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2.0 out of 5 stars The Companions of the Ebon Hawk deserved better..., November 16, 2011
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This review is from: Revan (Star Wars: The Old Republic, Vol. 3) (Hardcover)
I don't think Drew Karpyshyn properly grasped how much emotional investment fans of Knights of the Old Republic have tied up in this story, these characters, and the ending that never seemed to come; if he had, this novel probably wouldn't have turned out the way it did. It might be unfair to judge this novel the way I am right now, since the bias here can't be understated. It's been seven years since I played both games of the KotOR series for the first time, which was one of the most memorable gaming experiences I've had in my life. Since then, I've played the games many times over, always wondering what happened to Revan, the Exile, and their respective companions.

THE OLD REPUBLIC: REVAN attempts to give those of us who've been waiting for more than half a decade some form of closure, but instead manages to effectively kick all of the loose plotlines into a shallow grave, and plant a big sign on top of it that reads, "You happy now? Move on."

To start off: don't let the title and that picture of the eponymous hero trick you. This book is NOT about Revan; if anything, only a third of the book's scant 280 pages actually centers on him. The rest follows a previously unknown Sith pureblood called Lord Scourge: a Dark Lord with a name so campy that his dark side compatriots can't help but poke fun at it. For reasons that I'll probably never understand, this Lord Scourge is the absolute focus of the book. This is about his rise to power, his trials upon the Sith homeworld, his misdeeds; while Revan is relegated to going through the motions and reenacting events that were already thoroughly covered in the games, the majority of which he spends helping Canderous Ordo reclaim the Mask of Mandalore.

And yes, Canderous Ordo, the trigger-happy Mandalorian who helped Revan escape Taris, makes an appearance, as does Bastila Shan, T3, and the Jedi Exile from KotOR 2: The Sith Lords (permanently named Meetra Surik for the rest of the book). Unfortunately, no one else manages to make an appearance. Not one of them. In a very awkward part of the book, Canderous suggests excitedly that they get the old gang back together for their coming adventure to recover Mandalore's Mask, but we are quickly given very bad reasons why this would be impossible. The old Companions of the Ebon Hawk are each given a brief mention, but are otherwise completely forgotten for the rest of the book. (Though, for some reason, Carth Onasi doesn't even get the token mention the rest got, and his name doesn't pop up even once in the book.)

And it's especially disappointing because even when characters like Revan, Canderous, or Bastila make their appearances, they don't even faintly act how they did in the games. There's no humor, no candor, only a few brief and forced mentions of the old days, and when someone talks, it's so direct as to almost make them sound robotic. Even when Revan and Canderous return to the Ebon Hawk, the book briefly mentions the ship's shape and a recap of how they got it, and the story moves on. Karpyshyn allows for absolutely no sense of fond reminiscence, no revisiting of old adventures, and characterization I can only describe as barebones. You could've switched around the names of every character in the book, and I wouldn't be able to tell you who was who.

Once again, it feels as though Karpyshyn's work is the victim of this mythical deadline that he's apologized more than once for. Characterization is not as dense as it should be, dialogue is scarce (which is totally weird, coming from the writer of dialogue-heavy games like KotOR and MASS EFFECT), and actions that should take up a paragraph take pages for themselves. Too much of this book seems like filler.

So, Revan's part in this book - this book titled REVAN - is actually very minimal, and most of what he does here is actually covered in the games. The Jedi Exile is dug back up, minus any mention at all of her respective companions (Atton Rand and the gang), is given a name and an ending so badly implemented that I almost stopped reading right then and there. Not to mention that the canon established by the games is trampled to suit the overall goal of the book, which appears to be to set up the story for BioWare's new MMO, THE OLD REPUBLIC.

