7 Things We Learned From the ROGUE ONE Prequel Novel

Warning: This post contains spoilers for the novel Rogue One: Catalyst. Stop reading if you don’t want to know details. If you’re not sure whether you want to pick up Catalyst, go read my spoiler-free review.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story pilots into theaters on December 16. The film will tackle a topic we see in the opening crawl of A New Hope: “During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon…” Galen Erso and Orson Krennic both have important parts in the upcoming movie, and the prequel novel Rogue One: Catalyst by James Luceno goes into their history and the nuts and bolts of how the Death Star came together.In short, Krennic wanted to rise to the top and figured getting Galen on board and using that big brain of his to develop the Death Star’s weapon was the best way to do it. The slight problem with Krennic’s plan was Galen wanted no part of the war. Trickery and manipulation ensued.

Catalyst is packed with enough details and connect-the-dots sort of information to make this Star Wars fan drool. Here are seven especially interesting tidbits I took away from the novel. Again: spoilers are ahead.

1. Why a Death Star?

Like with so many other things, Palpatine manipulated the Republic to start construction on the Death Star. If you’ll remember, Poggle the Lesser handed over the Death Star blueprint to Count Dooku in Attack of the Clones. Dooku was a Separatist. So, as far as the Republic knew, the Separatists were building their own super weapon and the Republic had to rush to finish their Death Star first. A feint within a feint…

2. Kyber Crystal Geekery

The past five or so years of Star Wars storytelling has revealed more about more about kyber crystals and what they’re capable of, but Catalyst dives into the heart of the matter. The crystals are at the center of Galen’s studies and passion, and his tests reveal much about the nature and living aspects of the crystals. His scientific approach to the kyber crystals is tempered by his wife Lyra’s spiritual take on them. Their two viewpoints combine to offer plenty of juicy information on the objects most commonly known for powering lightsabers.

3. The First Test

The first test of the superlaser that would eventually be amplified and put into the battle station was performed on a black hole binary called the Hero Twins. Interesting, since we know some heroic twins who destroyed the Death Star.

Speaking of the weapon, though Geonosians came up with the plans for the station, they didn’t have time to design the weapon before the Battle of Geonosis and the beginning of the Clone Wars. The Republic had to figure it out–it’s one of the reasons construction took so long.

4. A Hate-Hate Relationship

Despite the similarities in their personality and ambitions, Krennic and Tarkin despise each other. Like, they wouldn’t even be Facebook friends for the sake of being polite. They each had moments in the book of having begrudging respect for the other, but their mutual dislike was obvious. I point it out because since their antagonistic relationship was emphasized in Catalyst and we know from the book Tarkin that the Moff ends up overseeing the entire Death Star project, you have to wonder how he’ll figure into the film.

5. Biological Warfare

Krennic encountered some Separatist scientists on the world of Merj who were working on developing a biological warfare agent to harm the Grand Army of the Republic. Clone troopers were vulnerable in that way. They could have been working on the Blue Shadow Virus, which we encountered in Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

6. Project Celestial Power

I’ve always wondered how the Empire managed to keep construction of such a massive project secret, and Catalyst went into those ins and outs. Krennic was responsible for keeping different scientists in labs around the galaxy on a need to know basis. Each department of the battle station project had its own cover name and agency; Galen worked under Project Celestial Power, believing he was helping to get more energy and power to planets in need.

7. Saw Gerrera

Catalyst revealed how the Ersos met Saw Gerrera. He came to know them through a fellow Rebel (a somewhat reluctant Rebel), and it was because of him the Erso family was able to escape Coruscant and Krennic’s grasp. Saw bonded with a young Jyn.

These are just a handful of intriguing details from the book. If you’re eager for more, I recommend getting your very own copy of Catalyst.

Are you anxious to know more? Let us know in comments.

Images: Lucasfilm/Disney

Have you seen everything in the international Rogue One trailers yet?

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