Monday, May 2, 2016

Read, You Must: Star Wars Character Encyclopedia



On bookshelves now from DK Publishing is the newly updated Star Wars Character Encyclopedia. The cover should make it clear that this edition contains plenty of information on characters and situations from The Force Awakens.

The Star Wars Character Encyclopedia gives one full-colour, individual fact-sheet for over 220 characters. Whether they are pivotal to the Star Wars Saga like Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader, or very obscure “blink-and-you-miss-it” background aliens like Sarco Plank or Bobbajo, everyone and everything is equal here.

For this edition by Simon Beecroft and Pablo Hidalgo there are over 35 completely new characters profiled. Many more have been updated like General Leia Organa and Han Solo too. Even characters not appearing in The Force Awakens have been updated (like Jango Fett) to reflect new information or clarifications.

There are many pages that are nearly identical in the previous edition, but there are so many new characters here that this book could almost be called Star Wars Character Encyclopedia Volume II
 

No single book could possibly include EVERY Star Wars character, and this one sticks to only on those from the movies. Characters only seen in The Clone Wars or Star Wars Rebels do not appear in here (The Clone Wars has its own character encyclopedia). Despite it being very clear on the cover this is a The Force Awakens-focused update there is one notable character not here – the mysterious Supreme Leader Snoke. Why no Snoke? It would probably be a frustratingly blank page!

Will there be a Rogue One version coming soon? Hard to tell but that movie certainly will introduce many new, exciting characters to Star Wars.

The Star Wars Character Encyclopedia is for fans wanting a quick overview of many characters in an easily accessible format. If you’re looking for in-depth details, you’ll want to dive into Ultimate Star Wars, The Force Awakens Visual Dictionary and other great reference books. (Publisher's Recommendation: Ages 7 - 10 years)

Also still available & full of great info

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Star Wars: Rogue One Teaser Trailer!

Coming this December to our Galaxy (specifically our movie theatres) is Rogue One: A Star Wars Story!

Today the first teaser trailer was released and it's something spectacular!



Obviously it's just a tease of a few scenes from the movie and there's plenty more to come, but this trailer coming only a few months after The Force Awakens' release, the timeline and setting for Rogue One may be a little confusing.

Here's a few questions you may have after watching the trailer. If you have more questions feel free to share them in the comments below!

Is this the sequel to The Force Awakens? Where's Rey, Finn or BB-8?

No. This movie is set between Episodes 3 and 4, shortly before Episode 4. These are the rebels learning about the FIRST Death Star. Luke, Leia and Han haven't met yet and Rey an Finn are years away from being born. BB-8 has probably not yet been made.

Episode 8 (no title yet for The Force Awakens' sequel) is still filming and will come out December 2017.

Rogue One is actually very close to the same time that Star Wars: Rebels happens. It's certainly possible there will be some connections there.

Why am I wearing an Imperial uniform? Wait and see!
Who is the main woman?
After watching the trailer you know exactly as much as anyone else does. She's mysterious and tough and her name is Jyn Erso. She's played by actress Felicity Jones who typically performs in dramatic films (the ones grown-ups like) but you may have seen her in The Amazing Spider-Man 2.

Where's Darth Vader?
It hasn't been confirmed either way if Vader will be in Rogue One, but he could be. At this point in the overall Star Wars story, Darth Vader is alive and terrifying the galaxy. For that matter, we could also see Emperor Palpatine, Grand Moff Tarkin and more familiar baddies!

The Mysterious Figure aka Back in Black!
But isn't that Vader with the long, black cape?
Maybe. Or maybe it's the Emperor, or maybe it's someone we don't know yet. Oh no...maybe it's Snoke??

Who are all these other guys?
We really don't know at this point. We know they look tough and ready to fight. Hopefully they're good guys! Other than that it's all a mystery.

Is that the same lady from Return of the Jedi? The super-serious one?
Yep. Younger actress, but same character: Mon Mothma. She's a strong leader in the Rebellion and it's great to see her again after all these years!

Mon Mothma. Maybe she'll get to smile just once?
For an excellent breakdown of each scene, check out this article on EW.com

Obviously there are many more questions than answers at this point. It sure is fun to guess though, huh? 

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Read, You Must: Star Wars Aliens Volume I



Why is Unkar Plutt so grouchy? Who are those two guys that Finn almost leaves with? Who’s that little guy waiting behind Rey in Niima Outpost? A new middle-grade book from Disney-Lucasfilm Press gives us a much closer look at many of the interesting-looking new alien characters from The Force Awakens.

Somehow this collection of short stories got the longest title of any book in recent memory. The full title is: Star Wars: Tales from a Galaxy Far, Far Away ALIENS Volume I (we’ll just call it ALIENS Vol. I for short here). The inclusion of “Volume I” is interesting and suggests more to come, hopefully soon! 

