Star Wars: The Force Unleased by Sean Williams
Despite this book and the game on which it is based being available for a while now, I'm going to avoid any major spoilers if I can on the off chance that you the reader are coming fresh to the story.
The Force Unleashed was the Lucas empires latest cross media event - a major story told in different forms (game, comic, novelisation) that bridges the gap between films. In this case bridging the gap between the prequel and original trilogies.
This is not the first time that this has been attempted in the Star Wars Universe. Shadows of The Empire was a much more successful attempt, largely because the story was adapted to fit the medium it was being delivered in whilst maintaining the core spine of the shared narrative. The Force Unleashed however sticks doggedly to the game upon which it is based and this is a mistake. I'm sure the idea was to create a more cohesive and continuity friendly narrative, but it ultimately ties Williams down to an episodic narrative structure and many long scenes of blowing stuff up with the force which just isn't as fun on the page.
Without Sam Witwer's nuanced and engaging performance the Secret Apprentice comes across as distant and a little dull. Williams' has far more affinity for the female lead Juno Eclipse whom he enjoys expanding upon and investigating as a character.
Sean Williams has chosen to leave Starkiller as a relatively blank canvas - whereas in the game this is fine, allowing the players actions to give depth to the character, we read novelisations to find new insights that the game could not convey. Although we do get to see more of Starkiller's thoughts and feelings as the book goes on it would have been nice to know a bit earlier why it is we should care about the apprentice's journey.
The first act of the novel rushes from action sequence to action sequence and, although we later see the effects of these early actions, the story doesn't really get interesting until around the 100 page mark and the story takes his first big turn. The novel still keeps quite an episodic pace, but suddenly Williams starts to take an interest in Starkillers new conflicts and inner turmoil and, in turn, so do we.
Apart from one major incident and the order of a couple of events the book doesn't massively deviate from what we see in game. However, I must say that the one major change from events as depicted in the game is actually an improvement on that aspect of the story. Williams also manages to incorporate elements from the games downloadable content into the events that unfold on the Wookiee homeworld.
I would have preferred to see more insight into the other characters who come across as fairly two dimensional. This would also have given a nice change of pace to the long battle sequences. The fight on Cloud City as told by a blinded General Kota or the fight between Maris Brood and Starkiller as told by her captive would have been interesting. It would also help to explain how Kota manages to get separated from Starkiller and still arrive at the right place at the end of the chapter. There are one or two details like that which get lost in the fray sometimes.
That’s not to say its all negative. There are fun character moments especially the interactions between Starkiller and PROXY or Starkiller and Kota and some of Williams descriptions of the apprentice's interactions with the force are very well written.
Ultimately what should have been an essential part of the Star Wars Saga makes an average novel. If you've played the game you'll not find much new here but if you've not then there are some interesting plot points that you may enjoy.
This Star Wars: The Force Unleased book review was written by Sean Mason
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