Do the Clones really attack? Well, I guess they do, but it’s more like saving the Jedi from getting their asses handed to them than attacking!
Cover Art By: Steven D. Anderson & David Stevenson
Written By: R.A. Salvatore
It’s always tough to judge a novel based on a movie, or vice-versa, against the source material it is based on. That’s why I try to judge the art on its own merit and within its own medium. For the most part I stick to my guns and am able to do this without any problems. However in the case of Attack Of The Clones there will be some comparison made to the movie simply because the true strengths of Attack Of The Clones lay in the areas where it expands upon the movie. There won’t be many instances of comparison, at least hopefully there won’t be, but the real question remains, how does Attack Of The Clones stack up within the Star Wars mythos?
Answering that question isn’t easy, Attack Of The Clones has certain areas where it is quite a strong production, It also has areas where it comes up short and feels like less of a professional novel and more of a fan fiction. As has sadly become the case the areas where the novel is at its worst appear to be directly influenced by George Lucas himself, yet another reason why I wish he would just go away and leave Star Wars alone. Ruin the Indiana Jones franchise George, I could care less about that one.
With that tangent out of the way let’s get into the real strength of Attack Of The Clones, the depth given to Padmé and the budding relationship between her and Anakin. This is an area where a comparison is needed, because while the movie got the basic skeleton of their relationship across the novel truly gets into what makes their relationship work. Padmé isn’t just a receptacle for Anakin’s angst and feelings, she is a fully functioning person, with her own fears and reservations about the relationship. Reservations that we get to read play out and gradually turn into love. Compared with the movie this allows their love story to feel more real and its ultimate completion to make much more sense, especially from Padmé’s perspective.
The novel never really loses its way but it does have more than a few instances where it momentarily becomes lost. At the start of the novel there is a bit of a gaffe with the inner monologue given to Captain Typho. He knows that Padmé isn’t on her starship as it lands on Coruscant, yet he inner monologues as if she is. Later there is the obviously Lucas influenced series of hyjinx involving C-3PO. That entire series of events makes not one lick of sense, and is especially grating on the ole noggin when we are expected to believe that none of the Geonosians in charge of the droids would realize that C-3PO isn’t a battle droid.
And now, it’s everyone’s favorite time, philosophical musings on Star Wars,
I like that Salvatore touches on Count Dooku’s political beliefs and his disenfranchisement with the Jedi’s involvement in said politics. Whether they realized it or not the Jedi were propping up the corruption found in the Republic, and Dooku’s beliefs are darn valid when you stop to think about them. He may have been twisted by his allegiance to the Sith, but the root of his political beliefs remain something I can get behind.
There’s something to be said for Anakin’s comment that “If Master Obi-Wan were here, he’d be very grumpy,” while he uses the Force to play with a piece of fruit. The Force remains a great mystery to the Jedi, yet they place so many restrictions on its usage. They don’t treat the Force like the wonderful and amazing entity it is, but rather like a burdensome tool or like a piece of fragile China that will crack if you do anything other than treat it with reverence.
A couple of plot points are brought up in Attack Of The Clones that have never jived with me. The first is the idea of the Jedi’s ability to use the Force diminishing because of the return of the Sith. This idea isn’t exclusive to Attack Of The Clones, but it’s an idea that never makes any sense whenever it is brought up. No matter how you slice it the Sith have always been around, so why now all of a sudden would the Jedi’s ability to use the Force start to diminish? It’s a point that was probably introduced because it sounded cool, but it never works.
The other point is that of Anakin’s time as a slave. I understand that Salvatore is following the mandate that Anakin had a rough life as a slave anytime he references his slavery. However as I have been adamant about before the way they portrayed Anakin as a slave was a joke. He lived like a normal person and not a slave, so anytime Salvatore refers to his slavery as this grueling period in his life it feels false.
There are only two Star Wars movie adaptations that I feel are better than the movies they are based on, and Attack Of The Clones is one of those novels. It has its faults, such as an ending that feels rushed, but it adds much needed depth to a relationship, love story and characters that needed said depth. You can do better than Attack Of The Clones, but that doesn’t mean it is a novel you should avoid. Attack Of The Clones is an enjoyable read and an adaptation that is worth a look.