When Disney purchased Lucasfilm, they decided to start fresh with continuity, wiping most of the old expanded universe from the history books. Under the direction of the newly established Star Wars Story Group, any Star Wars products, from films to TV to novels and comics, would now share a coherent continuity.
That means that books, like the Rogue One: A Star Wars Story prequel novel Catalyst, suddenly offer the opportunity for backstories to get fleshed out, characters to be introduced, and for it all to be tightly wound with the new movies.
That's the case for Catalyst, available now as a pring novel or an audiobook, which brings us the backstory of just how the Erso family and Director Orson Krennic's lives became intertwined, and how Galen Erso was brought into the Death Star project.
SPOILERS ARE ON as we explore the film, and help flesh out the way the book connects and expands upon the story in the movie.
Galen Erso calls Jyn "Stardust," which winds up being a very pivotal plot point. That nickname from father to daughter first appeared in the novel Catalyst, by James Luceno. The nickname referred to her eyes. An excerpt from the novel explains:
"She’s beautiful,” he said, inspecting her face. “Her eyes have changed color.”
Lyra nodded. “They’re sort of flecked.”
“Stardust,” Galen said. “That’s what’s in her eyes.”
The Ersos and Krennic have a drink
Before Galen Erso was a captive of the Empire, forced to work for them on completing the Death Star, he worked for the Empire voluntarily. Of course, when he did that, he had no idea he was working on a weapon of mass destruction. He thought his project, Stellar Sphere (also referenced in the film) was meant to find a way to use Kyber Crystals to provide clean energy to the whole galaxy. He lived happily, for a time, with his family at various facilities, including on Coruscant. They entertained Krennic, who had even earlier rescued Galen from the clutches of the Separatists during the Clone Wars. Quite a bit of backstory between the Erso family and this particular director of special weapons indeed.
"Oh Lyra, troublesome as ever"
Earlier, during the prologue, when Lyra confronted Krennic, he said, simply amused, "troublesome as ever." That's because Lyra caught on that the Empire was a problem long before Galen did - and sewed the seeds of his dissent. She wound up discovering that the Empire had inadvertantly destroyed two other research facilities, and she coordinated the Erso family's connections to Saw Gerrera, who wound up helping them hide from the Empire.
Jyn's Special Necklace
As seen in the trailer, and now in the prologue of Rogue One, Lyra Erso gifts Jyn with a very particular artifact. Her mother gives her young daughter a necklace, with a crystal on it - a Kyber crystal.
As we learned in Catalyst, Lyra Erso is a devotee of the Force as a religion, and doesn't believe the Empire's propaganda that the Jedi turned against the galaxy. Her husband, Galen, may look at the crystals as merely a source of energy that can be harnassed to help the galaxy, but Lyra knows they're something much more special than that, a physical connection to the mystical Force. Gifting it to Jyn isn't just a reminder of her parents - it's a reminder that there's something greater out there.
Tarkin vs. Krennic
Governor or Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin has more than just a cameo, playing a role in the film as an antagonist to the antagonist. The rivalry between Tarkin and Director Orson Krennic is touched on in the film, but more explicitly fleshed out in the pages of Catalyst. Krennic, placed in charge of the Death Star's development, is at odds with Tarkin, who wants to be in charge of the weapon itself upon its completion.
Through ILM's computerized magic, Peter Cushing, the deceased actor who played the role in the original Star Wars, returns, lending his visage to the film courtesy of his estate.
Conceived of by George Lucas for the live-action TV series that never came to be, Saw wound up debuting on Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Before coming to live action in Rogue One, though, he made a detour in Catalyst.
"He's sort of an extreme Rebel. He's definitely against the Empire, but he does things that morally push against the kind of things that Bail Organa and Mon Mothma stand for," Story Group's Pablo Hidalgo described Gerrera shortly after the announcement. While the Story Group brought up the character from The Clone Wars, it was the Rogue One team that "took that character and ran with it."
In the novel, Saw is indeed an early Rebel, working with others to subvert the Empire. He works with smugglers in particular, and winds up being the instrument of the Erso family escaping from the Empire (but not until after Galen had done plenty of research on the Kyber crystals that would power the Death Star).
Read or listen to Star Wars: Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel on shelves now.
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