Genre: Science Fiction — Space Opera
Series: Star Wars: The Old Republic #1
Publisher: LucasBooks (November 15, 2011)
Length: 289 pages
My Rating: 2 stars
Knights of the Old Republic (herein after referred to as KOTOR) was one of my all-time favorite video games back in the day, the Old Republic era of Star Wars a great landscape for the epic struggle of Revan, Bastilla, and their companions against the forces of the Sith. I can’t count the hours I sat in front of my television grinding away at the missions, unraveling the quests to finish KOTOR. It was great fun, wonderful memories. But that is exactly why I never read Revan when it was released; my fear that a continuation of this Star Wars story could never live up to my sky high expectations. And, unfortunately, my misgivings have been proven correct.
Revan starts out decently well, I suppose. Our title character is on Coruscant, having been publicly forgiven for his evil deeds in the past, celebrated as a hero of the Republic, and ceremoniously taken back into the Jedi Order, but the reality of the situation is that his former Jedi brothers and sisters don’t really trust him, so Revan has slipped into the shadows, infrequently gracing the halls of the Jedi Temple, and living apart from the Order he saved. The only thing holding him back from a contented life are terrible nightmares of a dark, ominous planet and an overwhelming sense of foreboding about a nebulous power beyond the Outer Rim which is seeking to destroy the Republic!
As far as setups go, all that sounds good, right? Drew Karpyshyn peaking a reader’s curiosity, foreshadowing some serious adversaries for our protagonist, and giving KOTOR fans a peak at our old companions from the game. Sure, I could quibble about Canderous Ordo, T3-M4, and Bastilla Shan not getting enough page time and complain about Mission Voo, Zallbar, and HK-47 not being present at all, but overall, I was satisfied with this beginning . . . before things went horribly wrong.
First off, little by little the story becomes a tale about our resident Sith Lord Scourge. Yeah, he has an interesting plot line, but this isn’t his book. See the title? It is Revan, which means the title character should be front and center in this one. If Drew Karpyshyn wanted to write a story about Scourge so be it, but title it Scourge already. But, no, a book titled Revan turns out to spends all the page time it could have used showcasing Revan, Bastilla, and all the rest of their crew developing Scourge as an up-and-coming power player in the Sith Empire. And when doing this, the author ruins any sense of mystery about Revan’s nightmares, where his quest will take him, or what he will ultimately uncover. I mean, Scourge literally answers all the questions in Revan’s story before he ever gets to. What the hell! How is that making the story of Revan compelling, exciting, or thrilling?
Second, there are multitudes of long, detailed expositions by the author. Definitely, not every reader will be as intimately familiar with KOTOR and KOTOR II as me, but the sheer volume of these massive info dumps was mind numbing. They detracted from the story. They put screeching halts to all plot momentum. Most importantly, they kept Karpyshyn from spending time on developing characters, building up suspense, delving into deep emotional aspects of the narrative, and crafting an engrossing story.
And, lastly, the second half of this book and its conclusion were huge letdowns. Nope, I’m not referring to my fanboy expectations not being met for my favorite characters. What I am speaking about is the major shift away from the actual plot the author spent the first half of the book building up. Suddenly, that plot stops, runs headfirst into a proverbial wall. One page exciting stuff is taking place, mysteries are being answered, then the next page says years have zoomed past. Yeah, you read that right. Years rush pass with the flipping of a page. And in between those pages, KOTOR 2 takes place, a galactic war is fought, and people disappear. All the information a reader getting about these epic events is a brief summary before the Exile from KOTOR 2 takes over the main Jedi role and Lord Scourge becomes the true main character of the novel. This new story then rushing forward to a predictable conclusion; everything ending with another huge time jump, leaving a reader with no resolution to anything to do with Revan or his companions.
To wrap up, this is a book I truly wish I had not read; Revan making me fully understand why people sometimes argue that it is better to leave a great story alone and not attempt to add to it. The simple truth is that KOTOR was just a much better conclusion to the tale of Revan, Bastilla, and all their companions than this book. Perhaps others might enjoy this novel as a video game tie-in or for its development of the history of the Old Republic Era of the Star Wars Universe, but for those wanting to recapture the magic of KOTOR, I’d suggest they look elsewhere.