Star Wars Old Republic Novels #1 & #2: A Review

As mentioned in my Comic Spotlight on Darth Maul - Son of Dathomir, I have been reading through the Star Wars Expanded Universe, canon and Legends. Today, I wanted to start up Star Wars Saturday. Most likely this will not occur EVERY Saturday, but generally speaking, if there is a Saturday post, it will most likely be Star Wars themed! I never realized how much of a Star Wars fan I was until just a couple years ago, when The Force Awakens was first announced. I got crazy excited and after a quick reflection I realized I've basically been pretty crazy into Star Wars since I was a kid in elementary school. Until now though, I had only ever read half of one Star Wars novel, which was The Courtship of Princess Leia, a novel that was published in 1995. I had stumbled across it in my high school's library, but I never fully finished it. That was back between 2009 and 2012. I started reading full novels of Star Wars once I hit my college years (undergrad was 2012-2016, I started reading Star Wars fully in Spring of 2013) and haven't really stopped since. That being said, I have a LONG reading journey ahead of me in the galaxy far far away, and I'd like to take this blog along with me. I've already reviewed a few Star Wars themed materials, but now we're taking it through the reading list to the best of my abilities. Starting with The Old Republic.

The Knights of the Old Republic (referred to as KOTOR in Star Wars gamer circles) was originally an RPG game, for XBOX and PC, released in 2003, which I never played. I was not an XBOX gamer, preferring my Nintendo GameCube, GBA SP, and DS. I was only into certain PC games (Rollercoaster Tycoon, Zoo Tycoon, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, JumpStart, and Disney titles). That being said I had no familiarity with the Old Republic time of the Star Wars universe when I read these novels. The Old Republic series is made up of four novels by three authors. Since I didn't play the game and there was no movie made that was set in the times of the Old Republic, everything I know about it comes from these books. This review will discuss the first two, and the next two will go up next weekend.


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Revan

Author: Drew Karpyshyn
Genre: Science Fiction --> Space Opera
Year of Publication:  2011


SYNOPSIS:

There's something out there: a juggernaut of evil bearing down to crush the Republic, unless one lone Jedi, shunned and reviled, can stop it.

10687840Revan: hero, traitor, conqueror, villain, savior. A Jedi who left Coruscant, to defeat Mandalorians and returned a disciple of the dark side, bent on destroying the Republic. The Jedi Council gave Revan his life back, but the price of redemption was high. His memories have been erased. All that's left are nightmares and deep, abiding fear. 

What exactly happened beyond the Outer Rim? Revan can't quite remember, yet can't entirely forget. Somehow he stumbled across a terrible secret that threatens the very existence of the Republic. With no idea what it is, or how to stop it, Revan may very well fail, for he's never faced a more powerful and diabolic enemy. But only death can stop him from trying. 

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I can honestly say that this story was pretty gripping overall. This is the first book in the Old Republic series and while it isn't the best Star Wars novel I've ever read, or my favorite in the Old Republic series, it is still worth a read. It is also a worthy inclusion in the Star Wars expanded universe, even if as just a Legend. 

At first I had a bit of a hard time getting through the prologue because I honestly did not know anything about Revan before reading this book (having never played the game as mentioned above), so I had to catch up on some background with quick internet searches to feel secure in my reading ---this is just a reflection of me personally because if I feel I'm dropped in too easily without knowledge of a character, it can be distracting to my enjoyment of a novel---The prologue provided a generic summary, but that wasn't enough for me to feel like I really understood the character at the point he is supposed to be at in the novel. In time though, I latched onto Revan's character and also that of Lord Scourge as the story progressed. I found them both to be very interesting. 

 Revan and Scourge are on two separate paths: Revan is seeking out his lost memories and Scourge is trying to become stronger while being forced to sidestep into an arrangement with Darth Nyriss, a Sith on the Emperor's Council. The plots thicken as Revan goes farther into space and Scourge finds himself in plots against powerful figures, until their paths eventually converge.

