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Lit The JC Lit Reviews Special: THE OLD REPUBLIC: REVAN (Spoilers)

Discussion in 'Literature' started by Havac, Dec 1, 2011.

  1. DarthAdamentum

    DarthAdamentum Jedi Youngling star 3

    Jan 28, 2008
    Good to know Revan is a man and has a happy family.

    Felt Meetra Surik died too easily. She deserved better.

    Not convinced with the Emperor.

    Scourge is intriguing character.

    The Triumvirate should have had a mention.

    Why did Revan not send a warning/message through T3 regarding the Emperor's plan etc?

  2. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 29, 2005
    Average score: 180.75/31 = 5.83
  3. Todd the Jedi

    Todd the Jedi Mod and Soliloquist of SWTV star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Oct 16, 2008
    Revan. One of the most important men in galactic history; a savior and a conqueror both. Yet he has forgotten his past, and in Drew Karpyshyn's novel The Old Republic: Revan, the titular Jedi embarks on an epic journey for answers, even when it is very likely that he may never succeed.

    This is a very gripping novel. I found myself really wanting to learn the mysteries contained within, where all the plots would intertwine. In the first part we follow two storylines that eventually crash headlong into each other at the halfway point of the book. One plot follows Revan in his quest to reclaim his lost memories, while the other follows a member of the sith species of the True Sith Empire. I liked Revan's characterisation a lot. He started out as a Jedi, turned to the Dark Side and waged war against the Republic, only to be redeemed and undo his dark actions. He's seen it all, much more than most Jedi have, so he has a very unique viewpoint on the Force. I liked his meetings with Canderous, and then their little journey together. Karpyshyn gives us a slightly different take on the Mandalorians than we're used to. They're still nomadic and clan-oriented, but their goals are still very warlike, since the Mandalorian Wars are still fresh in their memories. I liked the atmosphere of Rekkiad and the Mando camp. The discovery of the ancient crypt was a cool way for Revan to find the next clue on his journey, while ending Canderous and the Mandalorian's search for Mandalore's mask.

    The sith plot was interesting. It makes sense that the some of the Sith of Naga Sadow's time would have survived and grown. The galaxy is a big place, filled with many undiscovered dark corners where Sith like these can thrive. Scourge was an alright character. I didn't like how paranoid and indecisive he was. It was made up for a little bit by him being a pretty badass guy. Darth Nyriss was interesting, and very manipulative. Though Scourge's musings did get annoying, they were somewhat justified, since Nyriss really is a conniving sith. I find it interesting that the supposed highest ranked Sith are uniting against their Emperor, but given his backstory it makes sense. Even these evil Dark Councilors fear their Emperor, who may have perfected the path to immortality. Even Palpatine did not quite reach that level.

    The second part of the novel was a bit more rushed than the first. The only character who needed an introduction here was Meetra Surik, the Jedi Exile, yet her past is not touched upon as much as Revan's is. Still, I liked her infiltration of Dromund Kaas. She had a very calculated approach to it all, taking all these foreign elements into stock. Her search for Revan leads her to Scourge, who's had him in captivity for three years. This is where Scourge gets some much needed character development. He's able to realize that the members of the Dark Council are too concerned with backstabbing each other that they can never unite against the Emperor as they've allegedly planned. He finds inspiration in the direct approaches of Revan and the Exile and does the smart thing and allies himself with them to kill the Emperor. His plan to use the Emperor to free Revan is risky, but proves fruitful when the Emperor's guards eliminate Nyriss and the other Councilors. The best was when Revan received his old mask from Meetra. Regaining all his memories, he proves much more than a match for Nyriss, and possibly the Emperor. But this is not a happy tale, for Meetra is killed by Scourge in an act of betrayal, while the Emperor subdues Revan. Yet both of these actions prove to be to the Emperor's disadvantage. In a moment of great development, Scourge has finally gained the ability to see into the future, and he knows that it is too soon for the Emperor to die. The Sith will live on, long enough for another Jedi to finish the job. And, with his newly gained immortality, Scourge will live to make sure his vision comes to pass. He has learned much from Revan, though, and I imagine he's grown all the more because of his close interaction with Revan during the latter's captivity. Revan's fate seems horrific, but he is in fact fulfilling his dream of creating a world where his wife and son can live in peace. his new connection with the Emperor will not destroy the Sith, but it will hold them back from attacking everything Revan holds dear, at least for a while.

