Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is less than a month away. The newest addition to the Star Wars franchise is the first of two announced spin-off films with a Han Solo movie being the other. While we know how Rogue One ends, there’s still a refreshing story here that’s worth telling. Die hard fans will know that a new book titled Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel was released just a few weeks ago. I’ve had the chance to pick it up and finish it in a matter of days and I have to say that’s it’s certainly one of the greatest Star Wars books I’ve ever read.
The author James Luceno who fans may well recognize, has written a few timeless stories towards the Star Wars universe. Some of the books include The Dark Lord Trilogy, Cloak of Deception, and one of my personal favorites; Darth Plagueis. Sadly, those books are no longer part of Star Wars canon, however Luceno has also written two canon novels thus far with Tarkin being his first and the newly released Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel being his follow-up.
Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel is a prequel story to the film that sheds light on the Erso family. More specifically the novel mostly focuses the father Galen Erso is a brilliant scientist who mistakenly helps to create the Death Star. For those wanting a little more backstory into these characters will not be disappointed. Here are a few reasons why everyone should pick up a copy of Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel. Minor spoilers from the novel follow…
1. It Tells The History Between Director Orson Krennic And The Erso Family
The trailers for Rogue One have done a phenomenal job showcasing the relationship between the Erso family and Director Krennic and for good reason. When you read this novel, you will learn a great deal of the history between this family and Krennic. You will understand that Krennic and Galen go way back to the days when they were peers in the Republic’s Futures Program.
They were both gifted students, however what made Galen stand out was that he was a genius at studying the unique characteristics of crystals. These crystals are pure energy and Galen learned how to harvest them appropriately and use them to their greatest potential (more on these crystals later).
2. It Gives Focus To Other Characters We Are Already Familiar With
Not only does this book give us a great backstory to characters we’ve never seen or heard before, the novel also gives some focus on characters we are very familiar with. Since Luceno is the author of the novel Tarkin, it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that Tarkin actually has a fairly decent role in this novel. Krennic and Tarkin show a mutual arrogance when conversing with each other, but as you read you will understand that Krennic is hoping to eventually overthrow Tarkin and hopefully claim the Grand Moff position for himself.
This book also mentions Vader as well as the Emperor. However another pivotal character to the development of the Death Star was a former Jedi named Count Dooku. Since the first half of the novel takes place during the Clone Wars (Episode II respectively), it would make sense to include one of the Separatist Leaders. The novel also focuses on lesser known characters from Episode II such as the Geonosians and their leader Poggle the Lesser as well as the Techno Union adviser Wat Tambor. Luceno does a fantastic job incorporating all of these characters in his novel and gives them more weight in the Star Wars universe.
3. It Tells The Early Development Of The Death Star And How Kyber Crystals Play A Role
Would you like to know how the Death Star was powered up to fire its main weapon? Would you like to know how the Jedi used these crystals to form their lightsabers? Look no further than the kyper crystals. These crystals can be harvested and used as a form of energy to power up whatever weapon is being created. Galen is a master at this, which is why Krennic wants to use him specifically for this research.
Though Krennic promised Galen that his research is being used to help bring this energy to other worlds that need it, Galen is being blindsided by the fact that he is unfortunately being used for a greater evil. This creates a distrust between Galen and his family when his wife Lyra suspects that there is something more going on behind the scenes with his studies. Galen isn’t being forced to do this research, but he doesn’t realize that all his work is going directly in the hands of the Empire to create a super weapon. As you read this story, you will understand the importance of these crystals.
4. It Gives Audiences A Taste Of A New Star Wars Family
We are all quite familiar with the Skywalker storyline since it had started and continued through all seven of the episodic films. With Rogue One being the first standalone movie, this film has a chance to introduce us to very memorable characters. Not only do you learn about the entire Erso family, but you understand everything they go through together.
Galen is a loving father who only wants what’s best for his family. However, he gets so invested with his research that he sometimes forgets the importance of family and leaves his wife and child to take care of each other. It’s a touching story when you become fully invested with these characters.
Since we are so accustomed to characters becoming a Jedi, it’s a breath of fresh air to read and learn about individuals in the Star Wars universe who seem like an average citizen. No they are not Jedi but they do have a belief in the Force, especially Galen’s wife. This makes the story feel more grounded and more believable when you take all of these things into consideration.
5. It Ties In With All Of The Star Wars Films Nicely
Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel fits in the Star Wars universe surprisingly well. Though the novel skips a few years here and there, Luceno couldn’t have done a better job with the overall story. The story flows from start to finish and you’ll easily get invested with each and every one of the characters. Though many Star Wars fans seem to dislike the prequels, this novel will make Episode II feel more compelling than ever before.
My Thoughts On ‘Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel’
Overall, I was very pleased with this story. I believe it’s imperative to get a basic understanding of these characters before going to see the film. Having said that, I don’t think it’s a detriment to those who do not read this novel. Director Gareth Edwards has given everything he has to crafting a story that will please both fans and die hard fans alike. You will absolutely care for these characters going into the film after having read the novel.
Personally, it’s one of my favorite Star Wars books of all time. In fact, I’m going to say that’s it’s probably the best canon novel out of all the books released thus far. Luceno knows how to write a fascinating story with compelling characters to boot. He does such a great job giving life to characters we haven’t met before along with intertwining it in the Star Wars universe. If you have a chance to pick it up before Rogue One comes out, I highly suggest you do so. Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel is spectacular and is a must read for all Star Wars fans!