Star Wars: On the Front Lines is a military analysis of the major battles within the official Star Wars canon universe, taken from an in-universe perspective. The book is written by long time veteran of Star Wars writing, Daniel Wallace. Daniel Wallace is known to the Star Wars community for his work on many source books within the Star Wars Legends Universe. Source books are basically composites of information about various aspects of the universe such as all of the vehicles, or all of the aliens. So, needless to say, Wallace knows his Star Wars.
Delving into On the Front Lines, the first thing I noticed about the book was how gorgeous the artwork was within the opening pages. It’s as if someone melded comic book art with a stylized anime. I really dug it and I was excited to delve into the book.
The book is laid out like many source books: With pages of narrative interwoven with short bits of informative text based on images of aliens, weapons, vehicles, or something else of a similar ilk. However, this book goes one step further. The book is actually dominated by large, often double page artwork and the pages without artwork plastered all of them have a narrative that flows through the battles. The narrative is set up as if it’s a History Channel documentary looking back at the pivotal battles within a galaxy far, far way. And the tone of voice used actually works. I got into it and I could feel the narrative play out through the battles.
The narrative within the book plays out an in-universe analysis of various battles of The Clone Wars and the Galactic Civil War. The analysis is broken up with some segments that reenact historical documents, some “first hand accounts,” and some biographical entries. One of the things I found interesting was that it appears that it was now common knowledge that Palpatine “played” the galaxy by manufacturing the entire Clone Wars by being in charge of both sides. I had previously assumed that was a bit of information the galaxy at large never learned but it appears that is not the case.
The battles covered within the book are the principle battles seen in all nine movies (including The Clone Wars theatrical movie), one battle from The Clone Wars TV series, and one battle from the books and other material (The Battle of Jakku). So if I have one negative thing to say about this book, it’s the lack of original materia — or at least material outside of the movie realm. The source books and younger kid books love to retell the events of the movies and it gets old after a while, especially if you are like me and try to read all of the books out there, even the kids books. This book presents a novel way of doing it, but I want new information. I loved the small nods to novels, such as the hat-tip to Twilight Company. But other than that, there wasn’t much (except obviously the Battle of Jakku, which is entirely from the non-movie materials).
Overall, the artwork for Stars Wars: On the Front Lines is really good with several pieces being exceptional. The narrative is a unique take on a retelling of the movie battles — one that really works and makes them fun to read through. I just wish there was some more “new” material, or at least more non-movie matieral, placed in there. But definitely worth the read.