Book Review – Star Wars: The Old Republic: Annihilation

Star Wars: The Old Republic: Annihilation, released today, was the fifth and final new Star Wars novel released by Del Rey in 2012.  I would say that Annihilation is more in the vein of Mercy Kill or Scourge rather than Darth Plagueis or Apocalypse but we’ll get into that later.  First, here is the official synopsis.

The Sith Empire is in flux. The Emperor is missing, presumed dead, and an ambitious Sith Lord’s attempt to seize the throne has ended fatally. Still, Darth Karrid, commander of the fearsome Imperial battle cruiser Ascendant Spear, continues her relentless efforts to achieve total Sith domination of the galaxy.

But Karrid’s ruthless determination is more than matched in the steely resolve of Theron Shan, whose unfinished business with the Empire could change the course of the war for good. Though the son of a Jedi Master, Theron does not wield the Force—but like his renowned mother, the spirit of rebellion is in his blood. As a top covert agent for the Republic, he struck a crucial blow against the Empire by exposing and destroying a Sith superweapon arsenal—which makes him the ideal operative for a daring and dangerous mission to end Ascendant Spear’s reign of terror.

Joined by hot-headed smuggler Teff’ith, with whom he has an inexplicable bond, and wise Jedi warrior Gnost-Dural, Darth Karrid’s former master, Theron must match wits and weapons with a battle-tested crew of the most cold-blooded dark side disciples. But time is brutally short. And if they don’t seize their one chance to succeed, they will surely have countless opportunities to die..

Annihilation is the fourth novel in what is kind of a series of Old Republic novels based on the MMO with the same name.  I say “kind of a series” because the individual novels don’t really have an ongoing narrative and can essentially each stand on their own.  If anything Annihilation is a sequel to the Dark Horse Comics series The Lost Suns which tells a previous story of our main protagonist Theron Shan.  Reading this comic series before reading Annihilation is not necessary but it may help you get to know the characters better and understand some of the references they make.

Even though Annihilation can be read as a stand-alone novel it does mention events from the previous three Old Republic novels.  Reading Annihilation before reading these other novels probably will spoil some of those stories, so be aware of that before starting Annihilation.

The book is set it the Old Republic era which is full of Jedi and Sith so you may think that the story would feature them heavily.  No such luck.  Of the ten characters in the dramatis personae only four of them are Jedi or Sith and only two of the four play major roles.  The main character we are given is Theron Shan who has a Jedi family heritage but does not have the Force.  He is a secret agent for the Republic.  Think a younger Jack Bauer with a whole different sort of family baggage.  I liked this character.  He was physically adept but his biggest strength was his intelligence and his ability to think quick on his feet.

I have already heard some complain that this character is just another generic male character in the Star Wars universe.  True he is male, but I didn’t find him generic.  He wasn’t a suave or charming lady’s man like Han or Dash Rendar.  He wasn’t a jokester like a member of Wraith Squadron.  The character I could maybe compare him to the most would be pre-Jedi Corran Horn and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  He is all business and extremely loyal to the Republic.  A man who is on a mission to stop a threat to the Republic and will give his life if necessary.  He also has a sense of humor that is sprinkled in just enough to keep things light.  Theron is a well-written character that I think people will enjoy to root for.

Most of the action in the book revolves around Theron Shan and a Jedi character named Gnost-Dural.  I will say that Gnost-Dural did come across as more of a generic character.  He was your typical wise Jedi who didn’t really have much to say.  He was a Kel Dor so I couldn’t help but think of him as Plo Koon the whole time I was reading.  Generic or not, I loved this character.  He was the one Jedi that we got to see in action in the book and he was quite handy with a lightsaber.  Near the end of the book we are rewarded with a lightsaber battle between him and some Sith that is very fun to read.

There were a handful of other characters in this book that play important roles but the book mainly revolves around Theron Shan and the one or two people who are with him at any given time.  That is one of the strengths of this book.  We are not given a giant cast of characters or a twisting and turning plot that is almost impossible to follow.  We get to follow a small cast of characters in a solid, straight forward and clear story.  In this way it is much like Scourge, but I would say that Annihilation gives us a better story.

Surprisingly I really liked this book.  I haven’t been following the Old Republic Era in the books and I have not gotten into the MMO so I didn’t really expect much.  The more I read though the more I enjoyed it and the book really delivered with a solid ending.  At less than 300 pages it is a quick read and I recommend it for anyone looking for a fun Star Wars adventure without all the extra fluff.

You can buy this book here

Annihilation: Star Wars (The Old Republic)

Random Thoughts

Note: My Random Thoughts might be a little more spoilery so beware.

Did I miss the explanation as to why Teff’ith refers to herself as “we”?

I learned the names of at least 3 new Star Wars universe alcoholic drinks while reading this book.

Marcus Trant.  Play on player.

Darth Mortis?  I wonder if he has any connection to Mortis from The Clone Wars.  Probably not.

I wasn’t a fan of the whole “become one with the ship” thing but it worked ok for this story.

Reaver Station.  A Firefly referene?

A lightsaber battle with a Jedi fighting a Sith with two short bladed lightsabers and another Sith with a double-bladed lightsaber.  This book is definitely based on a video game.

- Aaron Goins

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.morrell Marc Morrell

    spoilery?

    Do you have that trademarked?

    • http://twitter.com/TheRileyGuy Riley Blanton

      Speaking as Aaron’s Attorney, I can neither confirm nor deny that :P

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  • Thomas James Thomas

    About Teff’ith referring to herself as “we” not “me.” To me the voice for Teff’ith sounds like a French accent. After talking to a respected French teacher, I believe that she uses this as either because of her own incompetence that she feels in herself or how the culture/language is that she grew up in.