The Star Wars Character Encyclopedia: Updated and Expanded, which just came out last month (April 2016) from DK Publishing is an interesting book that features over 200 characters. Written by Simon Beecroft and Pablo Hidalgo, each of the 218 characters all receive exactly one page, whether they are as significant as Luke and Leia Skywalker or receive very little screentime, such as 4-Lom and Zuckuss. All of the characters in this book appear in Star Wars Episodes I-VII, whether a major or minor character.
This means, however, that characters who only appear in Star Wars The Clone Wars or Star Wars Rebels do not appear, such as Ahsoka Tano or Asajj Ventress. Inasmuch as I thought – before reading the book – that the primary audience for this book would be fans who have only seen Star Wars Episodes I-VII, I realized that this was not the case.
The book makes sure to mention every onscreen appearance of the characters, whether in the feature movies or in the recent television series. Furthermore, there are references to significant incidents in other media. For instance, Adi Gallia’s biography mentions that she was killed by Savage Oppress in the Clone Wars (even though Savage Oppress does not receive an entry in this book). Even the recent comics get a mention, as Boba Fett’s biography mentions his first mission for Darth Vader.
Inasmuch as I thought it would be somewhat strange to see the same amount of information about significant characters as those who barely get any screentime, the book works well. For instance, some of the more fun biographical descriptions include those characters surrounding Jabba the Hutt, whether they are slaves seeking to escape or denizens of his palace who are plotting to assassinate him.
I greatly enjoyed reading this book, moreso than I expected (although I should have expected greatness since Pablo Hidalgo was involved), especially since it fleshes out characters and their motivations, whether they are plotting Separatists or denizens of Jabba the Hutt’s palace. Not only is the level of readability a great one, whether one is a teenager or an adult, but it’s a breezy readability. Not only can one read this book in the course of one day, but because it has one-page entries, one can easily set the book down and pick it up at a later point and read further entries.
The biggest takeaway for me from having read this book is understanding the characters involved better, as well as their motivations. It not only got me excited to go back and watch all seven movies, but to watch them in order to better understand who the characters are (even marginal background characters). I can’t wait to go and re-watch these movies because of this book!