With all of that in mind, I'm still asking myself: What was the point of this book? If it was to give KotOR fans some closure, it utterly failed in that regard. I'm sitting here more unsatisfied with the state of Revan's story than I ever was in the seven years since playing the game. If it was to set up the new MMO for potential players, I have no real idea how anything that happens in this book would be more informative than just playing the games or reading their synopses, since a lot of what happens is just extended action scenes, sans the one chapter that actually, and directly, sets up the MMO.

This book is one of the most disappointing things I've ever read, and that is not an exaggeration. Seven years of waiting led up to this book - a book that didn't even bother to supply meaningful endings for the characters that Karpyshyn helped create. But, again, I have to mention the bias here; my expectations here were extremely high. I'd expected to revisit old characters, see their stories to an end, and unravel the mystery of Darth Revan that the games had spun so well. But when all is said and done, we have a bitter and (unbelievably enough, given the timeframe) rushed ending for Revan, a token mention of characters we'd spent so much time with (if they were lucky enough), all of which is completely overshadowed by the story of a Sith pureblood named Lord Scourge: a story so uninteresting, I nearly skipped most of his chapters.

And then, as if to rub it in our faces, the rug is pulled out from underneath us, revealing the book's true intentions: a not-so-subtle sign pointing the way toward THE OLD REPUBLIC MMO. "You happy now? Move on - preferably in the direction of the TOR subscription page."

No, thank you. The Endar Spire still spins with or without this book.
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Comments

Tracked by 5 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 60 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 16, 2011 11:03:15 PM PST
R.Davis says:
This is a spot on review of this book. Great job. I wish I could erase this book and Lord Scourge from my memory.

Posted on Nov 17, 2011 4:39:13 AM PST
This is a great review. Thanks for taking the time to craft it. I think you're leaving out some of the great parts of Karpyshyn's writing but I see how you feel.

Posted on Nov 17, 2011 5:46:26 AM PST
web_footed says:
EXACTLY! Can we pretend this book didn't happen and try again? Please?

Posted on Nov 17, 2011 7:36:08 AM PST
Spot on review. I ended the book completely unsatisfied by the ending, or lack there of. The book felt like the ending of Matrix 2...meaning there was no ending...it just...stopped. Frustrating.

Posted on Nov 17, 2011 10:45:41 AM PST
DH.A says:
Thanks for taking time to write the review. I think I'll just go back and play KotOR 1 and 2 again, and forget about any more changes to the story line.

Posted on Nov 17, 2011 12:04:59 PM PST
Shane - AFR says:
I haven't had a chance to read the book yet, but I must admit as soon as the reviews started coming in I began to worry that this book would be another Del Rey let down. Reading some of the negative reviews I figured that the readers were just knocking the book because they didn't fully understand the history of Revan or the KotOR series. After reading your review and seeing that you have the maturity and full understanding of KotOR it is safe to say I will be venturing into this book with lower expectations. Brilliantly done my friend. Good job.

Posted on Nov 17, 2011 1:37:09 PM PST
ufo.pop says:
Lord Scourge is just plain uninteresting. R.I.P. KotOR

Posted on Nov 17, 2011 7:33:48 PM PST
You sir, have written the best respectful review voicing how dissapointing this book was to the fans of the KOTOR games.

Posted on Nov 17, 2011 11:11:57 PM PST
Enjolras says:
I agree, although I hate to admit it. Between this and the Plagueis novel I thought this was going to be a great period for Star Wars books. Sadly, Revan was lacking. I did read an advance copy of the Plagueis and have to say that didn't disappoint, so you all do have something to look forward to.

Posted on Nov 17, 2011 11:55:11 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 18, 2011 12:20:04 AM PST
Thanks, everyone, for the kind words. Can't tell you how much I like seeing KotOR fans band together. Makes my heart smile. :)

@ Enjolras - I'm actually *very* excited for DARTH PLAGUEIS, now that you bring it up. My friend and I both really enjoyed one of James Luceno's earlier books, DARK LORD, so I think we'll probably end up picking this one up when it's released.

Glad to hear it didn't disappoint! :D
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