Classic Trilogy Perspective, Part 2:
The Empire Strikes Back – So You Want To Be A Jedi?
Continuing our look at this unique trilogy of retellings of the classic trilogy, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back — So You Want to Be a Jedi by Adam Gidwitz, is perhaps one of the more interesting takes of the three. As in Part 1, I will be asking the following questions:
(1) What scenes or elements have been added to the narrative we know from the film?
(2) What knowledge from other canon narratives are part of this tale?
(3) How has this book influenced or altered our understanding of the film?
What is really incredible about this series of books is each one is written with a completely different style, and, of the three, Gidwitz’s Episode V adaptation is perhaps the most unique, in that he places you in the shoes of Luke Skywalker. The entire premise is set up in the introduction, as he frames the book like a Jedi instruction manual. He sets up you, the reader, as wanting to learn to be a Jedi, and instructs you on how to be a Jedi by telling you the story of Luke Skywalker during The Empire Strikes Back. In between each chapter there are exercises for the reader to perform, which are an attempt to get the reader in a mindset about meditation, and give real world associations to the challenges that Luke had to go through, and how strong and disciplined one has to be to be a Jedi.
Now, let us dive in:
What scenes or elements have been added to the narrative we know from the film?
There are a couple of scenes in this book that were not part of the original film, but give us a little extra to enjoy as we think about the film.
While a minor addition, the author shows us a scene where Han returns back to Luke, still in the medical bay, reporting on the appearance and destruction of the Imperial Probe Droid. It is from Han that Luke learns of the evacuation.
The book spends a brief moment describing the character of General Veers, giving a rundown of some of his greatest victories, framing him up to be quite a successful and fearless officer, which stands in stark contrast to his fear as he approaches Vader to tell him that the fleet has come out of hyperspace and an energy field has been detected.
There is quite a bit of time spent with Luke on Dagobah with Yoda. Early on in their encounter, Yoda tells Luke a fable about a king and three brothers. This is a tale Yoda references through Luke’s training on Dagobah. The tale is about living in the moment, placing value in selflessness, and understanding that not everything is as it seems.
The film did its best to demonstrate the passage of time for Luke on Dagobah, but this book really shows us how much training Luke actually went through with Yoda. While it is difficult to say exactly, it does make it feel like a few weeks have passed. We also learn that the ability to see a Force ghost is something one learns through training. It is not until he has trained enough with Yoda that he is able to see Obi-wan manifest himself.
According to the narrator, Boba Fett and Han Solo share some history together. I believe this is the first canon story to actually call that out. He does not go into great detail as to what this history is or the extent of it, but it does imply that there is more of a story there, one that I hope we hear some day.
What knowledge from other canon narratives are part of this tale?
There is very little influence from other canon narratives in this adaptation. One moment that does stand out happens on Dagobah. Shortly after Luke begins his training, Yoda performs the object test, where he holds up an object out sight of Luke, and he has to say what the object is. This is the same test that we saw Mace Windu deliver to Anakin Skywalker in The Phantom Menace.
How has this book influenced or altered our understanding of the film?
More so than anything else, this book gives us a Jedi perspective. What does it take to be a Jedi? While the actual use of the force is a fictional concept, the discipline, both physically and emotionally, to become a Jedi is something that can be relatable. In a very unique way, this novel gives us something to relate to. By putting us in Luke’s shoes and giving us various exercises and hypothetical (and yet understandable) situations to help us train, we gain a sense of the extreme strength of mind and spirit that it takes to be a Jedi.
Have you read The Empire Strikes Back – So You Want To Be A Jedi? Anything you noticed in this adaptation that I did not mention here? Let me know your thoughts by posting in the comments below. You can find my coverage of #starwarscanon stories at my YouTube channel Star Wars: The Canon Explained. I can be found on Twitter (@starwarstce) and Instagram (@starwarstce), and you can also reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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