Death Star Owner’s Technical Manual

The Death Star Imperial DS-1 Orbital Battle Station Owner’s Technical Manual written by Ryder Windham and illustrated by Chris Reiff and Chris Trevas is pretty much the ultimate guide to the Death Star. Do you want to know what kind of recreational facilities the crew of the Death Star had? Turn to page 76. Do you want to know the name and rank of everyone who was at the command table where Vader Force choked Mott in A New Hope? Turn to page 107. Heck, if you’re looking for the bathroom, the book has those too (page 75 and 77). In combining most of the info from every existing source on the Death Star, this manual puts it all in one handy spot. With the addition of screen stills from the films, cutaway drawings and technical illustrations, the book has as much visual information as it does written info, not to mention some of the best Death Star artwork to date in a Star War guide. Whether this is a book you have to have in your Star Wars library is a far deeper question, so let’s review the details.

In this manual you’ll get an overview and details of the key features of the Death Star. Areas include weapons and defensive systems, energy and propulsion, hangar bays, city sprawls and trenches, security sectors, service and technical sectors, and the command sector. Each area has six to fourteen pages of coverage. There are pictures from the films to help fans identify the parts they’ve seen from the movies, and technical illustrations that show all the details they might have missed. All of those sections are broken down into smaller parts, covering individual systems and areas in even greater detail. For instance, the hangar section looks at Docking Bay 327 (the docking bay where the Millennium Falcon landed in A New Hope), the Docking Bay Control Room (where C-3PO and R2-D2 unlocked the trash compactor), the Executive Docking Bay (where Lord Vader’s shuttle landed in Return of the Jedi), and the TIE hangars. That level of detail is provided throughout the whole book with each section being kicked off with journal entries from key personnel like Tarkin, Motti and Tagge.

The primary focus of the manual is on the first Death Star since a lot of the information is applicable to both since the key areas would have been similar. However, the book does include specific information on the second Death Star. In some places, the book notes when key areas differed between the two. For instance, the section on the hypermatter reactor shows pictures of both reactors which were visually different. Toward the end of the book, the second Death Star gets its own section complete with stats, info on the planetary shield generator, and the Emperor’s throne room. There is also info on the Death Star prototype, thus completing full coverage of all the Death Stars. For reference, the book includes some other superweapons related to the Death Star and constructed around the same time period. Those ships include the Torpedo Spheres, the Tarkin, Trade Federation Battleships, and the Eye of Palpatine. Each includes pictures, illustrations and stats.

With so much information packed into one book, one might wonder how it measures up to other books in your Star Wars library. First off, it’s the same size as the Millennium Falcon Owners’ Workshop Manual. There’s also a similar level of detail, though the comparable areas of the Death Star are covered on a much larger level of scale than the areas on the Falcon. In comparison to books like The Essential Guide to Vehicles and Vessels (which includes the first and second Death Star plus the prototype), you’ll get all the info that book included in it’s mere six pages plus a whole lot more. If you happen to have the Star Wars: Technical Journal, that information is also included in this book. While the full color cross-section illustration by Hans Jenssen and Richard Chasemore is not included in the Death Star Owner’s Technical Manual, there is a black and white technical illustration which encompases the entire station and reveals cutaway details very similar to the full color picture. Whether you have those other books or not, this is a great way to get all the info in one collection and expanded on ten fold. The only book that really gives this manual a run for its money is the Star Wars: Death Star Technical Companion.

The Death Star Technical Companion was a West End Games (WEG) guide for the Star Wars Roleplaying Game. Published back in 1991, and long out of print, the 95 page book covered the Death Star in quite a lot detail. In fact, this is pretty much the go to source for every guide that has followed it in regards to info on the Death Star. As such, the Death Star Owner’s Technical Manual does an admirable job of utilizing that info. It’s not a carbon copy of the West End Games book, however. Not all of the info in the WEG Technical Companion made it into the Haynes Technical Manual. There’s a whole section of journal entries from Tarkin in the WEG Technical Companion and most of them make it into the Haynes Technical Manual as excerpts. There are also illustrations that highlight areas not touched on in the Haynes Technical Manual like how the AT-AT and Juggernaut heavy assault vehicles are stored and retrieved. On the plus side, the illustrations in the Technical Manual look a lot better than the WEG Technical Companion. Visually, the Haynes Technical Manual is a much more appealing book, not too mention that the WEG Technical Companion is a roleplaying game book, so there are all kinds of game stats that are completely unnecessary for non-gamers. In the end, the Haynes Technical Manual does an outstanding job of including almost all of the useful information from the old West End Games guide and bringing that info back into print for Star Wars fans.

As an all-in-one resource for the Death Star, the Death Star Owner’s Technical Manual is the book to turn to. It’s a wealth of information on one of the most iconic ships from the Star Wars films. There’s tons of info, great artwork and lots of useful reference pictures. Whether this is a must have for your Star Wars library depends on how much you would like to know about the Death Star. If you’ve watched the films and wondered what all those little odd shapes and structures were, then this book can give you the answers. For toy collectors who have wondered what was up with the Death Star droid or the laser cannon that was included in the Death Star playset, those answers are also included. There are so many facets to the Empire’s greatest space station that it’s hard to imagine all the things you’ve might of missed or never thought about. Reading the Death Star Owner’s Technical Manual will fill in those gaps. If you’re a ship nut or an obsessive fan of every detail of the films, this is definitely a book you’ll want to check out. For the more casual Star Wars fans, I recommend placing this at the top of your gift lists, because one way or another, this is a fun book to have in your Star Wars library. I give it a four and half out of five metal bikinis.

Reviewed By: Skuldren for Roqoo Depot.

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