When I was in Middle School, for Christmas, I was given what was one of my most coveted books of my collection - the Star Wars Encyclopedia. It was a tome of Star Wars knowledge, and for someone who was reading the books at a ferocious rate, it was an amazing resource for remembering small details about the Star Wars canon. Unfortunately, upon its release in 1998, the book was put out of date almost immediately with the release of The Phantom Menace, the first of the prequel trilogy, and along with that, a major book series, The New Jedi Order (NJO) and as the Star Wars franchise churned out more and more books, cartoons, comic books and other media, the first version fell horribly out of date. It still remains a fairly good resource for what had been published up until 1998.
Now, ten years later, Del Rey has published another, far more extensive version of the Star Wars encyclopedia. While the first volume came in at around 350 pages (pretty much the same page count of one of the novels) this new version weighs in at not one, but three volumes, each with the same amount of content as the first version, covering not only the new material, but material which has only recently been released to the public. There is information that falls right up to the currently running Clone Wars television series, in addition to the three prequel movies, the Clone Wars franchise, New Jedi Order, Legacy of the Force and the countless comic series and standalone novels that have been released since then. This book is a welcome addition to the Star Wars books out there, and I'm astounded as the amount of information that has been added in the past decade.
Compared to the first volume, this is a far superior work, and certainly a staple for anyone who's read the books extensively. By this point, I have a difficult time keeping some of the books separate from one another, because of the sheer amount of information, but also because I no longer re-read every single book multiple times. (Hopefully, someday, I'll get around to reading everything chronologically. Probably when I retire, or win the lottery...) The biggest drawback in the new volume was an incredibly handy feature in the first book, and that was a source citation at the end of each entry, such as [TTT] [SOTE] [ANH], which would represent the source material from which the entry was drawn from. This book doesn't have a system like that, and at times, that could be a problem, especially when it comes to the really minor details, characters, ships and things like that.
Reading the entries, I was brought back to when I first had the book, when I was really into the franchise. (I've cooled somewhat on the entire thing, and am no longer the rapid fan that I once was. Let's ignore the part where I have Storm Trooper armor for that argument). During high school, I read a lot, usually finishing a book in a day or two, depending on the author and writing style. I picked up Star Wars books as they came out, and over a couple years, I had read pretty much everything published, and eagerly awaited the release of the new books. During the times that I waited for new books, I spent a lot of time in the school library, talking to other fans via TheForce.net's message boards, which still maintains a lively literature discussion area. I don't post there very often, except to post the occasional review, because the climate there has become very different from what I liked and enjoyed. Since high school and college, I've not kept up with the Star Wars books to the same extent that I used to. I currently have seven or eight books on my to read shelf, from ones that I've just not have the time, or made a priority. At some point, I'll get to them, if anything, to see what has been happening. This encyclopedia will certainly help me keep track of some of the details as I catch up, especially with the larger series.
While the Star Wars universe has really changed over the last ten or so years, with the release of the three new movies, a couple major book series, paging through the pages of these three volumes really put me back in one of the library chairs where I read, a powerful nostalgia trip, which I missed. It's just one of many things that makes me even more resolved to lock away my DVDs and pick up more books. If there's anything I regret over the past couple of years, it's not making the time to really read more.