Book Review: Revenge of the Sith by Matthew Stover

For years, I have been a huge Star Wars fan. Our family started watching all six movies when I was twelve, and before the year was over, I had seen each movie at least three times. And I continue to count up. We started the movies with the original trilogy before starting with the Prequels, which is, unless you’re a chronology freak, the only way to watch Star Wars.

I’ve heard a lot of negatives about the Prequels. I was at a young enough age when I saw all six movies together, that I didn’t know that a lot of people hated it. I had just seen each of the Prequels as just another great Star Wars movie, like the little kid I was. And I still think they’re great movies, despite rants from the majority audience. (You can read my post on Potential in the Prequels here.)

Here’s my defense for the Prequels in a nutshell: Revenge of the Sith.

Just Revenge of the Sith.

Book Review Revenge of the Sith by Matthew Stover - Tea with Tumnus

As soon as I saw it, I was very convinced that it was my favorite movie out of all six Star Wars movies (my opinion has changed over time with traditional loyalty to the originals) because of the way it tied all the movies together. It was genius. Every time I saw the movie, I was more in awe of the amazing story, character development, and plot twists. Man, I used to think, if only this movie was based off of a book. If only Lucas had written the book before making the movie.

Turns out, there has been a book off of the movie.

 

I’ve never really been a fan of books written off movies as much as I am vice versa. But just recently, Goody, a Star Wars nut and a fellow Constant Collectible contributor, brought the universe of Star Wars books to my awareness with his book reviews of several. Star Wars books. That are written well. To put it simply, I was absolutely elated. I read The Phantom Menace, followed by Attack of the Clones, with Dark Disciple close behind. But then I started reading Revenge of the Sith and my view of Star Wars has been forever changed. The universe of Star Wars had, after all, begun with the key character from Revenge of the Sith: Vader.

I couldn’t believe a Star Wars book could be written so amazingly well. I kept taking notes on the writing style, was unable to put it down, and I found myself clicking the 5-star rating on Goodreads and wishing for at least a 5 ½ option. What the movie had failed in, the book had succeeded, and excelled in everything else. I found the writing had grabbed me and thrust me into its magic. It was that good.

 

The movie Revenge of the Sith is a great movie, but it has a very puny story compared to the book, and that’s saying a lot. I’ve always been fascinated by Anakin Skywalker and his journey to becoming Darth Vader, and my fascination only grew with reading the book. The characterization was written so well, it was much more emotionally tugging, and the writing style only complemented it. Much of the book was a lot of Anakin’s inward thoughts. This made his actions believable and real. His problems generated sympathy.

As for the other characters? I was pleasantly surprised. The POV constantly switched between Anakin, Padme, Obi-Wan, Mace, and even Dooku and Grievous. In fact, the author introduced each character so well I felt like I understood each of them way better than I would have even after watching the movie twenty times. Each character, as they entered into the story, were given a brief one and half page-long introduction before the narrative continued. Sometimes past tense became present tense. However, one very interesting thing in the book was so unique and well written, it stuck in my mind the most: In one of the first scenes of the book, during Obi-Wan’s and Anakin’s flight to rescue the Chancellor, Anakin’s piloting skills using the Force were explained using metaphors of musical terms. This was probably the most impressing thing to me as far as the writing skills go, possibly becuase I am as passionate a musician as I am a writer. An example sentence …

And the true inspiration, the sparkling grace note of genius that brings his masterpiece to life, is the soprano counterpoint: a syncopated sequence of exterior hatches in the outer hull sliding open and closed and open again, subtly altering the aerodynamics of the ship to give it just exactly the amount of sideslip or lift or yaw to bring the huge half cruiser into the approach cone of a pinpoint target an eighth of the planet away.

 

I also loved the personalization of the Dark side of the Force. In the beginning and end, and in between each Part, there is a paragraph about the Dark side, beautifully and hauntingly written. One of my favorites are as follows:

“The dark is generous, and it is patient. It is the dark that seeds cruelty into justice, that drips contempt into compassion, that poisons love with grains of doubt. The dark can be patient, because the slightest drop of rain will cause those seeds to sprout. The rain will come, and the seeds will sprout, for the dark is the soil in which they grow, and it is the clouds above them, and it waits behind the star that gives them light. The dark’s patience is infinite. Eventually, even stars burn out.”

 

There was only one thing that disappointed me. Remember the scene from the movie when Anakin-now-Darth-Vader is leading an army of clones up the Jedi Temple (also called March on the Jedi Temple, which is the name of the soundtrack for the scene)? This is, in my opinion, one of the key scenes in the story, to show how powerful Anakin has really become … and the music adds the perfect final touch. This scene is missing from the book. I’ll let you rant.

The most emotionally gut-wrenching and gruesome scene from the movie, where Anakin lies, limb-less, as the fire burns off his flesh, was a scene that was, thankfully, not over-written or unnecessarily elaborated. It was kept short, to the point, and not as painful to read as it had been painful to watch … but it didn’t help as the pictures from the movie were clear in my head. The dialog was the same.

 

Overall, I doubt I’ll read another Star Wars book that is as good or better than this one. Matthew Stover is now my new favorite author, and I was quite happy to learn he has written other Star Wars books. The Revenge of the Sith is the book you are looking for, complete with the mastery every writer must learn from and enjoy, from plot, to character arcs, to style, to emotion and suspense. I highly recommend this book to not just every Star Wars fan, but even to people who aren’t even sci-fi nerds, simply for its being a good book. This is how a Star Wars book is written. Done right.

Have you read this book? I bet your thoughts about it carry few negatives. If you haven’t read it, you’re missing out on something big. Your library should have it, and if it doesn’t, shame on their armchairs.

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5 thoughts on “Book Review: Revenge of the Sith by Matthew Stover

  1. Wow! I am convinced. I need to get this book. Your argument drives and the sample paragraphs are fantastic, but I was particularly drawn to this statement of yours: “Much of the book was a lot of Anakin’s inward thoughts. This made his actions believable and real. His problems generated sympathy.” Getting into the thoughts of key characters seems to be so hard for movies, so if this task was done well, I know I’m sold. Thanks for the great work here.
    Michael Sr

    Like

  2. Of all the SW adaptations Revenge of the Sith was my favorite. I also really loved that book and often thought to myself. DAMN if only the movie could have “shown” what the book does. The characters are so much more vibrant and Anakin’s motivations and fears are much better represented here. I’m so happy that you enjoyed the book. I also think it’s worth the read (especially for a SW fan).
    Write On!

    Like

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