Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is just a week away. In conjunction with that, a new #StarWars titled Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel was released just a few weeks ago. I picked it up and finished 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 is James Luceno, who fans may well recognize as the author behind 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, but Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel certainly is.
Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel is a prequel story to the film that will shed light on the Erso family. More specifically the novel focuses on Galen Erso, Jyn's father and brilliant scientist who mistakenly helps to create the Death Star. Those wanting a little more backstory into these characters prior to the film will not be disappointed.
1. It Relates The History Between Director Orson Krennic And The Erso Family
The trailers for #RogueOne have done a phenomenal job showcasing the relationship between the Erso family and Director Krennic and for good reason. The novel explores a great deal of the history between this family and Krennic. 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 kyber crystals. These crystals are pure energy and Galen learned how to extract them appropriately and use them to their greatest potential (more on these crystals later). That's where their paths started to diverge.
2. It Gives Focus To Other Characters We Are Already Familiar With
Not only does this book give us an introduction to characters we’ve never seen or heard before, the novel also focuses 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 has a fairly sizable role in this novel. The story reveals that Krennic is hoping to eventually overthrow Tarkin and claim the Grand Moff position for himself.
This book also mentions #DarthVader 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), 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 advisor 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 Explains How Kyber Crystals Play A Role In The Development Of The Death Star
How does the Death Star power up its main weapon? How do the #Jedi form their lightsabers? Look no further than the kyper crystals. These crystals can be extracted and used as a form of energy to power the creation of various weapons. Galen Erso is a leading scientist in the field, which is why Krennic wants to use him specifically for this research.
Though Krennic promises Galen his research is being used to help bring this energy to other worlds that need it, Galen is unknowingly being used for an evil purpose. This creates distrust between Galen and his family as his wife, Lyra, suspects that there is something more going on behind the scenes regarding how his work is being used. Galen's work, and the importance of these crystals, becomes clear.
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, we'll be introduced to a new family in the Ersos and Catalyst is a great entry point for that.
Galen is a loving father who only wants what’s best for his family. But as is always the case with the brilliant workaholic trope, he gets so invested in his research that he sometimes neglects his family, leaving his wife and child to take care of each other on their own. It’s a touching story when you become fully invested in these characters.
Since we are so accustomed to following the stories of Jedi, it’s a breath of fresh air to read about average citizens in the Star Wars universe. No, they are not Jedi, but they do have a belief in the Force, especially Galen’s wife. It makes the world feel more grounded and more believable when you add "normal" people into it.
My Overall Thoughts On ‘Catalyst: A Rogue One 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 the ones released thus far. Luceno knows how to write a fascinating story with compelling characters. He does such a great job giving life to characters we haven’t yet met while seamlessly weaving them into the established Star Wars universe. Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel is spectacular and is a must read for all Star Wars fans!