Sunday, October 9, 2011

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope...The Review

So, usually it's a mantra of mine that the book is always better than the movie.  Well, since this is a book that was really actually written about a movie I, personally, don't think that theory holds true here.  But that isn't to say that I regret reading it and that it wasn't a nice read.  Overall, however, the movie is the be all and end all of Episode IV.

I don't think, since this book is based on a movie I would hope that all of us have seen at least once, that I really need to give a synopsis of the plot.  Zyra will probably just call that a cop out, but c'mon...seriously?  So, that's not what I'm going to do.  I'd just prefer to hop around and point some stuff out.  It's not like you guys can fire me.

There are some things in the book that aren't in the movie or that are explained more thoroughly.  I'll probably just try to point out some of them.  The first of which would probably be some Luke scenes with his friend 'Biggs' in the beginning of the book.  You can tell that Luke is kinda teased a little by the neighborhood 'gang', even tagged with a nickname "Wormie".  For me, it added to his innocent, farmboy persona and normally I might be interested to see anything extra put to the big screen, but having seen the deleted scenes of Luke and his friends on the newly released BluRay DVD, I have to say we are lucky they remained on the cutting room floor.

Another thing that I was oddly happy to come across was when Luke identified Obi-Wan Kenobi's frightening noise that scared off the Tusken Raiders as a krayt dragon call.  I had always heard that that was what it was.  Mostly through fanfic, I think, and I guess back when I first read this book but it just hadn't struck me back then.  So, now I know.

The next thing that did strike me was when the door closes on Princess Leia's cell when Vader (and Tarkin in the book) encroach on her with that floating orb full of needles.   After her cell door shuts, the book dedicates an entire paragraph on the grisly noises coming out of her cell that even disturb the guards standing outside so much that they have to walk away.   I always have a difficult time deciding just how badly Leia was tortured on the Death Star.  This made that little debate rear up again in my delicate Star Wars psyche.

Fast forward to the Mos Eisley cantina.  If Zyra thought that Ben Kenobi over-reacted to Luke being shoved in the movie by lopping that guy's arm off, I guess she might have a real problem with the way it happens in the book.  In the book, not only does Ben de-arm that guy but he splits two other guys in two.  One horizontally and one vertically from the best I can recollect.  Guardians of peace and justice?  hmmmm.....

I'll just have to quote the next thing.  As Luke and Ben approach Han the book says:  "At their approach the man sent the humanoid wench who had been wriggling on his lap on her way with a whispered something which left a wide, if inhuman, grin on her face."  Lowly fanfic author raises her hand and says, "Excuse me, George?  I'll be an extra for that deleted scene..."

Han shoots Greedo first.

Again, there was a 'torture' reference aboard the Death Star when Tarkin is speaking to Leia right before he blows up Alderaan and he refers to their "methods of inquiry" and Leia interrupts him with "Torture, you mean."  As for the destruction of Alderaan, unlike the movie, we don't even get to be with Leia when it happens in the book.  We are just told that she is being brought to have an 'unobstructed view'.  I still feel myself that writing Leia's POV while watching Alderaan blow up would be a very difficult thing to do.

I find Ben's description of the Force to Luke while onboard the Falcon as contrary to the Prequels and the whole midichlorian thing.  I, for one, like Ben's explanation better than some tiny microorganisms in some people's blood streams.  In his explanation everyone is a part of the Force just some people are more attuned to it.  I'm going with that.

We also get to see some of Ben's thoughts while he is dealing with wide-eyed Luke and skeptical Han.  For some reason I really enjoyed that.  Ben seemed to instinctively like Han and understand him and anyway, I liked that.

Throughout the Vader/Tarkin interactions, you can definitely see that those two are not on the same page and that neither one of them supports or approves of the other's tactics.  And for one short paragraph in Vader's POV after the destruction of Alderaan, it hints that Vader feels remorse over the planet's needless destruction, but he quickly reels those thoughts in.  I found that interesting.

TK-421 is THX-1138.

When Luke is trying to convince Han to help him rescue the Princess, Luke asks, "Where's your sense of chivalry, Han?" And Han replies, "Near as I can recall, I traded it for a ten-carat chrysopaz and three bottles of good brandy about five years ago on Commenor."  I liked that...

When Luke first sees Leia in the cell he mumbles (it is unclear if Leia could've heard):  "You're even-more beautiful-than I-"  gag...

I have to say, to no surprise, that I really enjoyed the book once Han and Leia were together in it.  :-)

When Chewie won't jump into the garbage chute, Han says the lines from the movie but also adds, "This is no time to get dainty on me!"  I laughed at that.

Leia says "It's our only hope." An awful lot in this book.  I'm just saying.

Remember when Zyra was talking about the "Inappropriate Times for Han and Leia to Consummate Their Relationship?"  Well, here's a little garbage chute interlude that I'll quote from the book:  "Leia and Solo had been forced to turn sideways, had ended up facing each other.  For the first time the haughtiness was gone from the Princess's face.  Reaching out, she took Solo's hand, clutching it convulsively as she felt the first touch of the closing walls."  Ahem.  Well, in SW-ease I wonder just what we just witnessed there?

