I’m about to reveal why I am the worst Star Wars fan, ever: when I picked up this book, I couldn’t remember the plot line of either Knights of the Old Republic games…like, at all. I had to go back to Wookieepedia to refresh my memory. Sure, it all came back to me pretty easily, but I still felt horrible. Woof. Feels good to get that off my chest! Now, how does The Old Republic: Revan stand as a milestone in my Legendary Adventure?
That confession that I made earlier? Turns out that it didn’t matter! Revan is actually not exactly predicated on your knowledge of the game. Anything that you might need to know from the games, like Revan’s relationship to Canderous Ordo, Meetra Surik (better known as the Exile) and her relationship to the Force, and anything about Bastila Shan can be found in the book. This was so appreciated, it was great. This type of accessibility is needed in more of the Legends canon. I can’t remember how many Legends novels I put down because they would throw reference after reference at you without blinking.
Revan stands as a perfect bridge between the Knights of the Old Republic games and The Old Republic, the MMORPG. Apparently, the events that turned Revan and Alek (the future Darth Malak) into Sith Lords wasn’t really explained fully in the KotOR games. Revan jumps on that freedom and fleshes out the events more fully. In their quest to fight the Mandalorians, Alek and Revan traveled to Dormund Kaas, a dark planet home to many Sith. Whereas the Jedi had believed the Sith to be destroyed after the Great Hyperspace War, they were quite alive. And had an entire Empire. Revan had the idea to infiltrate this Empire, but the Sith Emperor (Vitiate) knew like, right away. He let them get deep into the Empire and then changed their minds and forced them to become Sith. Alek and Revan’s minds were so powerful, though, that they convinced themselves that it was all their idea and totally forgot about the Emperor. They then returned to wage war on the galaxy, and used the Star Forge for themselves rather than bringing it back to the Sith Empire. As far as retcons go, I thought this one was pretty well done. Almost Story Group worthy, even.
So, fast forward to now. Revan, now married to Bastila and not really on good terms with the Jedi, lives on Coruscant kind of anonymously. Sure, people know his name, but no one recognizes his face. This helps him hide out and live in solitude with Bastila. He is tortured by dreams of Dromund Kaas, but doesn’t know why. Remember: he lost all of his memories pre-redemption because the Jedi Order literally wiped his mind. Make any comment you want about the future Jedi Order of the Clone Wars, but this move seems especially low. So, he takes Canderous on a mission, which ends up going to the planet where he hid the Mandalore’s mask, leaving Bastila behind, pregnant. This mission then leads back to Dromund Kaas where he is left by Ordo and joined by Surik.
On the other hand, you have the story of Darth Scourge. Darth Scourge is, by all means, a conventional Sith. He’s angsty, he’s mad, he’s ready to rage against the machine. The Emperor brings him in to investigate attempts on the life of Darth Nyriss, a member of the Dark Council. It turns out that Darth Nyriss has arranged all of these attempts on her own life in order to hide the fact that she’s going to turn against the Emperor. The Emperor has a crazy idea: attack the Republic directly. A few members of the Council don’t think it will work, so they secretly try to stop him. Darth Scourge is brought in to kill Darth Xendrix, basically a scapegoat for the Dark Council’s rebellion. At the beginning of the book, I hoped these parts would go more quickly so I could get to Revan again.
The stories converge when Nyriss, Scourge, and Revan all travel to the Nathema system, which was wrecked by the Emperor. In an effort to make himself more powerful, Vitiate performed a ritual which destroyed all of the life on the planet and even voided the presence of the Force. This shocks Meetra (who visits later), Scourge, and Revan. This was probably the only concept from the book that I walked away unhappy with. Between the ysalamiri, Yuuzhan Vong, and now Nathema, I hope the canon leaves behind Force-less beings or places. It seems like it is with the revival of Thrawn, but time will tell. During their interaction, Scourge and Nyriss capture Revan.