    Overall I liked this novel. It was a bit short and awkwardly paced, but otherwise it was fine. It was very descriptive. Karpyshyn built the society on Dromund Kaas very well. I liked the descriptions of the planet in the beginning. Gives a new meaning to the word eerie. Revan was a great character. He almost seems like what Anakin Skywalker would have been like had he lived after his redemption. The Jedi are wary of him, but the Sith hold him in awe. Canderous was a cool guy, I liked his personality as a kinda contrast to Revan's, while still being very similar as well. And T3-M4 was a cool little buddy for Revan to interact with. And he goes out in a literal blaze of glory, bravely fighting with his master against the greatest of odds. I notice there's a bit of a focus on masks in this book and their varying significance. Whether they are symbols to give a people hope, or they are a reminder of the men we once were. And of course both are directly related to Revan's story. Then there was the juxtaposition of the two women in Revan's life. Meetra is tied to his self before his fall and redemption, while Bastila is his present and future. Literally, since we see their grandchildren are on their way to carry on Revan's legacy as a great jedi. There was also some good humor in this novel, mostly snarky comments from Revan, a little in his prison conversation with Scourge, but especially when talking with Canderous.

    I give this an 8.4 out of 10 for a gripping, though kinda poorly paced novel. The characters were cool and the action and story were entertaining.
  4. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 29, 2005
    Average score: 189.15/32 = 5.91
  5. MistrX

    MistrX Jedi Master star 4

    Jun 20, 2006
    Looking at that average score, I guess I'm going to break the mold a little bit here. Overall, I liked it. After years of getting little from Revan's actual perspective other than what I could project myself when playing the game, I loved getting to see a story told from his perspective. It wasn't a groundbreaking POV and may have actually still been a blank enough canvas (which is to say, Karpyshyn might have written him blandly enough) that I could still project some of the characterization I made in the game onto the character even as I read about him. Whatever the case may be, getting some of Kreia's pet theories about Revan confirmed or denied and seeing exactly what happened to him after the events of KOTOR was a treat and something I never thought I would be able to see. Glad they finally just let it happen.

    This novel reminded me of Revenge of the Sith in many ways. There's that inevitability and dread that you feel throughout because you know how things will ultimately play out. We know Revan and Meetra aren't going to kill the Emperor because the game happens. We know that Revan ultimately fails in the goal to single-handedly end the Sith Empire's plan of invading the Republic and we also know it's not happening for another "300 years" as Darth Malgus likes to remind us. As a result we're treated to quite a downer ending for all three of our main POV characters, but there's also that undercurrent of hope for the future. Yeah, the heroes lost now, which we already knew would happen, but the future has a chance. And in the meantime, Bastila and the descendants she lives to see at least get to live peaceful lives. It's a dark ending but at the same time there's optimism there.

    I think I just like getting back into this era and seeing all of the nods to the first game. I can be easy to please at times, so just mentioning the activities of Mission, Zaalbar, and HK-47 are nice. I like seeing Atris and getting to see the actual mission that got Canderous the mask of Mandalore. Seeing Bastila and Revan happily married is actually kind of sweet.

    That said, I was a little put off by the fact that after her introduction halfway through the novel, Meetra really gets the short shrift. Maybe Karpyshyn is jealous that Avellone made the more complex and interesting storyline for the game he wrote, I don't know, but what was up with that? Kreia gets a mention, but other than a vague mention of a New Jedi Council, what about the rest of her companions? How is it a planet devoid of the Force and an Emperor described as having a "hunger" to "devour" all life in the galaxy and leave it dead not at all remind her of Nihilus? Not even a mention? Seriously?

    I loved getting Meetra as a main character, but it also seemed like her abilities were downplayed quite a bit. She has no chance against Nyriss even though she fairly recently bested three Sith Lords in single combat? Other than enlisting Scourge's help, she hardly seems to be a factor in the section of the book she's actually a part of. It's frustrating.

    One thing I did find interesting, even if it is so blatant, was the echo of both Bastila and Meetra being envious of the connection the other woman has with Revan. Yeah, it's a little awkward and silly, but I still liked that parallel with the twinge of jealousy and the self awareness in both cases.

    I did find Scourge fairly interesting, though. Sith Lords are evil, yeah, but most do want something to dominate and rule over, so his decision to oppose the Emperor and being impatient and hotheaded enough to actually do something about it worked for me. His decision to betray the Jedi because he realized it wasn't their destiny to win the battle actually worked for me as well, both as an act of self preservation and the idea of destroying something that threatens all life. We saw a certain Sith Lord make a similar decision when it came to Abeloth and if speculation is correct, Palpatine may have been going through a similar plan to face the Vong. These guys want the freedom to rule and be cruel and a threat that could wipe out the very realm they want to dominate is something that should be opposed. The enemy of my enemy and all that, so Scourge's decision works for me and never feels like it falls into altruism.

    And Rohlan was right! Glad that was confirmed.

