A history lesson that’s short on excitement and big on plot description!
Art By: Mark Chiarello, Tommy Lee Edwards, & John Van Fleet
Written By: Kevin J. Anderson & Daniel Wallace
“Mara Jade insisted that she was no teacher and spent little time on the jungle moon, even when her husband returned to the praxeum to address his students.” – Voren Na’al
I’m happy to say that Daniel Wallace’s later efforts as far as the Essential guidebooks go are far superior to The New Essential Chronology. My biggest issue with The New Essential Chronology was how droll and like a textbook the book ended up being. I struggled mightily to get through parts of The New Essential Chronology because plot descriptions as narrative did not entice me to keep reading. And for all its bells and whistles The New Essential Chronology is at its core a series of basic plot descriptions.
My lack of enthusiasm for the text was compounded by my frustration with the art. I’ve previously voiced my lack of fandom for Tommy Lee Edwards’ art style. The New Essential Chronology is more of the same from Mr. Edwards. His pictures lack definition and are too muddied and murky for my liking. It was frustrating to see a portrait of a character like Tsavong Lah and have it be such a lackluster rendition. Mark Chiarello and John Van Fleet were better, but I still found their artwork lacking in terms of wowing me. A major aspect of the Essential guidebooks as they have advanced has been the ability of the portraits to wow me with their ability to give a definitive image of a character, battle, or landscape. The New Essential Chronology is bereft of artwork that wows, and fails to deliver images that are of a high enough quality to be considered definitive.
I was able to easily overlook mistakes in the dates, continuity errors, and printing mishaps. And, being the Star Wars nut that I am I found myself able to move forward with the book even when it began to bog down in its plot descriptions. That being said, The New Essential Chronology is a mediocre and lackluster effort from all involved. I need more than plot description in my Essential guides, and luckily later Essential guides would provide so much more than mere plot description. It’s a passable effort, (and it did provide quotes like the one above that do provide more fuel for my anti-Mara Jade fire) but I know that Mr. Wallace is capable of so much more and that’s why ultimately I found The New Essential Chronology wanting.