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4.0 out of 5 stars Rebels and Empire face off in Return of the Jedi......, 23 Nov. 2003
This review is from: Star Wars Episode 6: Return Of The Jedi: Star Wars Series: Book Three (Paperback)
In 1983, in an attempt to keep fans from discovering some of the plot revelations in the film Return of the Jedi, Lucasfilm and Del Rey held off the release of James Kahn's novelization until the last minute. It proved to be unnecessary; in its cover story on Jedi a few weeks before the premiere on May 25th, 1983, Time magazine revealed to the world (in page 84) that Darth Vader was indeed Luke Skywalker's father. Other plot threads were revealed in various publications, rendering the "hold" of Kahn's novel moot.
Return of the Jedi is divided into two halves, one almost independent of the other but predetermined by the events of The Empire Strikes Back. The first half begins with a short prologue in which Darth Vader arrives at Endor, a small sanctuary moon where the Empire is building a second Death Star. The Emperor, it seems, is not happy with Moff Jerjerrod's "current lack of progress" and has sent the Dark Lord to "find new ways to motivate" the Death Star commander and his men to complete the battle station as planned.
Then, using material later deleted from the final draft of the screenplay Lawrence Kasdan and George Lucas, Luke is in Ben Kenobi's spartan hut, hard at work on his new lightsaber. Then Kahn takes up the film's plot threads and describes how Leia, Chewbacca, Lando and Luke rescue Han Solo from the clutches of the vile gangster Jabba the Hutt.
The second half of Jedi starts with Luke returning to Dagobah to complete his Jedi training, only to find that Yoda, his 900-year-old Master, is dying. "No more training do you require," says Yoda on his deathbed, but warns Luke that the true final examination as a Jedi will be to confront Darth Vader.
"Luke knew this would be his test," Kahn writes, " it could not be otherwise. Every quest had its focus, and Vader was at the core of Luke's struggle. It was agonizing for him to put the question to words, but after a long silence, he again spoke to the old Jedi 'Master Yoda -- is Darth Vader my father?'
"Yoda's eyes filled with a weary compassion. This boy was not yet a man complete. A sad smile creased his face, he seemed to grow smaller in his bed....
"Luke stared at the dwindling teacher, trying to give the old one strength, just by the force of his love and will. 'Yoda, I must know,' he whispered.
" 'Your father he is,' Yoda said simply."
Kahn then follows the three separate threads of the Battle of Endor: a mission led by Han to destroy the shield generator that provides the unfinished Death Star's main protection; Lando Calrissian's starfighter attack on the battle station itself; and Luke's desperate personal struggle to reclaim his father from the thrall of the evil Emperor Palpatine. It is classic Star Wars action, with heroic deeds, huge space battles, and a final, decisive clash of lightsabers between father and son.
Kahn, who is also a recovering emergency room doctor and has published a science fiction trilogy of his own, has done several novelizations of movie scripts, including Poltergeist and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. His style is clear and snappy, although Foster and Glut seem to have a certain quality that Kahn can't replicate.
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