Thursday, December 22, 2016

Book Review: XCatalystX - A Rogue One Novel by James Luceno

XCatalystX - A Rogue One Novel by James Luceno

Hardcover, 336 pages

Published November 2016 by Del Rey Books

I read this book super fast leading up to the release of the film, My hold from the library came in wednesday and I had a Friday night date with Rogue One in Imax 3D. I can say that I am glad I put in the effort to read this. I was interested as soon as I saw that Star Wars Vet James Luceno was writing this. He has written probably a dozen titles so of which are straight EU classic like The Rise Of Darth Vader that takes place after the events of Episode 3.

This novel provided a interesting depth to the story that I am was glad I had going into the movie. I don't think it will be as meaningful once you have seen Rogue one and since it made 155 million opening weekend it is a good chance you have already seen the movie. This will be a spoiler heavy review. Consider yourself warned.

Catalyst is basically the story of Galen Erzo the character played in the movie by actor Mads Mikkelsen know for this amazing turn as Hannibal Lecter. How many actors could step into that role and make us forget about Anthony Hopkins? As a character in the Star Wars universe he is unique, A researcher, a scientist it is about time we got a story like this. When you meet Galen in Rogue one he is a father, a pacifist in hiding from the empire because his research into the Kyber cyrstals - which are pure force and are used to power lightsabers for example.

At the start of Catalyst we are in the middle of Clone Wars. Count Dooku and the separatists have jailed Erzo and his pregnant wife. This child of course will group up to be Jyn the hero of Rogue One. We learn alot about Galen and his wife Lyra who met on a expedition researching the crystals. Galen is so wrapped up in his research, spending time with his daughter he doesn't know or understand the political turmoil around him. He wants to believe everything will be fine under the control of Palpatine. Lyra never for one minute trusteed either the separatists or the Republic.

It is their good friend and fellow researcher Orson Krennic who embraces the empire. He believes the empire is the only hope for peace in the universe. He is the man who is tasked with completing the project started on Genosis. The Death Star. He knows he can't finish a weapon with that kind of power without Galen. Lyra who gave birth to Jyn in separatist custody sees this coming. She knows this weapon will be a disaster for the entire galaxy so convinces Galen to run. They grab young Jyn and with the help rebel Saw Gurrea helps them to esacpe the capital planet and next you see them all is the opening of Rogue one.

I was hoping for more of a Manhattan Project style stroytline, and in some senses it is. We get a lot of detail and back ground about the relationship between Krennic and Galen. This adds a depth to the first scene more than anything. I think it helped add power to the film I saw but going back and reading it after seeing the outcome might not be as great an experience. It is Solidly written Luceno knows the universe but is also a gifted story teller always looking for the best moments of emotional depth in Ol' Georgie's sandbox.