Posts Tagged ‘pablo_hidalgo’

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

Preview 28 Pages of The Essential Reader’s Companion!


Click on the Insight Book Preview box above to preview 28 pages of the upcoming Essential Reader’s Companion, due out October 2, 2012! Note: The preview includes the front cover and front matter. Link

SEE ALSO:
Review: The Essential Reader’s Companion by Bry Dean
Megan’s Review: 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: Year by Year: A Visual Chronicle

Allow me to introduce you to one of the most stunning books that I have ever come across. In basic terms, Star Wars Year by Year: A Visual Chronicle is a timeline of the history of Star Wars. But this book is so much more than that.

In addition to providing a visual chronicle of events that have shaped the Star Wars universe since the beginning, Year By Year also keeps up with global events throughout the years. Economic, political and technological advances and setbacks augment the developments of Lucasfilm, Industrial Light & Magic and other Lucas companies without overshadowing them. The career paths of much of the cast and crew of the Star Wars saga is also documented.

In other words, if it’s an important event related to Star Wars, it’s here. From the early years of George Lucas, to the formation of key technologies that made the film possible, to the creation and expansion of the Expanded Universe and merchandising, Year By Year has it covered (but only until 2010; publication release date was in August of that year).

Regarding the structure of the publication itself, it is simply a masterpiece. High quality images and illustrations abound in this massive 9.25 x 6.25in, 320 page book. (Check out the four pages taken from Year By Year below; click on for larger sizes.) A nice touch is the slip cover that accompanies the book. The illustrations on the book cover show concepts while the slip cover showcases the final versions of the corresponding images. Also included are two collectible prints. Your coffee table will never look better once you place this book on it.

Simply put, this book is a must buy. The amount of work that went into Star Wars Year by Year: A Visual Chronicle is evident and will be appreciated by any Star Wars fan. This truly is a book that wont collect dust. Just fingerprints. Lots of them.

DK.com Listing
Amazon Listing

Synopsis:

From the first release of Star Wars: A New Hope in 1977 to the 2009 second season of The Clone Wars, Star Wars Year By Year: A Visual Chronicle is an unparalleled chronological journey through the making of the most epic science fiction series ever! Featuring incredible illustrations and stills, the book chronologically details the history and development of the Star Wars movies; the events, press, and logistics surrounding the making of each movie; and exclusive interviews with people who worked behind the scenes. The year-by-year format includes images from the movies, TV series, comic books, video games, and novels as well as movie posters, memorabilia, book covers, and more.

Slip cover text:

From the moment Star Wars hit movie theaters in 1977, it marked the beginning of a worldwide phenomenon. Now, for the first time, more than three decades of Star Wars is presented in one chronological guide.

Produced in collaboration with Lucasfilm and written by renowned Star Wars experts Ryder Windham, Daniel Wallace and Pablo Hidalgo, Star Wars Year By Year provides a unique real-world timeline of everything Star Wars – from George Lucas’s early inspiration to the development of Star Wars spin-offs and merchandise in the 21st century, as well as the impact of the Saga on popular culture and world events. It’s the Star Wars real-life Saga like you’ve never seen it before – painstakingly produced and exhaustively illustrated!

INCLUDES TWO COLLECTIBLE PRINTS

Sneak Peek: The Essential Reader’s Companion Images 2.0

Del Rey has again posted a few images from the upcoming The Essential Reader’s Companion, currently due out October 02, 2012! Link

Scene from the Del Rey novel The Courtship of Princess Leia written by Dave Wolverton.
Luke Skywalker battles Teneniel Djo in the Chu’unthor crash site on Dathomir.
Sketch by Darren Tan.
“Darren Tan rocked all of our worlds with his fantastic contributions to The Essential Guide to Warfare so I’m thrilled to be working with him again on The Essential Reader’s Companion.” (ES)

Scene from the novella Side Trip (collected in written by Dave Wolverton.
Captain Niriz offers Admiral Thrawn, in Jodo Kast’s armor, a mineral water.
Sketch by Chris Trevas.

