Tuesday, 11 June 2013




By Simon Beecroft

Published in the UK by DORLING KINDERSLEY books

Reviewed by Scott Weller

They are the terrible dreams of the Emperor Palpatine made reality.
They are the opportunity of a lifetime for power hungry and ambitious commanders- a chance to put their mark on the universe in ways of cruelty and oppression that they have always thirsted for.
They are the vision of evil to which the heroic Rebel Alliance, born from evil and the misery of billions, have pledged their lives to destroy in order to save the galaxy.
They are the known as the Death Star.
Two heavily armoured space stations the size of small moons, each with enough heavy weaponry to obliterate a mass of galactic star fleets-both heavy cruiser and snub fighter- and containing a primary circular dish weapon even more powerful-a fearful device capable of destroying entire planets and civilizations in the blink of an eye.
They are the ultimate enforcement tool for the Empire’s tyranny and its unwarranted control of the many millions of races, humanoid and alien, that live within its crushing, all-encompassing domain and its all-seeing influence.
Now, regular STAR WARS DK author Simon Beecroft takes young fans, in their first major reading alone steps in life, deep into the evil heart of darkness within the depths of the battle station interiors, telling the story of both their construction and ultimate destruction, and how each Death Starwas literally a city in space, filled from head to ceiling with sadistic and cruel soldiers, technicians, commanders, droids and torturers. Space stations bristling with the kind of firepower few civilizations in the expanding universe could survive against, and backed with mighty support ships and weaponry that both protect and attack for it.
They are a horror cemented and unleashed of a kind not seen in the universe for millennia.
DEATH STAR BATTLES takes us on a journey through their history of terror on the universe, the shocking moments of the vessels attacks on both the peaceful world of Alderaan and the Rebel fleet above the planet Endor, and the joy of the galaxy towards their eventual destruction –no mean feat- and against overwhelming odds that could be considered suicidal, by Rebel forces, in a biography of these dangerous world destroyers which is very informative and straightforward to read, and accompanied by some terrific photos-classic images- from STAR WARS and RETURN OF THE JEDI (some of which I haven’t seen reproduced in a while).
 As well as the Empire, DEATH STAR BATTLES also looks at some of the great adventures that have taken place within the stations interior- the heroism and triumph of an unlikely band of Rebel heroes led by Luke Skywalker and the smuggler Han Solo, whom accidentally found their way- their ship caught in a tractor beam- onto the space station in STAR WARS and would help liberate the captive but courageous Princess Leia Organa from torture and a swift execution. Of how the venerable Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi brought escape time with his life against the Empire’s formidable servant of the Dark Side-Darth Vader-whom Kenobi once knew as his pupil, Anakin Skywalker. And then the events that followed, in which Luke Skywalker would be a part of a massive fighter attack by the Rebelsagainst the station -a last desperate move- and how his bravery and courage within the use of the Force would eventually help him destroy the mighty battle station, and enrage an Empire with its first major defeat, spreading hope far and wide to those new Rebels coming forth, wanting to band together and strike back at the darkness that had captured them.
Then comes RETURN OF THE JEDI, and the final challenge for the Rebel Alliance, as, nearly five years later from STAR WARS, the largest fleet ever assembled fights the newly built second Death Star (a bigger and even more dangerous creation than before) - a gamble for success by our heroes that proves not to have been of their making-all part of a deadly lure set in motion a long time back, specially engineered by the Emperor himself in a final act of revenge. Despite the vicious space battles above the station and the eventually successful ground battle taking place on Endor to turn off the mighty shield protecting it, in the end the destruction of the Death Star, and ultimately the Empire as a force for evil, is essentially due to the return of the once extinct Jedi Knights -of Luke Skywalker as a fully fledged member of the order, and Anakin Skywalker-a now redeemed and dying Darth Vader- as father and son re-unite to bring down Emperor Palpatine, destroying him and his machinations, and helping to pave the way for the final destructive blow into the battle stations reactor heart that tears it into so much space dust!
The Empire is dead. Long live the Republic!!
DEATH STAR BATTLES effectively chronicles the drama and danger as seen in these two classic STAR WARS Trilogy movies, and engrossed children will continually enjoy George Lucas’ timeless story-its classic moments of action and adventure and its mythic characters- re-reading it over and over, whilst, at the same time, gaining further word power and strengthening reading abilities.
 As ever, the book is packaged and delivered in an informative and vital visual quality that DORLING KINDERSLY continues to uniquely bring to the STAR WARS young readers universe in the way it informs and enthuses children-and nostalgia fuelled adults!- of all ages.

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