Ultimate Star Wars


  • Ultimate Star Wars
  • written by Patricia Barr, Adam Bray, Daniel Wallace, and Ryder Windham
  • published by DK Publishing (2015)
  • Roar Score: 5/5

The ultimate Star Wars coffeetable book is just about the prettiest encyclopedia you’ve ever seen. Ultimate Star Wars came out earlier this year, but it’s certainly still worth a look. This gorgeous book is the latest title to attempt an encyclopedic look at the Star Wars universe, and it’s the first since Disney and Lucasfilm rebooted canon and relegated nearly 30 years of stories to non-canon “Legends.” Therefore, this book covers the first six films, The Clone Wars, and Rebels.

It was a monumental undertaking, and the book reflects a deep love for the subject. The text is incredibly detailed and presents both significant events and minutiae with equal aplomb. In addition, it’s just a downright beautiful book (if you’re a fan of Star Wars). Every spread – every page – is filled with full-color photos that make casually flipping through the book an absolute pleasure.

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Putting the book together was a huge achievement, and it was thanks to a team of four authors – each of whom has an impressive history with Star Wars. Ryder Windham is a familiar name to those even casually aware of Star Wars books (he’s written more than 70). Tricia Barr is an incredibly active and vocal fan voice online and in the podcasting space. Adam Bray has written several previous Star Wars titles for DK (including the awesome What Makes a Monster?). And Daniel Wallace has also written his fair share of Star Wars books, including The Essential Atlas and The New Essential Chronology to Star Wars — both of which obviously informed his work here.

The authors took a “divide and conquer” approach to the book — each took on various topics, did the requisite research, and pieced everything together. Since Disney did wipe away nearly 30 years of Expanded Universe history, they were relatively limited with what they could include. Still, there’s plenty to be gleaned from six films and seven seasons of animated television. Enough even to pack this 300+ behemoth chock full of information.

(For more background and insight into how this book came to be, check out my interview with coauthor Adam Bray.)

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When the book was first announced, I assumed it would be an updating of Steve Sansweet’s Star Wars Encyclopedia, which still sits proudly on my bookshelf. However, where that book was more or less a true (i.e., text-heavy) encyclopedia with alphabetical entries, Ultimate Star Wars is just as visual as you would expect from DK.

It’s just a fantastic book to flip through…for all ages. It’s become a go-to book in my house for when my kids need a Star Wars fix. The visuals alone do an admirable job of conveying the necessary information to casual readers and browsers.

But like I said, the text goes into incredible detail about every conceivable topic. Have a question? The answer’s here. Can’t remember some arcane piece of minutiae? It’s here.

The book is presented thematically, and pages are devoted to characters, planets, locations, creatures, weapons, ships, and important events. It’s an encyclopedia…but it’s an incredibly readable encyclopedia.

If you’re a Star Wars fan and you don’t already own this book, you’re absolutely missing out. It’s a fantastic addition to any library, and if you have kids, they’ll thank you endlessly for it. I wish I had a book like this when I was a kid…

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(Thanks to DK Publishing, who provided me with a review copy of this book. All opinions remain my own.)

Jamie is a publishing/book nerd who makes a living by wrangling words together into some sense of coherence. He's the founder and owner of The Roarbots and also a contributor to Syfy Wire, StarWars.com, and GeekDad. On top of that, he hosts The Great Big Beautiful Podcast, which celebrates creativity in popular culture, science, and technology by talking to a wide variety of people who contribute to it.

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