Scene from the Del Rey novel The Old Republic: Deceived written by Paul S. Kemp.
Jedi Knight Aryn Leneer and smuggler Zeerid “Z-Man” Korr free fall through Coruscant airspace as Z-Man’s ship, the Fatman explodes behind them.
Sketch by Chris Trevas.

SEE ALSO:
Review: The Essential Reader’s Companion by Bry Dean
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
The Essential Reader’s Companion Blurb
The Essential Reader’s Companion Cover Art
The Essential Reader’s Companion Preliminary Cover

Sneak Peek: The Essential Reader’s Companion Images

Del Rey has posted a few images from the upcoming The Essential Reader’s Companion, currently due out October 02, 2012. Link Click on the images for larger sizes.

Scene from the Del Rey novel Darth Bane: Path of Destruction written by Drew Karpyshyn.
Sergeant Dessel, Bane before he becomes a Sith Lord, and the Gloom Walkers.

Scene from the Del Rey novel Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter written by Michael Reaves.
Darth Maul crosses lightsabers with Jedi Padawan Darsha Assant.

Scene from the Scholastic young reader novel Boba Fett: The Fight to Survive written by Terry Bisson. After the death of Jango Fett, young Boba meets with Count Dooku.

A scene from the Del Rey novel Labyrinth of Evil written by James Luceno. Jedi Stass Allie and Shaak Ti protecting Chancellor Palpatine from the menacing General Grievous.

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

The Essential Reader’s Companion Blurb

Random House has posted the blurb for the upcoming The Essential Reader’s Companion by Pablo Hidalgo, due out October 02, 2012. Link

THE DEFINITIVE WORD ON STAR WARS FICTION

The legendary motion picture Star Wars: A New Hope has spawned five big-screen sequels—and decades of bestselling fiction. From the original movie tie-in novel through the monumental Fate of the Jedi series, legions of devoted readers have helped expand science fiction’s most celebrated film saga into a page-turning print sensation. Now, for the first time, a comprehensive overview of these sweeping Star Wars adventures is presented in one beautifully illustrated volume.

Star Wars: The Essential Reader’s Companion spans the entire galaxy of published Star Wars fiction—movie novelizations, original stand alone and series novels, short stories, eBook novellas, young adult titles, and comics—and features

• a concise synopsis of each story, including key characters and planets
• exclusive behind-the-scenes facts and anecdotes about authors, plot and character development, continuity notes, and significance in the Star Wars Expanded Universe
• details on which novels are linked to Star Wars comic books from Dark Horse and Marvel
• a chronological listing of titles, spanning the 25,000-year history of the Star Wars universe and placing each story in its proper context
• more than one hundred full-color original paintings throughout by some of fans’ favorite artists

Whether skimming through fateful eras from the Old Republic to the New Jedi Order; delving deep into the ancient history of the Lost Tribe of the Sith or the tumultuous Clone Wars; crossing paths—and lightsabers—with Dark Lords such as Plagueis or Bane, Sidious or Vader; helming the Millennium Falcon with Han Solo; or mastering the Force with Luke Skywalker, this one-of-a-kind, one-stop reference is a must for fans looking to maximize their knowledge of the sprawling Star Wars Expanded Universe.

SEE ALSO:
Review: The Essential Reader’s Companion by Bry Dean
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 Cover Art
The Essential Reader’s Companion Preliminary Cover

The Essential Reader’s Companion Cover Art

Star Wars: The Essential Reader’s Companion is the first Essential Guide devoted entirely to published Star Wars fiction, from the original movie novelization, to young reader’s books, short stories, eBook novellas, and the most recent adult novels. This book will cover all the fiction that has built the Star Wars Expanded Universe over the last thirty-five years. Written by Pablo Hidalgo and featuring more than one hundred color illustrations by popular Star Wars artists Chris Trevas and Jeff Carlisle, this book will be an invaluable source for Star Wars readers and fans.

Here is the final cover for the upcoming Essential Reader’s Companion, due to be released on August 21st. Link It’s quite similar to the preliminary cover art that was posted in the current Random House online catalog. (See link below)

SEE ALSO:
Review: The Essential Reader’s Companion by Bry Dean
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 Preliminary Cover

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