Revenge of the Sith

September 15, 2016 at 6:00 pm (Reads) (, , )

sithRevenge of the Sith by Matthew Stover

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Revenge of the Sith is not my favorite of the prequel trilogy. It left too many questions unanswered while answering too many others. The crux of my disappointment probably ties in to Attack of the Clones, where the entire story arc hinged on a relationship that I couldn’t believe. I wrote about that in my review of that novel, where even an accomplished author like R.A. Salvatore couldn’t rescue what was a trite, unconvincing story. I was eager to see what Stover could do with a marginally better story.

So how do I feel about Anakin and Padmé’s relationship now? Well, I’m still not convinced. I still don’t understand why a poised, mature, sensible, and successful woman like her would fall for an impetuous, juvenile, emotionally stunted man like Anakin. Stover gives us an aside to give us more of a glimpse into her feelings — essentially, she loves him for being able to be true to himself, which, as a senator, she can’t do herself — but it’s not enough. I don’t fault Stover for that, though; it would take another whole novel to give their relationship the depth that Lucas didn’t provide for it.

Regarding Anakin’s fall to the Dark Side, I’m better convinced of it after reading the novelization. Stover captures the devotion Anakin feels to Padmé, even if it feels immature. In a way, that immaturity fits, because at one point, he has to weigh the life of Padmé over the lives of the Jedi, and he selects Padmé, despite all of his Jedi training to value others over self. The novel helped me better understand how Palpatine could have encouraged Anakin to kill all the Jedi at the temple (and thus pick Padmé over them) by convincing him that they were all enemies of the Republic. I still don’t buy that it would push him far enough to kill children (especially with one of his own on the way), but I at least felt like I knew why he supported it.

It never set well with me that Yoda fled from Palpatine during their final battle, but Stover went a long way to make me understand why he did it. Stover delved into how the Sith won the battle, by advancing their own knowledge and techniques over a thousand years, while the Jedi stagnated in doing the same old things during that time. Realizing that their old training could not defeat the newly empowered Sith, he fled the fight, trusting that the Force would bring about new Jedi who would learn new ways of the Force that would defeat the Sith. Given that Yoda has already taken the long view on events — he’s been alive for 900 of the thousand years of peace — it makes sense that he would go into hiding. This alone might be the best reason to read the novel.

Lastly, I was never convinced of Anakin’s loyalty to the Emperor, and this novel did nothing to change my mind about it. It couldn’t, since it’s just showing me the beginning of their relationship, but I always figured that at some point down the line, Anakin had to have learned that Palpatine lied to him about Padmé. Why would he keep supporting the Emperor knowing the truth? Or will it really take until he finally knows his son and seeing the light in him in Return of the Jedi to finally break that loyalty?

(It should come as no surprise that I also have issues with that in Return of the Jedi. I’ll save that for that review, though.)

I was pleased to find that Stover’s style improved between Shatterpoint and this book. Gone are his overuse of colons and what I felt was a misunderstanding of Mace Windu (though he does refer to events in that book more than once), to be replaced with a better skill at characterization and being able to inject more depth to the story. It was an enjoyable read, with some improvements to Lucas’ story, and since those improvements go a long way toward better understanding the entire six-movie arc, I would consider it necessary reading for anyone who wants to know more about that universe.

 

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