Review: The Old Republic: Revan

Author: Drew Karpyshyn
Publisher: Del Rey
Release date: November 15, 2011
Pages: 336
Era: The Old Republic

This review contains minor spoilers.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR) is one of the most well-loved games in Star Wars history, if not all of video game history in general. Written by Drew Karpyshyn, the game tells the tale of a Jedi with no knowledge of his past. This Jedi, with this help of companions picked up along the way, is tasked with saving the galaxy from civil war and defeating Darth Malak, the apprentice of the fearsome Darth Revan. Revan was defeated before the events of the game, but his shadow looms over the galaxy. In one of the most shocking video game twists, it is revealed that the Jedi savior is, in fact, Revan himself. The Jedi Council had wiped Revan’s mind shortly after his defeat and begun re-training him as a Jedi. Armed with the revelation about his past, Revan goes on to defeat his former apprentice and save the galaxy.

Unfortunately, this was the end of Revan’s story. The sequel, Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, put players in the role of the Jedi Exile, a former follower of Revan who was stripped of the Force and again tasked with bringing the galaxy back from the brink of destruction. The game made passing references to Revan’s journey into the Unknown Regions, but the character’s ultimate fate was a mystery.

Eight years after the release of KOTOR, Drew Karpyshyn has returned to tell the next chapter in Revan’s story. But while the book is entitled Star Wars: The Old Republic: Revan, the story focuses on much more than just the former masked Sith Lord’s fate. Both Revan and the Exile play a major role in the book, as does a new Sith named Lord Scourge. Revan isn’t just a sequel to the video games either; the novel opens shortly after the events of KOTOR and expertly ties into KOTOR 2 before continuing beyond the games.

The cover of Star Wars: The Old Republic: Revan

The cover of Star Wars: The Old Republic: Revan

The book starts out during a time of peace between the two games. Karpyshyn expands upon the relationship between Revan and Bastila Shan, re-introducing readers to the cast of characters both new and old. The first half of the book jumps back and forth between Revan and Lord Scourge at regular intervals. Plagued by nightmares of a past he can’t remember, Revan decides to set out on a journey to retrace the steps he and Darth Malak had taken years before. What follows is an adventure not unlike that of Luke Skywalker and his son Ben in Fate of the Jedi. The primary difference being that this journey only occurs over the course of a single book. Many of Revan’s companions from KOTOR are referenced in passing, but only a select few actually make an appearance. The notable exception is Carth Onasi, who is nowhere to be found.

Lord Scourge’s story is quite different. The Sith Emperor has tasked Scourge with rooting out a group of assassins intent on taking out Darth Nyriss, a member of the Dark Council. Scourge goes on a series of missions for Nyriss, getting every closer to the truth. This part of the story is interesting, but it really hits its stride approximately half way through the book. In some ways, it almost felt like a concession to fans who chose to embrace Revan’s dark past in KOTOR, rather than continue in the light as is cannon.

It’s a tragic story, in many ways, but it leaves open some very interesting possibilities for the upcoming MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic, which is set 300 years after KOTOR and KOTOR 2. One of the most enjoyable things about the book is that the reader has no knowledge of the fate of Revan, Scourge, and the Exile. Many Star Wars novels have a pre-set outcome or feature classic characters whose deaths would be highly unlikely. But in Revan, the reader truly has no idea whether the characters will survive the events of the novel. This makes for an exciting story indeed.

Karpyshyn’s writing is excellent, as always, and really draws the reader in. I read through the last half of the book without putting it down. When I was finally finished, I couldn’t help but want to go back and re-play the KOTOR games. It also made me that much more excited for The Old Republic, which, based on the book’s subtitle, was most likely the intent. All in all, Star Wars: The Old Republic: Revan is an excellent book which neatly wraps up the loose threads in the video games and gives fans some explanation as to the fate of Revan and the Exile. Fans of the games, and fans of Star Wars in general, are highly encouraged to check it out. This is the story you’ve been waiting nearly a decade for.

4/5 Kath Hounds

4/5 Kath Hounds

Reviewed by William Devereux

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About the Author

William Devereux (@MasterDevwi) is EUCantina's administrator, as well as the host of the Ion Cannon podcast. When he's not talking about Star Wars, he works at Microsoft as a Program Manager.