Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel by James Luceno
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Lauded Star Wars author James Luceno returns to pen an intense tale of ambition and betrayal that sets the stage for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
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.
Catalyst is a brilliantly universe-expanding story and an excellent addition to Star Wars canon. The book is set during Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith but focuses a new group of characters who view the war from a different perspective. The story centres on Galen and Lyra Erso and their infant daughter, Jyn as they travel across the Galaxy engaging in scientific research, hoping to find a way of providing free, renewable energy to the poorest Planets in the Galaxy. The second storyline is that of Orson Krennic, who is a young, ambitious officer within the Republic who wishes to further his career by exploiting his long-time friendship with Galen Erso.
The novel spans a period of roughly five years during which the Republic transitions in to the Empire. The detail given and the new information provided in regards to the formation of the Empire is pleasing to those of us who felt it was rushed in the films. The main story focuses on the creation of the Death Star and how the Empire manages to conceal it from so many people whilst deceiving others into designing and building it for them. The rich text introduces us to many new worlds and species, whilst also touching base with recognisable characters such as Tarkin and to a lesser extent Saw Gerrera.
Catalyst is the perfect companion piece to the up-coming Rogue One: A Star Wars Story film. It introduces us to several characters that will feature in the film and also provides them with a back story. Although I found the first twenty or so pages hard to get into, mainly due to a lot of technical jargon, the story quickly picks up and concludes with a thrilling cat and mouse chase through the streets of Coruscant between the main characters. I was pleasantly surprised with the ending as, even though I was convinced I knew how it would end, I was wrong. It answered many questions that the promotional material for Rogue One raised and yet has made me ask many more questions that I need answering.
James Luceno has done his job very well, a very good novel in its own right, but now I cannot wait for Rogue One to hit cinemas so I can finish this story.
4.5 out of 5
I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.