Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Star Wars: The Clone Wars is the novelization of the animated Star Wars film that hit the theaters in 2008. Some fans loved it (myself included) and others thought it was a waste of movie-goers’ time and money, but one thing is for certain - this film introduced us to a new adventure in the Clone Wars saga. It also revealed something previously unknown to Star Wars fans - Anakin Skywalker had a padawan!
For those who haven’t seen the movie, the storyline centers around Jabba the Hutt’s son, Rotta. He has been kidnapped and Jabba has approached the Republic for help in finding and returning his son. The Separatists, headed by Count Dooku, have been attempting to persuade Jabba that the Jedi had kidnapped Rotta in a desperate attempt to con Jabba into giving them free access to the hyperspace lanes in the Outer Rim. Meanwhile, the Separatists are the true force behind the kidnapping, hoping that discrediting the Jedi will earn them the very same advantage. Anakin Skywalker and his new padawan are assigned to find the huttlet and return him to his father unharmed. Easier said than done!
Film novelizations can be tricky. Most of the time, authors only have the original screenplay to work with and so some of the events in the book may not match the events in the final cut of the movie. Plus, there is the added difficulty of delving into each character’s mind and offering readers insight into their actions. Happily Karen Traviss was up for the challenge.
Prior to reading Star Wars: The Clone Wars, I had read Traviss’ contributions to the Legacy of the Force series and I think Traviss is just one of those authors who can really get into characters’ heads. She’s a terrific storyteller. I even enjoyed Sacrifice, despite the fact that she killed off one of my favorite characters. It was the way the death scenes was written that won me over - the character going out just as I always thought she should. It told me that Karen Traviss did her research and knew just how much it meant to fans that she get the characters down perfectly. The series was a perfect avenue for Traviss to show us a different side of the Mandalorians and the internal struggles that one endured when falling to the Dark Side.
Thus, it was no surprise that Traviss was able to add just that extra special something to an already cool Clone Wars storyline. Yes, she stays true to the film, writing events as they played out in the movie, but it’s the detail she puts into writing those scenes that is key to this novelization. Clones are no longer simple fighting machines. Instead, we get insight into their feelings and mindset during war. We learn why Rex is so loyal to General Skywalker.
Traviss opens windows into the past events that have shaped our villains as well. Reasons for Asajj Ventress’ hatred of Jedi, as well as Count Dooku’s reasons for leaving the Jedi order, are hazily revealed, offering us new insight into these characters while still leaving enough mystery to be uncovered in later novels.
Possibly the best contribution Traviss could make to this storyline was the way she described Skywalker’s padawan, Ahsoka Tano. We know from her coloration and headtails that Ahsoka is not human, but in the action of the film, it is easy to just see Ahsoka as another humanoid Jedi. Traviss reminds us that Ahsoka is of the Togrutan species, a carnivorous hunter species with very species-specific abilities which help her in her quest to save the huttlet.
Although I loved the film, I have to say that I enjoyed Karen Traviss’ version of it more! Her descriptiveness and writing style set me right in the middle of all of the action and intrigue. She revealed things to me about the characters’ actions that I never would have know if I had only watched the film. Star Wars: The Clone Wars is perfect as a companion piece to the film or as a stand alone novel and Karen Traviss has elevated herself in my personal ranking of Star Wars novelists.