Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back is the novelization of the film of the same name. It was written by Donald F. Glut and based on a story by George Lucas. It was first published in paperback by Del Rey on April 12, 1980.

Publisher's summary[]

Luke, Han and Princess Leia's story didn't end with the destruction of the Death Star—it continues in The Empire Strikes Back.

Though they had won a significant battle, the war between the Rebels and the Empire had really just begun.

Now, several months later, the Rebels have established an outpost on the frozen wasteland of Hoth. But even on that icy, backwater planet, they could not escape the evil Darth Vader's notice for long.

Soon, Luke, Han, the princess and their faithful companions were forced to flee, scattering in all directions—the Dark Lord's minions in fevered pursuit!


The novelization has a number of differences from the film:

  • The novel adds several scenes with the probe droid and its journey to locate the Rebel base on Hoth. In one, the droid is attacked by a wampa. The probe droid reacts by disintegrating the creature with its blaster. In another, the droid creates a force field to shield itself from a snowstorm.
  • Han Solo never says, "And I thought they smelled bad on the outside." Instead he mentions that if he doesn't get the shelter built in time, "Jabba won't need those bounty hunters."
  • General Veers is killed when a Rebel snowspeeder crashes into his Imperial walker, blowing it up. This is based on a deleted scene from the film.
  • Yoda has blue skin instead of his recognizable green. This is based on earlier designs for the character, the same as the blue-skinned Yoda appearing in The Marvel Comics Illustrated Version of The Empire Strikes Back.
  • Luke undergoes additional training sessions with Yoda not depicted in the film. In one, he tries and fails to leap across a pond. In another, he trains with two, then four remotes that fire stinging blasts similar to that in A New Hope.
  • C-3PO does not interrupt Han and Leia's first kiss, but Chewbacca witnesses part of the scene.
  • There are only five bounty hunters aboard the Executor. 4-LOM is omitted, and Zuckuss is a "human type" instead of a Gand.
  • Vader's lightsaber in Luke's vision in the Dark Side Cave is blue rather than red.
  • When greeting the Millennium Falcon on the landing platform, Lando Calrissian's entourage includes aliens and droids.
  • Lobot is described in vague terms. He is referred to only as "Lando's aide" and "wore a radio device that wrapped around his head and covered both his ears." He is not identified as a cyborg. He also talks, in contrast to his mute portrayal in the film but consistent with portrayals in other media.
  • The Ugnaughts are throwing scrap into a pool of molten metal instead of putting them onto a conveyor belt that carries them into an incinerator. Chewbacca also has far less trouble in forcing them to relinquish Threepio's parts.
  • When Leia tells Han that she loves him, Han replies, "Just remember that, because I'll be back"—instead of his famous line from the film, "I know."
  • As the Millennium Falcon flies toward Luke as he dangles from a vane on Cloud City's underside, the structure breaks, and Luke begins to plummet. Chewbacca, flying the Falcon, has to execute a fast dive in order to catch him.


The novelization sold two million copies within the first week of Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back's theatrical run.[1]

The novel appeared in the New York Times Paperback Best Sellers list from May 18, 1980 to September 4, 1980. The description given was "THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, by Donald F. Glut. (Ballantine, $2.25). More about 'Star Wars': fantasy fiction."[3]

Mass Market
Date Position
May 18, 1980 4
May 25, 1980 5
June 1980 6
June 8, 1980 8
June 15, 1980 5
June 15, 1980 7
June 29, 1980 5
July 6, 1980 5
July 13, 1980 5
July 20, 1980 6
July 27, 1980 7
August 3, 1980 8
August 10, 1980 7
August 17, 1980 9
August 24, 1980 12
August 31, 1980 14
September 7, 1980 7
September 14, 1980 12





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