Welcome to the first Star Wars Saturday of Star Wars month!!!!
Today we will be covering the book that comes first in the Canon timeline of Expanded Universe materials: Catalyst - A Rogue One Novel.
Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel
Author: James LucenoPublication Year: 2016
War is tearing the galaxy apart. For years the Republic and the Separatists have battled across the stars, each building more and more deadly technology in an attempt to win the war. As a member of Chancellor Palpatine’s top secret Death Star project, Orson Krennic is determined to develop a superweapon before their enemies can. And an old friend of Krennic’s, the brilliant scientist Galen Erso, could be the key.
Galen’s energy-focused research has captured the attention of both Krennic and his foes, making the scientist a crucial pawn in the galactic conflict. But after Krennic rescues Galen, his wife, Lyra, and their young daughter, Jyn, from Separatist kidnappers, the Erso family is deeply in Krennic’s debt. Krennic then offers Galen an extraordinary opportunity: to continue his scientific studies with every resource put utterly at his disposal. While Galen and Lyra believe that his energy research will be used purely in altruistic ways, Krennic has other plans that will finally make the Death Star a reality. Trapped in their benefactor’s tightening grasp, the Ersos must untangle Krennic’s web of deception to save themselves and the galaxy itself.
I read this as an e-book via my local public library's use of OverDrive. I was actually really psyched to read it, because 1) you all already know I'm into Star Wars and 2) I really liked Rogue One.
Catalyst is the second novel in the official Canon expanded universe of Star Wars. It takes place just before Rogue One, before Galen Erso (Jyn's father) is on the planet in the opening sequence of the film, where Krennic comes for him. This book tells us how Galen came to be on that planet, how Orson Krennic rose to his position in the Empire, and it also provides some actual character development for Lyra, Galen's wife and Jyn's mother.
One of the most interesting aspects of this book for me was seeing all the background for Galen, Lyra, and Krennic. Lyra is not in the movie for very long, so she felt like an almost useless character there, but here we actually get to spend time with her. We can see why she is wary of Krennic, nervous about her husband's work, and worried about the safety of her daughter. She is worried about the influence and motivations of the people now employing Galen and it is evident why. In this book she is an actual character and I wish they almost would have done some of the things within this book in the actual movie. Another component of this book is the way that it builds upon Galen's role. In the movie, Galen is needed in order to help finish building the Death Star. That concept raises a couple of questions: 1) why this guy in particular? 2) how could the empire build an entire Death Star with hardly anyone knowing until it is too late?
Now we know just what Galen was studying that made him so important to the Empire. I really enjoyed the passages that focused on when Galen was working, because they show the kind of person he actually is. He isn't just some guy in a Star Wars movie, he is a scientist with his own goals and motivations with a conscience that factors in a lot within the book. I also enjoyed seeing how Krennic rose to become Director and be able to speak directly to Darth Vader. He and Galen have a very entwined past and seeing how the two interact was interest piquing for sure. You see who he doesn't quite get along with and how those things factor into the movie.
The best thing about this book is the deeper understanding that it provides about the characters. While the plot is interesting and plays into how things in the movie turned out, I just found the background of the characters more intriguing in the long-run. Is it the best Star Wars book I've read so far? No, but I think that people who liked Rogue One might be interested in seeing how things became what they are at the start of the movie. The movie tosses us right into action, at a point we need to be at, since Jyn is of more importance for the story being told, but that means we don't get to know the intricacies of how the Empire came to be or worked to get the Death Star built, or how any of the first three characters shown ended up hiding away from Krennic and avoiding the Empire. This is a great story for background.
SIDE NOTE: I finally figured out how to use this site better and went sifting through the available symbols. So now I can do actual star ratings with cool little lone star-esque Stars, instead of writing numbers, which I am pretty happy about. From here out I shall be calling it the LoneStar Rating, because it fits my general Texas theme.
So with background for the movie, better character development for Galen Erso, Lyra, and Orson Krennic, and an interesting story about hidden agendas and actions, I can honestly say that Catalyst is worth taking time to read. It isn't a grand, fast paced space adventure, but it does a good job of providing things the movie didn't have time to present with good enough detail.
LoneStar Rating: ✯✯✯✯
Star Wars Canon Novel
✅ Dark Disciple
✅ Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel
➖ Lords of the Sith
➖ A New Dawn
Next Saturday I will be posting up a review for Dark Disciple, which actually comes quite a bit earlier in the timeline. It is the book before Catalyst, but it takes place during the Clone Wars instead of after Revenge of the Sith like Catalyst. Happy Star Wars month, see you in a week!
May the Force be with you 😁