Quick View: If you've seen the movie, there is little new in this book
Publisher's summary: On the green, unspoiled world of Naboo, Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice, Obi-Wan Kenobi, arrive to protect the realm’s young queen as she seeks a diplomatic solution to end the siege of her planet by Trade Federation warships. At the same time, on desert-swept Tatooine, a slave boy named Anakin Skywalker, who possesses a strange ability for understanding the “rightness” of things, toils by day and dreams by night—of becoming a Jedi Knight and finding a way to win freedom for himself and his beloved mother. It will be the unexpected meeting of Jedi, Queen, and a gifted boy that will mark the start of a drama that will become legend.
Shawn's View: My original attraction to this book was the desire to learn more about the world of Episode 1 and its characters. While the book does provide some extended detail and back-round information, it's not nearly to the extent your would expect.
The book starts as the planet of Naboo finds it has been blockaded by the trade federation. The supreme chancellor of the galactic republic secretly dispatches two Jedi Knights to quickly negotiate a settlement and stop the conflict from spreading to neighboring star systems.
Unknown to the Jedi sent to negotiate, the blockade is just a ruse to gain the position of the supreme chancellor by the Palpatine, the republic senator from Naboo. Secretly the leader of the dark Sith, Palpatine's only desire is for power, and the destruction of his sworn enemies the Jedi Knights.
After the trade federation botches the assassination of the jedi negotiators, we find ourselves following these Jedi as they first free, and subsequently escort the queen to Correscont to plead for help in front of the galactic senate.
But their plans soon go awry and after blasting through the trade federations blockade they find themselves stopping on a nearby planet for repairs. What follows is an exciting story which includes high speed races, political intrigue, and a grand final battle for Naboo's freedom.
The book, by fantasy writer Terry Brooks, does retell all of the events in the movie faithfully. They both begin the same and have identical plots.
The book does have the luxury of being longer and therefore little details are added above and beyond what could be done in the movie. One example is in an early scene when Jedi Knight Obi-Wan is running towards his Jedi Master Qui-Gon on the surface of Naboo. Here, the book describes why Obi-wan just didn't pull out his own weapon to handle the perusing battle droids, something that was never explained in the movie. In other places short back-round paragraphs provide additional detail to fill in gaps the movie left open.
At one point a short history of the Sith is given to help explain Lord Sidious, his apparent desire for secrecy, and his choice of a single apprentice.
Although well written, overall I would have to say if you've seen the movie there is little new in the book to make if worth reading. That said, if your one of the few who haven't seen the movie and are looking for a good sci-fi paperback, I would defiantly recommend “Star Wars Episode 1”.
Shawn's Score: B-. Shawn's Rating: PG-10
NOTE: This review was originally published in the After Hours section of the author's personal website, ShawnMTierney.com.