Skywalker A Family at War (Book Review)

The galaxy’s most influential family gets a historical account in the latest Star Wars book. Chronicling the Skywalker journey from Shmi to Rey, it’s filled with great info and insight.

Recaps for the Star Wars Saga is nothing new. Hell, it seemed we were getting something that summarized all the films as a normal part of the marketing/tie-ins to the NEXT film on the horizon. As such, you might be inclined to look upon Skywalker: A Family at War, with a healthy dose of skepticism.

Written By: Kristen Baver
Published By: DK Books
Release Date: April 6, 2021
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Ostensibly, the book is another recap of the Saga, but focused solely on the family dynamic. So anything extraneous to the Skywalkers is pushed aside to keep the story solely on the events related to various family members.

To be entirely honest, I wasn’t all that “woohoo” to dive into this one as I’ve read a number of these kinds of story recaps over the years. Thankfully, A Family at War manages to set itself apart and stand out as something far more engaging than a simple retread of the story we all know and love.

Many of the recap books over the years have mostly found new ways to tell the same story. Whether it’s from a different character perspective, or to work as a quick summary for different age groups, the general approach is the same. Family at War goes a different route, and it’s 100% the reason it works so well.

Weird as it sounds, considering we’re talking about a franchise involving space wizards, A Family at War reads almost like a history book (a good one, not those boring textbooks). Instead of retelling the events of the story, there’s a more matter-of-fact presentation of the characters and the events surrounding them.

Not only does this give us a new way to read/understand the story, it also allows the book to take bigger leaps in the material; skipping over the bits that aren’t relevant to specific characters. In fact, it comes from the place where it already assumes you’ve seen the movies and doesn’t seek to hit those same points, but rather emphasize the importance of those events to specific characters.

Take the Podrace scene from Episode I for example. It’s been told a number of times (we’ve even played it in games!), but the book here doesn’t seek to try and recapture the visual majesty of the scene. Instead, it treats the event as a simple fact that it happened and puts the focus on the impact in the lives/emotions of the characters both before and after it. Doing it in this way adds more context to an already impactful moment, and is sure to affect my mindset upon the next time I watch the film.

A Family At War takes this approach with many of the Saga’s most explosive moments, but don’t think that means it skips out on the excitement. It still offers plenty of thrilling moments, but since it manages to keep the focus on the historical context (even looping in events that will take place decades later), they hit differently. In some ways it’s like seeing these moments completely fresh as you’re getting references to the entirety of the Skywalker Saga.

To be honest, I’m not sure it’s a style that will work for everyone. For me, however, it’s exactly the kind of perspective I’ve been eager for. It feels like a big lore deep dive and manages to incorporate character moments from material well beyond the films. If you’ve missed out on the comics, other fiction novels, Kristin Baver expertly weaves important details of those events into the story we already know. Considering the wealth of material out there, this is no easy feat, and those elements could have easily overshadowed other points. The concise writing style makes it flow and fit together impressively.

In this way it feels like you’re able to get a more complete “history” even if you’re unable to dive into the vast amount of Star Wars stories available. And that’s not to mention the added benefit of once again being able to rewatch the films with the added context of these moments. Even better, the non-fiction-esque format means each chapter feels like it works independently from one another. So if you want to learn more about a specific moment in the Skywalker history, you’re able to jump right to it.

All in all, I Skywalker: A Family at War delivered in more ways than expected. More than just a simple recap of the films, it manages to incorporate multiple story elements and present them in a fresh way that makes you feel closer to the events of the Saga than ever before. While the history book style might not appeal to everyone, the format felt like something I’ve been wanting for a while in Star Wars. If you enjoy more lore and character dives, this is definitely one to pick up.