Review: Star Wars The Phantom Menace by Terry Brooks

October 19, 2015 Fantasy, Review, Sci-Fi 28

LolaReview

Star Wars The Phantom MenaceStar Wars: The Phantom Menace (Star Wars: Novelizations #1)
by Terry Brooks

Blurb:
In barren desert lands and seedy spaceports…in vast underwater cities and in the blackest depths of space…unfolds a tale of good and evil, of myth and magic, of innocence and power. At last the saga that captured the imagination of millions turns back in time to reveal its cloaked origins—the start of a legend—the story of Star Wars. Based on the screenplay by George Lucas, this novel by master storyteller Terry Brooks probes the depths of one of the greatest tales of our time, providing rich detail and insight into the minds and motives of the characters—and shedding bold new light on Lucas’s brilliant creation.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, an evil legacy long believed dead is stirring. Even the Jedi are caught by surprise, their attentions focused on the political unrest between the Trade Federation and the Republic. Now the dark side of the Force threatens to overwhelm the light, and only an ancient Jedi prophecy stands between hope and doom for the entire galaxy.

On the desert world of Tatooine, far from the concerns of the Republic, a slave boy works by day and dreams by night—of being a Jedi Knight and one day traveling the stars to worlds he’s only heard of in stories…of finding a way to win freedom from enslavement for himself and his beloved mother. His only hope lies in his extraordinary instincts and his strange gift for understanding the “rightness” of things, talents that allow him to be one of the best Podracers on the planet.

My Review:
After seeing the Star Wars movies for the first time last year I decided I wanted to read the books of the prequel series as well and bought the omnibus edition with the three prequel books. I finally got around to reading the first book and it’s a great way to revisit the story and experience it in a different way. I think this is the first time I read a book after I’ve seen the movie. It was an interesting experience, instead of visualizing the characters myself I saw the actors and landscapes from the movie and saw everything play out in my mind very vividly.

This book follows the story from the movie pretty closely, but there are some extra scenes and tidbits of insight and information that are missing in the movie. I also though that in book form the story was a bit easier to follow than in movie, but that might be my personal preference for reading stories over watching movies. There are some scenes where we see Darth Sidious set up his plot and communicate with the trade federation about the blockade. We see Annakin participate in a pod race before he meets Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan and I felt like we got a better feel for his life as a slave. There is also a bit more depth in the characters, like why Qui-Gon decides to help Annakin and Jar Jar and what Obi-Wan thinks of that. There are also a few explanations of how the Jedi order and how the Sith came to be that aren’t in the movies. So the book manages to add a few tidbits to make it worth the read.

One of the issues I had is with Terry Brooks his writing style. His writing style is telling and descriptive and even a bit distant and dry at times. After a few chapters I did got used to his writing style. The lightsaber fight scenes are a lot better in the movie, Terry Brooks didn’t manage to capture the feel of those battles. I did think he did a great job with the podracer scenes capturing the excitement of the races.

I do wonder if this book would be the same if you read it before the movie There are some descriptions and I think the author did a good job with the world and character descriptions, but my knowledge and memories of the movie filled in a lot of details. On the other hand the explanations and the flow of the story was done very well, so I don’t think a reader would be lost reading the books first.

I enjoyed seeing the familiar characters again and seeing the story play out again. It’s great to revisit the star wars universe in this way and to experience the story in a different way. I really enjoyed seeing the dynamics between all the characters. I liked seeing the different facets of Annakin’s personality already here, we see his dreams, his love for flying and podracing, his determination, but there’s also a scene showing his temper that I don’t remember was in the movie. There are also some clumsy Jar Jar scenes that made me smile that are in the movie as well. I also thought it was interesting to see yoda his reluctance to allow Annakin into the Jedi order and how he didn’t agree with the council, I didn’t remember that scene as well from the movie. There is a bit more foreshadowing and hints about Darth Sidious his plans in this book already, while I felt that is given less attention in the movies, we get a few chapters from his point of view and the trade federation so we see their side too.The author captured the essence of the story very well and made it all feel familiar and new at the same time.

To summarize: I really enjoyed this book. The extra tidbits and scenes that aren’t in the movie were a real joy and it’s fun to experience a familiar story in a different way. I really liked reading this story and thought the plot was easier to follow than in the movie. The light saber scenes are better in the movie though, but I did think the author did the pod racer scenes well. I liked seeing all the familiar characters again and seeing the story unfold, there is some more foreshadowing as in the movies and I felt like the book did add enough to make it worth the read. The author managed to keep the story familiar and add some new aspects, if you want to experience the star wars stories again, but slightly different I would recommend you give the books a try.

4-star

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Have you ever read a book based on a movie and how did you experience it?

28 Responses to “Review: Star Wars The Phantom Menace by Terry Brooks”

  1. Mary Kirkland

    The very first book I read for my own enjoyment was Cujo. I hadn’t seen the movie and I loved the book so I read Silence of the Lambs and loved that book. I’ve read a few and most times think the book is often better than the movie.
    Mary Kirkland recently posted…Happy Raturday! *The Last One*My Profile

    • Lola

      I agree most of the times the book is better than the movie. Although in this case the movie might just be better. I guess it is different as the movie was made first and only then the book was written.

  2. Braine

    I loved the movie! The final battle scene between Darth Maul and Kenobi and Qui Gon was epic!! You should watch the movie again so it all comes alive

    • Lola

      I loved the movies so much, I thought I would give the books a try as well in the spirit of more stars wars is better. It is a fun to experience the story in a different way. When I was younger I went through a big high fantasy phase and read a lot of Terry Brooks his Shannara books.

