With now seven movies under its belt, the Star Wars franchise has moved slower perhaps than many would have liked. The first movie came out in 1977, but despite its immense popularity, Lucas hasn’t really satiated his fandom with three or four movies a decade, which is probably the number many had hoped for. Thankfully for some, fans have been able to lean more heavily on the franchise’s novelizations, of which there are almost a countless amount.
On December 16, Lucasfilm is set to release the eighth installation of Stars Wars, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, a story about the days intervening between Anakin’s fall into the dark side and A New Hope. The prequel is scheduled to introduce a new cast of characters we haven’t seen before, commingled with some old faces, like Darth Vader, we’ve already encountered. It’s interesting to find out that fans are supposed to pick up some of the back matter of the story with a recently released novel of the events leading up to Rogue One. Written by James Luceno, the novel, called Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel, gives us a glimpse of what the studio is up to with Rogue One.
15. We Meet Jyn Erso
In the upcoming movie, the main character is Jyn Erso, played by Felicity Jones, and she is part of a team assembled by the Rebellion to find the design schematics of the newly completed Death Star, a battle station so powerful it can dismantle whole planets in the blink of an eye. In the recent novel, which came out in November, the book introduces us to Jyn when she is still a little girl, where she is described as a fiercely independent little girl who likes reading a lot of stories and myths about the greater galaxies in which Star Wars takes place. All together, Jyn doesn’t play a big role in the lead-up to the movie, but the story sets the stage for a colossal battle brewing between the Empire and the still unformed Rebellion.
14. Jyn’s Father Is An Unwitting Creator Of The Death Star’s Power
In the new book, Jyn’s father is named Galen, and he is the main character in the story, mainly because he is one of the key designers of the Death Star’s weaponry. Galen is considered one of the greatest living scientists in all the galaxies, and Emperor Palpatine, who has not yet fallen under suspicion as a Sith, is still trusted by almost everyone, including Galen himself. In the early parts of the book, Galen is kidnapped by a group called the Separatists, who have rebelled against the Republic. He is later rescued by Orson Krennic, a military underling of Palpatine. Feeling indebted for his life, Galen concedes to Krennic in doing scientific research that helps create the advanced weaponry of the Death Star. Little does he know that his research is being fed into creating an advanced weapon for the Death Star. In the new movie, Galen is played by Madds Mikkelsen.
13. Galen Uses Lightsaber Crystals To Devise The Weapon
The new book is actually filled with a lot of semi-scientific knowledge about the technology behind lightsabers. As it becomes known in the book, lightsabers’ power is generated using a type of crystal, called a kyber. The kyber is situated inside the handle of the saber, which gives it this sort of interesting glow and sound. Throughout the story, we learn more about the mysteries of kybers and how they harness the power of the Force, and there’s a lot of talk about the Force being strong in areas and mines where the kyber crystals form. As an elite scientist, Galen is spending most of his time in the story studying the science of kybers. His knowledge, however, is ripped off in the end by the Empire, which is seeking to weaponize the kyber crystals without Galen’s knowledge.
12. Jyn’s Mother Distrusts Palpatine
Jyn’s mother is also a central character in the story, and she is named Lyra. Unlike Galen, who is wholesale sold on the benefits of researching kybers for Palpatine and trusts the emperor without question, Lyra has several misgivings about Palpatine and his henchman Krennic in various parts of the book. She keeps warning Galen about how it’s possible that his help of Palpatine may prove in the end to be some sort of heresy to the Jedi way. He keeps telling her that he has no doubts whatsoever about whether he’s doing the right thing for the world. Lyra’s fears appear to be grounded in a slight ability to use the Force. Throughout the story, she senses the Force in different planets she goes to with Jyn, and it seems she has some intuitive ability from this experience.
11. Palpatine Is Laying Waste To Planets Secretly
Even while Galen dives deep into his research on how to harness kyber crystals, it becomes clear that Palpatine is pursuing an evil agenda without the knowledge of the Republic or the general public at large. This agenda includes environmentally devastating numerous planets across the galaxy in order to harvest two types of crystals that can be used to power the laser in the Death Star. These ores are called doonium and dolovite, and Palpatine is hell-bent on finding every last ounce of these crystals anywhere in the galaxy in an insane quest to create havoc and destruction. Galen and Lyra meanwhile are totally unaware of what Palpatine is up to, although Lyra is dubious about the whole project in later phases of the story.
10. The Jedi Are Thought To Be Virtually Extinct
After the conclusion of the last movie in sequence, The Revenge of the Sith, you may recall that many of the Jedi were either disbanded or killed, as Palpatine’s might and strength reached a zenith. Well, in the recent book, which fills in a lot of details in the saga since that time, many in the Republic, including Galen and Lyra, believe the Jedi are virtually an extinct order. There is some talk of Jedi being active in certain parts of the galaxy, but the Jedi aren’t present anywhere in the story at this point. Some believe they have all but disappeared. Some even wonder if the Force was extinguished when the Jedi Temple fell, but Lyra doesn’t believe the idea at all.
9. Palpatine Pretends He’s Pursuing Clean Energy
In what might seem as an assault on the so-called clean air promises of world leaders, the book also goes into how Palpatine is selling his research with Galen as a type of clean energy program. Galen falls prey to the lie when Krennic informs him that his research into kybers is part of a clean and renewable energy supply system for many different planets falling within the Republic’s provincial reach. The project has a similar sounding air to many modern US legislative bills and is called Project Celestial Power. Galen buys the official line, while his wife doesn’t, but we can see here how his blind idealism gets taken advantage of by his own naiveté about Palpatine. We can also see how conniving Palpatine is during these stages, totally appearing like a savior of the human race but proving anything but that.
