Thursday, December 1, 2016

Book Review: CATALYST (Star Wars) - A Rogue One Novel, by James Luceno

James Luceno
CATALYST (Star Wars) - A Rogue One Novel
Del Rey
Science Fiction

There is no forgetting the feeling of first seeing Star Wars: A New Hope when it hit theaters in 1977. And I will never forget taking my kids out of school mid-day to see the first showings The Phantom Menace in 1999. I have three kids, adults now, but the four of us share an immense love for all things Star Wars. And the reason I say all of this --I did not care for CATALYST. I read it in two days, but it was so blah as to be forgettable.

I'd have bought this book regardless of the hype it needed to be read before seeing the upcoming (12/2016) release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. I was ready for the story to be something of a prequel to the movie. I just wasn't ready to be bored by the telling of the tale. (There may be book spoilers in this review. Forewarned).

CATALYST takes place during the end of the Clone Wars, and prior to Rogue One. In this novel we meet brilliant scientist, Galen Eros, and his wonderful wife Lyra. Galen dedicated his life, and life work, to finding ways of efficiently providing energy to the galaxy. The Eros are not about sides. They are neither for the Republic, or the Separatists. They are more for the advancement as a whole, and peace. Lyra, who appreciates her husband's mind, and understands when he disappears within himself --mathematical formulas, problems, potential solutions swirling about inside his brain-- is pregnant with their first child.

When the planet they are working on undergoes a leadership coup, and Marshal Phara replaces the former king, the Eros' are arrested. It is clear Galen's mind has saved their lives. Getting the man to work for them, for their strides forward, and the planet's overall benefit, is easier said than done. While imprisoned, Lyra gives birth to their daughter, Jyn (the star of Rogue One).

Orson Krennic, once knew Galen. Is aware of Galen's work. And if he plays his cards right, can rescue the Eros while earning brownie points within the Republic, and under Chancellor Palpatine's command. Winning the war is all that matters, and the plans to build a moon-sized battle station is all well and good. Without a weapon, it is useless.

Krennic realizes Galen's principals cannot be easily manipulated. The idea of blanketing the Eros family in an aura of safety (imaginary) is the idea. He knows sooner or later Galen will come around and work for the Republic and agree to be the mastermind behind the Death Star's weapon system.

When the Clone Wars end, and Dooku is dead, and Darth Vader is born, the chancellor becomes the Emperor, and the Republic the Empire. All the while, Krennic is biding his time, and rising in ranks. Coercing smuggler Has Obitt into his secret employment, Krennic plots strategic moves giving the Empire more control over the galaxy, and making patches of radicals seem like the enemy.

But time is of the essences, and the Emperor's patients grow tired of waiting on Krennic's scientist to come around. Working with kyber crystals, Galen is close to achieving what he believes is his goal. Krennic knows that Lyra is as much his problem, as she is Galen's grace. There has to be a way to keep her from influencing her husband, from interfering with his work. Galen must be allowed to finish what he started, what only he can complete!

Aware things might not be what they seem, Galen and Lyra know they must flee the long-arm reach of the Empire. They risk imprisonment, or worse if they remain. Getting off the planet won't be easy, but it might be their only chance at surviving the terrible mess they got themselves into!

 James Luceno can write. No doubt. The author did the best he could with what he'd been given, I'm sure. We meet some amazing characters, and there is some potential for more stories with Has Obitt and some of his smuggling cronies. I am glad I read the book, but it did nothing to excite me about the upcoming movie. I dare say I feel somewhat deflated. Do you have to read CATALYST before seeing Rogue One? I have no idea. Should you? Your call. My guess, those who don't should be just fine in the theaters later this month.

Phillip Tomasso
Author of the Severed Empire Series, and
The Vaccination Trilogy


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