Science Fiction
 

Star Wars: The Essential Reader's Companion

Author: Pablo Hidalgo

Illustrated By: Jeff Carlisle, Joe Corroney, Brian Rood, Chris Scalf, Darren Tan and Chris Trevas

Published By:
The Ballentine Publishing Company


Reviewed by Melissa Minners

 

                Last Christmas, there was only one thing that I begged people to get me - Star Wars: The Essential Reader's Companion.  I made a very convincing argument, showing them how big this book was and explaining the content and value at just under $20.00.  The argument worked - I received a copy for Christmas and started reading it in late winter.  I just finished.

                Star Wars: The Essential Reader's Companion is something of an encyclopedia for Star Wars literature fans.  Note, I don't say book fans, because this reader's companion contains so much more than books.  Pablo Hidalgo has put together summaries of every single piece of Star Wars sanctioned literature from 1976 until the beginning of 2013 with the exception of some Graphic Novels and Choose Your Own Destiny books.

                The summaries are done in Expanded Universe chronological order as best as possible, meaning that some of the books have an ambiguous timeline or a conflicted one and so they are placed where best fit.  Each listing features book art, author, cover artist, publication history, time line placement, a list of worlds visited an a list of main characters along with a brief summary and, often times, incidental and behind the scenes information about the book or short story featured.  In addition to the summaries in Expanded Universe chronological order, there is an appendix featuring the works in publication order and another index featuring the works listed by author. 

                Every few pages or so is a large scale piece of art created just for this book by Jeff Carlisle, Joe Corroney, Brian Rood, Chris Scalf, Darren Tan or Chris Trevas illustrating important and memorable scenes from some of the novels.  I must confess that the artwork sold me on the book long before I knew what else it contained, that's how beautifully detailed some of these illustrations are.

                 Star Wars: The Essential Reader's Companion is a Star Wars literature fan's dream!  Sure, I have owned/read many of the books listed, but we all know that there are way too many books out there that I haven't gotten to yet.  There are also books that I won't buy based on age group that do have some pertinence to the Star Wars chronology.  And there are some short stories that have become unavailable since last printed in magazines or as special edition add-ins with toys, etc.  Pablo Hidalgo has done his best to include all of these and more.  I loved that Hidalgo also thought outside the box, including some tidbits about a couple of comic book series that were important to Expanded Universe such as Union (Luke and Mara's wedding), Chewbacca (a memorial to the fallen hero), Invasion (a look at one family's survival during the Yuuzhan Vong invasion) and more.

                Now, be forewarned - there is a reason why I didn't finish reading this book until now.  First, this is a big book, just the size of a standard encyclopedia and, at just under 500 pages, it's kind of heavy.  There was no way I was lugging this thing around with me to read whenever the moment presented itself.  That meant reading the book at home in my spare time...Ha!  Spare time!  What's that?!  So, I read a few excerpts each time I got a chance and eventually came to the end a bit more wiser about the Expanded Universe than I had been before and delighting in reading summaries of books I hadn't read in quite some time and remembered with fondness. 

                When I begged for this book for Christmas, I was certain that I would love it.  Now that I have read it cover to cover, I knew it was the right choice for me and I am sure that I will go back and glance at the book often to refresh my memory on stuff or whenever an argument presents itself between myself and another Expanded Universe fan.  Star Wars: The Essential Reader's Companion is just what the doctor ordered for the Star Wars literature fan!

 

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