Revan Co-review

*** Note: this review does contain some spoilers ***

Skuldren: Drew Karpyshyn’s Revan is a lot like a well written character in a novel. It’s a peculiar analogy, but it works. Both have flaws, both touch the emotions of the reader, and when their journey ends, they leave you wondering where they’ll go from here.

Unlike some Star Wars novels, Revan is not a happy tale. It is the journey of a man who has lost his memories, is plagued by visions, and finds himself being torn from the things he loves most: his wife and child. His fate is entwined with a confrontation against a villain more powerful than perhaps any we have ever seen. Worse yet, these events lead up to the The Old Republic game which hasn’t yet been released. This means that the true end is still waiting to be revealed.

Synlah: I should caption this review as Confessions of a Revan Virgin.  I attempted to play KOTOR once, but after a ten minute lesson from my snippy, superior ten year old son, I decided video games were never going to be my forte.  What this really means, however, is my impressions of Revan aren’t colored by the game experience.  Having read some rantings in various spoiler threads, I think that’s a plus.  I, like Skuldren, feel the novel works.  It’s sad, funny, deep in places, and flawed all at the same time.  I was drawn to all the characters which is something that seldom happens for me with the Sith characters I usually read in novels.  In Revan Karpyshyn managed to create Sith that are compelling to read and, dare I say it, likable in a strange way.  There’s some depth to these Sith that goes beyond the usual hack and destroy model.  However, my favorite character, hands down, is Revan himself.  Revan is a complex, troubled, funny, very human Jedi.  With the way Drew writes him, he’s a most appealing character.

Skuldren: Revan helped balance some of the gloom and doom in the novel with his humor, and it was one of my favorite traits that Karpyshyn gave him. Simply said, Revan is a smartass. Playing the old KOTOR games, you often had the opportunity to give several replies to other characters and many of those options included smart-aleck dialogue choices. Drew takes advantage of that to introduce some well needed laughs here and there. Not only does it provide humor, but it also adds to Revan’s character. Giving him a rich personality helps separate him from the other Jedi we have seen. Those added bits of lighthearted remarks and sarcasm went a long way.

Other than Revan, readers will get to meet several other characters from the KOTOR games, most notably Bastila, Canderous, and the Exile, Meetra.

Synlah:  Don’t forget the Emperor.

Skuldren: Fans get their first real look at The Old Republic Emperor in Revan. So far the game lore and tie-in comics have shown us a few brief glimpses and some hints at what to expect, but Karpyshyn digs in deep to provide background details and even a fight scene. Not only do readers get to find out what the Emperor’s real name is, they’ll also get to find out his homeworld, his childhood, how he came to power, and how he managed to live for a thousand years.

Overall, the Emperor is pretty creepy. He’s also pretty powerful. In fact, he may just be the most powerful character we’ve seen in Star Wars. It begs the question “is the character godmodding?”

Synlah:  The Emperor is a total godmod and, I would say, absolutely the most powerful character in Star Wars.  However, Drew Karpyshyn uses the godmodding emperor with good effect, particularly when he juxtaposes him against Revan.  I do have to say though that the Emperor is the one character with zero personality; he is so dark that his power overshadows everything, and who he is isn’t nearly as important as what he is.  The Emperor is a stark contrast to all the good characterization Drew did with just about everyone in the novel.  I think characterization (along with plot) is the novel’s strong suit.  With that said…

I was disappointed in that there wasn’t more Bastila in the novel.  What Drew gives you of her makes you want more, particularly in light of how clearly he shows how important their love is.  While her participation is minimal in Revan, it is key.  Ultimately it is Bastila who provides Revan with his memories and his strength.

Skuldren: Between Revan, Bastila, Meetra, Scourge, Nyriss, and the Emperor, readers good a good dose of both Jedi and Sith. For fans of the Bane Trilogy, Karpyshyn included some pretty cool Sith-on-Sith duels that showcased the internal conflicts between the dark side masters. Revan also gets a piece of the action in one of the best moments of the book. After being freed from captivity, he finally gets back his infamous mask, then promptly shows off his full range of power in a fight against a full fledged Sith council member. But the fight scenes weren’t the only aspects that made Drew’s handling of Jedi and Sith memorable. He also did some really nice stuff with how they perceive and utilize the Force, thus exploring Force philosophy a bit.

Synlah: Drew’s handling of ‘Revan the Jedi’ was very good, and avoids the typical type casting.  He is, at the same time, human in a way you don’t see them being, and simply an amazing Jedi.  He is never trying to put the love he feels for Bastila “in a box” so he can be a proper Jedi.  And Drew uses Revan to introduce some very unorthodox thinking along the lines of Jedi and the Force.

Karpyshyn also used Scourge to good effect as a conflicted Sith, and a Sith who actually may have a touch of selflessness.  Make no mistake, it’s a Sith brand of selflessness — which is to say it’s ultimately going to be about what’s good for the Sith.

Skuldren: In KOTOR, Revan was a multifaceted character. He was a Jedi, a Sith, a soldier, a general, a hero, a villain, a conqueror, and savior. Throughout the novel, Drew shows the reader some of those various sides of Revan. We get to see the compassionate side of him that loves his wife and child. We also get to see the no nonsense, I’ll-destroy-you-if-I-have-to side. He’s a person who cares deeply about his friends and companions, but someone who will use the enemy to further his agenda if need be.  The best part of all of it was that Revan never felt like he was struggling to maintain a balance between the dark and the light. For him, that balance was already achieved. It reminded me of how Luke is sometimes portrayed in his later life. He’s been through so much that he’s beyond light and dark. They both have that inner calmness in them.

Synlah:  Revan definitely has achieved a balance and it makes him very powerful.  But Revan has been to both sides of the Force, and there is no question that he is a Jedi.  He is balancing on the knife edge between dark and light, and he has  mastered the balance.  He is in control of his destiny no matter where circumstances place him.  In this story, there is no one who comes in contact with Revan who isn’t affected by him.  Revan may well be the greatest Jedi of all because he has become the antithesis of the Sith.

Skuldren: I think one of the things that helped him the most was that Revan could rely on his love for Bastila as an emotional anchor. It wasn’t something that led him into trouble, but rather something that kept him out of trouble. He was able to use his attachment to her in a positive way, a way that magnified his selflessness. It was almost as if he had discovered a different path parallel to the Jedi Order. As a reader, I couldn’t help but wonder what the Jedi Order would have been like during the Clone Wars if they could have adapted more to Revan’s philosophy.

Synlah:  For me Revan was a very interesting read.  It filled a big gap in my Star Wars lore, I learned the importance of Revan (and what a great character he is) and it entertained me.  But the book isn’t flawless.  There are passages that are poorly transitioned with rather clunky explanations.  The strengths of the book are that it’s a really good plot and the well done characterizations.  Revan shined through in this work.  We give it a 4 out of 5 metal bikinis.

Reviewed By: Skuldren and Synlah for Roqoo Depot.

2 Comments »

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  1. Can’t wait to read this book!

  2. Found myself agreeing with you, Synlah., sp since I haven’t played KOTOR, either. I found i had the same responses to Scourge, too…he kind of reminded me of Thrawn (bad, but trying to do the right thing?)
    And did anyone else catch that little Sith business DK slipped in about Meetra as a personal slave to Scourge? Hola! New insight to private lives of Sith!


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