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Star Wars: The Old Republic - Annihilation
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on 7 April 2015
This is another Star Wars novel inspired by the various Old Republic video games. When the novels set in this era began to be released they made for quite a change from the multitude of those that had primarily been set around the six films or during several decades that subsequently follow the events of ‘Return of the Jedi’. They have now become more numerous and, unfortunately, as a result become a bit samey.

‘Annihilation’ is not the most original of Star Wars plots. The Sith Empire have a super ship/weapon of mass destruction that could turn the tide of the war and, therefore, the Jedi and various Republic agents are devising a way to destroy it against all odds. During these events the various Sith Lords are continuously vying for power in efforts to ascend through their ranks. It’s all been seen before, but the novel does do this type of thing quite well.

Annihilation’ doesn’t feel like a very suitable title. There isn’t really any ‘annihilation’ involved and at this particular time in the war against the Sith Empire the Republic seems to somewhat have the upper hand. It certainly is less under a threat of annihilation than it appears in many other Star Wars novels throughout the various eras.

Some of the characters are already established from other media other than the various novels. This tends to mean their characterisation within this book isn’t as strong as it could be. Knowledge of various comics does, no doubt, enhance the story but it is not essential.

The main protagonist, Theron Shan, is descended from a prominent line of Jedi but has no aptitude for the force. His heritage is, perhaps, more interesting than he is himself. There is some effort in the book to indicate that he is a bit of wild card but it doesn’t quite come across. If anything he seems a bit subdued at times. He is a pretty capable character though and without the force he copes more than adequately with fighting the Sith.

Gnost-Dural is in many ways little more than a typical Jedi Master. His characterisation seems to just depend upon him being a Kel-Dor. This leads him to be very like Plo Koon.

Teff’ith is a good character but it often feels that she doesn’t really need to be in the novel and that she has just been included for the sake of it.

There are really only two Sith Lords of any note in the story and Darth Gravus does no more than fulfil the role of the ‘idiot’ Sith. Many Old Republic novels seem to possess these Sith Lords who, despite their power and intelligence, serve as cannon fodder for the purpose of the story. Darth Karrid is potentially more interesting but is little more than an internal ship component. Certainly within the confines of this novel there is little to suggest exactly how or why she fell to the dark side other than her obsession with being in a symbiotic relationship with her ship.

Minister Davidge is one of the more interesting characters. Even though he is of some importance in the Sith Empire he is not obviously or overtly evil. Instead he is an administrator, just trying to get his job done but happens to work for Sith Lords.

The Darth Bane novels by the same author possess much better characterisation and a more intense exploration of the dark side.
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THE STORY:
(3,641 BBY) Set after the events of 'The Old Republic' computer game and following on from 'The Old Republic: The Lost Suns' comic books, this book reveals a galaxy where the Sith Empire is finally being defeated by the Republic but calls upon one last trump card; a near-invincible warship called the Ascendant Spear. Knowing that the Spear could turn the tide of the war once more, the Republic sets special agent Theron Shan and Jedi Master Gnost-Dural the task of taking the ship out of the fight.

WHAT'S GOOD:
I was a bit dubious about the idea of Theron Shan as this book's main protagonist but actually found it quite refreshing to read about a non-Force-sensitive who uses Jedi techniques whilst simultaneously scorning Jedi philosophy. He reads a little like James Bond, with a curious mix of morality and ruthless expedience. Gnost-Dural (the Jedi voiced by Lance Henrikssen in the online chronology for TOR) complements this well by being the sort of battle Jedi who doesn't agonise over every being he kills. I also enjoyed seeing the stuff going on behind the scenes in the war, with Darth Marr's desperate attempts to hold together the fragmenting Empire and the revelations about the history between Supreme Commander Jace Malcom and Grand Master Satele Shan being of particular interest.