    Read on its own with no knowledge of either the old games or the new MMO, it's hard for me to think this book would stand alone very well. It's really here to answer previous questions and set up events for the future game. It's part of the larger story and by itself probably suffers. But as a sequel and lead-in to the larger MMO story, I think it works. It's fairly simple and most of the characters are little more than plot driving cliches, but still enjoyable enough as it is.

  6. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 29, 2005
    Average score: 196.15/33 = 5.94
  7. darth fluffy

    darth fluffy Jedi Knight star 2

    Dec 27, 2012
    Oh gosh, where do I begin? Words cannot express the ire I feel for this novel.

    The reason why I hate it so much? I was playing KOTOR 2 at the time I got it. Ant then I got to the end and the one character I cared about was killed. i almost threw the book across the room.:mad:

    Good points:

    Better than no KOTOR 3 at all.

    Bad points:


    Revan is male, has no personality, and is married to Bastila.

    Exile is light side, has no personality, ands is named Meetra Surik.

    Bastila is out of character.

    KOTOR 2 not mentioned much.

    I'm still hoping that all this is just a bad dream and they made a real KOTOR 3 somewhere.

  8. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 29, 2005
    Letting Drew Karpyshyn base a story around preexisting material is always a two-edged sword. On the one hand, without someone else's superior material to graft his story onto, his utterly bland storytelling abilities lead to generic, boring disasters like Dynasty of Evil. With good material to work off, there's at least a core of good ideas there that he can build on to give the story some value. On the other hand, his generic, weak storytelling tends to drag the preexisting material down, and takes good things and makes them bad.

    Revan finds him working with preexisting material. It makes a strong case for letting him come up with his own disasters all by himself.

    It's true that the story is elevated some by the preexisting material of KOTOR, TOR, and less so KOTOR II. It's always fun seeing Canderous, some aspects of the TOR backstory Karpyshyn explores are quite interesting, and Revan's quest certainly has potential. But the problem is that much more is lost than is gained by Karpyshyn's treatment of the material. Revan, previously such a compelling, mysterious character, is in Karpyshyn's hands a bland, boring dweeb with no ambition to do anything. His quest lacks the grand stature of a mysterious figure disappearing back into the unknown on a quest to stop an evil he can barely recall. Instead, he's just a boring unemployed doofus who has some bad dreams and wanders off to figure out what the deal is. There's some claptrap about giving his son a better galaxy, and Karpyshyn tries to turn up the EPIX once Revan gets captured (in a particularly lousy sequence) by the Sith, but it's entirely bland. And everything after Revan sees his mask again is unremittingly awful, a child's idea of awesomeness.

    Bastila is given the same lack of ambition and activity as Revan, turned into a boring, mopey, jealous housewife who doesn't care if Revan goes to the dark side so long as her man comes back to her. It's just stupendously tone-deaf characterization. And then the Exile is revealed to be a Revan-worshiping lady whose role is to wander off to Revan, help him escape, and then die the blandest death of all time. Everybody from the games comes off worse here, except Canderous, and even he gets a stupid scene where he kills his shrill, hostile estranged wife and then lies on the floor for a little bit. Karpyshyn also botches the connection to KOTOR II, perhaps due to his apparent inability to either read or care about other people's subtext. His readings of KOTOR II appear implausible (Atris is Bastila's age, Kreia started a separate rebellion with a bunch of Jedi after KOTOR and that's the source of KOTOR II's Sith), and his connectivity is crap. He writes HK-47 out of the story for some reason, forcing him to work out an incredibly awkward and contrived way to get HK back on the Ebon Hawk for the start of KOTOR II. His treatment of HK in general is really weird, part of the awkward, contrived writing-out of everybody from the story so that Revan can go off alone (rather than, you know, organically devise a reason he wants to head off alone that plays to Revan's mystique), having everyone treat him as a maniac homicidal death bomb who can never be used ever. Which, yeah, he's bloodthirsty, but he's also a droid who follows his programming and obeys his master. He doesn't just run around murdering people on his own initiative.

    The stuff that isn't making Revan's quest to stop the Sith incredibly dull, the Scourge stuff, is a little more interesting. The interplay of Sith politics has some interest, and Scourge is actually a bit of an interesting character, trying to feel his way out in this world he doesn't understand. Karpyshyn's abilities aren't quite up to the task, but there are some reasonably interesting sequences and it's at its page-turning best in that plotline.

