Book Thoughts: Star Wars The Old Republic: Revan

The Star Wars Novel Project is a hobby of mine to read every Star Wars novel released. I write my thoughts after reading each book both to create a living memory of my progress on this project and in case any Star Wars fans find themselves curious about a particular novel. I have created a nice index of all the Star Wars novels, including links to my thoughts on each book. Please check it out to see my thoughts on the other novels.

Star Wars The Old Republic: Revan was a 2011 book by Drew Karpyshyn. It had around 320 pages and was set 3,954 years before the Battle of Yavin (Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope). The story of the Jedi, Revan, is long and complicated. The character was originally created for the video game Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. A sequel was released later, which while not featuring the Revan character, expanded his backstory. Even later, an online game called Star Wars: The Old Republic added a little more to the character’s story. This book was written as a tie-in to the then-new online game. The author here also did some writing for the game, being a professional writer for the game developer (Bioware) at the time.

The Old Republic: Revan took place after Knights of the Old Republic II but before The Old Republic. Revan’s story was pretty much complete by the time of the latter game, but fans wanted to know how his story ended. The repercussions of many events in the book could be felt in the later game. I really enjoyed these video games, so reading this book was very welcome. It’s hard to write much about The Old Republic: Revan without spoiling the plots in the games.

At the beginning of The Old Republic: Revan, Jedi Revan was basically living a normal life. He was a great Jedi hero but had settled into retirement. Unfortunately, Revan started getting dreams. He had trouble sleeping at night. He realized the dreams were of memories he had forgotten about. Something about them was unsettling, so he went in search of the images he saw in his memories to discover what his mind was trying to warn him about. Eventually, Revan found a secret Sith Empire on the edge of the galaxy that was preparing to attack the Republic. Worse was that the Republic had no idea the Sith Empire existed. If the Sith attacked, the Republic would be completely surprised and lose. Revan succeeded in stopping the Empire from attacking, but at a very heavy cost.

I don’t think the writing in The Old Republic: Revan was as good as in the last Star Wars book I read, Lost Tribe of the Sith. Drew Karpyshyn was a better writer than me, but he had a similar style. His writing was pretty clear but also usually simple. I didn’t find myself needing to look up any words while reading. I also didn’t think the words flowed as well as John Jackson Miller’s writing in Lost Tribe of the Sith. The plot didn’t go anywhere for a while, but the second half was pretty intense. I really enjoyed the tension. A lot was at stake, and I had no idea which way the story would go.

The only real downside to The Old Republic: Revan was the cliffhanger ending. Revan’s story was not completed here. That required playing several hours into The Old Republic. It was a tie-in meant to get non-players excited enough to buy the game and to give players something else to buy related to their game. This didn’t bother me because I played the game first though. My memory of the events had faded, but I knew the basics of what happened with Revan later. I could see this annoying others that never played the games though.

There was one criticism I saw several times in reviews for The Old Republic: Revan. It wasn’t my own criticism, but I could understand the complaint. Several readers were looking for a book that chronicled all of Revan’s life from birth to death. That was not the intent of this book. It was merely to tell the story of Revan between the two games. Hundreds of years passed between Knights of the Old Republic II and The Old Republic. Since Revan made appearances in the new game, Lucasfilm wanted a book to explain what happened in between. Not having the whole story here didn’t bother me, but I could see how some readers would be disappointed.

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