Book review: A brilliant glimpse of every lightsaber that matters
"Star Wars: The Lightsaber Collection" by Daniel Wallace; illustrated by Lukasz Liszko and Ryan Valle (Insight Editions)
You never forget your first lightsaber.
Whether you first laid eyes on one on a large movie screen or via HBO in the basement of your grandparents' house, the way I did, the glow of the lightsaber, for so many, is the lure that has reeled countless viewers into the magic of Star Wars.
As far as movie props go, few illuminate a scene quite like the legendary swords of the Jedi and the Sith. Who knew chivalry could look so good in deep space?
The lightsaber's debut in the original Star Wars trilogy sparked a special effects revolution on the big screen. During the more technologically advanced era of "the prequels," fans marveled at the weapon's previously unseen and untapped potential (especially when Darth Maul showed up with a double-bladed lightsaber ready to take on two Jedi at once). Some might argue that a Star Wars story isn't a Star Wars story without them. Even Disney Plus's "The Mandalorian" ended its season finale with the arrival of the Darksaber after spending seven episodes pretending to be too cool for lightsabers.
The new book "Star Wars: The Lightsaber Collection" is a visual-heavy testament to the importance of lightsabers in the Star Wars universe, offering readers a chance to get to know the history of each unique weapon.
Even the book's long, rectangular shape is devised to give the lightsaber its due, with an entire page devoted to displaying the design of each relevant lightsaber in Star Wars history.
When the book is open, each pair of facing pages highlights one lightsaber, with an image of the weapon and its wielder (illustrated by Ryan Valle) on the left-hand side along with short biographies (written by Daniel Wallace) of such Jedi Knight legends as Ahsoka and Anakin Skywalker and the histories of their lightsabers.
"When it first appeared in a trailer for 'Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens,' Kylo Ren's lightsaber sparked a firestorm of fan chatter over the three-way energy split that formed the weapon's main blade and crossguard," Wallace writes of the controversial lightsaber. "The nature of the blade itself also seemed new: more of a spitting, angry crackle than the clean, zero-loss plasma hums of classic lightsabers."
While every left-hand page has an image of a lightsaber when lit -- showcasing the vast array of colors -- the right-hand page features a close-up of the unlit hilt (drawn by Lukasz Liszko), giving readers a view of details not normally seen because, let's face it, they are usually hidden behind two gripped fists.
No corner of Star Wars is left unexplored. If a lightsaber has been deployed in a galaxy far, far away -- from the movies to the "Clone Wars" and "Rebels" animated series to video games and comic books -- it is in this book. Wallace's strong grasp of the mythos of this universe will satisfy the die-hard Star Wars fan and serve as a fine introduction to those taking a first-time dive into one of pop culture's most important creations.