Review: Star Wars: The Old Republic: Annihilation / Author: Drew Karpyshyn / Publisher: Arrow Books / Release Date: Out Now
Besides having a title with too many colons, Annihilation is another solid effort to build upon the era of The Old Republic. Tied into the MMO, it displays new areas of the universe while invoking what came before, but unlike the seething bile present in Revan, this is an obvious love letter to the era. Following the tale of Theron Shan, the book depicts efforts by the Republic to weaken the Sith’s hold on their systems by bringing down the legendary Imperial battle cruiser Ascendant Spear before it can potentially turn the tide once more in the Empire’s favour.
With a Sith Lord, a Jedi Master, a roguish Republic agent and a superweapon, it has everything you’d want from something in this universe. Any fans who were excited to see the first films will feel right at home here, despite a setting several thousand years prior to Luke’s birth, helped especially by a few choice set pieces. Starting in a hive of scum and villainy before moving onto a mission within an enemy stronghold, it evokes memories without directly replicating them. That said, the book is far from reliant upon nostalgia, with character elements such as Gnost-Dural’s history with his now traitor student and Shan’s mild hostility to the Jedi. Wait! Those panicking, calm down. Karpyshyn doesn’t pull a Traviss with the character.
The battle sequences are also truly something to behold, especially when the Ascendant Spear is introduced to the reader. Peppered throughout the tale, the book is far from reliant upon them but has them emerge often enough to deliver a constant sense of momentum and pace within the writing. One which does not utterly sacrifice character moments as others might.
However, there is one critical flaw which holds the tale back: a lack of exposition. Many environments and details are not outlined to the reader, with names or events simply told. While the death of the Sith Emperor and Nar Shaddaa will instantly visualise images in the minds of major fans, others may be left lost. All too often it feels as if the book was written with those familiar with the setting in mind, and opts to explain very little. It doesn’t crush the book, but others may simply have to accept certain facts will not be explained to them about the setting.
A solid tale if a little lacking in substance, Annihilation should please anyone with fond memories of a galaxy far, far away. It’s not the absolute best introduction to The Old Republic, but it’s definitely a fun one.