STAR WARS: THE APPROACHING STORM by Alan Dean Foster
Genre: Science Fiction
Place of Purchase: barnesandnoble.com
Reading Began: April 2002
Completed Reading: April 2002
Overall rating: Seven out of ten
Recommendation to others: For Star Wars fans, this is a great read. For anyone wanting to prequel Episode II, this is a good intro. For the general public, I’d have to give it a hesitant recommendation. It really is a genre book.
Why I chose to read this book: The reviews spoke of this book detailing events leading up to Episode II. I also was impressed with Foster authoring it, knowing his reputation with early Star Wars books and his association with George Lucas. I’m pretty sure my reading was also spurred by Hayden Christensen being the older Anakin, and since I’d not been privy to his acting abilities yet, I wanted a sense of who Anakin would be in the film.
Further reading by this author: none at this time… I’m not so much a Foster fan as I am a Star Wars film fan.
Comments: I zipped through this book. Just devoured it. And I loved it! It had much to do with meeting a teenage Anakin for the first time, with envisioning Ewan McGregor in Obi-Wan’s (written) shoes, and with getting a sense of the story that was to come in the next film. Unfortunately, the events in this book have no real bearing on the film, except that some small political nuances had more meaning to me in the film as a result of reading the book. For that, it was helpful.
On its own merit, The Approaching Storm is a good book with a satisfying plot and fine action sequences. I wasn’t prepared for the reading level, though. It seems to be written to a teen audience. Or maybe it’s written at a comic book level? I don’t read comics, so I can’t decide. It just seemed to be filled with short statements, obvious direction, and basic plot levels. Simple, I suppose, is the word I’m looking for. The story was simple, and the characters acted in simple manners. Of course, in films like Star Wars I can accept this simplicity; in a book, I’m usually looking for depth. This book doesn’t go very deep.
Still, all in all, I enjoyed The Approaching Storm. I enjoyed meeting characters I wouldn’t have met otherwise, and I enjoyed getting a bit of introduction to the slightly older Anakin. It didn’t necessarily impact my viewing experience of Episode II, but it didn’t detract from it either. And that’s all I ask in a film-based book.
Favorite Characters: Though I love Obi-Wan Kenobi, he was far outshone by the female Jedi who was his “partner” in the mission set forth in the book. She’s the female pictured on the cover, actually, and she was such an impressive character. Luminara Unduli. What a great name, even! Her strength seemed to come through in the writing, and I was really hoping to see her in the new film. (Alas, you have to look very close to catch only a quick glimpse. During the big end battle. I missed her the first three times I watched the film.) For me, beside Luminara, all of the other characters just paled. Even my beloved Kenobi.
Anakin turned away from his Master to where Luminara had taken center stage. It wasn’t much of a stage, he knew. The lighting was bad, the floor uneven, and one would flatter the audience by calling it unsophisticated, but she approached it as if it were the finest theater on Coruscant. She had spoken several times of feeling the chill carried by the wind that swept over the prairie, and so wore her long robes. …
Luminara closed her eyes for a very long moment. Then she opened them and, kneeling, picked up a handful of sand. Straightening, she let it trickle out from between her fingers. Caught by the wind, the tiny grains formed a glittering whitish arc as they spilled from her hand. When she had emptied her palm, she slapped her hands gently together to brush away any remaining grains.
Some of the Yiwa began to stir. This polite acknowledgment of their environs was something the smallest children of the clan could do for themselves. There was merit in the recognition, but little in the way of enlightenment. Surely there was more to come!
There was. Kneeling again, Luminara picked up a second handful of sand, let it trickle between her fingers. A few muted growls rose from the crowd. A concerned Barriss saw that Anakin was feeling the same confusion and uncertainty as herself. Nearby, Mazong frowned in disapproval. If anything, his advisers were even more discomfited. Only Obi-Wan appeared unworried. That in itself, she knew, was significant of nothing. He always looked that way.
She found herself leaning forward and squinting. There was something different, something odd, about the dribble of sand spilling from her Master’s fingers. It took her a moment to figure out what it was. When she did, despite what she knew of her Master’s capabilities, her mouth opened slightly.
The sand was falling against the wind.
It was just ordinary beach sand, drawn from the shores of the nearby lake, but in the delicate yet strong fingers of the Jedi, it became something magical. The light from the surrounding glowpoles caught the falling grains, turning mica to mirrors and quartz into polished gems. When the last particles had fallen from Luminara’s fingers, they reversed direction. A few hushed cries of “Haja!” rose from the crowd as sand began to fall — upward.
Resembling a fragmented coil of wire, the column of grains began to wind itself around the Jedi, enclosing her in a slowly ascending spiral of sand. Like a serpent being born full grown, another column lifted itself from the ground to entwine her a second time. As the sparkling sand spirals rotated in opposite directions, they splintered into smaller and smaller threads, until Luminara was shrouded in multiple strings composed of shattered, water-worn specks. It was as if she were engulfed by thirty threadlike pillars of dancing diamonds.
She began to twirl, spinning slowly at first, balancing on one foot while the other pushed off and provided thrust. As she pirouetted, the glitter sand spirals responded, half turning with her, the other half rotating in the opposite direction. Though all was accomplished in complete silence, Barriss thought she heard music.
Faster and faster Luminara whirled, racing the rising sand. Centrifugal force threw the hem of her robes away from her legs. The spinning sands backed off accordingly. As she accelerated, her robes rose higher and higher.
A collective gasp erupted from the assembly. A blur of robes and sand, Luminara Unduli rose slightly from the ground. She continued to spin, her feet rising, until she was no more than a hand-length off the ground. Still rotating, she tilted forward, and began to spin and rotate simultaneously, holding her place in the air. It was as unique a demonstration of control over the Force as Barriss had ever seen, and certainly the most breathtaking.
Following her movements, the sand spirals rotated with her, until they formed a near-solid globe of shining, sparkling particles around the almost hidden body. There came a soft puff of air; the sound of a cloud exhaling. Luminara landed on her feet, hands outstretched, feet spread should-width apart. The curtaining sphere of sand that had formed around her fell to the ground. Lowering her arms, she bowed her head once before walking back to rejoin her friends. As she resumed her seat, Obi-Wan inclined slightly in her direction.
“Okay, I’m impressed. How do you feel?”
“Dizzy.” Smiling softly, Luminara blinked several times. Otherwise, she betrayed nothing of what she was feeling internally. Chapter 9, p. 149