(2016) James Luceno, Century, £19.99, hrdbk, 336pp, ISBN978-1-780-89367-9
There have been many new Star Wars novels released over the last year in anticipation of the new film series. Perhaps one of the most anticipated additions to the universe is Star Wars Catalyst. This is a prequel novel to the highly acclaimed film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The film filled a large gap that was left between the film series, but it also left several smaller gaps which has allowed for newer stories centred on the events leading up to the film.
This novel answers many questions that were left unanswered from the film. It was clear that Orson Krennic and Galen Erso had a deep past, and this novel manages to answer these questions. There is a war between the Republic and the Separatists. Krennic is determined to impress Chancellor Palpatine and build a new super-weapon to end the war. However, he believes the key to building this is an old friend, Galen Erso. When Krennic rescues Galen and his family from kidnappers, Galen is in Krennic debt. He believes his research will be used for the benefit of others, but it becomes clear what Krennics real intentions are.
The author of this novel, James Luceno has written many novels in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, including Tarkin and Darth Plaguis. As with his previous novels, he manages to weave together a clear story that leads nicely into the cinematic universe. He deals well with political intrigue and manipulation that is the centre of the story as Krennic influences Galen. Whilst Galen was not a main character in the film, he is nicely explored in this novel. We discover more about his motivations and his sense of duty and honour that was not explored during the film. Whilst Krennic is a crucial piece to this novel, it does not feel like we discover anything more about his personality or intentions, as these were made clear throughout the development of the film. Fans that are looking for extra details between the films will find enjoyment with this novel, including information about the Jedi.
Although this novel is well written and the majority of the novel is well paced, there is no sense of danger or any anticipation as to what is going to happen. It is clear where the novel is heading. The political setting of the novel does not allow for much action and the chapters can sometimes not be as engaging as others.
Overall, it is a nice addition to the Star Wars Expanded Universe. It is a story that needed to be told as it was a central piece left over from the novel. Ideally, you should read this novel before the film as it does offer some character development that will help you understand the film in more detail. It is an enjoyable novel with just enough intrigue and information about the Star Wars universe to earn it an important place on your shelf.
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