In 346 pages, author Landry Q. Walker gives us six stories focusing on six different alien characters. Each tale also has a great painting by Tyler Scarlet. Two of the stories are brand new while the other four have been available only as eBooks until this hardcover release.

One of the eBook editions

The stories vary in length, tone and genre. Walker really has fun jumping around from Unkar Plutt’s cyber-romance/heist thriller to a crime story/cooking show in Maz Kanata’s castle. Swashbuckling pirates and even mad scientists are all a part of the fun. Crime and criminals is the focus here in this collection of “scum and villainy”. There are a lot of “no-good, double-crossing swindlers” here, as Lando Calrissian might put it.

The stories are not connected at all so they can be enjoyed in any order. They seem to take place before the events of The Force Awakens as Niima Outpost and Maz Kananta’s castle are still intact.

The invisible Constable Zuvio
Unfortunately the first story is focused on Constable Zuvio, a character becoming infamous for – despite being made into several toys and featuring in other books – doesn’t seem to be in The Force Awakens at all unless you have an eagle-eye and can freeze your Blu-ray at exactly the right moment. It may be of little interest to read this adventure of a character essentially not in the movie. However Zuvio’s tale is an engaging detective story with a lot of western feel. Columbo in the wild west…in space.

Yo yo Bobbajo!
For A New Hope fans, the most intriguing story is Bobbajo’s All Creatures Great and Small – a “tall tale” of his imprisonment with his tiny creatures, on the first Death Star, coincidentally at the same time a certain famous Princess meets two men and a wookiee. The story even suggests that Bobbajo’s creatures played a vital part in the destruction of the Death Star, though Bobbajo is apparently known for stories that are often wildly exaggerated.

Also of interest to longtime Star Wars fans – and this appears to be the first time in the new “canon” (official Star Wars timeline) – is mention of the character of Gormaanda from the infamously bad 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special in the story A Recipe for Death.

Celebrity Chef Gormaanda
ALIENS Vol. I ends with the longest and most exciting tale: The Crimson Corsair and the Lost Treasure of Count Dooku, an adventure of piracy and plundering that escalates to a bigger and bigger clash between rival pirate gangs. The story also has some wonderful connections to the Clone Wars TV series.

Confident young readers will enjoy the variety of stories here and insights into characters only briefly seen on screen. Older Star Wars fans can certainly enjoy these tales too as they are not specifically “children’s” stories – no more than the rest of Star Wars. One story, The Face of Evil, may be a little scary for very young readers.

With so many other background characters and interesting aliens in The Force Awakens to learn about, this book will leave you looking forward to Aliens Vol. II!
 
Publisher's Recommendation: Ages 8+
 
For more short stories set around The Force Awakens characters read Before the Awakening.


Sunday, March 27, 2016

Read, You Must: Rey's Story



Thanks to a fantastic performance by actress Daisy Ridley in The Force Awakens, Rey has quickly become a favourite new character to many fans. It’s easy to see why: she’s awesome!

Now Rey fans can enjoy reading Star Wars: The Force Awakens Rey’s Story, a new middle-grade chapter book from author Elizabeth Schaefer, available in paperback from Disney-Lucasfilm Press. It’s a brisk, 140-page take on The Force Awakens and a fun, exciting way to relive many of the main scenes of the film. The book is literally only Rey’s story from the film. 

The narrator follows Rey along on her adventure from scavenging the desert of Jakku to meeting BB-8, Finn, Han Solo, Chewbacca, Maz Kanata and then Kylo Ren and eventually even a very famous Jedi in hiding...

That means, however, that there’s barely any mention of Poe Dameron, General Hux, Captain Phasma or Supreme Leader Snoke. I didn’t realize that Rey never or barely encounters so many key characters in the movie until reading this book!

The story unfolds as though the author is there side-by-side watching Rey’s journey, but no more privy to her deeper thoughts than the other characters. Most likely there were many restrictions placed on the author because Rey is a character with such a secretive past, hopefully to be revealed in future Star Wars movies.

Then again, even Kylo Ren couldn’t get inside her mind either!

Elizabeth Schaefer’s writing is never needlessly complicated but offers vocabulary appropriately challenging to confident young readers. The book also contains many terrific Brian Rood illustrations, as does the cover.

Put aside any expectations that this will answer all the big questions about Rey from the movie and just enjoy a well-written, fast-paced version of Rey’s Story from The Force Awakens.

Publisher’s Recommendation: Ages 8-12

Also check out: Before the Awakening, a middle-grade collection of three short stories, one of which focuses entirely on Rey. Read our review here.

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