The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia

Author(s): Stephen J. Sansweet, Pablo Hidalgo, Bob Vitas, Daniel Wallace, Mary Franklin, Josh Kushins, Chris Cassidy
Editor: Bob Vitas
Publisher: Del Rey
Publish date: December 9, 2008
Pages: 1408

Before we get into the review I need to say something: OW, OUCH, OWWIE, IT HURTS, I THINK I BROKE IT, OWWWWW! Those were the first words uttered from my mouth when I picked up The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia and promptly dropped it on my foot. Through the haze of pain, I realized what that meant: A Star Wars guide large enough to cause my largest toe considerable agony was a wondrous thing.

After I quit complaining and whining like a toddler, I ripped open the wrapping. What awaited me was quite possibly one of the loveliest SW covers in recent memory. Imposing is probably the most apt term to describe the tome based on appearance and weight alone. The matte-black covering houses (barring online documentation) the largest compilation of Star Wars related items in one compendium. Weighing in around eleven pounds, this 1408 page encyclopedia is a thing of beauty to behold. With three volumes comes a vast undertaking; a crack team of mercenaries, er… I mean contributors: Dan Wallace, Bob Vitas, Mary Franklin, Josh Kushins, and Chris Cassidy, were brought on board the project by authors Steve Sansweet and Pablo Hidalgo.

For starters, judge this book by its cover. Attractive doesn’t even begin to describe the encyclopedia. Each letter of the alphabet gets its own beautifully designed and colored plate. Every page has some sort of illustrated display; a favorite of mine was the display of various lightsaber hilts. One of my biggest worries regarding TCSWE was spacing. Luckily, I need not have concerned myself. The text size is large enough to read easily without having to squint or use a magnifying glass. While the reference photos are usually given top billing on the page, it doesn’t detract from the printed word in the least. Though there is a rather sizable amount of information available, it is presented without cramping the page or diluting the information itself.

I understand that not everything from the GFFA could be included in a printed volume; so considering the dearth of facts and data, what was included is a fine representation of Star Wars knowledge. Obviously, major characters are well represented with lengthy entries, but even the minor players had concise documentation often with pictures. I’m such a dunce when it comes to anything technical in SW (and in real life) that I looked forward to a succinct explanation regarding hyperdrives, starships, lightsabers, and whatnot. Well, I wasn’t disappointed. Don’t get me wrong though, these are not dumbed down explanations. The thoughts are well organized and expounded upon with minimal fuss. Can you tell I’m a fan?

To some The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia could be considered an exercise in futility. Why spend money on an expensive guide when all you have to do is find an online wiki and click away to your heart’s desire? Firstly, it’s about being tactile. I like the feeling of paper beneath my fingertips. I want to feel the heft of the book in my lap. Next, comes the hunt. Perhaps, you’re not a lover of research. That’s understandable, but for those who count themselves in the former group, rejoice! You can pursue whatever niggling factoid has been eluding you the old-fashioned way. Basically, what I’m attempting to describe is the experience. This is why anyone who considers him or herself a fan should have this reference book in his or her collection. It’s cheaper to find what you want online, but not nearly as satisfying as thumbing through The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia.

Reviewed by MandyB
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