James Luceno, author of Star War Catalyst, is a master in character development. Tarkin and Darth Plagueis are both examples of how he wove stories about characters who exerted their will on the galaxy. Catalyst is no different in showing the motivations of the two main characters and how their decisions ultimately lead to the development of the Death Star. Catalyst is a Star Wars fans Star Wars book. It takes a deep dive into how and why the Death Star took so long to develop after the end of Revenge of the Sith until A New Hope. Along with this it gives a great introduction to two of the main characters in the upcoming Rogue One A Star Wars Story.
Star Wars Catalyst isn’t for the uninitiated. A Star Wars fan thinking of getting into the reading the books shouldn’t jump off with Catalyst. The book is a great primer for Rogue One, but it is not an action packed adventure which will hook the general fan. It’s a slow burn character story about the machinations of Orson Krennic and the idealist scientist he manipulates to his cause in Galen Orso. Luceno’s weaves and interesting and plausible story as to how each makes their contributions to the Death Star. The book is more about political intrigue and how well-meaning intentions can be used against good people.
Krennic is shown to be a political climber who is looking to gain power at every level. He looks for every angle to gain more standing and uses numerous schemes to gain control. He is put in charge of the Death Star construction and planning because he is an engineer but also because he knew how to maneuver to get the job. On the opposite side of Krennic is Galen Orso who just wants to create a power source which can be used by everyone in the galaxy. At the start of the novel he is trying to produce synthetic Kyber crystals so he can provide power. The war between the Republic and Separatists force him to abandon this work, but the rise of the Empire and fall of the Jedi allows him access to true Kyber crystals. This allows him to start his research and figure a way to harness the Kyber crystals power.
Catalyst is able to show how each of these characters goes about accomplishing their goals. Galen sacrifices some of his principles, or turns a blind eye to what is happening around him. Krennic has little to no consciences when it comes to accomplishing his goals. If there is one criticism for the book it is how evil Orson is for the story. There is no grey to him, he manipulates his situations to better himself and the Empire. By developing these characters Luceno shows how the Death Star is constructed. Each choice these characters make either impede or advance the construction of the super weapon. This is a true prequel to Rogue One and gives fantastic background on major characters in the new film.
The book is a great introduction to Galen and Orson along with Galen’s wife Lyra. Luceno is able to flesh out these characters in order to make the Death Star construction interesting. There had to be a reason why the construction of the Death Star took so long to complete from the end of Revenge of the Sith until the start of A New Hope and this book provides the reason. If fans of the series are at all interested in these reasons or they want more backstory for the characters found in Rogue One then the book is a must read. I don’t think it is a must read for casual Star Wars fans, and in fact it might be disappointing if they are not into more political or character studies.
If you have finished Catalyst let me know what you thought. If not does it sound interesting. Comment and let me know.