Goody’s Publication Audit: A review of Star Wars: CATALYST – A ROGUE ONE NOVEL! By James Luceno
Let me begin by telling you all that this book is not, I repeat NOT required to read prior to seeing the move Rogue One. It will help in a few ways in terms of character development and the relationships between some of them, but other than that it’s not needed. So, with that said, let’s don our Mandalorian armor, kick in some doors of some bounties and start blasting away.
First off, many people have been getting the time line wrong when discussing this book. Some have said that it takes place right after Revenge of the Sith or right before Rogue One. These thoughts are right and wrong. The story starts us out during the clone wars which is before Revenge of the Sith, and ends several years before A New Hope. I’m guessing with what we’ve already seen from the Rogue One trailers that the book stops short several years before the main events within the new movie. I say that because when we last see Jyn she’s a very young girl, maybe 4 or 5 years old.
If you’re looking or hoping to get some serious classical Star Wars space or blaster action then you might as well squash those hopes. There really isn’t much in this novel in terms of action. This is a dramatic book in terms of political and scientific realms. Sorry if you thought we’d get some cool space battle or some sort of shootout between our hero’s and a villain of some sort. It’s just not that type of book.
The cast of characters in Catalyst is great, we have new ones making their initial grand entrance as well as some classics returning for some supporting roles that I was excited to see. We have Galen and Lyra Erso, the happy couple who dedicate their lives to the betterment of the known Galaxy and for all species. Galen being a brilliant theoretician, mathematician, engineer, and experimental physicist (holy egg head Batman!) who married an underground surveyor named Lyra. When we are introduced to Galen and Lyra they’re working on a sustainable energy project that would give free or cheap energy to the needy. They’re both pacifist who have no interest in getting involved in politics and especially the current galactic war (Clone Wars).
We’re introduced to our main Imperial protagonist who we’ll see later in Rogue One and that’s Orson Krennic. Orson is the one who drags Galen into the Imperial weapons project, unbeknownst to Galen of course who thinks he’s working on a much bigger energy project. In reality, Orson is just using his research to weaponize it for the Death Star.
The next new character we meet is a smuggler by the name of Has Obitt. Has was dragged into service by Krennic, you’ll find that a lot of people in this novel were dragged into working for Krennic through some sort of manipulation. Has is your typical smuggler, looking to be independent and make some cash, reminds me a lot of Dash Rendar.
We have a couple of returning cast that really excited me, well one more than the other. I’ll start off with Saw Gerrera, we initially saw him in the Clone Wars and we’ve seen him in a couple of the trailers sporting some serious body modifications like he’s seen some heavy battle. Saw doesn’t get much written time within the book, but it becomes clear towards the end that he and Jyn may form a close relationship between the end of the book and the events within Rogue One.
The major character who I was hoping would make an appearance and did was Tarkin! If you haven’t read the Book Tarkin yet, then you should before reading this one. Tarkin is a brilliant man. He and Orson share some similar qualities, they think somewhat the same in terms of deep thinking and planning things out mentally. Krennic being more of a glory hound and fanatic and Tarkin more of a calculating predator. Krennic is highly intelligent, having attended a prestigious “Futures Program” where he and Galen met, and a master of manipulating people, playing to their emotions and ideals, and convincing these people to alter their moral standards through various manipulative means.
Luceno did an awesome job in his novel in detailing out his characters in every way. We learn so much about each and every one, which is typical for luceno. We don’t just get the basic info and then keep the story going, the author exposes their souls throughout the story and it’s such a superb skill in writing when you can get to know the characters so well.
If you’ve been paying close attention to the Rogue One trailers you’ll know roughly what the plot of this book is. Most of the story is spent telling us how hard Orson Krennic worked in manipulating many people as well as several star systems in getting what he needs to build the ultimate battle station and of course getting Galen Erso to come work for him. There is a minor subplot which heavily involves Grand Moff Tarkin. During this subplot I believe we start to see the initial stages or at least the initial thoughts behind the Rebellion. You’ll have to read the book to witness the actions that Tarkin takes in order to keep authority within the newly formed Galactic Empire.
The key to all of Galen’s research are the Kyber Crystals, the same crystals that the Jedi use in their lightsabers. They also come in various sizes, from tiny like the size of a marble to football field size. By the way, I hate giving spoilers, but thought this would be cool!
The narratives within the book are the best part, I know that sounds really weird, but remember I said it wasn’t an action book, this is more of a thriller. Luceno knocks the narratives out of the park, I’m not saying the dialogue between characters sucked at all it was good, but the narratives showed us everything we needed to know. We do of course get to experience a little bit of Tarkin’s interrogation techniques in how precise he can be, it’s something you need to read and experience. I love the way Luceno has brought Tarkin out to us, you all really need to read the book Tarkin if you haven’t.
There’s also a part of the book that presents a bit of a love triangle between our main characters (Galen, Lyra, and Orson). It comes off as Lyra and Orson are competing to win the attention of Galen. This was a bit comical to me and I think was necessary to show how intense Orson is and how shunned Lyra sometimes felt when Galen was so heavily involved with his research.
You need to be a big fan in my opinion to read this novel, it’s a great read and Luceno keeps the tension up which leads you to continue reading, but I don’t think this novel was needed. If you’re expecting any extra insight into Jyn Erso you’re not gonna get it. She’s just a child. The only thing you can glean from this is that from a young age she was already slightly rebellious, that’s it.
I’m giving this a solid 3 stars out of 5. I love Luceno’s writing and wish he had been contracted to do the Aftermath series, it would have been so much better with him at the helm.
Let me know what you all thought, I’d love to hear from any and all of you. Till then, may The Force be with you!