The Star Wars galaxy is known for its overabundance of reference books, specifically the Essential Guides series that began in the mid-1990s and continues today. The Star Wars Book, which landed on bookshelves on October 20th, adds to this list. Written by Lucasfilm’s Senior Creative Executive, Pablo Hildago, Brand Manager, and Consumer Researcher and author of several Star Wars books, Cole Horton, and Dan Zehr, who is the co-creator and host of the Star Wars podcast, Coffee With Kenobi, a high school English teacher and writer for IGN and StarWars.com. The Star Wars Book is a decent addition to the list. Is it necessary to own? Well, that depends.
On what Dex? On how deep your Star Wars knowledge is. No, really, I’m serious. I’m not trying to gatekeep or anything like that. Not at all. I meant that a lot of the content inside The Star Wars Book summarizes what’s happened since 2015 when the canon was rebooted. So if you’ve been keeping up with the movies, series, novels, and comics, then nothing in this book will be new to you. If you’re a little foggy on some aspects of the Star Wars story, then yes, I would recommend this book. However, keep in mind that you’ll get summaries and mostly glossed over information.
Don’t Judge a Cover by its Book
Let’s start at the beginning. DK Publishing has put together an inviting book. The Star Wars Book is smaller than previous reference books and is very pleasing to the eye. The title is in a sizeable yellow font in the book cover’s center, mimicking the Star Wars logo covering the original Death Star over a blue background. Simple, clean, but very effective. First impressions of the title, The Star Wars Book, struck me as a little bland, to be honest, but it literally is the Star Wars book because it covers every aspect of Star Wars.
Speaking of the contents, the book is divided up into six sections: The Galaxy, Science & Technology, The Force, The Skywalkers, Galactic Governments & Their Dissidents, and Galactic Citizens. These are preceded by an introduction and followed by a glossary and an index. Each section begins with a two-page spread of bright red with the section’s title in large bold black font. I like the black and red color scheme. It stands out and makes it easy to find whatever you’re looking for. The Sith would be proud.
Pretty as a Picture
The inside is efficient with images and graphics, although not as many as a typical book from DK Publishing. The infographics drew my eyes’ attention. There are several of these throughout The Star Wars Book and are arguably the most informative parts of the book. I say that because the infographics contained more detailed plot points while the main features summarize the significant events. Even better, many of the plot points came from comic books or novels. There isn’t enough to fill a page, but they held more obscure data.
Encyclopedia Star Wars
Which brings me to my biggest gripe. Which isn’t even a gripe; it’s more of a feeling of oh another one of these. This book is not for diehard fans because they’re already going to know much of what’s in this book, as this book summarizes the major galactic events and personal biographies. This book is more appropriate for casual or younger fans that might know bits and pieces of the story, but maybe they missed The Clone Wars or didn’t see Solo: A Star Wars Story and want to read more about hyperfuel for example.
The Star Wars Book is suitable to fill in those gaps, though it doesn’t go into specifics.
What would’ve been helpful to anyone wanting to do some further digging is a reference guide to each event so the reader could go watch or read that movie/series/novel/comic book if they want to experience exactly what happened. Past Star Wars reference books have done this, so why not this one? I.E., The Star Wars Readers Companion (2012). is the gold standard for Star Wars reference books in my opinion.
Ups and Downs
While reading, I got about halfway through when it started to cover characters that were part of the main cast (Anakin, Luke, Leia Organa, etc.…) where there isn’t going be any new information. That’s when I started skimming and continued to until I was finished with the book.
The most intriguing piece comes from the chapter on Bounty Hunters, in which it partially explains how bounty pucks work. Naturally, any news of The Mandalorian or The Child is a must-read because that’s the only currently running series. Of course, there won’t be any new reveals, but it’s fun to see if you can pick out any hints.
I learned that parsecs are now a unit of distance, just like in our own galaxy. For 40+ years, the way Han explained it in A New Hope, it was understood that in the Star Wars galaxy, parsecs were a unit of time. Not anymore. Completing the Kessel Run in the shortest distance is the goal, not the quickest time, although one should lead to the other by theory.
Overall, The Star Wars Books is an adequate book, but I wouldn’t necessarily call it essential reading. It’s basically an updated Essential Guide to Characters, to Alien Species, to Weapons & Technology, to Planets and Moons, Chronology, and Atlas rolled into one book. It’s neatly organized and efficient with its contents, but it reads like a history textbook which can be tedious. The Star Wars Book fits in nicely with the Incredible Cross-Sections, Complete Locations, and Visual Dictionaries, but it’s not one I will be referring back to as much. I’m just not a fan of these types of books as much as I used to be. In a few years, there will be a new edition but will my feelings be different? Probably not.