‘Rogue One: Catalyst’ Reveals A New Side Of The ‘Star Wars’ Universe [Spoilers]

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is now less than a month from hitting screens worldwide, and veteran Star Wars author James Luceno’s just-released prequel novel, Catalyst, is giving fans new insight into the fall of the Republic and the rise of the Empire, while introducing a host of new characters.

[Potential Spoilers Follow]

Catalyst isn’t required reading before you step into the theater to see Rogue One, as Nerdist notes, but by focusing on the main characters of the upcoming Star Wars spinoff, specifically the Erso family and their old friend, Orson Krennic, it fleshes out the important relationships sure to shape the film. Rogue One‘s protagonist, Jyn Erso, is just a child during the events of Catalyst, which takes place during the fall of the Republic and the earliest days of the Empire.

The novel is primarily the story of the Death Star’s construction and is a treasure trove for fans wondering how the massive space station was constructed in secret, as Mashable notes. Galen Erso, Jyn’s erstwhile father, is manipulated into working on the Death Star’s main weapon, led to believe that his efforts are instead being expended upon a renewable energy project derived from kyber crystals, the same stones used by the Jedi to focus the blades of their lightsabers.

Much like the One Ring from The Lord of the Rings, the crystals begin to have a deleterious effect on the minds of anyone who works near them for extended periods of time. Luceno writes that the kybers cause people to lose sleep, and Galen even begins to carry one with him at all times, echoing the actions of Gollum in Tolkien’s masterwork.

Though the crystals are used for a noble purpose by the Jedi, it is made entirely clear in Catalyst that the Death Star’s planet-shattering laser is only possible because of the kybers. At one point in the novel, Galen is even given a set of kyber crystals to work with that are as large as a house. His project, dubbed “Celestial Power” is all about utilizing these crystals to power the Death Star, yet Galen remains almost entirely blind to this fact.

Catalyst may tie into the events of Rogue One in a more subtle way as well, foreshadowing what looks to be one of the most powerful scenes in the movie. As the Inquisitr has previously reported, the latest Rogue One trailer appears to show the Death Star firing its main weapon on the Force-sacred world of Jedha, wreaking havoc on the planet as Jyn and her companions flee. Jedha has already been revealed as one of the galaxy’s most plentiful sources of kyber crystals, however, and it seems puzzling that the Empire would wish to destroy a world so rich in rare resources.

This scene is foreshadowed in Catalyst by a separate instance in which we see Star Destroyers literally strip mining a world of its resources, blasting its continents and boiling its oceans at Krennic’s behest. It doesn’t take much imagination to conclude that the Death Star is most likely used for this exact purpose in Rogue One, stripping Jedha of the crystals that make it sacred to the Jedi while simultaneously bringing the battle station to the full power it exhibits in A New Hope with the destruction of Alderaan.

Catalyst also shows Krennic locked in a power struggle with Grand Moff Tarkin, the villain originally played by the late Peter Cushing. Reports last year suggested that Disney would use unprecedented CGI technology to bring Cushing back to the screen for Rogue One, yet they remain unconfirmed by any official source. With the character at least reappearing in the novel, however, fans may very well be surprised to see him once again gracing theaters when Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens on December 16.

[Featured Image by Ben A. Pruchnie/Getty Images for Walt Disney Studios]