Everyone worried about the possible lack of Star Wars crawl in Rogue One can breathe a great big sigh of relief because I found it.
It’s called Star Wars: Catalyst and it’s pretty awesome.
This book is pretty much the Rogue One prequel and takes place from the late Clone Wars years on. We are introduced to Galen Erso, Lyra Erso, Orson Krennic, and …
wait for it….
The story revolves around Galen Erso’s energy research with Kyber crystals and Orson Krennic trying to bring Galen into his Death Star project. So sounds pretty awesome right?
Not only do we get a really cool insight into the Death Star’s research and construction, but we also get a great chance to get to know Jyn’s family. Galen and Lyra are wonderful characters that are well written and definitely come to life. Galen is a genius with a moral code. He is able to understand things on a different level than most, which also colors a lot of his social interactions. Lyra is also a scientist, but more of an explorer. She also is a very devout believer in the Force. It’s an interesting paradox that isn’t usually addressed in fiction: a person of science who has faith.
From the Clone Wars to the Empire the story takes us on a years-long journey of the Ersos as Orson Krennic’s plans unfold. Krennic is an engineer whose ambition lifts him along his path in the Empire. Krennic knows Galen is the way to make the Death Star what he needs it to be but convincing a peace-loving Galen into helping develop a weapon powerful enough to obliterate a planet takes very careful planning. Seeing Galen’s very noble purpose of trying to create sustainable energy being taken and weaponized is both sad and an illuminating way of how the best intentions can be corrupted.
Cameos help fill out the galaxy of this story and there are some good ones. No tale of the Death Star’s creation would be complete without Tarkin. The truth behind the origin of the plans and its construction is fleshed out much more with Poggle the Lesser. Mas Amedda, Sly Moore, and even one familiar extremist are welcome additions; it’s great to see them interact with the main characters.
This book is an example of how the story team is helping the entire Star Wars galaxy stay enmeshed. Small mentions of Tarkin’s time at the Citadel, how Poggle the Lesser is on Mustafar at the end of the Clone Wars, the Jedi assassination attempt, and even the nature of Kyber crystals are great nods to other Star Wars stories out there in various media. Connections like this enrich the universe and encourage readers to enjoy Star Wars in all its media. While it isn’t necessary to pore through all the available material, people like me who enjoy all of the comics, short stories, novels, and animated series will find additional things to enjoy by embracing a larger view and understanding of the universe.
All said and done the book is definitely more of a scientific intrigue than a real action battle book. If you are in it to see space battles, blaster shootouts, and lightsaber duels this isn’t the book for you. However, if you want a very interesting look at the Erso family and, presumably, a better understanding of characters that will soon be in the first Star Wars Story, than this book is a must-read. The pacing is well done with a lot of subject matter that could definitely bog down a book if not handled well. Luceno crafts a long, layered tale as the characters move through the changes the galaxy faces after the end of the Clone Wars and the birth of the Galactic Empire. I enjoyed this book and for those who want their novels to have more connections and relevance to the films, this is the book you are looking for.
A great solid character-driven story that I suspect will greatly enhance future viewings of Rogue One.
“Science doesn’t take sides, does it?”