Archive for the ‘Review: Miscellaneous’ Category

Review: Star Wars Science Fair Book

Science Fair Book

As soon as I set my eyes on the cover, I expected this book to be fun and engaging. Turns out, I was right! The Star Wars: Science Fair Book is a recent publication release from Scholastic, and it was a pleasure to read.
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Review: Death Star Owner’s Technical Manual

Death Star

The Haynes name is back in Star Wars, and the Death Star Owner’s Technical Manual is better than ever. This book is just as fun as the Millennium Falcon Owner’s Workshop Manual, and a must buy if you’re a fan of Star Wars and the Empire in particular.
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Review: Fan Phenomena: Star Wars

Fan Phenomena

Fan Phenomena: Star Wars is an interesting publication that focuses primarily at the fandom of Star Wars. From fan fiction to fashion, this book investigates the various ways the Star Wars franchise has impacted many of its fans.
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Review: The Making of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

Return of the Jedi

- Minor Spoiler Review -

I don’t consider myself a Star Wars expert by any means, but I do have a fair amount of knowledge regarding the saga in its many forms, be it books, games and particularly the movies. I’m one of those guys that have watched each movie dozens of times, and the documentaries that accompany them. Let me tell you, though, that after reading this masterpiece, I realized that my knowledge of Return of the Jedi barely scratched the surface.
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Review: National Geographic Angry Birds Star Wars

ABSW copy

Much like seeing a dog fight a lobster with a spoon, I thought I had seen everything when Angry Birds crossed with Star Wars (with phenomenal results, thankfully), but there’s still surprises left. Third in a series of educational books in a partnership between Rovio Entertainment and National Geographic comes National Geographic Angry Birds Star Wars: The Science Behind the Saga, a triple crossover for the ages. Written by Amy Briggs, author of National Geographic Angry Birds Space and the upcoming Seasons iteration, NGABSW contains splashes of humor, interesting and topical information, all wrapped up in an attractive package meant to make education interesting. Read more

Review: National Geographic Angry Birds Star Wars

Angry Birds

Angry Birds is one of the most popular games in the downloadable marketplace. In its various iterations, the game has been downloaded more than 1.7 billion times. It was no surprise, then, to see this wildly popular game team up with the entertainment giant Star Wars. This partnership has, in turn, spawned all sorts of Angry Birds Star Wars media, such as books, stickers, toys, stuffed animals, and much more. Now, Rovio, National Geographic, and Lucasfilm have teamed up in an unprecedented partnership of three media giants to explore the science behind the science fiction, in the all new National Geographic Angry Birds Star Wars: The Science Behind the Saga.
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Review: William Shakespeare’s Star Wars

William Shakespeare

To say I loved this book is an understatement. William Shakespeare’s Star Wars is without doubt the most unique and entertaining look at A New Hope that I have ever read.
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Review: The Clone Wars Episode Guide

The Clone Wars

I always look forward to getting a DK publication, be it a Star Wars book or another subject for my kids. DK books are always high quality in all aspects, such as covers, illustrations, and overall content. I’m pleased to say that The Clone Wars Episode Guide is no different.
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Review: The Old Republic Encyclopedia

I’ve been looking forward to reading this publication ever since I heard about it. The Old Republic era has become the one that I’m most interested in, and I can thank the game Knights of the Old Republic for that. Sure, the Clone Wars era continues to entertain me, but nothing appeals to me more than a vast era spanning thousands of years and full of interesting plots and memorable characters.

While I have not played The Old Republic, I have kept up with the trailers, news and first hand reports from some of those who have played it. Technical aspects aside, it sounds like a pretty cool game, set in the era that shares its name. To aid players and to provide an entertaining and informative resource for those interested in the era such as myself, DK Publishing has produced The Old Republic Encyclopedia.

It should come as no surprise that this book is beautifully illustrated inside and out. DK publications are simply the best when it comes to eye-catching, fully illustrated books. The fully illustrated outside cover is itself covered by an attractive dust jacket. Inside the book is a feast for the eyes. The book contains incredible art, screenshots from The Old Republic game, and illustrations of characters, planets, weapons and much more.

The Old Republic Encyclopedia is made up of several sections.