    The biggest problem is that ultimately, Karpyshyn doesn't have many tools as an author. He's not good at writing characters; they tend to be thin and bland. He's not good at writing plots; they tend to be awkwardly justified, unorganic, and simplistic. He's not good at writing prose; it tends to be simplistic and clunky. He's sometimes good at writing action. He's not good at creativity or storytelling in general; his plots and characters are cliche-riddled and generic, and seem to consistently lack the imaginative power of someone who really grasps the storytelling art. He's pretty much a secondhand recycler of pop culture storytelling, someone who doesn't really know how to create his own stories but has seen enough stories that he knows what he's supposed to do and can kind of fake his way to a derivative product that has the illusion of creativity and ideas without the talent or skill to actually execute them on an artistic level. Perhaps he has a future in Hollywood, but like his Bane books, Revan shows that he shouldn't have one in novels, especially not in the EU.

    Revan is a profoundly disappointing work that not only fails to understand the material that it's working with and present it compellingly, but fails even to tell a compelling story on its own terms. Karpyshyn is just too generic a writer to develop a genuinely satisfying book. 2/10, because there were a few solid bits here and there and two jokes that actually worked for me. It's not totally without value, just mostly.
  9. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 29, 2005
    Average score: 198.15/34 = 5.83
  10. DigitalMessiah

    DigitalMessiah Chosen One star 6

    Feb 17, 2004

    This sounds awesome.

    I think after reading Path of Destruction and Rule of Two I knew who Karpyshyn was as a writer, and I never really felt a desire to read anything he wrote again. Despite that, I did pick up Dynasty of Evil, but never finished it.
  11. Darkslayer

    Darkslayer Force Ghost star 6

    Mar 26, 2013
    I loved this book. A perfect way to bridge the KOTOR games with SWTOR. I felt it did justice to all characters involved.

    Todd the Jedi likes this.
  12. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 29, 2005
    Average score: 208.15/35 = 5.95
  13. Sudooku

    Sudooku Jedi Knight star 4

    May 31, 2014
    I was horrified after I red the end of that novel. Not that I'm always glad with a happy end but letting Revan at the "mercy" of the emperor for 50 years or longer like Venamis did under Plagueis is just horrible. If the emperor doesn't grant Revan the same gift of immortality as he gave to his stooge Scourge, how long will he probable nutrite himself from Revan's body and soul that long? And I'm still not sure if the sacrifice of Meetra Surik by Scourge is justified or not. But I was amused by the rumor that all the thunder and lightning over Dromund Kaas was made by the emperor himself. I hope he has a good insurance for the casualties caused by that home-made weather at (t)his planet.

    But that end cries for second Revan-novel. And then I want to see the emperor dead and the sun shining over Dromund Kas after almost 1000 standard-years. Do you think that Drew Karpynshyn will have that insight too.
  14. Darth_Garak

    Darth_Garak Jedi Master star 4

    Jul 28, 2005
  15. Taalcon

    Taalcon Force Ghost star 4

    Jul 12, 1998
    Just started this novel, having just played through KOTOR and KOTOR2 and very much enjoying them and their stories. I just began reading Star Wars novels again in the last few months, and all of those have been by Luceno, Stover, and JJM.

    With that being the case, one of the first things I noticed is that, wow, Karpyshyn's prose seriously lacks in subtlety. I think I've been spoiled.
  16. Sudooku

    Sudooku Jedi Knight star 4

    May 31, 2014
    Thank you, Darth Garak,

    for, I'm not familiar with any games, I take resort to the clips I see in the web. Or wait for the next Karpynshin-novel about this. I like his novels very much. I just take, what I can take from. Subtlety or not - he has just the focus on the Sith- and other developement of characters. I like his panoramas and scenes. If it would be more subtle - I guess the novels may be as twice as long ;)
  17. Taalcon

    Taalcon Force Ghost star 4

    Jul 12, 1998
    Enjoyed learning what happened to Revan between KotOR I, II, and TOR. Wasn't a fan of the prose. I think if I had been aware of Karpyshyn's reputation and style before hand, it would have been less jarring to me. To paraphrase Shrek, Karpyshan's prose isn't exactly an Onion. Or a Parfait. There ain't layers.

    I think there's good evidence that Karpyshyn has some very interesting ideas, but his abilities at prose probably don't always put those ideas in their best light. This isn't to speak poorly of Karpyshyn as a Star Wars storyteller at all - his work on Knights of the Old Republic is excellent and fully appropriate for that medium, and established some important and fascinating Star Wars lore. I enjoy his VG work much more than his prose work. Glad I know the story of Revan, but wonder how his ideas could have been expressed by someone with more experience and skill at prose storytelling.

    I do plan to reading his Bane novels at some point, and I think that going into them with an understanding of his limits and strengths will be helpful in adjusting my expectations of the book going forward.
    Iron_lord likes this.
  18. xx_Anakin_xx

    xx_Anakin_xx Jedi Master star 4

    Jan 9, 2008
    I was really looking forward to this novel. I enjoyed the beginning a lot. But the final 1/3 of the book did not live up to my expectations. The ending was not what I had hoped for at all with this great character.