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A novel by Drew Karpyshyn (2010, Del Rey)
The Old Republic, book 1
Set 3840 years before Star Wars: A New Hope

A Jedi who once fell to the Dark Side goes in search of the memories that were taken from him, finding the reborn Sith Empire and a plot to invade the Republic.



Read October 7th to 16th, 2014, in paperback  
    A big chunk of this story is actually missing from this novel, as it is taken up in other sources, like the Old Republic video games, comics and short stories. This makes reading this novel more difficult than it should be, as often events will jump for no apparent reason, and the author glosses over the details. The character of Revan was well described, though it wasn’t much different from any other "hero trying to go undercover amidst the bad guys" story.

Full spoiler review:

I find this a poor way to market a novel, requiring people to read the other material to get a good grasp of what is going on. Even searching on-line for a summary or history of the times surrounding Revan don’t give enough detail about the missing parts. Obviously a lot has happened before this story even starts. Revan had gone to attack the Mandalorians in their attempts to conquer the galaxy, disappeared for a little while, then tried to conquer the galaxy himself, was defeated, but not before he turned another couple of Jedi to the Dark Side, and they tried to conquer the galaxy. Finally, Revan defeated them, brought one back to the Light, and had his memories wiped so that he didn’t try to do it again.

In an ideal world, I wouldn’t have to search for the sources of all these events. Give me a set of resources to check out at the back of the book –you would think this would be something the marketing agencies would be interested in, so they could sell more books/magazines/comics/games…

As the book opens, Revan and his wife (the marriage is not sanctioned by the Jedi, but they haven’t done anything to stop it, either) have just had a child. You would think the other Jedi would be jealous…Still, he is having dreams, where his repressed memories are starting to resurface. It seems like a bad idea the Jedi had in removing those memories, as they should know it can never be permanent. He has to go figure out what his dreams mean, and why he became a Sith to try and take over the galaxy in the first place.

He finds the Mandalorians, but disguises himself, as they are trying to find the Mandalore’s helmet that he hid from them, which should unite the clans and strengthen the Mandalorians again. I’m not really sure why he wanted to help them, but given that they had almost found it anyway, and he was looking for his own clues, I guess it makes a sort of sense. The search and discovery of the helmet, the rivalries that are sparked, and his escape are not actually all that interesting.

The first part of the book ends as Revan makes his way a devastated planet, and is captured by Darth Nyriss and her Sith warrior Scourge. Nyriss is a Sith who knows somebody is out to assassinate her, and uses Scourge to unveil the plot. Revan spends four years in their prison, during which time the Republic has suddenly suffered another civil war, after a Jedi turned into a Sith and nearly wiped out the rest of the Jedi. The author tells the story in a couple of paragraphs, and it is such a jarring statement that I was sorely disappointed in the way it was left hanging. Even searches online did not retrieve a satisfactory telling of what occurred, other than it was inspired by Revan’s turn from decades before. His former padawan (as a Sith, but converted back to the Light) Meetra ended the conflict “off-screen”.

Nyriss plans to overthrow the Emperor, because apparently he destroyed an entire planet with a Sith ritual that transferred all the life energy to him, effectively making him immortal –and he wants to do the same thing to the entire galaxy, effectively making him a god (though with nothing living to rule over…). I’ve never really liked the Sith magic that could do this sort of thing, but here it is just a plot point. Scourge was an interesting character, as he has doubts about some of his abilities, while certainty about others. He traces the assassins back to various planets, but is always at the disposal of Nyriss’ major-domo. Several missions seem suspicious, and really make Scourge wonder about the major-domo’s loyalties, especially as he wants to become Nyriss’ second-in-command.

Corrupted by Revan in the prison cell, Scourge goes to see the Emperor, telling him of Nyriss’ plans, as Meetra arrives to help rescue Revan. The Emperor decides to purge the entire Dark Council! During the attack, Scourge rescues Revan, whose memories return with the mask he wore during the last champagne against the Mandalorians, and he is able to kill Nyriss.

Revan, Meetra and Scourge then try to kill the Emperor on their own, but he proves to be too powerful. Scourge had visions that lead him to betray Revan, whose remaining body (not much, I think) is placed in a suspension tank in order to retrieve information when necessary. This is a very strange development, as it also appears that Revan can impose some of his will on the Emperor, slowing down the invasion plans by several centuries. I’m not sure what that actually accomplished, though, as the Republic is still completely surprised when the Sith do try to invade, a few hundred years later.

I think I enjoyed the parts about Scourge more than Revan’s plot. He was always getting himself involved in various plots –real or imagined. Revan, meanwhile, set out on a vague mission that didn’t give any real conclusion to any storyline. I am glad this is not the first Old Republic novel that I read in the series, because I might have stopped there. At the moment, I know there are more interesting stories to come.

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