Introduction

The Republic

The Jedi Order

The Sith Empire

The Sith

Mandalorians

The Underworld

The Hutt Cartel

Species

Planets

Introduction: Includes a brief look at the current state of the galaxy, and an impressive timeline featuring key events during the Old Republic. c.30,000 BBY all the way to 3,640 BBY.

The Republic: From before the founding of the Republic, to the battles against the Sith, from weapons to military hierarchy, this section gives a comprehensive look at the galaxy-spanning government.

The Jedi Order: Want to know the origins of the Jedi? Their roles, training, weapon use and place in the Old Republic? Then this section is for you.

The Sith Empire: This section describes the workings of the government led by the Sith. The Imperial fleet, military, weapons and intelligence and overall organizational structure are shown here.

The Sith: Much like the Jedi Encyclopedia entry, this section too covers the origin of the Sith, as well as the Sith Emperor, training, the Dark Council, inquisitors and other key features of this destructive society.

Mandalorians: This is a brief section when compared to the others, but it does discuss who this culture is, along with allies, combat and armor.

The Underworld: Across the galaxy there is a corrupt society made up of gangsters, thieves, and even powerful criminal organizations such as The Exchange and Black Sun. Smugglers and bounty hunters such as Shae Vizla thrive in such an environment. This section highlights these organizations, along with the weapons, armor and ships that keep it strong and dangerous.

The Hutt Cartel: Hutts are known to be vile gangsters, but what may not be widely known is that they have been around for thousands of years, and were in fact brilliant military strategists and conquerors.

Species: A look at many of the life forms that make the Old Republic their home.

Planets: A look at key planets during the time of the Old Republic, including Korriban, Taris and even Hoth.

I considered myself fairly educated this era, but after reading the Encyclopedia, I came to realize that much to learn I still had.

Bottom line, anyone who is interested in the Old Republic, and not just the online game but also the era, should buy this book. For those not familiar with either, The Old Republic Encyclopedia is the perfect publication to get you up to speed with the essentials.

Cover blurb:

Star Wars: The Old Republic is an entirely new Star Wars story to explore. It is a dark and troubled age over 3,600 years before the rise of Darth Vader, in which the Jedi and Sith prepare to battle and decide the fate of the galaxy.

Star Wars: The Old Republic Encyclopedia is an unprecedented visual companion to this complex world. Written by a team of writers from the game and created in close collaboration with Lucasfilm, LucasArts, and BioWare, the book reveals a wealth of new material on characters, weapons, equipment, vehicles, history, and locations.

DISCLOSURE: I received a copy of this book from the publisher at no charge in order to provide a review. However, this did not affect the overall review content. All opinions are my own.

SEE ALSO:
DK Listing
New The Old Republic: Encyclopedia Images
The Old Republic: Encyclopedia Cover Art
The Old Republic: Encyclopedia
The Old Republic Now Available For Pre-Order
Star Wars The Old Republic: Signs of War
The Old Republic Launch Dates Announced
The Old Republic RETURN Intro Cinematic Trailer
New SWTOR Trailer: Fate of the Galaxy

Review: The Essential Reader’s Companion

I think the excitement for this publication was very high before the release date, and for good reason. The Essential Reader’s Companion promised a wealth of information on the Expanded Universe, a chronological listing of titles and a stunning collection of original art. No worries: It delivered.

All along we’ve been told how extensive this publication was, that this was one of the biggest projects in Star Wars publishing, and it really shows. At just under 500 pages, this book is no lightweight. The Essential Reader’s Companion contains 410 individual works and nearly 160 original works of art produced by several illustrators.

Author Pablo Hidalgo obviously spent a good chunk of his life with the development and research needed for a publication of this kind. In fact, he even divulged at Star Wars Celebration VI that he started taking the bus to work so he would have more time to read up for ERC. He also listened to the audiobooks on double speed. Such preparation was necessary to develop each novel synopsis, sure, but as an individual who has been around Star Wars and Lucasfilm for years, Pablo also provided insightful behind-the-scenes facts for nearly every listing. Continuity issues within the Expanded Universe are also addressed, but I guess it’s up to the individual to decide if they are addressed satisfactory.