  3. Keionda@Keionda Hearts Books

    Hmmm this is a really interesting question L! I actually did do thud a while back. Have you read Beautiful Creates by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stoul? (Really btw) but anyway, I watched the movie first and thrn found out they were books. I actually liked the books more than the movie (as is always the case) most of the time the movies never do the books justice, you know? AWEOME topic!♡♡
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    • Lola

      I have read the first two books in the Beautiful Creatures series, but haven’t seen the movies. Interesting how you watched the movies first and only then realized they were books. Usually the books are better indeed, although I am wondering if part of the reason for that is that the movies are made after the books. Here where the book is made after the movies it feels different, like the books add more details and elobartion that wans’t in the movies. Instead of other way around where the movies remove details that were part of the story at first.

  4. Sophia Rose

    It is a different feeling reading a book after the movie. One can’t help, but be influenced. I read all the Indiana Jones books after I watched the movies and I definitely saw Indie as Harrison Ford.

    But that said, even then I always get more out of the books. I picture things better and the internal thinking and feelings translate better to me that way. Glad this was an enjoyable one and particularly with the extra scenes and explanations.
    Sophia Rose recently posted…Reapers and Bastards: A Reapers MC Anthology by Joanna WyldeMy Profile

    • Lola

      It was fun to already have a good image of all the characters in my had, although it does leave less to the imagination. This is the first time I have read a book after the movie and it was an interesting experience.

      The extra scenes and explanations were really neat as I often find movies a bit confusing, they skip over a few things and here in a book there is time to delve into those explanations. I usually prefer the books and will never watch the movie, but in this case I am happy I watched the movie and read the book.

  5. Christy LoveOfBooks

    That’s cool that it added to the movies in a way. I’ve never read books like that. I see a lot of Doctor Who books, but I never read them. I don’t know why I’m so hesitant when I love DW. Maybe I should just try, because this seems to have worked well.
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    • Lola

      I was a bit hesistant at first wondering if it would be as good as movies, but it added to them in a good way with some additional scenes and explanations. I am glad I gave it a try and it is a fun way to experience the story again, but then different.

  6. Maureen Hinten

    I love the Star Wars movies. But to be honest, I didn’t even know about this book series by Terry Brooks. Sounds like a fun read though.. Maybe I’ll put it on my Christmas list! LOL
    I haven’t read many books of which I first saw the movie. But I do believe that most times the books are just better because there is much more room for the little details.
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    • Lola

      It seems the books never got to be as popular as the movies. there are a lot of star wars book, some like these who follow the movies, but also others that tell different stories in the same universe.

      Terry Brooks has only written the first book, book 2 and 3 are by other authors. I definitely agree that there is more time in books for details, there were some explanations here and internal thoughts that can’t easily be added to the movie without it becoming boring, but in a book it works great and adds more depth to the story. The book does loses some of the action and fast paced feel of the movies and the lighsaber battles are more awesome in the movies.

    • Lola

      I saw the new trailer on facebook, it sure looks like it will be a great movie. I am excited for the new movie, although I do wodner if it will be as good as the earlier ones and in which direction the story will go. Beside a few trailers and pictures I haven’t read much about the movie.

      I think the movies are much more popular and with the books written afterwards it seems those never got as popular. I did enjoy this book, so I will be finishing this trilogy at least. It was fun to experience the story in a different way.

  7. Melanie Simmons @mlsimmons

    You and I have talked about my love of Star Wars, but I’ve yet to ever try a Star Wars book. I am a fan of the movies. I am a bigger fan of he original trilogy, but I don’t hate the newer/early trilogy like some “die-hard” fans. Great review.

    I did read Stephen King’s The Shining after seeing the movie. I really enjoyed both. I’m not a big fan of reading after watching. I really prefer to do it the other way around, if given the choice.
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    • Lola

      I don’t think the books ever got as popular as the movies, as most people don’t seem to have read them. I thought it was a fun way to revisit the story and experience it in a different way. I might buy the original tirlogy in books form later as well after I have finished this trilogy.

      I prefer to read the book first before watching amovie too, although usually I don’t even watch the movie as I don’t want to ruin the image I have in my head of the characters and settings. Watching the movie first was a completely different experience as in this case the movie provided the images in my head while reading.

    • Lola

      The writing style wans’t my favourite, but it still kept my attention. It was interestign to experience the story in book form. I often hear people find the movie disapointing when reading the book first, so I wonder if in some instances watching the movie first might work better.

  8. S. J. Pajonas

    I’m trying to think if I’ve read any books based on movies… and I’m coming up blank! I’ve watched plenty of movies based on books, but not the other way around. Huh. If something comes to me, I’ll let you know. 🙂
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    • Lola

      I don’t think there are many books written after the movie, although I have seen a few. The other way around sure seems more common. Having read this book after the movie and knowing it was written after the movie, does make me wonder if it’s a experience than when the movie is made after the book.
      Lola recently posted…Review: Ink by Melanie KarsakMy Profile

  9. Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

    I was so into the Star Wars movies when they first came out that I bought the novelization of the first movie ( i.e. IV A New Hope) by George Lucas. He’s not the world’s best novelist, but like the book you read, there were a few additional scenes that were helpful. But you’re right, reading a book after you’ve seen the movie is a very different experience from reading a book before you’ve seen its movie.
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    • Lola

      Oh that’s interesting that you read A New Hope. While Terry Brooks is a good writer, it’s just not my preferred writing style. It is fun to get those few extra scenes and explanations, which did make it worht the read. And it’s such a different experience than reading the book first.

    • Lola

      This was my first venture in Star Wars literature, although I own a few more star wars books that I hope to read soon. I am really excited about the new movie too! I prefered the prequel trilogy, so I am curious how I will like this one.

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