To paraphrase George RR Martin: That is how a Star Wars novelisation ought to be written!
This book hits all the main points from the movie but does them so much better. For context I had just finished the new season of the Clone Wars and it seemed logical to watch Episode III to show the other side of the play. But switching from Clone Wars Anakin to Hayden Christensen was just too much, it was even worse than I imagined. I know the guy had a weak script and all but he didn’t pull off the hero side of Anakin or the moody one and I just couldn’t reconcile one with the other. So I turned it off and moved to this novelisation, and I’m so glad I did.
The opening section was just amazing. It’s basically the hero side of Anakin and Obi-wan on their way to rescue Palpatine. I loved the holonet asides, showing how basically everyone knew who they were and how much they were loved by the general public. I loved the bond between them, it was the perfect continuation of the Clone Wars which I don’t think comes off in the film. The bits from Dooku’s perspective were brilliant, he starts the fight off so cocky and confident until he realises he’s been played from the start, so well done.
The second part is on Coruscant and really highlights the pressures Anakin was facing from the Jedi, from Palpatine and his fear for Padme. It has an almost claustrophobic atmosphere to it, the guy basically doesn’t eat or sleep for days leading up to his downfall and is clearly not thinking straight. The bit (and that’s not really in the film) when Obi-wan tells Mace and Yoda that they have irrevocably turned Anakin’s trust in them was heartbreaking.
The author really managed to add depth to nearly all the scenes and made Anakin’s switch to the dark side so much more believable. Now the whole slaughtering of kids is included and obviously he had no choice in including that but that’s still far out there. I remember watching that the first time and it was shocking which I’m sure was the point but it still doesn’t fit the character at all. Mustafar yes but not that. Maybe a few years down the line Darth Vader probably wouldn’t have a problem but I can never see just-turned Anakin being able to do it.
Anyway as you may have guessed by this stage, I really enjoy the Star Wars universe, so many flaws and all. I still hold the belief the prequels had by far the best and most cohesive story and were just let down by some (a lot) of bad decisions in the execution. This novelisation is a way to see what the film could have been and I thoroughly recommend it.
4.5 stars rounded up.