WHAT'S BAD:
It's a little hard to quantify, but overall this book just felt a bit shallow. It lacked the depth and complexity of say a Timothy Zahn novel, coming over much more pulpy. That's not always a bad thing, but I just feel (as with Karpyshyn's 'Revan') that the subject matter deserved a more in-depth, sweeping epic. Another slight disappointment was that, as the last 'The Old Republic' novel, I would've liked to have seen some follow up to the other novels of the series. How is Zeerid Korr from 'Deceived' doing by the end of the war? What became of Darth Marr's apprentice after the end of 'Fatal Alliance'? Maybe a cameo from Lord Scourge from 'Revan'? I understand the TOR novels were all supposed to be independent stand-alones, but it really wouldn't have hurt for a bit of interlinking.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 5 February 2013
This story is Drew Karpyshyn at his best. This story takes place after the Immortal Sith Emperor is feared dead the Dark Counsel and Sith Lords are on the back foot in the war with the Republic. They have one major ace up their sleeves. The Ascendant Spear. The biggest, fastest, deadliest star ship ever created. It is an amalgam of engineering, Sith alchemistry (magic), and Human/Falleen interaction. Thanks to cybernetic enhancement a Sith Lord can take control of the ship and uses it as an extension of her own will.

Theron Shan is a Republic spy. He is a decedent of Star Wars The Old Republic - Revan but unlike his (secret) Jedi master mother he is not force sensitive, though is raised by another Jedi and taught methods of force meditation and other techniques. He believes in the Republic and has dedicated his life to protecting it, just not the Jedi way.

After being a maverick and compromising a secret Republic mission he is in the dog house, till he is called for a mission to destroy the Ascendant Spear, which could potentially end the war.

The great thing about the story is that you do not have to be a Jedi to make a difference. It is actually the little thing in this book that adds realism. All the characters know their limitations and have to make hard choices. I am looking forward to what happens next or before. I would love to know how the Emperor was actually killed (I mean this guy make Sidious look like a wuss), or even what is next for the Old Republic family.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 26 December 2012
I enjoyed that the story was not based around a jedi/sith hero and it developed known character backgrounds. If you are into the Old republic you will enjoy this book but i found myself thinking it was just to easy for him to bypass high security systems.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 24 December 2012
My favourite Star Wars author comes good again. Darth Bane is a hard act to follow but another Old Republic classic delivered by Drew Karpyshyn. Fully recommend this one for all fans of Star Wars and in particular the Old Republic era.
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on 8 December 2012
Fast paced and exciting all the way, you certainly won't get bored of this book. Not the best I've read from Drew but well worth a read if your into Star Wars and/or play Star Wars: The Old Republic as in many ways in continues the story. I'd recommend this over the other Old Republic novels as it actually involves fleshed out, important characters rather than one main guy and then a smuggler, soldier etc. So it feels more like a novel rather than a poorly patched together fanfiction.
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on 23 February 2015
This was basically a good read but didn't have either the depth or character development of Karpyshyn's other work. It's odd because peripheral charcters seem to develop and change as things happen to them in the story but not the main character, Theron Shan. The mission they embark on in this story is a difficult one and Theron's unique way of dealing with things makes the story entertaining. All of that said I did find it quite shallow.
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on 29 April 2013
When reading Star Wars book, it's always a worry it won't stay with the original format, but this book does.

All the characthers in the book are new but of the same groups eg Jedi and siths. The characthers were all engaging and drew you into the story.

The story kept you engaged and turning pages, In someways it reminded of anneking and padme story.

A recommended read for all Star Wars fans.
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on 9 July 2015
Fans of the game and other Star Wars paperbacks will enjoy this. It sits comfortably alongside the X-Wing series as entertaining easy reading. The characterisations are solid (if a tad formulaic), and the action sequences are slick and well written (even if in some of them, you can almost imagine it being played out in-game, with the special attacks and all!).
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on 25 February 2015
... Since I read the other books in this series, and maybe that's why this one didn't grab me in quite the same way as the first ones. I enjoyed it, and it predecessors, together with the Darth Bane trilogy they add nice detail to the expanded universe.
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