Book Review | Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker – The Visual Dictionary
“The writing is so rich and rewarding that you can’t ask for anything more. It is a must-have book for your collection”
Pablo Hidalgo‘s newest visual dictionary, this time for ‘The Rise Of Skywalker‘ has hit bookshelves the world over. I need not tell you about what you’ll find inside. If you’ve ever bought a copy of one of Hidalgo’s other books like this one devoted to a Star Wars film, you know before even opening the cover exactly what you will be getting. And then he will surprise you with something you weren’t expecting to find. That the beauty of a Hidalgo book. It never fails to surprise and enlighten you. Even when some events in the movies are not so clear, you can trust him to fill in the blanks, clear up any mystery you find and generally give you what you asked for and more. And once again, he does so here.
Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker – The Visual Dictionary | By Pablo Hidalgo
One glance at the front cover will tell you what to expect inside the pages within. A Knight Of Ren takes centre stage this time, all proud and menacing as it looks at us from behind the helmet on its head. Surrounding the Knight, we find smaller pictures of Rey, standing ready with her lightsaber lit up, ready for battle, C-3PO holding Rey’s staff and satchel with Chewie’s bowcaster in hand (You’ll understand if you’ve seen the movie), Jannah‘s bow, D-O, a Sith Trooper Helmet, all red and shiny and a TIE Dagger ship. On the spine below the title, we find a small photo of Kylo Ren‘s Helmet. On the back cover, we discover A Knight Of Ren blaster pistol, the creature Oki-Poki, a First Order Treadspeeder, Zorii Bliss‘ helmet and Rothgar Deng. We will encounter all this and more once we turn the cover and enter the world of ‘The Rise Of Skywalker‘.
As we open the book, we are immediately met by a two-page spread photograph in black and white of our heroes. Finn, Chewbacca, Rey, C-3PO and Poe look at something we cannot see, something we will discover when we see the film on the screen. Over the page, we go and are met again by C-3PO, poised with Rey’s and Chewbacca’s equipment once more. We move on and are awarded a two-page spread of more of the characters, vehicles, droids and equipment we will see during the runtime of the film. We come to the contents page and our eyes are drawn straight away to the picture of our beloved Millennium Falcon, roaring through hyperspace at the bottom of the page. The book is separated into nine different chapters, encompassing everything from the story so far right up to the final battle with looks at the new planets we see in the film along the way.
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Starting off with a foreword by co-writer of the new film, Chris Terrio, we are launched into the worlds and adventures we will encounter. Terrio speaks of having a very worn novel of ‘Return Of The Jedi‘ in his library (Me too!) and how he would bug his parents to take him to the movie theatre every Saturday morning for an entire summer just so he could watch ‘Jedi‘ again and again. He speaks of his sheer delight at being asked to help write this closing chapter of the Skywalker saga, about trying to contain his excitement standing on the bridge of a Star Destroyer and his dreams that started for him at the age of six that are still with him now as he turns forty. You can understand how he feels and what this project has meant to him. I can share his feelings as I have been on this same journey for 43 years now ever since the first film came out in 1977.
We leave Chris Terrio behind now as we turn the page and come to our introduction. A shiny red Sith Trooper stands guard as we read the introduction before turning our attention to the adjacent page and the timeline of the Star Wars saga we know of to date. Starting with the crowning of Senator Palpatine as the new Supreme Chancellor and ending with Rey and Kylo meeting for another fateful encounter, the timeline is full of information that will take some readers and fans by surprise. It reveals many things only hinted at before or revealed in the books that have been written and released to tie in with the new trilogy of films. As we move along, we come to our first chapter entitled ‘The Story So Far’. After a brief recap about the events starting from the galactic civil war up until the end of the last film,’The Last Jedi‘, we turn the page and are confronted straight away by The First Order and in particular, Supreme Leader Snoke. In this section, we are brought completely up to date with events that started in ‘The Force Awakens‘. We quickly move through those events and come across ‘The Last Jedi‘ and all that we saw and encountered throughout that chapter of the saga.
We now come to chapter two and The Rise Of Skywalker. Greeting us here is a glorious colour photograph of Rey on Ajan Kloss, the world Leia and what remains of the Resistance inhabit during the course of the movie. After a synopsis of what’s been happening, we move forward and discover a star chart of all the planets we have or will encounter throughout this sequel trilogy. The six planets we visit in the new film are displayed in a neat little side panel for us to read about and learn about. Of the six, five are new to us but the sixth is one we have visited before, many years ago. We are once again, although briefly, taken back to Mustafar, the planet where Anakin Skywalker was all but destroyed and Darth Vader became complete. We last saw this planet during the events of ‘Rogue One‘ but much has changed now. The planet is in obscurity now that Vader Is dead but still has a vital part to play in the ending of the saga. We now get to know all about Ajan Kloss, the peaceful and green planet where the Resistance now resides. Everything we wanted to know about the planet is told to us here, the local wildlife is examined and items we see in the Resistance base are revealed to us. This section is devoted to Rey and her training, to Kylo Ren and to Mustafar itself.
Chapter three is devoted to the First Order itself and all those who constitute the faction including the dreaded Knights Of Ren. It is here where we will discover everything about the First Order, their ships, the planet Exegol and equipment, from the Wayfinder used by Kylo Ren and later on, Rey right up to the weapons used by the Knights. Everything is looked into detail and the text that accompanies everything throughout the book is once again, exemplary. Chapter four moves us onto the Resistance themselves. Once more, every character is looked into and given a bio to go along with them. Also, again we are handed detailed information regarding ships, weapons, personnel and all the droids we will encounter during our time with them. In addition, Resistance allies like Maz Kanata and Boolio are covered in this section.
