Book Reviews

Book Review: Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith by Matthew Stover

The final novel adaptation of the prequel films in the Star Wars universe really hits a home run when it comes to filling in the gaps that the movie left us with. It’s the longest of the three, probably due to the fact that there was so much needed to make the events of this film seem plausible. It also, unknowingly, sets up certain themes that are resurrected in the final three films of the Skywalker saga.

Revenge of the Sith picks up a few years after the end of Attack of the Clones. Anakin and Obi-Wan are the media darlings of the galaxy, being presented as heroes of preserving the Republic. Anakin and Padme have kept their union a secret, although as time goes on, Obi-Wan admits he has always had some idea and never brought it up.

Obi-Wan and Anakin have been dispatched to save the Chancellor from his captivity under Count Dooku and General Grievous. Anakin is tired at this point from all of the battles but fights on. He has also been closer to the Chancellor than anyone else, seeing him as a sort of father figure. If there’s one theme that ran through these films it was Anakin latching onto different people as father figures; in the first, it was Qui-Gon, the second Obi-Wan, and here his allegiance seems to have transferred from Obi-Wan to the Chancellor.

Unknown to the two Jedi, all of this has been a set-up. The Chancellor has been manipulating events so the Senate confers on him more and more power in the wake of the war against the Separatists. His captivity is less an abduction and more of a political maneuvering, designed to create more sympathy for the Chancellor trying to hold the Republic together. It also allows the evil Sith Lord, Darth Sidious, to dispatch his current pupil, Count Dooku, in favor of a new one he has his eyes on.

Upon returning to Coruscant, Anakin begs off press coverage to find his wife, Padme. They have been apart for some time at this point. Padme tells Anakin she’s going to have a baby. Almost immediately, nightmares of losing her during childbirth enter his dreams. He becomes afraid to sleep and the dreams return and begin to search for any way to save her from what he sees as her fate.

At the same time, the Chancellor is making his final moves to consolidate his power, and that involves casting the Jedi as the enemy so they will be unable to stop him….

I have to say the novelization of Revenge of the Sith does a great job filling in what is missing from the film. There didn’t seem to be a logic to Anakin’s journey to the dark side; it seemed like one minute he was a Jedi and the next he was slaughtering younglings. Here it fills in the toll that everything is taking on him, both mentally and physically. He is weakening in resolve, fearful of what’s going to happen to Padme, and afraid to sleep for that’s when the visions come. There is pressure on him from all sides; from the Jedi Masters to locate the Sith they believe is in the Chancellor’s inner circle to the Chancellor himself who goads him along on a dark path without him even realizing it. By getting into Anakin’s head, we see why he ends up turning to the dark side.

The Chancellor’s political maneuvering against the Jedi is clearer here as well. Despite being rescued by them, almost from the moment, he’s back on Coruscant, he’s casting them as the enemy rather than his saviors. We also see more of what sets up a divide between Anakin and Padme. It makes him lashing out at her on Mustafar all the clearer. It’s not just that Obi-Wan is hiding on her shuttle so he believes she’s brought him there, it’s also that she’s been hiding some of the back-alley politics she’s involved in.

What we also hear are the regrets and the missteps. In the end, when Yoda is battling the Emperor in the Senate Chambers, he laments that the Jedi Order stagnated for so many years, never changing or adapting to the changes in the universe around them. The Sith, patiently lying in wait, adapted to the changes in the universe and this was why they were able to so successfully rise up and take over. This train of thought feeds into a lot of what we see happening in the final three films in the Rise of Skywalker saga. All that was and is Jedi must be lost so the new balance between good and evil can be achieved.

Star Wars fans owe it to themselves to read this book to get a better appreciation of the story in Revenge of the Sith. Books usually are considered to be better than the movie, but that’s usually said when a movie is based on a book. Here, author Matthew Stover had created a novel from a movie that also is much better than the film. It greatly expands on events and gives details of what’s going on in the minds of the main characters that make the story we viewed on the screen all the better.