Remember when Han blasts something once they are all out of the garbage chute and Leia yells at him?  Well, in the book it's explained that that thing that had been attacking Luke had one of its tentacles thrashing around at them and that's what Han shot at.  And before Leia tells Han to do as she says, she does sort of thank him and Luke for rescuing her.  Sort of.  And Han adds to his "no reward is worth this" by saying "I don't think there's enough credit in the universe to pay for putting up with her..."  Ahhhhh, true love.

The kiss for luck as Luke and Leia prepared to swing across the abyss?  "Something warm and pleasant touched Luke's lips, alerting every nerve in his body.  He looked down in shock at the Princess, his mouth still tingling from the kiss."  Yep, much worse in the book, isn't it?

Back on the Falcon when Han urges Luke that "it ain't over yet" and he needs to help him on the guns there is a bit more dialogue where Leia stands up for the forlorn Luke.  Really?  Your world just blew up?  When are you going to cry in your blue milk?

Although Leia has a tad more dialogue when Commander Willard greets her upon her arrival on Yavin, she does just seem a bit unreal in her stoic-ness.  I'm telling you.  This woman has to break down sooner or later.  Zyra always says that I'm picking on Leia, but really, NOBODY is that strong.

The space battle surrounding the Death Star was a fun read.  I really wish I could write them!  Knowing how much Biggs meant to Luke made his death more important in the book than it had been in the movie and we find out a little more about what was going on up in the battle that couldn't really be explained on screen.  We find out why Luke says "he was a little toasted" for example when he flies too close to something that he just blew up and scorches his wings.  That's just one example, but you know what I mean.  And down below, Leia wonders aloud worriedly to 3PO why "Luke is taking so many chances."

Luke makes one failed run using his targeting computer before going on his second run and deciding to use the Force.  When Han arrives it is in Vader's POV and the book only refers to him as "the freighter" and for some reason it added to the suspense even though I KNEW who it was!  I couldn't wait for someone to acknowledge that it was him and to 'hear' his voice.

When they return to Yavin IV and Leia is giving out hugs, the book says this after she hugs Luke:  "Then she moved to Solo and repeated the embrace.  Expectantly, the Corellian was not quite as embarrassed."  HAHA.  Love it.

Okay, one really good thing is that Leia gives CHEWIE a medal, too at the ceremony but there is no mention of the 'wink' from Han. :-(

The book ends a little nauseatingly with Luke thinking about Leia.  Oh well.  We know who ends up with the girl.


Han and Leia Factor Rating?  I haven't discussed this with Zyra but I was thinking a 4 star.  Han and Leia are both in it and they are in character, the only thing missing is the love story part, but it's too early for that.  We'll see what Zyra says.

Up next?  Allegiance by Timothy Zahn.


  1. I've never considered reading the book adaptions of the movies, though I did flip with ESB once (looking for all the good parts of course).

    "...Reaching out, she took Solo's hand, clutching it convulsively as she felt the first touch of the closing walls." Heh, well isn't that um...something. ;)

    By the way, can I make a request that you include maybe one or two more of the books you guys are planning to read ahead of time? That is, if you guys have planned ahead of time.

  2. I've added a "Coming Up Next" section to the "Han and Leia Factor" gadget on the right hand side of this blog page (the one where we give the star ratings on the books we've read). Thanks for the idea/feedback, Elivagar!

  3. I could have sworn I commented on this post earlier in the week but maybe I failed the google word test and didn't notice?

    anyway, I had forgotten that bit about Han trading his sense of chivalry for some bottles of brandy and it cracked me up to read it again.

    my favorite Han/Leia thing from the book version of ANH is when Han and Luke are talking about Leia and Han says she has spirit to go with her sass and then he has the line about a princess and a guy like him. And then the book tells us that as he's walking away, he wonders to himself whether he made the comment to bait his naive friend, or because it was true. awwwwwwwwww... see, she was growing on him even then.

    Push, I think you might have to beat off a bunch of would-be extras for a chance to be in that deleted scene!

  4. Yeah, I think we may have to arm wrestle over who gets that role. =)

  5. Speaking of that role, there is a little Q&A in this month's Star Wars Insider magazine with the woman who played that role in the deleted scene. She mostly just sits next to him and shares a quick kiss with him, but still. Nothing too exciting, and honestly I didn't even buy the magazine, just read it at the store in two minutes, but it was cute.

    Anyway, yes, so nice that Han and Leia are finally together! Love the tension and the added bit of holding each other's hands in the trash compactor. And the knowledge that Luke and Leia's interactions weren't quite as creepy in the movie version. I don't really know what else to say. Just that it's kind of interesting to get some of that extra stuff in the book. And agreed on the torture. It's good I think that they didn't make it graphic in the movie. It does not sound like it was pleasant and aside from those people who think there was possible rape which I will readily disregard there is not a lot of talk about how bad that torture was that she sustained.

    Can't wait to read Empire!