Revan spends three years imprisoned by the Sith and eventually convinces Scourge to team up with him to defeat the Emperor. Meetra shows up to rescue Revan, and the three of them leave to fight the Emperor together. Meetra’s plan to save Revan was based on revealing the Dark Council’s plot to Vitiate, who retaliated against the Council quickly. In the chaos, Revan literally destroys Nyriss with his new powers.
The trio, joined by T3, fight the Emperor together. The Emperor is caught off guard, but is uber-powerful, so he can’t lose here. Scourge turns on the Jedi, killing Meetra. Vitiate blows T3 up. Revan is captured. All of the Knights of the Old Republic games are wrapped up, for the most part, in order to set up storylines and potential expansions for The Old Republic . This book specifically sets the stage for the Revan expansion of The Old Republic…. something I’ll never get to either. Bummer.
The story still feels complete, though: we get finality for both Revan and Scourge. In the fight, Scourge starts to doubt whether Meetra and Revan are able to take down the Emperor. In order to have another chance to defeat him down the road, Scourge turns on the Jedi. He is given immense power by the Emperor (Vitiate calls it eternal life), but he still plans on turning on him eventually. (This is a really cool twist on the Darth Vader story – rather than turning and joining him, Scourge turns to subvert his reign.) Revan, in stasis, is locked in a mental battle with the Emperor. Vitiate hopes to use Revan’s knowledge of the Republic to launch his attack, but Revan holds him off for hundreds of years. In the mean time, Bastila’s family line grows until it reaches Saetelle Shan, Grand Master of the Jedi Order during the attack on Corsucant.
I loved Revan’s character. He was interesting and well-rounded, and thankfully the characterization didn’t rely too heavily on the game. He was conflicted about his role with the Order: sure, they wiped his mind, but he understands that without the wipe he never would have married Bastila. In a way, the mind wipe makes him keep his distance, but he also accepts his culpability in what happened during the war with the Mandalorians. He is guilty about what he feels he forced Meetra to do in killing thousands of Republic and Mando soliders, even if he mostly thinks it was worth it. Because of this, he doesn’t fully take advantage of the debt the Jedi probably owe him after wiping his mind. He is hesitant to return to the Order for information at the beginning because of his guilt about Meetra. This conflicted response to the Jedi is awesome. Between Scourge and Revan, we see the story of Darth Vader twisted and changed for an entirely different setting. Scourge turns against the Jedi in order to ultimately take down the Emperor. Revan hesitantly accepts that he had been wronged by the Jedi, but also acknowledges that he made mistakes, too. Maybe Legends did stay within the realm of telling Anakin’s story…in one form or another.
I actually wound up also loving Meetra. Karpyshyn’s strength is that he allows for a bit of wandering in order to flesh out side characters. A lot of the her sub plot in the book does not revolve around her actions in the war, but her revolution toward the Sith and her response to slavery. These subplots explode in the climax of the story in such a way that it fleshes out the Exile further than any other character, save Revan. I feel like most other books don’t give nearly this much time to a character introduced about half-way through the book. Unfortunately, Bastila does not get the same treatment and she is left as grieving but strong wife. Her biggest scenes involve her telling Revan that she is pregnant, and another where she is trying to avoid her jealousy toward Meetra because of her relationship with Revan as Master/Padawan-esque mentor/mentee.
Like I said, as far as retcons go, Revan did a great job of making it fit really well. It didn’t feel forced, and it almost felt planned. Featuring great characters, the novel is a great read, even if it is set up. You need not know the previous games nor the future one to get a complete story from the novel: something not many tie-ins have accomplished before.
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LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures Reviews:
“A Hero Discovered” 1×01 | “The Mines of Gabralla” 1×02 | “Zander’s Joyride” 1×03 | “The Lost Treasure of Cloud City” 1×04 | “Peril on Kashyyyk” 1×05 | “Crossing Paths” 1×06