Star Wars: The Visual Encyclopedia
Believe it or not, the realm of Star Wars reference books is quite crowded. There have been visual dictionaries, character encyclopedias, art of and making of books for all of the various films and even some of the television series. When it comes to the reference books, DK Books is one of the key publishers in the field. But with so many guide books out there already, it becomes harder and harder to stand apart. While each new movie and season of an animated show provides more content to cover, there are limits on how many times you can update an existing format before the market becomes saturated. The interesting thing is how Star Wars: The Visual Encyclopedia actually manages to stand apart and accomplish something different from all the books that have come before.
First off, Star Wars: The Visual Encyclopedia achieves a lot with the keyword “visual.” There is a lot of content in this book, and while there is some written content, 80% of the value of this book is easily in the pictures. Flipping through it, most of the words are just labels for the pictures. This isn’t a book you’ll spend nights reading, nor is it a book you’ll read cover-to-cover. However, you will find yourself flipping through the pages and devouring the pictures cover-to-cover. While that could be a problem with some books, in this case, it allows The Visual Encyclopedia to shine. The imagery is the focus. And more than that, the organization of the imagery makes this book invaluable.
Have you ever wondered what kind of food there is in Star Wars? Perhaps you’ve looked it up on Wookieepedia. The results aren’t all that satisfying. You’ll find a list of a bunch of names that don’t make sense to you and you’ll quickly be jumping page to page just to get a handle on what’s out there. With The Visual Encyclopedia, simply turn to page 110. There you will find four pages of food, all wonderfully photographed and neatly labeled for your convenience. It’s even categorized into different types of foods: animal produce, fruits and fungi, street food, baked food, etc. Plus the pictures aren’t just scenes from the films but are often isolated close-ups of the props which gives readers an unprecedented look at what was often impossible to see in the movies and television shows. But it doesn’t stop with food, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There’s luggage, astromech droids, clothing, binoculars, lightsabers and starfighters. From the things you’d expect to see, to things you never dreamt would be given page space in a book, this thing has it all.
Some of the most outstanding displays are perhaps the things you’d expect to see in a Star Wars reference book, like helmets and blasters. Yet unlike previous books, this one groups all those things together. It’s one thing to see a page that shows a key character and their equipment exploded off into detailed views so you can examine each item. It’s an entirely different thing when you can flip through pages of helmets, all awesomely displayed side-by-side in all their glory. Looking through the arsenal of Star Wars weapons all neatly organized by type and category, and laid out next to each other, is quite the thing to behold. Then there’s the clothing section showing casual clothes, religious robes and funeral wear. There’s sections on furniture, art even interior design. They even have a focus on tattoos showing all the ink of the galaxy far far away.
But there’s more. Taking full advantage of this visual focus and highly organized look at Star Wars, the book has a guide for species, for characters broken down by factions, for starfighters, vehicles and all the various types of droids. There’s a section on languages which has various alien phrases with their translations and entire alphabets. There’s flags, locations, a timeline, creatures and even maps and planets. There is quite literally a little bit of everything, from health and safety tools to repair equipment. For a Star Wars fan, it’s a visual splendor.
Now having all these images organized by type, function and category is great, but it can lose it’s value if you can’t find a specific thing you’re looking for. Thankfully, The Visual Encyclopedia makes that a not so insurmountable task. The table of contents is broken down into geography, nature, history, culture, science and technology. Under each of those headings is a long list of topics with their corresponding page number. From the map of the galaxy on page 10 to tanks on page 193, it makes finding categories easy. Furthermore, there’s a super handy index in the back which lists all the items by name and which page they’re on. Need to find a Togruta? Check page 39. Need jewelry? Page 98. While not perfect, it’s extremely useful.
Star Wars reference books can be a niche thing for a very specific audience, but sometimes they cross all genres and interest with how useful and fun they can be. With Star Wars: The Visual Encyclopedia, they not only capture a great visual treasure trove of information, but inspire fans to explore Star Wars like never before. Before you know it, you might find yourself pondering over the different designs of Star Wars belts, the peculiar array of lighting, or the primitive yet otherworldliness of alien knives. With it’s easy to find format and pleasing assortment of pictures, The Visual Encyclopedia pulls off something new and worthwhile in the world of Star Wars books. This is definitely one you’ll want to check out and I give it a five out of five metal bikinis.
Reviewed By: Skuldren for Roqoo Depot.