Star Wars: Revan

I pre-ordered Star Wars: Revan. It’s a documented fact that I’m a huge KotoR fan, and so when this book was announced I had to have it. I pre-ordered it on my Kindle and the minute it was released I downloaded it and read it.

It is probably one of the most disappointing Star Wars related experiences of my life and I think it compares well to what The Phantom Menace did to the Original Trilogy. One of Bioware’s best writers, Drew Karpyshyn, wrote Revan (and he also wrote the Darth Bane trilogy [a great set of Star Wars books, by the way]) and it was with high hopes that I pre-ordered and began reading Revan. My God was I disappointed.

Revan is one of the biggest badasses in the known universe and the storyline involving him in KotoR is absolutely one of the most brilliant and stunning plotpoints ever put down period. I don’t want to spoil it because KotoR is one of the best video games ever made as it is, but Revan’s role in that game is absolutely mind-blowing. The game sends Revan off with some fanfare, which sadly KotoR II left hanging. It was hoped that Revan, you know, the book named after the guy, would actually do something with him but sadly that never really came to fruition.

Revan instead mostly focuses on Darth Scourge, a Sith with a name so ridiculous he gets made fun of in the book. Scourge finds himself at the centre of some political turmoil and needs to find out who is attempting to kill Darth Nyriss; he does, of course, only to find out he’s a pawn in a much larger game than he realises.

Meanwhile, Revan is bumbling around the galaxy with Canderous Ordo (again, one of the gaming world’s biggest badasses), attempting to recover Mandalore’s Mask. We get a glimpse at some Mandalorian technology and get to see again how big a thug Revan is, but rarely do we get anything insightful: we do get a glimpse into Ordo’s personal life (or lack thereof) and how Mandalorians do things, but it constantly remains just “interesting”. Of course, the Mask-quest is something covered in the games, so we only get a better description here instead of anything absolutely amazing. To put it lightly, it’s just disappointing.

Eventually, Revan joins up with the hero from KotoR II, the oddly named Meetra Surik, but what happened to her at the end of the game really isn’t brought up as a point of focus. I mean, it kind of is, but it’s kind of left to drift there at the periphery of the reading. Throw in T3 and Bastilla Shan, and that rounds out the list of cameos from the game. Just about everyone else gets a mention (save Carth Onasi, who according to this game’s canon should be alive), but that’s about it.

The book does introduce one or two interesting characters: there’s a new Emperor in town who’s kind of cool, and Nyriss has an assistant named Sechel who is a pretty capable non-Force user, but that’s about it. The book’s descriptions are well laid out and very vivid, from the scenery to the gun and saber fights, but that’s about it; the characterisations are mostly flat, leaving this a somewhat beautiful  yet unpopulated world. Reading it, it feels like the vast majority of the book is filler, like Karpyshyn was told “ok, so we need x number of pages and you have four days to do so.” There’s a lot there, but mostly just a lot of nothing. It’s bizarre, coming from Karpyshyn, but the book even lacks a lot of dialogue: there’s a lot of thought, but not a ton of interactions.

The biggest problem for me however was the very end. I was willing to overlook a lot for a cool ending, but unfortunately the book just doesn’t deliver. There are two kind of cool twists, but the book’s final ending is just plain weak, in the same way that KotoR II‘s ending was weak. I can understand “non-endings” and the like, but this book offers a definitive ending that just doesn’t work and is ultimately just embarassing. Worst of all, the book itself just feels like a giant plug for The Old Republic: it really sucks in this respect and is ultimately just disrespectful towards the readership.

I’m at a loss with Revan. It feels like a terrible way to end such a magnificent character and even magnificent group of characters; the book had the potential to undo the harm that KotoR II did to the series and could have redeemed the entire thing; it could have, like many a Sith Lord, turned to the light side. It didn’t, though. It sucks. It takes everything you might have loved from KotoR and combines it with everything you hated from KotoR II, and everyone knows that a single bad egg can ruin a whole omelet. Revan is not worth buying and not worth reading; the book imparts nothing and no one has anything to gain by reading it. Avoid it.

If this book were purely about Darth Scourge and everything about Revan was omitted, it would have been a fine Star Wars entry. If you like the inner politics of the Sith (kind of like in the Darth Bane books), it’s interesting… except for the Revan-stuff.

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