The Essential Reader’s Companion – Is It Right For Me?
To put it bluntly, the Essential Reader’s Companion is the perfect book for ANY Star Wars fan. Painstakingly (and brilliantly) compiled by Pablo Hidalgo, the Companion is 500 pages of reference material focused solely on the Star Wars Expanded Universe novels. The book does touch on The Clone Wars television show and various graphic novels, but its main focus are the books and short stories. It details every story in the EU, providing important characters, a brief summary of the book, and even trivia about the book. The Companion also contains over 150 original pictures of various Star Wars Expanded Universe characters and events – all of them wonderfully stunning. In fact, the Companion uses several different artists, so the artwork feels varied and fresh from start to finish.
So, is the Essential Reader’s Companion right for you? Read on to find out!
I’ve never read a Star Wars book. Would I enjoy this?
With almost 150 novels alone, the Star Wars Expanded Universe is a bit daunting to newcomers. One of the most common questions that potential asked is, “Where should I start reading?” At its very core, the Companion answers this question in spades. The Companion makes it easier than ever for new readers to find a starting point in the Expanded Universe that is right for them. It’s also a nice reference book for those who are curious about the Expanded Universe, but just don’t have the personal time to invest in reading 100+ books. With these detailed summaries, curious fans can become as knowledgeable as lifelong fans in a matter of days or weeks. Aside from the written material, the artwork is also a major selling point to the Companion. Children and adults alike will be drawn to the images in the Companion, which is chock full of them.
I’ve read plenty of Star Wars books. Why would I need this?
If you’re a veteran of the Expanded Universe, the artwork in this book will melt your heart. Seriously, it captures so many memorable action sequences and poignant scenes. There’s something so heartwarming about actually seeing an image from a story you’ve read – and the Companion is absolutely filled with those moments. There’s also the aforementioned trivia, which includes everything from continuity issues that arise in certain books to alternate endings and ideas for various stories. But the most valuable aspect of the Companion to a longtime reader is its summaries. This reference book would have been invaluable during the Legacy of the Force and Fate of the Jedi series, as readers can often forget what transpires between books. With detailed summaries, the Companion makes it easy for fans looking to re-read a book or series to read a few entries of the books before the book they’re going to read, to gain a feel for the era and events that have transpired in the galaxy recently.
Is this book really necessary when we have Wookieepedia?
Whereas Wookieepedia can be updated by anyone, and is available online for free, it’s by no means exhaustive. It’s fan-generated, and runs the risk of having errors in its entries. The Companion, while not immune to errors, is an officially licensed product. When flipping through the Companion, it’s easy to imagine it would retail for $60 – but it doesn’t. In fact, it’s only $30 (and savvy consumers can find it for even cheaper online). Yes, the Companion costs as much as a single hardcover novel. The amount of content in it cannot be overstated. It also contains over 150 original pieces of art, drawn by artists like Jeff Carlisle, Joe Corroney, Brian Rood, Chris Scalf, Darren Tan, and Chris Trevas. For some readers, the beautiful artwork alone will be worth the price. For fans that have the Essential Atlas, the Companion also provides coordinates for each planet it discusses – so fans can look the planets up in the Atlas. The trivia found in the Companion is also brand new, and won’t be found on Wookieepedia. But aside from the trivia and artwork, there’s just something really great about a reference book that is so easy to utilize. It will likely take more time to access Wookieepedia for a summary than to just pull the Companion from a bookshelf and get an expertly detailed summary of every written work of the Expanded Universe.
Does this book include information on books not released yet? Won’t something like this be outdated quickly?
The Essential Reader’s Companion includes information on a few yet-to-be released books, including The Old Republic: Annihilation and Scoundrels. Unlike the summaries for other novels, however, the summary section for the future books only includes a detailed synopsis. Those who are concerned about spoilers won’t have much to worry about, as the stories remain fairly unspoiled. Going forward, however, upcoming books like Crucible and Dawn of the Jedi – Into the Void are not detailed in the Companion. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. The Companion has compiled decades of Expanded Universe stories, and everything detailed in the reference book will still hold true moving into the future. It would be nice to see online supplements continue once a year for the newly published material, but it certainly isn’t needed. The simple fact is that the Essential Reader’s Companion is an immense book that offers fans so much material that they’ll be inundated for weeks reading through it all.
Simply put… the Essential Reader’s Companion is a must-buy for any Star Wars fan.