I liked the characters, I liked the story and I found it largely enjoyable. I thought it was particularly interesting how Scourge changes after encountering Revan. His approach and mindset seem to shift significantly, or so it appeared to me. I enjoyed the action sequences, as they were easy for me to follow along with and visualize. I had a hard time trying to see how the final act was going to play out because it seemed to hit its highest point with only a few short chapters left. It seemed peculiar, but upon completing it I see why things happened the way they did, kind of. The ending is the part I am still trying to wrap my head around. I've been trying to decide how I feel about it and if it changes anything about how I had been enjoying the book. I can honestly say that I'm not entirely satisfied, but I understand it to a certain degree. I find it tragic in the long run to not have as much satisfaction in the end, since I was expecting a little more given the journey the book provided as a base. I'm interested to see how decisions made by characters here may play out in the long run for the Star Wars timeline, for the future of characters to come. I still think the ending felt overly rushed and that Revan's story should not have ended in this particular way, due to the fact that he is such an epic character for this time period. My main complaint is always going to be that blasted ending because it felt disjointed from the rest of the story and was much more rushed than any part of the book. All of the pacing was excellent before that.

Overall I enjoyed this book. I liked many elements of it and the writing style, while not masterful, was enough to get me latched to everything that was happening. All in all I thought it was good. I feel I'll have a better understanding of the Star Wars universe history as I progress through the reading orders. This book left me with a great respect for the character of Revan and I guess that is one of the coolest things this book had to offer: the character of Revan. I would be thrilled if there was ever a film made that involved Revan's story, but I would personally change up the ending and NOT make this particular version canon. I give Revan a 3 out of 5 stars.

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Deceived

Author: Paul S. Kemp
Genre: Science Fiction --> Space Opera
Year of Publication: 2011

SYNOPSIS:

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The second novel set in the Old Republic era and based on the massively multiplayer online game Star Wars: The Old Republic ramps up the action and brings readers face-to-face for the first time with a Sith warrior to rival the most sinister of the Order's Dark Lords --- Darth Malgus, the mysterious, masked Sith of the wildly popular "Deceived" and "Hope" game trailers.

Malgus brought down the Jedi Temple on Coruscant in a brutal assault that shocked the galaxy. But if war crowned him the darkest of Sith heroes, peace would transform him into something far more heinous --- something Malgus would never want to be, but cannot stop, any more than he can stop the rogue Jedi fast approaching. 

Her name is Aryn Leneer --- and the lone Knight that Malgus cut down in the fierce battle for the Jedi Temple was her Master. And now she's going to find out what happened to him, even if it means breaking every rule in the book. 

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Deceived takes a video game base and for someone who hasn't played the games, makes the story accessible. I've read reviews where lovers of the game hated this book, but since I never did and I just came for a good Star Wars story, I'm happy with what I got.

Malgus is a master of destruction, bringing down the Jedi Temple, and he does not want to see peace happen between the Empire and the Republic. His main flaw however, is that he cares for someone. In this book he has a female Twi'lek companion and its noted that he actually cares for her, but he has to downplay it in order to maintain proper appearances. This is one of the things that he struggles with. The companion, Eleena, isn't super interesting or well developed, but she definitely serves a purpose.

Zeerid is an ex-soldier turned cargo runner who wants only to give his young crippled daughter a better life and maybe a pair of decent legs again, and plans to do so by making one last round through a Sith blockade on Coruscant to deliver spice. He runs into Aryn, who is a Jedi, but goes rogue because she wants revenge on the Sith who killed her master. Zeerid and Aryn get caught up in some big poodoo and end up helping each other while trying to survive.

While the Jedi revenge plot has been done a few times, I was still really intrigued by this book, largely because of the quick pacing, solid balance between the plots of all three main characters, easy understanding of character motivations, and everything was really straightforward. There were strategic moves and it was thrilling without being too fast paced as to breeze by. The setting was highly familiar (Coruscant) and there were some familiar settings (Jedi Temple) despite it being after the Empire's strike on it. There was a limited mention of technology, while still showing that technology is advanced beyond ours as is usual for the Star Wars universe. The time moved quickly so we weren't having to slog through individual days just waiting to get somewhere. I also found the ending to be pretty concise and satisfying. There was nothing I actually despised about this book and not a whole lot I would complain about. While I can understand some peoples' dislike of it for different aspects (lack of personality for Malgus' companion, standard stories of revenge, mixed up emotions for Jedi and Sith), I was just able to read it and enjoy it for what it was. A novel based on a game I never played. I was just looking for a good time in the Star Wars universe, in a time I wasn't familiar with, and I feel like I got it. It was accessible, quick, and had solid characters to follow, even if they weren't ground or character- type breaking.

For me, Deceived gets 4 out of 5 stars.


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The Old Republic series chronologically is off to a good start for me. Next weekend will wrap up my Old Republic reviews, discussing Fatal Alliance and Annihilation. Thanks for reading!!!!!

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