Titan Books, h/b, £17.99
Reviewed by Craig Knight
Annihilation is the latest in the tie-in series to the online role-playing game, Star Wars: The Old Republic. The Sith Empire is on the retreat as Republic forces gain the upper hand but the Empire’s deadliest warship, the Ascendant Spear, threatens the Republic’s fragile advantage. Theron Shan is sent on a suicide mission to take down the terrifying weapon before it turns the advantage back to the Empire.
Fans of Bioware’s Star Wars: The Old Republic game will grin broadly at the prospect of a new tie-in novel but the term ‘based on’ is key here. Annihilation expands on the events of the online game but there are only a few throw-away references to settings and characters players will be familiar with. This is a nice touch as readers don’t need to be familiar with the game to enjoy the story. The protagonist, Theron Shan, is refreshingly not a force user and this immediately sets the novel apart from many previous books. Karpyshyn brings a new perspective to the war between the Empire and the Republic by showing it from the viewpoint of a member of the Republic’s Intelligence Service rather than the Jedi Order. Don’t fear, Jedi fans, as Theron is accompanied by Jedi Master Gnost-Dural who adds the mystery of the Force but this is definitely Theron’s story.
Annihilation is a good, solid story and an enjoyable read but it doesn’t really excel in any respects. The characters are interesting, the story well-written, but there is a lack of tension as the conclusion is never in any doubt. Perhaps it’s due to the change in perspective to a non-Force user but I certainly hope not; the viewpoint of a non-Jedi or Sith is something that I hope occurs more often. It’s good to see peripheral characters in the online game such as Jace Malcolm and Jedi Grand Master Satele Shan given some more narrative time but the story doesn’t really get the blood pumping. There are some great space battles but it just doesn’t quite hit the ‘excellent’ category. Theron’s personal life and the realisation of who his mother and father are is actually the more interesting aspect and it’s a shame it is relegated to a sub-plot.
Annihilation is a worthy addition to the Star Wars extended universe and a good read. You won’t regret picking it up but just don’t expect anything ground-breaking.