, visiting with her family–her mother Jubal, her father Ruwee, her sister Sola, and Sola’s two daughters, Poojah and Ryoo. Her sister, and then both her father and mother, badger her about “settling down” and having a family. Considering Padme is probably only 25 or so, I thought this was a bit strange; but then, Padme has been in civil service since she was 8 years old or so, so I guess she’s put in the years. I think these scenes serve to plant the idea in Padme’s mind that maybe she should think about her personal happiness for once; and I think it makes it easier for her to let Anakin in later and not dismiss him immediately (as she does try to do).
- During the scene where Obi-Wan asks Anakin “Why do I get the feeling you’re going to be the death of me?” Anakin replies, “Don’t say that, Master. You’re the closest thing I have to a father. I love you, and I don’t want to cause you pain.” He doesn’t say the “I love you” part in the movie, but I think it’s important here. It’s clear to us that he does love Obi-Wan, despite his frustrations, and is a stark contrast to the “I hate you!” he screams at the end of ROTS. And really, it’s just nice to hear Anakin say it.
- During the same scene, we get the name of the infamous death stick fellow: Elan Sleazebaggano. Priceless.
- We also get several scenes with Jango Fett and his son, Boba, revealing more about their relationship and the love they have for one another. Clearly they’re not people we can love, but they definitely love each other as father and son; in fact, each only has the other in the entire universe. Jango is proud of Boba, and Boba worships his father. It’s kind of sweet.
- On Naboo, Padme and Anakin visit her family. It’s clear to them that Anakin has feelings for Padme, but Padme still denies it (her thoughts, however, are a different matter). Anakin, for his part, contrasts his life as a slave on Tatooine, with Padme’s childhood with her family on lush Naboo. It highlights how much his mother, the only good thing on Tatooine, was central to his life and happiness as a boy.
- When Anakin gives in to his rage and kills the Tusken village, Yoda, deep in meditation at the time, hears Qui Gon Jinn crying, “No, Anakin! No! Don’t! No!” Anakin hears it too, but ignores it in his rage; Yoda, however, becomes intrigued by it (as well as disturbed by Anakin’s rage and pain). This is probably what causes him to investigate the existence of Force ghosts (there was an episode of Clone Wars where he speaks to Qui Gon on Dagobah), and later, in ROTS, he tells Obi-Wan he will teach him how to communicate with Qui Gon while on Tatooine as he watches over Luke.
- After Anakin kills the Tuskens and goes back to the Lars homestead, he tells Padme about it in his famous snarled outburst. I think a lot of us wonder why Padme didn’t hear alarm bells ringing at this point, or why she would ignore it. But in the book, there’s more to their conversation. He admits to her that he hates them, that he couldn’t control himself–but that it was wrong, that “there is no place for hatred.” Padme replies, “To be angry is to be human.” (Note he didn’t say “anger”, he said “hate”; by this time, firmly in love, Padme is hearing what she wants to hear). Anakin continues, “To control your anger is to be a Jedi…I know I’m better than this.” So he admits, in a way, that what he did was wrong. It’s enough for Padme, at this point, to forgive and forget.
Those are the main additions to the story that I noticed and thought important.
There’s a couple of stylistic choices, however, that bothered me: in the book, Padme is called by many by the title “M’lady,” rather than “Senator”. I don’t know why it bothered me, but I don’t think she was called that in the movie, except by Anakin once early on. I just thought it was weird.
And while the book was well written by an accomplished author, he had one habit that annoyed me: a penchant for writing “Off they went,” “out came his lightsaber,” “down went the ship.” Nothing grammatically wrong with it, I think, but seems old-fashioned and sticks out like a sore thumb. That’s just me, though.
Instead of going right to Revenge of the Sith, I’ll next be reading “Labyrinth of Evil,” by James Luceno (it’s a Legends book). It occurs between AOTC and ROTS, and just makes sense to read that next.
See you then!
Rating: 4 out 5 lightsabers.
**I had always assumed all of the novelizations of the movies were canon–but it’s not so. Since the OT and PT books were written before 2014 (when Disney took over), the books are now considered Legends. The movies, of course, are canon, but not their novelizations. Go figure.