When Disney purchased Lucasfilm (aka Star Wars) in 2012 they made the decision to reset the Extended Universe.
This controversial action caused the extra content from hundreds of novels, comics and videogames to cry out in terror and suddenly be silenced.
Less dramatically, they were rebranded under the “Legends” designation which means they may or may not be true within the Star Wars universe.
I think it was smart as it permitted Disney screenwriters the freedom to write new scripts without carrying the baggage from thousands of intertwining storylines. It also helps make the franchise more accessible to newcomers.
Any new stories (post-2012) are now considered to be official canon. So far there are around 10 published novels and a whole whack of new comic book series (which I have been keeping up with via Marvel Unlimited).
I’ve read a few of the new books so far
- Aftermath by Chuck Wendig
- Aftermath: Life Debt by Chuck Wendig
- Tarkin by James Luceno
To be honest, I didn't really think any of them were very good... but I’ve been so excited for the release of Rogue One I thought I would give James Luceno another try with his Rogue One prequel novel “Catalyst”.
I’m very happy I did because it was the best Star Wars book I’ve read to date (including the few other “Legends” books I have read).
James Luceno does a great job developing the backstory, the characters and their complicated relationships with a focus on Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelson in Rogue One) and Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelson).
The dialogue is sharp and believable which could be difficult for less talented writers due to the genius-level intellect of the characters.
The story also provides great insight and important background on the early construction phase of the Death Star and the interesting period of Star Wars galactic history where the Republic transitions to the Empire.
Don’t expect a ton of action as the book is more of a relationship-study and explores the manipulative machinations of Orson Krennic in his effort to ascend within the new Empire.
I can’t quite tell how accessible the story would be to Star Wars newcomers but my gut tells me it could be a little difficult and is probably best suited for hardcore Star Wars fans. There is a fair bit of Star Wars terminology etc. that could make it difficult reading for newbies.
Rogue One: Catalyst is a great novel even if Star Wars was removed from the equation which I don’t think can be said for a lot of other Star Wars books. Kindle says average read time is 6.4 hours so you still have time to catch up before December 15th :).
Final Verdict: 9/10