The original works of art are worth the price of this publication alone, in my opinion. An exceptional author can enable a reader to visualize the words on the page in his mind, but it is truly satisfying to visualize certain scenes on a piece of paper too. There are a few inaccuracies, such as the conflict between Darth Plagueis and Maladin assassins shown on page 53. The actual texts describes a more bloodier battle, but as was explained at Celebration VI, such an accurate visual portrayal would likely be a bit much for new or young readers. The art on page 13 though, while stunning, is just inaccurate without reason, other than artistic license. Aryn and Zeerid were said to be holding on to each other as they jumped from the Fatman. The art clearly doesn’t show that.

Personally, there are still quite a few novels that I have not read, so I’ll keep away from their respective listings in the ERC, but from what I have read and experienced visually, this book proves to be quite an informative guide, and it gave me an occasional feeling of nostalgia as I revisited novels that I haven’t read in years.

At under $30, I believe it’s a great price for a publication so informative and interesting. Some might question its relevance due to the presence of free, online unofficial Star Wars encyclopedias, such as Wookieepedia, and I get that. But there’s many, many people out there that still love the feel of a book in their hands, and the fact that a book like the ERC is an official product. Either way, this book deserves to be on your bookshelf, or even on your coffee table.

DISCLOSURE: I received a copy of this book from the publisher at no charge in order to provide an early review. However, this did not affect the overall review content. All opinions are my own.

SEE ALSO:
Megan’s Review: The Essential Reader’s Companion
Preview 28 Pages of The Essential Reader’s Companion!
Sneak Peek: The Essential Reader’s Companion Images 2.0
Sneak Peek: The Essential Reader’s Companion Images
The Essential Reader’s Companion Blurb
The Essential Reader’s Companion Cover Art
The Essential Reader’s Companion Preliminary Cover


Megan’s Review: The Essential Reader’s Companion

Here’s a secret: I don’t think the Essential Reader’s Companion is essential.

In the days of Wookieepedia, few things are if you want reference to the Expanded Universe.

Star Wars has been putting out Essential Guides anyway.

But if you want some fantastic art of never-before-seen characters, and DVD-extra style snippets about the making of books and series, the Essential Reader’s Companion is pretty cool. Pretty Cool Reader’s Companion just doesn’t flow as well.

The book’s art, by Brian Rood, Chris Trevas, and others, is a big part of the appeal. Images of the X’Ting from The Cestus Deception and the Haruun Kal soldiers from Shatterpoint were thrilling to see, and readers should have fun comparing the images to what they imagined their favorite characters to look like. Characters like Scout and Admiral Daala who may not have gotten full-page art appear in yearbook style throughout. Other images showcase exciting action and weapons. Still others, like a sabaac game from MedStar I, are more sedate but reveal new faces. (Speaking of MedStar, it was nice to be reminded of the jokes in that book: pause for a moment to appreciate that there is a Star Wars book that references a Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster.) Almost every page has some kind of art, whether it’s new or a book cover.

The other half of the Essential Reader’s Companion is, obviously the text, which talks about the plot, characters, and behind-the-scenes of most of the existing Star Wars books. The discerning fans have probably already figured out the chronological placement of some short stories, like Darth Maul: Saboteur, that refer a lot to the universe around them. It’s still satisfying to see Pablo Hidalgo write it all out, like a person finishing a jigsaw puzzle.

One of the more interesting entries was for the novel Rogue Planet, which shows an gap in continuity when it describes how the book was set up to introduce the Yuuzhan Vong. These aliens were intended to be a call forward to the futuristic New Jedi Order series, but since the book was written before Attack of the Clones was released, it mentions married Jedi. This discrepancy feels sightless now that AotC has been out for so long, but in 2000 there was no way to know that would become an issue.

Hidalgo describes some outdated texts as “historically inaccurate”, lending an interesting third reality to the elsewhere detached narration. It seems that there is the real world, the Star Wars world, and some third timeline, possibly also in the Star Wars world, where the books are seen as questionably accurate history. The beginning of the Companion also has a succinct explanation of what the Keeper of the Holocron called “G-canon”: George Lucas’s vision of the movies, which over-rides but does not prevent the existence of the Expanded Universe. Along the way, Hidalgo clears up some continuity questions.

