Alexandra Jacobs
February 21, 1997 AT 05:00 AM EST

If you’re not a genuine fanatic, proceed slowly and carefully into this miasma of Jedi lore, which collapses both the ersatz science of Star Wars (”antigravitational propulsion units”) and the moviemaking saga (nerdy, happy fellows standing by their models) into something akin to scripture — the Gospel of St. Luke Skywalker, perhaps. For many, the fun of the trilogy was, and is, the shared experience of sitting in the theater. This gilt-packaged encyclopedia is more isolating, with its sober perspective on Darth Vader’s costume (”side view,” ”back view”) and, tee-hee, the ’70s-style rec room in the Wookiee home. Star Wars Chronicles is almost alarming in its comprehensiveness.

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