Delilah Dawson’s The Skywalker Saga is a well-written storybook suffering from an identity crisis

Daisy Ridley is Rey and Adam Driver is Kylo Ren in STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER
Daisy Ridley is Rey and Adam Driver is Kylo Ren in STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER /

A Star Wars storybook that chronicles the entirety of the Skywalker saga was a good idea that failed to reach its intended audience.

When it was announced Delilah Dawson would be publishing two Star Wars books in the same year, fans were intrigued. She is known among fans of the expanded universe as a brilliant storyteller, and one of her original characters is now one of the major faces at Galaxy’s Edge.

Unfortunately, her second book of the year, The Skywalker Saga, didn’t quite deliver on its vague promises.

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The Skywalker Saga is a storybook that separates eight of the nine saga films into their own respective chapters. The book is meant to read like a children’s story, quickly and simply moving through the events of each chapter for added enjoyment and magic to bedtime.

Instead of enjoyment and magic, though, chances are it would just result in a headache.

Dawson is an excellent writer, and it clearly shows through her prose how much work and dedication went into condensing over 40 years’ worth of story into several hundred pages. It’s not the fault of the author that this book suffers. Rather, flaws in both the idea and its execution — especially in terms of its marketing — shadowed an otherwise well-written and worthwhile book.

Even from the start, it was largely unclear who this book was made for. At first we thought it was a book for adults briefly summarizing the entirety of the saga we all knew and loved … which is almost what it turned out to be in the end, in several ways.

Then we learned that The Skywalker Saga was a storybook, the kind parents read to their children as they fall asleep at night. At least, that was what we were led to believe.

Right out of the box, it became clear that The Skywalker Saga was both and neither of these things simultaneously — and here begins the fatal flaws that have held many Star Wars fans back from recommending it to family and friends.

Let’s start with the book’s size. It’s large — larger in both width and height than a novel, though probably similar to what you would expect from a children’s storybook. But here’s one problem with that: It also weighs a ton, much too heavy for a child to hold. It’s over 300 pages. That doesn’t fit the typical range of a classic storybook.

This might not seem like a huge deal to an adult Star Wars fan curious about Dawson’s third venture into Star Wars literature (she previously wrote Phasma and Black Spire). But consider what a parent of a young child might think if they saw this monster of a book sitting on a shelf among others catered toward younglings.

“This book is huge! Why would I buy that for my 5-year-old?”

Speaking of 5-year-olds (hey, they love stories, let’s give them all the stories), they’re the youngest in the age range Amazon recommends this book for. Curiously, the website claims the book’s reading level is for 5 to 9-year-olds, but the recommended age range is 8 to 12. So … most of the kids who it’s recommended for are technically too old for it?

Reading even just the first few pages of The Phantom Menace — the first chapter in the book — Amazon’s age recommendations on both fronts almost make sense. Almost.

As I’ve very carefully stated, Dawson’s writing itself isn’t where the issue lies. The biggest problem is the alarmingly fast pacing of each story, especially if you consider a member of this book’s intended target audience trying to listen to it at bedtime.

This book’s main purpose is to summarize the events of each saga film in as few words as possible. So even though those who have seen the movies dozens of times won’t have any trouble comprehending what’s happening, someone new to the saga would have no idea what was going on at any point throughout the entire book. Most details are left out. Dialogue and sentences are short and simple. Appropriate for a child in reading level, sure, but likely impossible to comprehend.

So as it may have seemed upon advertisement, this is not a book a parent can easily use to introduce their child to Star Wars for the first time. MAYBE reading one story at a time after watching the movie it summarizes would work. But it’s … a lot.

From a marketing standpoint, it makes sense why a book like this found its way into the world in 2019. Disney and Lucasfilm built up as much hype as they possibly could for the end of the Skywalker saga. The idea behind this storybook was a fine one — produce a storybook that combines all previous stories into one.

But it just didn’t work. Each story moved too fast. And if you’re going to title a storybook The Skywalker Saga, don’t you think the final story in the saga should be a part of it? (The book was released before the movie, so The Rise of Skywalker did not get its own story in the book.)

This concept could have worked. But maybe instead of releasing it all in one volume, they could have made each part of the saga its own book, and promoted each as a collectible part of a series. This would have allowed space for less concise storytelling — books still made for kids, but much easier to follow story-wise.

They could have released one of these stories as its own beautiful hardcover book each month leading up to the film’s release. And they could have released the final part of the saga as its own edition to complete the collection the day the movie came out.

Sure, they had their reasons for doing this the way they did. It’s disappointing that such a good idea fell so flat, especially considering Dawson’s stellar history with Star Wars publishing.

This won’t hurt her future in the franchise by any means — this was not her fault. But it ended up being a project that didn’t produce the results it intended to, and that’s hard to swallow.

Do I regret purchasing this book? Absolutely not. It’s unmistakeably gorgeous between its cover, glossy pages, and breathtaking artwork.

It is currently nestled comfortably among the Star Wars reference books on my bookshelf. Why there? Because it is, in its simplest form, an overview of the content expanded upon in the novels on the shelves above it. It’s a story we have heard before. But it highlights its most significant and memorable moments — and that is what makes it worth having.

Besides, it really would look good on a coffee table, as long as your home is free of small children or furry creatures that might treat it with undeserved disrespect.

If you were considering purchasing this book as a gift for a youngling in your life, you might be better off going with any of the other Star Wars books catered to younger audiences. But if you want it for yourself, whether to flip through and enjoy, display on your shelf, or just complete your canon collection as it stands, it’s worth it. Who knows? Maybe this book really was made for us, and we just weren’t told.

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Did you pick up a copy of this book when it came out? Do you think it’s worth keeping on your coffee table?