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Catalyst (Star Wars): A Rogue One Novel Hardcover – November 15, 2016
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About the Author
James Luceno is the New York Times bestselling author of the Star Wars novels Tarkin, Darth Plagueis, Millennium Falcon, Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader, Cloak of Deception, and Labyrinth of Evil, as well as the New Jedi Order novels Agents of Chaos I: Hero’s Trial and Agents of Chaos II: Jedi Eclipse, The Unifying Force, and the ebook “Darth Maul: Saboteur.”
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* Not a spoiler - just a name comment. I spent the entire book thinking "obituary" when reading Obitt. Intentionally distracting name, or am I just a troublesome reader? :)
Catalyst is divided into three sections:
Part One: Life During Wartime - Set during the final days of the Republic/Separatist conflict. Krennic realizes that his former classmate, Galen Erso, is the only person who can help him with a secret weapon. Most of this section relates to how Krennic works to put Erso under his sphere of influence.
Part Two: The Pursuit of Peace - Set during the early days of the Empire. Most of this section deals with Galen working to create an improved energy source while Krennic uses Galen's research for other purposes. Lyra pursues her suspicions about the energy project. We also see the Empire starting to take over certain worlds in the pursuit of raw materials.
Part Three: Dead Reckoning - Everything comes to a head. Can't say much without spoilers!
Catalyst was a quick read, very entertaining and worth the time. It was fun to see some familiar characters in their earlier years and as they work toward where we see them in the movies and/or animated series. The character development was believable, and the book did a good job showing the upheaval of the Republic to Empire transition. The only reason I went with 4 stars instead of 5 is some of the worldbuilding dragged. I think that was a necessarily evil for the purpose this book plays in leading up to the movie, but I'm reviewing it as a standalone story.
I had the pleasure of reading this book prior to seeing the film -- and I'm not sure how it would hold up in the opposite order. For one, the beginning of the film essentially picks up where the novel ends. If you want to know how or why the characters got to where they are or why they're interacting in a certain manner, then it would be worth reading. Thats about the extent of the payoff, though.
Overall, a decent book that was better than it had any right to be. Luceno knows how to write a good Star Wars story - but its almost a waste of his time and efforts due to how inconsequential it all feels. If you want a good Star Wars story and want to learn more background for three or four of Rogue One's characters, its hard to pass this up. Yet in a world of tie-in novels, TV shows, comics and other side stories, this one in particular feels periphery.
The concept of standalone movies and stories is just so awesome in the Star Wars Universe (well unless we go back to cringe worth caravan of courage or the Star Wars Christmas Special…. Urgghhhhh)
Luceno has written a couple of prequel novels now, and he is good at it, giving us a nice lead in to the Movie, some background story, and something to think about for those that are fans or those that enjoy the expanded universe.
This is certainly no exception. Catalyst reaches all the way back to the middle of the Clone Wars, and the very start of the plans of the Death Star. It not only looks at the plans, but delves into the development of the Death Star, who built it, how it was built, and all sorts of background. It tells the story of Galen Erso, his wife Lyra, how he came to be involved with Orson Krennic, the families relationship with Saw Gerrera and how Saw became involved in it all.
There are multiple other characters as well, some that are just in this book, but many others that are introduced here only to be further evolved in Rogue One.
Whilst this might not be the classic Star Wars story in which there is a lot of fight scenes (sorry, that is sort of a spoiler, but not really), this is a very cleverly written book, that looks to engage the reader in the various Military and Political back stories that saw the creation of the Empire’s most powerful weapon.
For those that are true Star Wars fans, this book is a really exceptional story, full of clever twists and plots that will reveal all sorts of previously unknown information from the Clone Wars, all the way through to the years just before the Battle for Yavin. As someone who has always loved Star Wars canon, I found myself truly absorbed in this story as it lead closer to the stunning standalone movie that is Rogue One.
This is a truly compelling and brilliant story that is a must read for any Fan, and for anyone who wants to get some extra depth out of Rogue One.