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Jedi vs. Sith: The Essential Guide to the Force

Adrick's Rating

4 / 4

 

The Force, in the immortal words of Obi-Wan Kenobi, “surrounds us, it penetrates us, it binds the galaxy together.” The fortunate few who are able to tap into this extraordinary power have studied and cultivated the full spectrum of its potential—either embracing its virtuous qualities or succumbing to its evil temptations. The Jedi seek to bring piece and enlightenment to the galaxy, while the Sith hunger only for conquest and control.

This comprehensive one-of-a-kind overview chronicles the known history of the Force and its wielders down through the ages, from the founding tenants of Jedi and Sith teachings to the landmark events and legendary figures that have shaped the struggle between the light and dark sides.


Reviews

Adrick:It’s no secret that I think the New Essential Guides are some of the best EU out there, and Ryder Windham’s Jedi vs. Sith: The Essential Guide to the Force, is no exception.

Like the New Essential Chronology, this guide is presented as though it were written within the Star Wars universe. Following the events of Sacrifice, the Jedi librarian Tionne has compiled a detailed history of the Jedi and Sith, interspersed with “recorded” accounts made by famous members of those groups—Luke, Leia, Obi-Wan, Naga Sadow, and even Palpatine himself. Some of these accounts stretch all the way back to the earliest days of the Jedi—an era not often dealt with in the EU—and the final entry is an addendum made one hundred years after the rest of the book, set during Dark Horse’s Legacy comics.

This format brings a whole chorus of voices to what could have been one long solo, and, even though much of this text is also written by Windham, the book feels like a collaborative work. Different Jedi and Sith weigh in on their areas of expertise—instead of reading a summery of the forms of lightsaber combat, you get to “hear” it explained by expert Jedi swordsman Cin Drallig. Anakin’s arrival on Naboo is detailed by Padme’s deleted niece from Attack of the Clones. And readers are introduced to the dark side by a recording of Palpatine from his Dark Empire years, who attempts to lure them down the dark path. Reading this book is enjoyable because you never know who will turn up next!

Prospective buyers should note, however, that there’s a reason this book is called Jedi vs. Sith—it’s somewhat lacking in views of the Force from other Force-using groups. They do get a section of their own, but given that most of the groups presented are offshoots of either the Jedi or Sith anyway, and that their entries are very short, those hoping to find a wider view of the Force might be disappointed.

The text is only half the reason to get this book, though. The illustrations by Chris Trevas and Tommy Lee Edwards are absolutely amazing! All kinds of characters, scenes, and locations from the EU are presented here for the first time, along with a score of fresh interpretations of old ones. Mara Jade’s funeral is here, as is Anakin and Shmi’s arrival on Tatooine. Trevas especially is excellent at taking the stylized versions of comic characters and giving them a movie-real interpretation that remains true to the original source. There’s a scene extrapolated from the old Marvel comics towards the end that recreates details from a twenty-year-old comic panel exactly, while making the scene look as though it could have come right out of Empire Strikes Back. The talent and careful attention to detail in these pictures is amazing.

All in all, this book is an epic look at the Jedi and Sith, a guide that lives up to its essential designation.


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