Tue
Nov 15 2011 11:00am

I Balance the Force with a Little Help From My Friends — Star Wars: The Old Republic: Revan by Drew Karpyshyn

I understand why an average fan might look underwhelmed when presented with a tie-in novel for a video game in one of their favorite fandoms. After all, some games (like HALO and BioShock) have no outside media outlets without books, so there the text can enrich the material. But let’s say we’re talking about, oh, Star Wars. There’s an unseemly amount of material at every corner you turn. Having a tie-in novel for one of its many video games might seem like overkill.

Anyone who has read Shadows of the Empire knows this isn’t necessarily the case.

Whether or not you’ve ever played Knights of the Old Republic (for the record, I have not), Star Wars: The Old Republic: Revan has a lot to teach you about the history of the Star Wars universe and the very nature of the Force. It’s also got a healthy dose of Mandalorian ale-drinking alongside — what more could you want?

The book jumps back and forth between two perspectives: Revan, the reformed Jedi living a quiet life on Coruscant and secretly panicking over the memories that the Jedi have stripped from him, and Lord Scourge, who has been called back to the Sith homeworld of Dromund Kaas to handle a pile of intrigue that he may not be prepared for. It seems inevitable that the paths of these two Force-users will intertwine, though perhaps not in the way you expect.

Revan leaves his wife on Coruscant and goes in search of his past, certain that the memories the Jedi have taken contain some important information that could be vital to the Republic and keeping galactic peace. He stops off in Mandalorian space with his friend Canderous Ordo in his first step on the path toward recovering what he’s lost. (As an aside, I should be upfront about my love for Mandalorians. I’ll read about them doing anything. And some of the little Mando’a phrase translations in the novel provide a great glimpse into their culture.) In the meantime, Lord Scourge is working for a member of the Emperor’s Dark Council — Lord Nyriss — and discovering that plots within plots are a Sith way of life.

But unlike the Star Wars galaxy that the Skywalkers inhabit, this galaxy has an interesting way of handling the balance between the dark and light in the Force — the Jedi and the Sith do not occupy the same space. In fact, the majority of Sith would just prefer to be left alone on the Outer Rim to rule their masses with lightsaber-wielding fists, away from prying Republic eyes.

Everyone except the Emperor, of course. Absolute power and all that.

What it leads to is a very interesting commentary on what exactly feeds the Force on all sides, how the Jedi and Sith differ in their connection to it, and what happens when you pursue the dark side to its logical, horrific conclusion. Let’s just say that power over life? Being able to stop people from dying? It’s not all that it’s cracked up to be. Sorry, Anakin. You put your krayt dragon eggs in the wrong landspeeder, and there was no one around to explain why. Maybe if you’d had this book on hand, you would have left those poor younglings alone.

What is more interesting about Revan is that the Jedi don’t come out looking much better than the Sith. Yet again, we come back to a truth about the Force that some may find a bit uncomfortable; the Force desires balance. For the most part, it could be argued that the balance exists naturally. The actions of powerful individuals are what tip the scales in either direction. And if that’s the case, those textbook “good” and “evil” tables for the original trilogy go right out the window.

The end of Revan leaves a fair share of questions in its wake, so keep an eye out for more. Who knows where the Force will take you. Well, the Force does, but that’s another matter entirely….


Emily Asher-Perrin is the Tor.com Editorial Assistant and can’t believe she can still recite the Jedi Code on command.

This article is part of Barnes & Noble Bookseller’s Picks: ‹ previous | index | next ›
4 comments
Cori Hull
1. yarnandtea
Man, I am really going to have to go ahead and buy this book, aren't I? I've been debating, and was just going to wait until it came out in paperback, but I might not be able to hold out. Huge KOTOR fan, vastly looking forward to SWTOR--this is gonna be essential. I also love the Mandalorians, and the stories that show that the Jedi aren't really as holier-than-thou as they always try to tell us...
Emily Asher-Perrin
3. EmilyAP
@ The Pendragon - Bastila's in there! She doesn't play a big part in the action, but she's there, I promise . :)
Corto Danzigese
4. Corto Danzigese
You lost a great Star Wars experience by not playing KOTOR games. They are vastly superior to prequels or neoconservative and morally dubious Clone cartoon. They also include more Mandalorians and their culture than any existing novel (Canderous is one of main playable characters and has many interesting things to say)

I enjoyed Revan novel but it comes nowhere close to original KOTOR. Main characters came as half-alive in the novel while in game their dialogs and behaviour were much more convincing and intriguing. Bastila is silent throughout the novel while in game she was a very strong heroine with witty comments.

to each one it's own but I really do recommend You play the game. It will change your perception of Star Wars.

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