By Terry Brooks, read by Alexander Adams

By J.A. Hitchcock

Random House Audio, Six cassettes (about 9 hours), ISBN 0375406557,$39.95

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This is the one time when I wish I'd read/listened to the book before seeing the movie. Don’t get me wrong—I liked the movie a lot, but there were so many unanswered questions and confusing parts, such as: what was the deal with the handmaiden and the queen decoy thing? All of a sudden, Padmé is the queen and the queen is a decoy, then it's the other way around. Hello? Oh, I won't get into it.

I'd heard good things about the book, so I got the audio tape, only because I like to listen to them in the car. I'd never heard of Alexander Adams, the narrator, so I wasn't sure what to expect. Well, let's just say he's wonderful doing character voices, even the females. He made it sound like there was a cast of thousands. In fact, his imitation of Liam Neeson was dead-on!

As for the story, from the first cassette things were explained and some things added that would have made the movie much easier to understand. These included Anakin's encounter with one of the Sand People, his dreams of things to come, his kindness to the people he knew on Tatooine and how he could fly that Naboo starfighter at the end.

Jar Jar Binks was more annoying in the book version, and I liked him in the movie...OK, I tolerated him. It got so bad that I wanted to slap Alexander Adams' head and tell him to stop talking. Other things that helped to flesh out the story included explorations of how each character thought and felt, Queen Amidala's worries and fears, and more conversations between the characters which led to a better insight into the movie as a whole. What I liked best was that the famous pod race was shortened considerably in the book. In my opinion, it went on far too long in the movie.

I don't want to give too much more away. Suffice to say, getting the audio book or hardcover is definitely worth it. Terry Brooks is a STAR WARS god in my eyes—he knows this universe like he lived in it. Alexander Adams does a superb job of reading the book and has made me a fan of his readings. I can truly say I'm eagerly looking forward to the second movie more than I was before, but I've learned my lesson—I'm going to listen to the audio book or read the book before I see the movie.

J.A. Hitchcock is a regular contributor to ATHENA and the author of seven books.

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