Before I get into the book, I would like to point out that it doesn't say "Episode IV" or "A New Hope" anywhere on it. This is just "Star Wars", which is "From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker". However, don't get the idea that this breaks the continuity put forth by the prequels:
Aided and abetted by restless, power-hungry individuals within the government, and the massive organ of commerce, the ambitious Senator Palpatine caused himself to be elected President of the Republic.
Yeah, that's pretty much what happens in the prequel movies. But I'm more interested in this line at the end of the prologue:
"They were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Naturally they became heroes."
-Leia Organa of Alderaan, Senator
Man oh man, I must have read this book a million times when I was a kid, because I remember that line like it's tattooed on the inside of my eyelids. Which brings us to the thing that this book always reminds me of: this is what made me aware of the question of what's canon. You know the attack on the Death Star, right? Sure you do. Here's how it's described in the book:
"This is Blue Five," Luke announced to his mike as he nose dived his ship in a radical attempt to confuse any electronic predictors below. The gray surface of the battle station streaked past his ports. "I'm going in."
"I'm right behind you, Blue Five," a voice recognizable as Biggs's sounded in his ears.
Wait, what? Blue Five? But in the movie, he's Red Five! This was very confusing to Young Monty. I watched the movie, loved it, read the book, and loved that too. And then I saw the movie again, and something bothered me about it. Eventually I realized that Luke's callsign in the book was different from the one in the movies. Is he Blue Five or Red Five? Which one is right?
The other exciting thing about the book is that it was my first introduction to the idea of deleted scenes. This wasn't just before DVDs, it was before home video. And there are scenes in the book with Luke's childhood friend Biggs Darklighter. Special added backstory!
Oh, and if you're curious, not only does Han shoot first, but Greedo doesn't even appear to get a shot off:
"Over my dead body," Solo said unamiably.
The alien was not impressed. "If you insist. Will you come outside with me, or must I finish it here?"
"I don't think they'd like another killing in here," Solo pointed out.
Something which might have been a laugh came from the creature's translator. "They'd hardly notice. Get up, Solo. I've been looking forward to this for a long time. You've embarrassed me in front of Jabba with your pious excuses for the last time."
"I think you're right."
Light and noise filled the little corner of the cantina, and when it had faded, all that remained of the unctuous alien was a smoking, slimy spot on the stone floor.
Solo brought his hand and the smoking weapon it held out from beneath the table, drawing bemused stares from several of the cantina's patrons and clucking sounds from its more knowledgeable ones. They had known the creature had committed its fatal mistake in allowing Solo to get his hands under cover.
Oh yeah. That's the stuff. Frankly, the book resonates with me almost as much as the movie does.