Yeah, I’m a Star Wars geek—I’m not afraid to admit it. A few years back when my wife was pregnant with our second child, I had already decided to name the baby Luke if it was a boy just so that I could always say to him, “Luke, I am your father.” (But as fate would have it, we had another girl—and my wife wasn’t exactly thrilled with the name Padmé Amidala Allen...)
I’m closing in on 50 now and look like a bald Wookiee but I still revel like a kid in the ever-expanding Star Wars mythos. It’s downright breathtaking when you realize how many new novels (and new merchandise) are still being released. I particularly enjoy this time of year when the inundation of holiday books starts hitting the shelves. Every year, it seems, brings a new bumper crop of cool Star Wars books, calendars, toys, etc.—but this year brings something a cut above of the rest.
I can’t adequately describe the joyous experience of opening this product for the first time... The mechanized vault is approx. 9.5” by 12”—it’s about the size of a meaty, oversized hardcover—and when you push the button located at the bottom of the vault, two doors slowly lift and separate (to some cool Star Wars sound effects) and a platform rises up to reveal The Jedi Path, bathed in blue light! (Detailed pictures are below.)
Okay, the packaging is simply amazing and all of the artifacts are interesting but what about the actual book?
According to a note written by Luke Skywalker placed in the beginning of the book, The Jedi Path is “one of the most amazing discoveries made since the opening of the new Jedi Academy. It was found among the artifacts recently acquired from a Squib salvage scow near the ruins of Byss… this heavily worn manual is a tangible echo of a time long lost.”
Featuring an abundance of illustrations, this is essentially an ancient text book for the aspiring Jedi Knight, with sections detailing the Jedi Code and its history, the Prophecy of the Chosen One (those pages have been mysteriously ripped out—someone’s trying to suppress the prophecy!), and detailed instruction for the Jedi initiate, the Padawan, and the Jedi Knight.
Another fascinating element to The Jedi Path is the hand-written comments scrawled along the sides of the pages by previous possessors of the manual, which include Yoda, Thame Cerulian, Dooku, Anakin Skywalker and Darth Sidious! In the section about the history of the Jedi Order, for example, Yoda has written “Updated, this section should be” and underneath that, Dooku has scribbled in, “So update it, old one!”
I have always been drawn to the philosophical element of the Jedi Order and The Jedi Path is replete with values, theories, and contemplation. The Three Pillars of the Jedi—Force, Knowledge, and Self-Discipline—are explored in depth, as are the five core precepts of the Code:
• There is no emotion, there is peace.
• There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.
• There is no passion, there is serenity.
• There is no chaos, there is harmony.
• There is no death, there is the Force.
The entire book has a sagacious tone to it. Here are a few examples:
“The Force is a mountain rising from the water—the dark side is merely the submerged, scum-covered underside. If you choose to dive, the slime will trap and drown you.”
“The Jedi know that greatness can only be won through humbling oneself. The Sith settle for quick-and-easy power by sinking deep into their emotions…”
“We Jedi are blessed with the gift of swimming in the Force in our every moment—breathing it, tasting it, riding its currents to our unique destinies.”
There is so much here: a galactic bestiary, the construction and use of lightsabers, fighting forms, Jedi sense abilities, advanced cultures and politics in the Republic, the Jedi trials, advanced lightsaber techniques, the history of the Sith, information about the Second Great Schism and the Final War, and even the ability of a Jedi to transcend death.
I felt compelled to blog about this title for two reasons: adult Star Wars fans—especially collectors—will obviously want to own a copy of the “vault edition” of The Jedi Path, but more importantly, this book is simply the ultimate holiday gift for a young Jedi-in-training. Opening up this vault took me right back to the time to when I was 12 years old sitting wide-eyed in the movie theatre watching the opening crawl—“A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…”—and just being overwhelmed with that delightful sense of wonder.
Paul Goat Allen has been a full-time book reviewer specializing in genre fiction for almost the last two decades and has written more than 6,000 reviews for companies like Publishers Weekly, The Chicago Tribune, and BarnesandNoble.com. In his free time, he reads.