At its best, the ERC is a timeline not only of the books but of how Lucasfilm and its various partner publishing companies handled the growing Star Wars universe. Sometimes they were drawn into mistakes that made some information apocryphal, and other times one book connects like spokes to five or six others, perfectly in synch. The former appear as nostalgic, and as I read I found myself remembering when I first read each book. The ERC succeeds as both an art book and a reference document. When you take into account the mass of information for free on sites like Wookieepedia, it also serves as a behind-the-scenes guide and an authority. It’s even satisfyingly weighty, worth the price if you’re really into art and continuity.

If you’re not, it probably doesn’t have a lot of re-read value, serving more as a teaser for other books. It doesn’t offer a hint at where to begin with the EU, so is suited more for completionists than new fans. I still would have called it something other than essential.

SEE ALSO:
Review: The Essential Reader’s Companion by Bry Dean
Preview 28 Pages of The Essential Reader’s Companion!
Sneak Peek: The Essential Reader’s Companion Images 2.0
Sneak Peek: The Essential Reader’s Companion Images
The Essential Reader’s Companion Blurb
The Essential Reader’s Companion Cover Art
The Essential Reader’s Companion Preliminary Cover

Review: The Ultimate Visual Guide – Updated And Expanded

Here is yet another visual treat from DK Publishing. This updated and expanded edition is the latest in a series of Star Wars visual guides, the first edition released in 2005 and a special edition in 2007.

The book opens right away with a foreword from Ashley Eckstein, the voice behind Ahsoka Tano in The Clone Wars. Afterward, your incredible journey into the world of Star Wars begins.

From Star Wars tech to the Sith, the Republic to the Malevolence, the Battle of Hoth to Star Wars movie posters, this publication has it covered. Fans of The Force Unleashed, The Old Republic and The Clone Wars will be delighted to see coverage of these titles. There is a large dosage of reference material for The Clone Wars, all the way up to the end of season 4. Images abound in this 200 page book; more than enough to keep your imagination busy.

In short, Star Wars: The Ultimate Visual Guide – Updated And Expanded is informative, attractive and fun. It’s a must for any Star Wars fan, both long-time and new ones alike.

DK.com Listing
Amazon Listing



Cover Text…

Journey Through The Star Wars Galaxy With This Compelling Book.

Star Wars: The Ultimate Visual Guide uncovers the full story of the amazing Star Wars saga, with more than 1,000 images from the movies, cartoons, comics, novels, and TV series, along with merchandise, behind-the-scenes photography, and much more!

This extensively researched guide reveals the complete, millennia-spanning history of George Lucas’s long ago, far-away galaxy, from the origins of the noble Jedi and the evil Sith to the rise of Luke Skywalker’s New Jedi Order – an ideal introduction to the world of Star Wars and an invaluable addition to every fan’s collection.

This updated and expanded edition now also includes overviews and images of the Star Wars: The Clone Wars television series, an in-depth look at The Old Republic video game, as well as stunning new merchandise and the phenomenally successful Lego Star Wars theme.

With a foreword by Ashley Eckstein
Voice of Ahsoka Tano
in Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Publishers Summary…

Revised and expanded!

Star Wars: The Ultimate Visual Guide, newly revised and expanded, reveals the story of the amazing Star Wars saga in full detail. 40 new pages help to explain every detail about Star Wars from the millennia- spanning history of George Lucas’s long ago, far away galaxy to the Star Wars movies and ever-expanding range of books, novels, comics, and media. Packed full of interesting facts about the world of Star Wars merchandise and fandom, astonishing pieces of art, and full-color photographs, DK’s compendium is the key to knowing ALL there is to know about the iconic brand that is Star Wars!

Featuring tons of all-new content including characters, storylines, vehicles, weapons, merchandise, news, and beyond:

  • LEGO® Star Wars™ sets and minifigures
  • Latest seasons of the ever-popular animated series, The Clone Wars
  • The Force Unleashed video games
  • Blue-ray release of Episode I: The Phantom Menace
  • Updated galactic timeline and galaxy map
  • And much, much more!

SEE ALSO:
Star Wars: The Ultimate Visual Guide – Updated and Expanded

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