BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A handbook from the Jedi Order, revealing much about the cornerstone of the Star Wars saga.
PROS: A fascinating look at one of the foundations of the Star Wars Universe.
CONS: The $100 price tag for a 180 page book is a real deterrent for the casual fan.
Let’s get one thing straight from the start: This is not a book. This is a toy with a book inside. That is the first thing that I could think of when I reviewed the book in the mail. After extracting it from its package, I was confronted by a large plastic box. Upon pushing the button, the reader is greeted with a hiss, lights and two doors that slide open automatically, while the book rises out. The only thing that is missing is a small puff of smoke or steam. Within this box is a small book, The Jedi Path, which in and of itself is a worthwhile read.
Set up as a sort of textbook, The Jedi Path is an artifact of the Star Wars universe, one that could have been held by various notable members of the Jedi Order: Yoda, Thame Cerulian, Count Dooku, Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, Ahsoka Tano, Darth Sidious/Emperor Palpatine and Luke Skywalker all make their own appearances in the form of handwritten notes in the margins, which add some insight into their characters and the text of the book. Like all used textbooks, such notes certainly add a level of character to the volume.
The Jedi Path covers a lot of ground, looking at the evolution of an Old Republic Jedi and moving up through the ranks from learner to Padawan to Knight to Master. Along the way, the basics of what makes up a Jedi (as seen in the various Star Wars entries) are covered in brief detail, from lightsaber training to basic philosophies in how the Jedi interprets their role in the galaxy. The entire book is a fun info-dump, one that acts both as textbook and a signpost for those learning to become a Jedi Knight. Author Daniel Wallace does a remarkable job jumping between entries, as each section is written by a different figure within the Jedi Order, and each one has their own unique voice. The information is readable, interesting and engaging, and a different style of fiction altogether.
Particularly interesting sections highlight the history of the Jedi Order (Something that Wallace has long demonstrated a strength in, with his work on the Essential Guides – particularly the Essential Chronology), and those sections, covering the Sith Wars, are all too brief snapshots of the multitude of stories that exist within the Star Wars universe. Fans of the expanded universe might find these sections redundant, but for readers such as myself, who’ve fallen out of the habit of reading each Star Wars book to be released, I found them interesting, and I’ve been moved to pick up some of the books that I’ve not read in a while to refresh my memory.
Throughout the volume, small, handwritten notes from various figures are etched in the margins. At times annoying, superficial and in the way, they’ve provided some interesting insights into how some of the main characters, particularly Luke Skywalker, thought and looked back on the history of the Jedi.
There are some drawbacks to this volume, problems that I have with the Star Wars universe as a whole. The book, a publication of the Jedi, is incredibly one sided in the interpretations of how the Jedi function throughout the galaxy, and more than once, while reading or watching something from George Lucas’s world, I’ve found myself annoyed at the simple, single-minded outlook that most people tend to view the Jedi through: like any organization within a major government, there are complicated issues that would be at play, and even should they not be explicitly mentioned, their awareness and impact should be recognized. The Jedi Philosophies themselves hold up flimsily to any examination of life and its nature, and this book sheds very little insight into this, as I’d hoped when I’d first heard about it.
The other major drawback to this is the price tag. Coming in at around $100, the packaged deal is a ridiculous one with its electric doors and lights, and I’m more inclined to view this as a toy, rather than a book in the Star Wars universe. The price puts it out of reach of most Star Wars fans (while earlier volumes that were similarly priced, such as the Star Wars Encyclopedia, were more reasonable for the content), and for the money that someone is spending for the book inside, it’s not a good deal by any stretch of the imagination. Hopefully, the book will be repackaged at some point: just the book, without the box, (or vault), the trinkets in the pages, and I can imagine that this would be a worthwhile book to for the average fan or Jedi devotee to pick up.