Page Count: Hardcover: 432; Paperback: 480
Author: Matthew Stover
Timeline: Follows Attack of the Clones, precedes Rogue One
Main Characters: Anakin, Obi-Wan, Padmé, Palpatine, Mace Windu, and others.
Brief Synopsis: While battling his inner demons, Anakin, Obi-Wan, and other heroes of the Republic face a tragic end to the Clone Wars.
Wow. This book was a masterpiece. There was a lot of hype around it, which was certainly surprising for a novelization of a movie. It isn’t a new Star Wars story, it is simply retelling one in book format, so why should there be hype around it? While novelizations can bring some new perspectives to the movies, I didn’t think any novelization would have this much hype. But the hype for this book is up there with the hype of other great Star Wars novels, like Lost Stars. Heck, there is even a Twitter page called Revenge of the Sith Novel Quotes dedicated to posting quotes from the novel. And there are a lot of them. My point is that there was a lot of hype behind the book and this raised my expectations for it.
And my expectations were exceeded. Revenge of the Sith is my favorite Star Wars movie. It is just so complex and has more depth to it than most Star Wars stories. Stover made this story even better by adding more depth and complexity to the best parts of the story. He put so much care into every part of the book, making it feel even more like a Shakespearean tragedy. He also truly made it his own, which is unlike any other Star Wars book that I’ve read. I could go on and on about how much I loved it, but I’ll just start getting into the details and scores.
If I were to give “extra credit” for sections, it would probably be for characters for this book. Stover earned every bit of the 20 points for this section, if not more. For every aspect of the characters in the book, Stover’s work was excellent. For starters, so many characters got specific sections dedicated to giving background on them. It was usually a few pages just detailing who the character was and what it was like to be them. I’d have to go back through to actually point out all the characters that Stover did this for, but notably Anakin, Obi-Wan, Padmé, Count Dooku, and General Grievous got development this way. As the reader, I knew these sections were explicitly being used as character development, but it still worked very well. For this reason alone, I may have given 20 points for characters.
But this was not the only strong point for characters. Notably, the interaction between characters in forming their relationships was strong. As the focal point of the book, Anakin’s relationships with Obi-Wan and Palpatine were crucial. Stover further develops the depth between Obi-Wan and Anakin’s relationship as brothers who love each other. In a way, similar to Anakin and Padmé, their story is one of forbidden love, because the Jedi Order does not approve of this kind of attachment between friends. Biblically, it reminded me of the bond between David and Jonathan. Then, with Anakin and Palpatine, their relationship has much more understanding. It makes sense why Anakin eventually chose Palpatine over the Jedi Order. Their interactions were given so much more depth than the movie, but I’ll discuss that more later on.
Finally, the change from Anakin Skywalker to Darth Vader is a pretty significant change for a single character. In order to do this successfully, it must make sense and not be forced. In the movie, it does feel a little forced. In the book, Stover really makes this make sense. This, again, is one of the strongest parts of the book. So, the characters in this novel were a strength. Probably the strongest point of the book, and that is saying a lot. It easily receives the full points.
Score: (20/20 pts)
As I mentioned, this novel is a masterpiece. It is not only one of the best written Star Wars novels that I’ve encountered, it is one of the best written novels that I’ve read. There was so much attention given by Stover to each chapter. So many literary devices were used to bring the novel to life. Symbolism, metaphors, and foreshadowing were littered throughout the book, and I loved it. Stover even used second person (using you) at one point! Hardly any books use this literary device. But Stover did this to put the reader in the shoes of one of the characters to make them feel what the character was feeling. A bold strategy, and I must say it paid off well. I could continue to give more examples of why the writing is so great, but I don’t want to give away too much. You’ll just have to read it for yourself. Stover easily earns another 20 points.
Score: (20/20 pts)
For novelizations, the skeleton of the plot is already in place. So, for the overall story, Stover doesn’t have much leeway for the story. Because of that, I look to what else is added to the story. Stover did not let me down. While there were extra scenes that he added, these are not what stood out to me. It was the background information and depth that he gave to the existing scenes that made the plot even better. The events taking place in Revenge of the Sith (Order 66, the fall of the Jedi, Anakin’s transformation to Darth Vader, etc.) are complex, and in just movie form they cannot be given the detailed structure required to get the most out of them. Specifically, Palpatine’s manipulation of Anakin was brilliantly told. In the book, I actually, along with Anakin, start to believe the words coming out of Palpatine’s mouth. This is even with my understanding that Palpatine is evil. Stover did that good of a job. Also, the story was told through many different perspectives, giving an overall better understanding of the story. So, Stover made an existing story of high quality even better. The only reason why I am not giving a perfect score for this section is that I wish the ending of the book was given some more depth. Comparing it to the rest of the book, it felt a little rushed which was a little disappointing. It is also important to note that some small details of the book do differ from the movie, but nothing that drastically changes the story. All in all, I am giving a strong score of 19.5 points for the plot.
Score: (19.5/20 pts)
Novelizations of movies naturally score higher in this section. This is because we are already familiar with the story, so the reading is easier to digest. Also, because Stover inherited one of the more exciting stories in Star Wars, the intrigue came easily to this novel. However, he also made the intrigue even better with the superb writing. Every single section was well written. It made the exciting sections more exciting and the complex sections more complex. What was good about the story became even better in book form. Also, his writing style was easy to read so I could read page after page without much effort. And trust me, I didn’t want to put the book down. The book climaxed fairly early and stayed exciting for the last 200 pages or so. But I must admit some of my bias because this is my favorite part of the Skywalker Saga, so not everyone will have the same feelings. Because of that, I am lowering my score for this section to a still impressive score of 19 points.
Score: (19/20 pts)
What Does it Add?
Most novelizations of movies struggle with this section. Because most of the story is already in movie form, it is difficult for the book to add anything to the Star Wars universe that is actually significant. While this is in fact the weakest part of the novel, it is still about on par with other Star Wars novels. So, in that perspective, it is a strength. Most notably, Stover gave more details considering different lightsaber fighting styles and their strengths and weaknesses. Specifically, Windu’s fighting style of Vaapad was fascinating to learn about. It gives more evidence that he may be the closest thing to a Gray Jedi in Canon. Also, we learned about what it feels like to be under Force persuasion, which was both humorous and informative. Stover earned his 18 points for this section.
Score: (18/20 pts)
There were certain aspects in this novel which did not line up with the current Star Wars Canon. For example, in the book, Yoda mentions not having learned the path to Force immortality. But we know now that this happens in The Clone Wars prior to the events of Revenge of the Sith. But my approach to reading these old novelizations is that I must pick out pieces that no longer line up with Canon. I basically just disregard them. This is different from the new Canon novels, in which every detail should be considered Canon. Because of that, I am not taking away any points from this novel for contradicting logic within the Star Wars universe.
Wow. My final score for the novelization of Revenge of the Sith is a 96.5/100, or a strong A. This makes it my second highest rated novel so far, just behind Master and Apprentice. It is notably just ahead of Lost Stars and Dark Disciple, two of my favorite Star Wars novels. I struggled with this fact, because I didn’t think a novelization of a film could be that good. I went back through and rethought my scores for each section and came to the realization that it really is that good. The score could actually be a little higher if I didn’t control for my own biases. If you have even any interest in the novelizations of the movies, Revenge of the Sith by Matthew Stover is a must read. Do not be surprised if it becomes your favorite Star Wars novel.
I hope you enjoyed this book review and if there is a book that you want me to read or review, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. As for now, I will only be doing Canon books (but in the future that might change).