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‘Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View’ (audio book review)

Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View
Written by Various
Narrated by Jonathan Davis, Ashley Eckstein,
Janina Gavankar, Jon Hamm, Neil Patrick Harris,

January LaVoy, Saskia Maarleveld, Carol Monda,
Daniel José Older, Marc Thompson
Published by Random House Audio
ISBN-13: 978-0451486219
Released 10/3/17 / $45.00

 

Along with space battles, lightsaber duels, and a wide array of colorful creatures, Star Wars is also known for its iconic sayings.

“From A Certain Point of View” is not just a clever variation of the truth explained by Obi-Wan Kenobi, it is also the title of the newest novel from a galaxy far, far away.

Star Wars: From A Certain Point of View celebrates the 40th anniversary of its cherished namesake with forty short stories that occur during A New Hope.

Every tale is told from different perspectives by various characters brought to life by a cast of renowned writers including John Jackson Miller, Matt Fraction, Christie Golden, Chuck Wendig, and Claudia Gray. The narrators range from celebrities to voice actors/narrators, including Ashley Eckstein, Marc Thompson, Jon Hamm and Neil Patrick Harris. Some of the stories fill in minor plot holes from the film, other stories answer some long outstanding questions, and others are purely entertaining. There are some accounts that miss the mark, but the overall collection is an audible delight to the ears.

Did you ever wonder who that poor Rebel soldier was that Darth Vader choked to death aboard the Tantive IV?

Well, his name is Captain Raymus Antilles and the self-titled Raymus opens the anthology with a story that bridges the gap between the end of Rogue One and the start of A New Hope. Raymus’ recollection of events leading up to his death flushes out the tension on the ship before it’s boarded by the Empire. I’ll give a little spoiler here: Raymus didn’t know that he was harboring the Death Star plans until he was ensnared in Vader’s unforgiving grasp. This strengthened his resolve as he tried to stall as much as he could before he reached his end. Marc Thompson’s telling of the opening story is a great example of how the narrators bring the writers’ words to life, which makes for a joyful listening experience while evoking a wide array of emotions.

There are some stories, however, that fail to reach their goal due to creative decisions. Time of Death takes the reader through a poignant moment in time as Obi-Wan Kenobi tells the story of his own death. Hearing Kenobi question his life choices and go back and forth on whether he should have raised Luke instead of the Lars family gives the reader even more insight into the character while feeling a hint of sadness for him.

It should have been intriguing to hear The Emperor react to the news of Kenobi’s demise.

Unfortunately, the Shakespearian rhyming of the narrative makes it difficult to take the material seriously. Palpatine was written by Ian Doescher, who also wrote William Shakespeare’s Star Wars trilogy. So, under normal circumstances, it makes sense…but not here. None of the other stories are written and narrated in this manner, causing them to stick out like a sore thumb as opposed to diversifying the collection.

Jon Hamm as Boba Fett in the Paul Dini penned Added Muscle was an oddity unto itself. Hamm’s voice is too distinct to suspend the slightest disbelief, however, the dialog and bravado fit our favorite bounty hunter like a tailor-made Mandalorian helmet.

All angles are explored in what is essentially a tribute to the inaugural film. Claudia Gray’s Master and Apprentice is an amazing account of Qui-Gon counseling Obi-Wan after Luke ran off to find Owen and Beru. The audacity of Conan Motti filing an incident report against Darth Vader is even more ludicrous than his disturbing lack of faith and Will Wheaton’s report of rebels left behind on Yavin 4 paints the galactic war in a surprising light.

There are way too many stories to list here and perhaps, too many from the Mos Eisley Cantina for comfort. Everyone has an opinion or a story to tell and Star Wars is no exception. Truths are told. Secrets are revealed. Things we saw in the movie are altered, which is not surprising from a book titled From a Certain Point of View.

While this offering is not required reading for new canon junkies, it’s without question the most fun you will have with a Star Wars book due to its creative brilliance coupled with a masterful pairing of narrators and writers.

 

 

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