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The Star Wars Trilogy: 25th Anniversary Collector's Edition
George Lucas, Donald F. Glut, James Kahn
Del Rey / Lucas Books, 650 pages

The Star Wars Trilogy, The 25th Anniversary Collector's Edition
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A review by David Maddox


"A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away..."
These words have been immortalized in the minds of American pop culture for 25 years. One wonders if George Lucas knew exactly what he was giving birth to when he first penned the opening to one of the greatest and certainly most profitable science fiction trilogies of all time.

To celebrate, Del Rey and Lucas Books have released The Star Wars Trilogy: 25th Anniversary Collector's Edition, a handsomely bound collection featuring the original novelized works of Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Avoiding the brilliant flashiness of his films, the understated novel has a striking matte black cover and features art by Star Wars conceptual artist Ralph McQuarrie.

Starting with a brief introduction by Lucas, the collection flows right into the adventure. Unlike earlier printings of Star Wars and even the original release in 1977, Lucas gives the first part (Episode IV) his chosen title, A New Hope. The original Star Wars novel was ghost-written by Alan Dean Foster who used Lucas' screenplay as a basis to produce The Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker. Foster would go on to write the very first Star Wars sequel, 1978's Splinter of the Mind's Eye. Lucas credits Foster in the book's dust jacket.

Indeed there are quite a few difference that fans who only know the films will notice. For instance, the opening lines "Another Galaxy, another time..." As Lucas himself notes, the outline for the new trilogy is actually contained in the first few lines of A New Hope. The first section is Star Wars as remembered on the big screen, told in dime-novel pulp style, with a lot more back-story to the characters. Han Solo and a surprisingly human-looking Jabba the Hutt meet in the Millennium Falcon's hanger and the political back story finally explains why Grand Moff Tarkin has such power over Darth Vader. Like the film, the novel can be read as a stand-alone adventure, or a mere part of a larger story.

The Empire Strikes Back is penned by prolific writer Donald F. Glut who, since 1966, has written everything from Land of the Lost to episodes of the Transformers. Empire is the darkest part of the trilogy and fans of Episode V will enjoy the well crafted and expanded dialogue. The scenes of Luke's training by Yoda in the swamps of Dagobah are more in-depth and reveal aspects of the Force unmentioned in the film. Overall, this section is closest to the actual movie while having enough surprises to make it interesting.

Return of the Jedi, as written by Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom novel writer James Kahn, takes on a much darker tone than the film. It provides insight into the mind of Darth Vader describing the persuasive lure of the Dark Side of the Force, the heady exultation and sense of unbelievable power it promises. These revelations help one to understand how Anakin Skywalker could have been seduced all those years ago. There are a few inconsistencies, such as Obi-Wan Kenobi referring to Owen Lars as his own brother, but nothing too glaring and the climactic battle between Luke and Vader vividly recaptures the films ending.

So what's so special about this edition? Well, it's a first new printing of these stories in about 5 years and quite well done. If you've never seen any of the Star Wars films before... go buy or rent them. Then, if you want to know more, pick up this book. It's an excellent collector's piece and a great beginning for anyone looking to get into the Star Wars novel universe.

Copyright © 2002 David Maddox

David Maddox
Science fiction enthusiast David Maddox has been many things, including Star Trek characters and the Riddler in a Batman stunt show. He holds a degree in Cinema from San Francisco State University, and has written several articles for various SF sites as well as the Star Wars Insider. He spends his time working on screenplays and stories as well as acting in any venue he can. Residing in Los Angeles, he continues to be part of this wacky business called show.

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