8. Tarkin Is Back
You probably remember the snobby-looking, imperious commander of the Death Star in New Hope, a Nazi-ish sort of guy who you probably expect to eat Grey Poupon while taking over every star system in sight. His name is Wilhuff Tarkin, and he’s back in uniform again in the novel leading up the movie. Here we glean more insights into Tarkin’s mind and machinations, as he tries to take over rebel planets with a Star Destroyer. Interestingly, he’s totally at odds with Krennic, and they both are vying for position in the Republic’s military, pitting bad guys against bad guys in the same story. In the book, Tarkin is obsessed with taking over rebel guerrilla forces following on the heels of his heinous exploits in the Clone Wars, which are almost over at this point.
7. Has Obitt – The New Han Solo?
In the new book, there’s a smuggler who bears a lot of similarities to Han Solo. His name is Has Obitt, and like Solo, he’s a bit shady when we first meet him in the storyline. Has, for example, plays both sides of the fence when it comes to corruption, and he sometimes plays along with Krennic’s cunning ruse on Galen. However, later on, Has puts aside his neutrality and decides to turn against Tarkin and Krennic when he realizes how evil and terrible they actually are, and Tarkin unleashes a space war against Has and his guerrilla army. Has also decides to help Lyra, Galen, and Jyn out in the end, although Tarkin eventually forces him to spy on Krennic, whom Tarkin fears is hiding a lot of his military and political agenda.
6. The Clone Wars Are At An End
The Clone Wars began when a group known as the Separatists, led by Count Dooku, decided to break away from the Republic. These wars were already catalogued in the first three prequels, but there’s a difference here between the book and the movies. In the movies, Anakin killed Dooku in a lightsaber fight, but in the new book, Dooku is still alive and well and still leading the battered and weary Separatists. Part way into the book, Krennic tells Galen that the Clone Wars are over and that now Palpatine is seeking to rebuild many of the destroyed places in the galaxy damaged from the war. But Krennic also adds that the fighting isn’t all over and that some pockets of the resistance to the Republic still remain.
5. The Term ‘Empire’ Becomes Current
In the middle of the book, as Galen and Lyra are talking, they start to refer to Palpatine’s regime as the Empire and not the Republic. It’s unclear how the term came into origin, but it’s the first hint we have that this world is beginning to look more and more like the one we saw in A New Hope. We know from other accounts, that eventually after this, the Republic was renamed and called the New Order at a later stage. Palpatine pushed this New Order term after it was discovered that the Republic had become ineffectual in resolving disputes of its member organizations and entities. Eventually, more power was given to Palpatine to deal with ongoing security issues in the Republic, but Palpatine eventually coined the term ‘Empire’ for the galaxies’ government, a throwback to the wars with the Sith Empire before the Clone Wars.
4. Vader Is On The Back-Burner
At this point in the thread, Darth Vader, who’s still acclimating to his new identity as a Sith, is not a central character or shaper in this period at the end of the Clone Wars. There is only one scene and a few mentions of him in the new novel, and during these, he does not appear to be engineering any major movements, although he has been involved in a few Imperial missions with Tarkin and his efforts to crush rebellious Separatist armies. Most of the focus now is on an aggressive and secretive arms race to complete the best battle station, at which Galen is the core. More attention is still focused on Count Dooku and his Separatist mission to separate from the Republic.
3. Coruscant Is A Major Scene Again
In the initial three prequel movies, Coruscant was the location of much activity, as the planet was not only marked the locale of the Republic and the Senate but also the placement of the Jedi Temple. The city, we remember, is filled with high sleek buildings that look futuristic and more advanced technologically than some of the later movies. The place is also a major hub in the new book, and it is the place Lyra and Jyn both arrive at following Galen’s capture by the Separatists after Krennic rescues them. The place is considered a safe haven from the wars, but then again, when all sides of the war are infiltrated by Sith, we might wonder if there are any available.
2. There Is An Arms Race Going On
While the Republic and Palpatine and Krennic push for a more powerful weapon than anyone has ever created before, they are also simultaneously worried about a looming threat from the Separatists, who are also trying to create a battle station of similar proportions to the Death Star. This is essentially analogous in a lot of ways to the modern arms race for nuclear weapons. Both sides want Galen, a genius scientist, to discover the secret of an all-powerful space weapon, and both teams are vying for his attention. In the end, neither one is probably better than the other, but the Empire gets what it wants in the end in this case, although it blows up part of planet Malpaz as part of its research into the new weaponry ideas they are getting from Galen. Attempting to hide the explosive weaponry being developed from Galen, Krennic tries to hide the mistake from Galen and say it was an enemy attack on the planet, not his own technology.
1. The Death Star Is Delayed
While it’s well known that the Death Star eventually reaches completion, the project, as it becomes clear in the upcoming movie, didn’t come off without a hitch. This may be because Galen eventually gets wind that he was betrayed by Krennic into working on the Death Star without his knowledge and decides to escape and live with Lyra and Jyn in peace some place else. Krennic is convinced that he can maybe still complete the project with other scientists, but he’s not certain. The upcoming movie plotline indicates that Krennic is ultimately able to complete the Death Star’s kyber weaponry after much delay. While Galen got the project going unwittingly, he apparently also held it up quite a bit as well perhaps in the end. Krennic’s character will be played by Ben Mendelsohn.