Have you ever been curious about a certain piece of jewelry in Padme’s wardrobe? Or have you ever been curious about the different types of lightsabers? Or just what type of creature is a Tauntaun, anyway? The Visual Encyclopedia has answers to all of these questions (and hundreds more that you’ve never thought to ask!)
There’s something utterly charming about a book on Star Wars that spends an inordinate amount of time on food. That’s basically what we get with the Visual Encyclopedia from DK. Clocking in at around 200 oversized pages, the Visual Encyclopedia is a lot of fun packed into a big package.
The Encyclopedia is divided in a few sections: Geography, Nature, History, Culture, Science and Technology. These sections are further divided into general categories (such as weapons), and those categories are broken down even further (weapons is expanded into lightsabers, which is further expanded upon in sections like “unorthodox lightsabers”). The level of detail is exhausting, honestly! The amount of work that went into this piece is truly impressive; There are a lot of really extraneous details in this book because of that! But the Encyclopedia makes it fun to learn the details, rather than feeling like a chore.
The back cover boasts of an impressive 2,500 images: a staggering amount. Even though this shouldn’t come as a surprise, the book is understandably dominated by the images. Each section has an introductory paragraph and subsections come with a few sentences. To allow for a plethora of visuals, these little tidbits aren’t very long nor do they contain too many details. For example, under Nature: Wet Habitat Sentients: Plains and Grasslands, an introductory paragraph includes Lurmen, Felucians, and Amani. Each species is described only in a single sentence and the details don’t go much further than what we learned about in their Clone Wars appearances.
This may sound like a knock, but in a lot of ways, that’s okay. This isn’t designed to be a zoological information dump. I’m sure a lot of people would be interested, but that’s for another book. Rather, this book is designed for categorizing literally everything in the galaxy. It may be helpful to learn about Snivvian physiology (Force knows I would read it!), but that’s not the point. Here, we just enjoy the details (and the weirdness!) of Star Wars specisim, such as the fact that Cereans and Quermians are both categorized as “Garden” species.
Where sections on History or Weapons may come up as disappointing for those simply seeking new canon details, the Culture section is just odd, silly, and fun. How many times can you actually say that you’ve, in-depth, explored the clothing of the galaxy? And not just basic forms of clothing: sections follow the clothing of Junior Representatives, Senatorial Aides, Senators, Confederacy Loyalists, and more! Not only do we learn about the clothes that dress the galaxy, but we also learn more about fruits than Rebels ever taught us! Now you no longer need to wonder about the type of fruit Anakin ate on Naboo.
I will state a personal critique: this book is mixed media, but only features a few formats. The images come from the films, The Clone Wars, and Rebels. One of my favorite aspects of the Galactic Atlas was that all of the material from all of the different formats was presented in a single style (hand-drawn). This allowed us to see Evaan, RAE SLOANE, Ezra, Savage, and Kylo Ren all presented with visual consistency. The Encyclopedia operates with different aims, so no one made new illustrations for the book. This is okay, but I’m not a personal fan.
If my description above feels tongue in cheek, I’m not trying to be. The Visual Encyclopedia is a weird beast, in a class of its own. It is fun, but it is not necessary in every collection. I think people of all ages, from kids of any stripe to adults who love Imperial culture, would get a kick out of this book. But I don’t think I can say, universally, that any age group must buy this. What I can say is: check it out! I’m sure you’ll like it, and it is cheap on Amazon. I haven’t been disappointed by it. I also got even a full month of reading out of it, which is very unusual for me. It’s not that I didn’t like it. Rather, there’s so much that it simply took me more time than usual to pour over it. This book could be a lot of fun for a coffee table or for random perusing in your spare time.
Canon Novel Reviews
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Star Wars Young Reader Reviews:
Adventures in Wild Space: The Escape (Prelude)
So You Want to be a Jedi?
Beware the Power of the Dark Side!
Poe Dameron: Flight Log
Backstories: Princess Leia: Royal Rebel
LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures Reviews:
“A Hero Discovered” 1×01 | “The Mines of Gabralla” 1×02 | “Zander’s Joyride” 1×03 | “The Lost Treasure of Cloud City” 1×04 | “Peril on Kashyyyk” 1×05 | “Crossing Paths” 1×06