Review: The Complete Vader

Author: Ryder Windham and Pete Vilmur
Publisher: Del Rey
Release date: October 18, 2011
Pages: 192
Era: None

Star Wars: The Complete Vader is an excellent reference book which chronicles the complete history of one of the most iconic characters of all time. Well, almost the complete history. It’s a very large book, and it fits right in with similar compendiums of knowledge like the Star Wars Vault and The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia. In fact, the design of the book is very similar to that of the Vault, and it plays up the use of blacks, silvers, reds, and oranges. Beautiful images grace each page, depicting classic photos, concept art, collectibles, and more. The Complete Vader even includes a set of fold-out posters and reproductions of content from the Lucasfilm Archives which can be removed from their protective inserts.

The cover of The Complete Vader.

The cover of The Complete Vader.

Star Wars veterans Ryder Windham and Pete Vilmur obviously had a great time writing The Complete Vader. The duo carefully combed through the entire history of Darth Vader to find the most interesting bits of information. The primary focus is on the films and Vader’s impact on the world at large, but the writers also occasionally delve into Expanded Universe material. Even fans who think they know everything about Darth Vader might learn a few things.

The book is divided into ten major chapters, each of which is centered on a particular segment of Vader’s history. The very first pages cover the origin of Darth Vader in 1973. By the end of the book, readers are aware of every major facet of Anakin Skywalker’s journey to the Dark Side, as well as the character’s impact on everything from popular culture to collectibles. The chronological organization works for the most part, but it’s obvious the writers were occasionally limited by it. The book often takes tangents into other eras or completely separate topics in its quest for completeness.

If The Complete Vader has a flaw, it’s that it was originally released on October 27, 2009 in Canada and the UK. Unfortunately, Del Rey discovered a printing error which caused the pages to stick together and he publisher quickly delayed The Complete Vader‘s US release. Two years later, the book is finally making its stateside debut.

As a result, this compendium of Vader knowledge fails to reference more recent works such as Darth Vader and the Lost Command. The Clone Wars television series is briefly mentioned a few times, mostly in the final chapter, but the majority of Anakin’s actions in the show–as well as the brief cameo appearance of Darth Vader–had not occurred at the time of the book’s writing. The Complete Vader spends a few paragraphs discussing Darth Vader’s relationship with his Secret Apprentice in The Force Unleashed, but don’t expect it to touch on the sequel’s controversial ending. Even more controversial, and also left out, is Vader’s new dialog in the recently released Star Wars: The Complete Saga Blu-ray box set. Books are inherently out-of-date by the time they reach stores, so these omissions are understandable. It would, however, have been nice to include additional content to account for the two-year delay.

The Complete Vader can be read in just a few hours, despite its size. Imagery fills up most of the gorgeous 192 pages, leaving room for only a column or so of content on each two-page spread. That being said, it’s a joy to read. The book retails for $60, but most places have it available for around $35. Star Wars: The Complete Vader is an excellent choice for any Star Wars fan, as long as you’re aware that it’s complete… up to 2009.

4/5 Kath Hounds

Reviewed by William Devereux

All staff members can be contacted at staff@eucantina.net

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About the Author

William Devereux (@MasterDevwi) is EUCantina's co-administrator, as well as the host of the We Talk Clones podcast. When he's not talking about Star Wars, he works at Microsoft as a Program Manager. He is also an Xbox MVP.