by Alan Dean Foster
The Approaching Storm
Del Ray, February, 2002.
Hardcover, 344 pages.
Bestselling author Alan Dean Foster takes the reins in this exceedingly well-written book which spans the bridge between the feature films Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace and the upcoming second installment, Star Wars: Episode II -- Attack of the Clones. Since the events of The Phantom Menace, the Republic continues its downhill slide into anarchy, and the Jedi are in demand more than ever to help the government maintain some kind of order. The Approaching Storm tells the story of Anakin Skywalker's and Obi-Wan Kenobi's mission on the world Ansion, which occurs just before Episode II opens.
The planet Ansion is small, but strategically important. There are those in the Senate who would find it advantageous to have Ansion secede from the Republic. The world has two main political groups: the city dwellers and the Alwari, the nomads of the desert. The city dwellers want to expand into the prairies around the cities, and are willing to secede if their demands are not met. Secession could start a chain reaction which would destroy the Republic. The Jedi Council sends Jedi Knights Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luminara Unduli to the planet to ensure that it does not secede. Padawans Anakin Skywalker and Barriss Offee accompany their Jedi Masters. The Jedi must set out across the plains of Ansion, find the Alwari, obtain a treaty and evade a mysterious enemy who is determined that their near-impossible mission will fail.
The Approaching Storm is the perfect prologue for Episode II. George Lucas asked critically-acclaimed author Alan Dean Foster to write The Approaching Storm in order to explain the politics of the Republic which are a crucial part of the backstory for the upcoming film. Mr. Foster has done an excellent job. The setting has almost an Old West feel, as the Jedi Masters and their Padawans set out on their quest, camping out under the stars at night and facing dangerous adventures by day. Especially compelling is the chance to listen in on Anakin's turbulent thought processes. A talented, but troubled young man, Anakin's bursts of impetuousness and rage are a grim foreshadowing of his future as Darth Vader. The focus of the book is the examination of the character of the four Jedi knights, although they certainly see their share of hand to hand combat. With his literate prose and deft hand at characterization, Alan Dean Foster has created a memorable and fascinating addition to the Star Wars universe.
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This review was published in the April, 2002 of The Internet Writing Journal.
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