Book Review

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  • Hardcover: Indiana Jones: The Ultimate Guide
  • Author: James Luceno
  • Publisher: DK CHILDREN
  • Pages: 144 pages
  • Price: $24.99
  • Series:


The book is packed with details.

By Robert T. Trate     May 14, 2008

© DK Publishing/ Lucasfilm
For several years DK Publishing has partnered with Lucasfilm to bring the details of the Star Wars universe to life. The Complete Visual Dictionary of Star Wars: The Ultimate Guide to Characters and Creatures from the Entire Star Wars Saga and Star Wars Complete Cross-Sections: The Spacecraft and Vehicles of the Entire Star Wars Saga are two incredible books exploring every minute detail. DK Publishing also has a book for each individual film. Creating the dilemma of which to book by? With the Indiana Jones: The Ultimate Guide all four Indiana Jones films are explored and contained in one volume. Traversing the details of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull however was as dangerous as Indy facing three challenges of lethal cunning at the end of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Fear not, there are no spoilers in this review of the Ultimate Guide.
Author James Luceno has scoured the Earth, well Lucasfilm, Marvel and Dark Horse Comics, to bring Indiana Jones fans a guide that is worth reading from cover to cover. Treating Indiana Jones as a real person, Luceno looks at his history, chronologically encompassing the entire Indiana Jones legend.
The book is packed with details. It includes Indy’s gun, a 455 Webley and its actual history of the weapon; timelines that date all the people who touched upon Indiana Jones’s life from November 11, 1872 to the summer of 1957; the name of the giant diamond from the opening of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom that Lao Che exchanged for Nurhachi. You will also learn the significance of Belloq’s ceremonial gown at the end of Raider’s of the Lost Ark. All of these details and more are now at your finger tips with brilliant pictures and comic book images filling every inch of the page. Each time you look back at the same page you find another bit of information you never knew or completely forgot about.
The best part of the entire book is the topographical maps. Scale and scope are now revealed so that when you look at the Well of Souls you will not only see its size but its location in the entire excavation. Pankot Palace has such a map but also another that places the palace as if it were the peak of an ant hill revealing the Thuggee’s vast network of mines. The best little detail was learning of the Knights’ quarters from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
For fans of the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles the Ultimate Guide is really a first documentation of the series. Young Henry Walton Jones Jr.’s life is explored and exposed so that even the new fan will have an understanding of how this young boy became Indiana Jones. From his early adventures to the war years and even Indy’s foray into show business the details illustrate how remarkable this man’s life was.
The downside Indiana Jones: The Ultimate Guide is that in treating Indiana Jones as a real person all of the art work, comics, locations and actors go unaccredited. For example, knowing that it is Jim Steranko’s art work on the opening page is my privilege. Not everyone would know that Steranko did a lot of the pre-character establishing pieces much in the same vein Ralph McQuarrie did for the first Star Wars. However, The Complete Making of Indiana Jones: The Definitive Story Behind All Four Films will reveal the people behind the art and more.
Since Luceno left out all those details I wondered why he included separate chapters for movie posters, toys, comics and video games. It takes the reader out of the fantasy that Indy is a real person, something Luceno to this point accomplished brilliantly. Luceno takes it another step by giving yet another time line of actual events that went into the making of the four films and the TV series. Perhaps this would have warranted its own book? In the long run it does really matter to the Indiana Jones fan, making Indiana Jones: The Ultimate Guide a must have.
Indiana Jones: The Ultimate Guide is the perfect thing to treat yourself with if action figures and movie posters have long since passed you by. The book is an incredible journey into the life of a man synonymous with adventure.


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Roads 5/14/2008 6:36:43 AM
I have some hesitation about it. Knowing Lucas there is a big chance that with the release of the DVD/Blu ray another Indy book will come out with a title like "The Definitive Ultimate Guide", blah, blah. I'll wait...
velgron 5/14/2008 6:39:28 AM
You can buy it and later on give it to me ;p
Roads 5/14/2008 6:43:11 AM
Don't I always? You should buy the Avatar series so I can borrow them.
bgm1975 5/14/2008 8:19:35 AM
I love these books from DK Publishing. I have the Star Wars ones, and all the Marvel, DC Comic ones, including both companies encyclopedia. I just order the Indiana Jones one, but there isn't an Iron Man one? They did a Ghost Rider, Catwoman, and Transformer Guide prior to the movies, but no Iron Man. I was really looking forward to it, but at least they did Indiana Jones. Now if DK can do an Alien, Predator and more comic book books I'll be happy.
cmj 5/21/2008 8:26:05 PM
I love the DK guide books. I'm so excited about this one beacsue I had always whished they'd make an Indy one. Think of all the archived props they have access to like in the Star Wars DK guides. The best part is how they treat the props like they're real objects, and actually dissect them, with photos of innards you know didn't actually exist as props. ie. the inside of a lightsaber. The other DK guide that's awesome but not mentioned in this thread is the Doctor Who one. It's fantastic, even though I know they'll eventually have to make a second volume since it only covers the first three of seasons of the new series.


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