Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel

The story of how Orson Krennic duped Galen Erso into helping construct the Death Star is not a story that needed to be told.

Krennic and Erso aren’t intriguing characters with long histories (both were introduced in “Rogue One” in 2016). They’re not Boba Fett or Lando Calrissian or even Dr. Cornelius Evazan. They’re just two dudes.

I’m pretty forgiving when it comes to “Star Wars” stories. If the character development or plotting are mediocre, I still enjoy the small puzzle pieces that snap into the larger narrative. But those pieces are missing in Catalyst. I can’t think of one notable tidbit that caught my attention.

The book is also a bit undermined by the early scenes in “Rogue One” [SPOILERS FOLLOW] …

In the film, we see that Krennic eventually catches up with the Ersos and tragedy ensues. Lyra dies, Jyn is taken in by Saw Gerrera, and Galen is captured and forced to continue his Death-Star-enabling Kyber research. “Rogue One” only hints at a former friendship between Krennic and Erso—it’s certainly not an important story point. So why write an entire book about the path to Krennic’s deception? Did anyone want that?

Ben Mendelsohn, no longer always the villain: Ben Mendelsohn plays Krennic in “Rogue One” and the movie is lifted by his performance because Mendelsohn can really nail a villain role. Unfortunately, Mendelsohn played villains a little too well. His presence in a project telegraphed “bad guy.” That changed in 2019 when “Captain Marvel” used Mendelsohn’s reputation as a fake out. I hope Giancarlo Esposito gets the same treatment soon; he’s too good to always get stuck as the villain.