I’ll be the first to admit that I bought Revan purely fueled by the hype surrounding the book’s release. I even pre-ordered it on my Kindle. I know I’m hardly unique in that regard, but I’ve never played KOTOR. In fact, I had to look up that it stood for Knights of the Old Republic. For that matter, I’d never read any Old Republic books, either. I’d been stuck in the New Republic era, with characters I really like but was getting a bit bored with. I was looking for something new, and the hoopla led me to Revan.
I figure if anyone could read the book without preconceptions, it would be me.
Did I like Revan? Yes. Would I read more Old Republic? Yes. Was Revan, as a book, flawed? Absolutely.
The story begins on Coruscant, with Revan having nightmares. His memory has been wiped, he’s been labeled as a hero – a title he doesn’t want, nor really deserve – and the nightmares portend something evil. He’s compelled to find out what.
Meanwhile, we are introduced to a young Sith, Lord Scourge. (Much to Drew Karpyshyn’s credit, another Sith Lord mocks the name.) He’s just starting to make his way in the corrupt, backstabbing, self-interested world of Sith politics. What he lacks in experience, he makes up with ambition and raw power in the Dark Side.
The first half of the story is split between Revan and Scourge, and as a character, the Sith wins. My impression is that Scourge is a character not defined by KOTOR canon, so we can see him develop and glimpse into Sith society, with a healthy dose of adult innuendo thrown in for good measure. Scourge goes from being self-centered ambitious to being able to make hard decisions in order to stop the spread of true evil. My sympathy was with Scourge.
Revan, on the other hand, the one who understands Dark and Light, the one on Odysseus’ journey, talks like a defiant juvenile – literally. He’s overly antagonistic to two female characters. Frankly, if he had started a sentence with “Dude,” well, it wouldn’t have surprised me.
In the second half of the book we see more of Bastila, Odysseus’ Penelope, waiting patiently for her husband to return. She avoids fighting Darth Traya to protect her son. As a suburban soccer mom, I found this oddly flat – a warrior will always fight, especially for her child. Come to any AYSO soccer game and you’ll see what I mean. We also meet Meetra, once Revan’s most loyal and trusted general. Bastila is ashamed of her jealousy of Meetra, who only cares for Revan as a pupil for her teacher. She even, after death, hangs around Revan, sustaining him with her soul, though he just assumes his love for Bastila sustains him. It just didn’t work for me. I assumed all this was to explain the KOTOR canon, but it took away from the characters becoming really true individuals.
Then a chunk of the book is spent catching us up: how Meetra finds Revan, how the Emporer is able to suck the Force out of an entire planet, and how Scourge tortures Revan but Revan is really controlling him. It reads a little like a Wookieepedia summary.
The pace picks up again at the end, but the characters are at their flattest. The two strong Jedi, no strangers to the Dark Side, fail to see or help Scourge with his inner turmoil. Meetra drips sympathy for a slave – though I did like how the slave was used as a contrast between the attitudes of Sith and Jedi – but dismisses Scourge as someone who chose to use the Dark Side of the Force and therefore was only self-interested. How much choice would a Force-sensitive child born as a Sith have in which side of the Force he was trained to use?
The conclusion of the book was unsatisfying – but it had to be, in order to segue into EA’s new The Old Republic game. Scourge sees a new Jedi (obviously you, new player!) killing the Emperor, so he kills Meetra but she stays around as a ghost. Scourge himself becomes The Emperor’s Wrath so he can learn the weaknesses of the Emperor (and help you, new Jedi!). Revan himself stays in suspended animation (waiting for you, new Jedi!).
And that is the major flaw of Revan: though it’s stocked with potential, mostly well written, it’s full of missed opportunities to develop meaty characters in order to serve the KOTOR franchise.
I liked Revan. There was enough to make me want to talk about it. It’s inspired me to order more Old Republic books. But it’s a bit like a weightless romance novel – entertaining, fun, but with characters you’d never really want to get to know in real life.
On the brownie sundae scale, Revan promised a hot fudge brownie, and started with whipped cream and a cherry on top (who would be Scourge) but ended up with bland fat free chocolate froyo. Or maybe a huge bag of cotton candy that’s was all yummy and good at first, but just too insubstantial to be satisfying.
The publisher provided FANgirl Blog a review copy of this book.
Linda has been a Star Wars fan from the time she saw Episode IV in the theatre with her parents and insisted on being Han Solo while playing with the neighborhood kids. She’s now a fangirl who splits her time learning to twirl a bo staff like Ray Park, jumping horses, writing fanfic she dreams up on her commute to work, and spending time with her husband and their own feisty Padawan version of Ahsoka. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.