Book Thoughts: Star Wars Dark Forces: Jedi Knight

Star Wars Dark Forces: Jedi Knight was the third part in a trilogy of novellas written by William C. Dietz and illustrated by Dave Dorman. I originally got this book because I loved the Star Wars Dark Forces series of video games. Both the book series and the game series featured Kyle Katarn as he tried to do his part to topple the Empire. Whenever I was a big fan of a game, I always liked to read the novelization. I could relive the experience of the game but also get more details behind the characters and settings.

Unlike a typical book, Jedi Knight came with 25 high quality illustrations of the events in the story. These were interspersed through the book every few pages. Dave Dorman did an amazing job with these. The characters looked exactly like they did in the game. All the Star Wars stuff looked exactly like the movies. It was top notch. This was good because I found the occasional description of the battles by the author to be confusing. I think I would have needed to memorize some information from other books about lightsaber fighting. The author made several references to lightsaber stances and forms that I didn’t know about. The pictures made up for my lack of knowledge in that area though. They always helped me understand the scene.

William C. Dietz, the author, created some new characters, but unfortunately, they were pretty much left in the dust. A whole chapter of the book was dedicated to a new character that just got killed off later. The other new characters were just never mentioned after the ending. I would have liked a little bit longer conclusion to the book to describe what happened to the characters. However, the author did a great job with the characters from the game. In the game, I could only get a sense of their personalities from the few very short cutscenes, but here I really got to know the motivations for all the characters.

While I liked how closely the story in the book was to the story in the game, I was disappointed that the book didn’t include the whole story from the game. I found out later that the book was part of a trilogy. The story in the first novella, Soldier for the Empire, was a prequel to the game’s story, revealing Kyle Katarn’s Imperial background and what led him to the Rebel Alliance. The story in the last two novellas, Rebel Agent, and this one (Jedi Knight), covered the events of the Jedi Knight video game.

So to get the whole story from the game, I would have had to buy Rebel Agent. It’s too bad they couldn’t include both of those in one book. Rebel Agent did have its own 25 illustrations though. Having two books may have given the author the room he needed to really develop the characters. I am also happy with Jedi Knight that I got the book with the ending. If I only had Rebel Agent, I would have been disappointed when I realized I had to buy another book to read the final conclusion.

Overall, this novella was higher quality than other game novelizations. In addition to the illustrations, the author didn’t mess with the good story that the game had. So many authors seem to do this with game novelizations. It’s very frustrating for fans to get a book and find the author made big changes to things that happened in the game. It was nice to see a book and author that understood what fans wanted. I really enjoyed re-reading this book for these thoughts. I wish Lucasfilm would re-release just the story — no illustrations — in one 300-page novel. I know it would be expensive to print all the illustrations, but I’d be happy with just the plain text story. Better yet, release it exclusively in e-book format to save printing costs.

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