As a whole, the Prequel Trilogy is my favourite one. I think it’s the most coherent as a trilogy because for better or worse, it’s one guy’s vision, one singular story, it was planned out start to finish and it shows. But with any story that comes out in multiple parts, we’re bound to have a least favourite and Attack of the Clones is my least favourite prequel.
That’s not to say that I don’t really like the movie. I do! I think the mystery stuff with Obi-Wan is great, I think it does a great job at showing the excitement – and yes, the tragedy – of Anakin and Padmé’s romance. But other things, I found less exciting, like the three separate chase/action scenes – one for each act! – that all drag on just a touch too long, and none of them are the kind of drawn out acrobatic lightsaber duel that came to define the prequel era.
But we’re not here to talk about the movie! No, we’re here to talk about the novelization. Which I enjoyed a lot more than I remembered and a lot more than I thought I would. Let’s dive into Attack of the Clones by R. A. Salvatore.
Parts I Enjoyed
One thing that this novel does well overall is adding more time with characters who didn’t get it in the movies. This is something a lot of people praise The Clone Wars for, and while I don’t think you need that show for the prequels to be good in retrospect, I do see the temptation to have more added context for your favourite characters. Two instances of this added context stuck out to me, and made me wish they’d made it into the movie.
The first is the extra scenes we get with Padmé and her family. These scenes were actually shot – most of them anyway – and can be seen in the special features for the movie. But there is one near the start of the book that wasn’t ever filmed, at least not to my memory. In these scenes, we see Padmé with her parents, and with her sister, while they express concern for her safety amid the assassination attempts. Her sister Sola also expresses a concern of another kind: that Padmé is so bogged down in the wants and needs of the galaxy that she isn’t considering her own wants and needs. I can’t explain why, exactly, but it makes perfect sense to me that someone who is so caught up in her responsibilities to others would fall hard and fast the second she lets herself consider the possibility. Maybe it reminds me of me? Oops.
The other “added context” scenes I really liked were the ones between Jango and Boba Fett. As a new Boba Fett fan, and as someone who really likes character focused scenes, I really latched on to any part of this book that showed the relationship between this father and son. For all that Jango’s training him to be a bounty hunter, I think this might actually be one of the healthier main character parent-child relationships we see? Like there is a genuine sense of attachment, and the sense that they actually love each other? Radical, I know. Also, as sad as the scene with little Boba finding his dad’s helmet is in the movie, I feel like it’s so much worse in the book purely because you’ve spent a bit more time with them, and you really feel what it is Boba has lost.
Part I Disliked
OK so, this is going to sound really bad but bear with me. I don’t like all the additional scenes of Shmi that we get.
Please don’t misunderstand me, I absolutely feel that we need more Shmi Skywalker in general. Kristen Baver’s wonderful Skywalker: A Family At War really gives Shmi her due, and I’ll take more if I can get it. So now let me explain.
Most of the scenes of Shmi we get are sweet. They’re all of her with the Lars family – her husband Cliegg, his son Owen and Owen’s girlfriend Beru. There’s a couple of her with the Tuskens that are horrifically violent and almost serve to justify (or at least rationalize) why Anakin does what he does? I don’t love it, but I get it.
But it’s actually the scenes with Cliegg and co. that I don’t really like. As I got older, I couldn’t help but feel a little weird about Shmi being purchased by a man then subsequently freed for matrimonial purposes. I don’t know, it’s a little bit of a weird vibe. And it’s weird in the book too. All the scenes are meant to be an idyllic family life, but they’re tinged with unease, at least for me. For all that Shmi says she loves them, I never really got that impression. And that’s fine I suppose, but it made things worse for me in retrospect. I wish it hadn’t been in there. Give me the freedom to imagine what her home life was like, in stead of confirming it was every bit as awkward and strained as that situation would indicate.
The action scenes were kept relatively short, actually. Bless.
I did kinda get into it above, but R.A. Salvatore really went that extra mile to give us Hot Dad Jango Fett. Thank you for this gift.
Going back to what I mentioned in the Phantom Menace review about novelizations coming out before the movie. There are so many additional character moments in this that aren’t in the movie. Already starting to see that trend of some members in the audience having a lot more additional context for things than other members do. Granted, I know between a movie and a novelization, the movie takes canonical precedence, but it’s interesting to note that this is an old “problem”.