Chapter five is devoted to the planet Pasaana. It is here where we will be reunited with legendary General Lando Calrissian for the first time. The planet is looked into in great detail, its citizens are thrust into the spotlight for all to see, the festival of the ancestors is described to us so we may fit in with the custom of the event, We encounter ‘The Hermit’ whose identity is kept from everyone behind a mask (Spoiler Alert-Its Lando), the Treadable vehicle that the Hermit uses including a delightful cross-section view that is afforded us and of course, Lando himself. Our old friend is granted a two-page spread to welcome him back into the fold and our lives. Of course, reading his biography gives hints at to what secrets are awaiting us during the course of the film including the fate of his daughter. (No Spoiler here!).
We are then presented with the desert pursuit and the Treadspeeders the First Order forces use during this exciting sequence. Again, we are granted a cross-section view of the inner workings of the speeder and its pilot. The same applies when we encounter the Pasaana skimmers our heroes use to escape from the enemy forces until we finally come to the discovery of the Sith blade and the remains of Ochi Of Bestoon, the Jedi hunter who vanished some years before, leaving his ship behind. We are given the Cross-sections of his ship too which is a nice little touch.
We move on again and come to chapter six and the world of Kijimi. It is here where we will find out the truth about Poe Dameron‘s mysterious past and encounter the lovable little alien Babu Frik. Everything about the planet, the people we will encounter here including the First Order Forces and their equipment and vehicles and more importantly, Zorii Bliss herself is covered here. We are given a nice up-close look at the new UA-TT Walker used by the first order and barely glimpsed in the film. It has a neat little three-legged design and looks to be a cross between an AT-ST and a Gorilla Walker seen in ‘The Last Jedi‘. We also get to meet D-O, the new droid friend of C-3PO and BB-8. Again, this lovable new addition to the saga is a welcome sight. But as we turn the page, we are confronted by the relic of a Sith Lord. Kylo Ren’s personal shrine to his grandfather, Darth Vader is examined here. The burned and twisted remains of Vader’s helmet are here in all their glory and are a welcome addition to the section.
Chapter seven is for the planet of Kef Bir. In reality, it’s not really a planet but another moon of Endor, where the galactic civil war came to an end. It is also the place where the remains of the destroyed second Death Star ended up crashing down to. Here, we will discover the inhabitants of the moon and mysteries of the moon itself will be revealed. Again, everything and everybody related to the moon is discussed and gone into detail here including the weapons and the vehicles seen during our visit. And we come upon the ruins of the Death Star. Once something to be feared, now a pile of rotting metal lying in the middle of the ocean of Kef Bir, a pathetic reminder of years gone by. Of course, in the film, we will once again enter the battle station and find remnants of a once all-powerful army lying derelict inside the wreckage.
We now come across chapter eight and the final battle. It is here where we discover everything the ‘Final Order’ has at its disposal in its battle to eliminate the Resistance once and for all. The Sith Star Destroyer is here, its planet-destroying laser cannon ready to fire upon a luckless world, dooming it to complete destruction. The Sith Troopers line up ready to take on anyone who dares challenge them. The Sith Jet Troopers get a wonderful double-page spread devoted to them. The Sith Fleet personnel make themselves known. The Resistance assault force emerges from hiding to take the battle to all comers. Everything we need to know about this final battle is revealed to us.
The final chapter, chapter nine is devoted to behind the scenes. It is here we will see the character designs, the creatures and the droids, the vehicles and a few behind the scenes shots as our time comes to an end and we come across the index pages and acknowledgements. With a final black and white double-page photo of dark Rey, we close the book and sit back to digest what we have seen and read.
Do I need to say what I think about this book? Of course not. By now, you will have realised that it’s completely wonderful. Hidalgo doesn’t release bad books and again, he has pulled the proverbial rabbit out of the hat. The writing is so rich and rewarding that you can’t ask for anything more, the photographs and production drawings are pleasing to the eye and again, it is a must-have book for your collection. If you are unsure about anything you’ve seen or heard in the film or are confused by some of the plots, it is all explained here, putting the readers’ mind at rest and making a future viewing of the film all that more rewarding and enjoyable. I’m saddened by the fact that this will be the last book devoted to my beloved Skywalker saga but at the same time, am pleased to say the book sends the series out on a high. There will be many more Star Wars related books down the line but they will be hard-pressed to take the throne of Pablo Hidalgo and his visual dictionaries.
The force has been and always will be with him and his books.
Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker – The Visual Dictionary by Pablo Hidalgo is published by DK Books and is available to buy NOW!
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Carl Roberts is a Senior Staff Writer and Books and Literature Correspondent for Future of the Force. Aside from being our horror genre aficionado, he is also passionate about Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and the Indiana Jones movies. Follow him on Twitter @CarlRoberts2 where he uses the force frequently!
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Editors Note: A big thank you to our friends at DK Books for sending over our advance review copy.
Carl Roberts is the News Editor for The Future of the Force. Aside from being our horror genre aficionado, he is also passionate about Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and the Indiana Jones movies. Follow him on Twitter where he uses the force frequently!