Annihilation by Drew Karpyshyn, Star Wars: The Old Republic #4

The Sith Empire is in flux. The Emperor is missing, presumed dead, and an ambitious Sith lord’s attempt to seize the throne has ended fatally. Still, Darth Karrid, commander of the fearsome Imperial battle cruiser Ascendant Spear, continues her relentless efforts to achieve total Sith domination of the galaxy.

But Karrid’s ruthless determination is more than matched in the steely resolve of Theron Shan, whose unfinished business with the Empire could change the course of the war for good. Though the son of a Jedi master, Theron does not wield the Force—but like his renowned mother, the spirit of rebellion is in his blood. As a top covert agent for the Republic, he struck a crucial blow against the Empire by exposing and destroying a Sith superweapon arsenal—which makes him the ideal operative for a daring and dangerous mission to end Ascendant Spear’s reign of terror.

Joined by hot-headed smuggler Teff’ith, with whom he has an inexplicable bond, and wise Jedi warrior Gnost-Dural, Darth Karrid’s former master, Theron must match wits and weapons with a battle-tested crew of the most cold-blooded dark side disciples. But time is brutally short. And if they don’t seize their one chance to succeed, they will surely have countless opportunities to die.

I have always wanted to read an Star Wars story but never had gotten around doing so. For a lot of people the Star Wars genre is something they grew up with and for me has left a definite impact. However screaming with a bit of young boyish delight, I still had some reservations, because with such a potential behind the series, a book really has to live up to something. But just a few pages into Annihilation, I knew I was in good hands. Drew Karpyshyn knows how to capture the Jedi, the Sith and everything that surrounds the Star Wars universe in a great manner. Annihilation is an action packed and a very fast paced book.  

I am not that familiar with the Star Wars universe besides the six movies, and I would never have guessed that there would be such an extensive timeline. In the front of the book you see all the other books that have been written in this genre and where they take place either in between movies or even before it. Annihilation takes place before the first movie even and introduces us to a new set of characters, both non-Jedi and Jedi Republic fighters and the Sith Empire. But actually the start of this book could have been any other high tech science fiction space opera but soon after a few pages in I really got settled into the Star Wars universe and Drew Karpyshyn managed, even though it’s a short book, to give a clear picture of the tremendous Star Wars universe. 

The main protagonist that you follow in Annihilation is Theron Shan. Theron, though born from a Jedi mother, isn’t a Jedi himself, instead he works for the SIS the secret service of the Republic. Theron never has know who is father was and sees his former Jedi teacher, who trained Theron, as his father. Because getting children isn’t something normally seen amongst the ranks of the Jedi. Though it was a bit hastily introduced in the mix with revealing who Theron’s father was, did add another layer in to the mix (it’s not a Luke I’m your father moment). What was done in a nice way was how Drew Karpyshyn further build the story surrounding Theron’s parents. It was great to see that Theron was getting torn between two sides and his mission. And this is also a part where Theron’s character draws a lot of strength from. When you first read about Theron, you see him as a hardened special agent, determined with his mission and helping a person dear to him. But later on you see a duality of feelings to his mother and his father. On one hand you feel like he doesn’t want to know them, since they abandoned him as a child but you also learn that he was seeking contact with his mother but it just never worked out and even more when I read between the lines I do think that Theron desperately wants to be acknowledged by his parents and connect with them. Drew Karpyshyn really puts down a connectable character in Theron. 

Besides Theron there are a few different characters that you follow for starters there is Teff’ith, who Theron knows on a more personal level being both trained by the same Jedi master. Teff’ith is now a smuggler with a hot temper and mostly does jobs to get a few extra credits in her pocket. You see that the relation between Theron and Teff’ith is on some parts quite strained, Theron protects Teff’ith at all costs and even going as far as secretly tailing her to makes sure everything is OK, Teff’ith really seeks to be independent and this difference in attitudes sometimes collides but in the end it comes to show that they both need each other. Another one that is also a bit contrasting towards Theron is the Jedi Gnost-Dural. Gnost-Dural assists Theron in his final mission, and being a Jedi he is calm itself and tries to inspire this to others as well. Though does have the traits of what you come to aspect of a Jedi Knight, it is just spot on for this story. Keeping true to the whole Star Wars universe. Now another point where Annihilation get another plus from that Drew Karpyshyn also shows this story through the eyes of the Sith. Now this was something I was hoping for to see. As you see the Council and several individual Sith Lords you really get the feeling of the darker side of the force. The main Sith Lord that you follow is Darth Karrid and she isn’t your average Sith lord at that. There is much more to her character and even in relation to one of the other characters in the series. I really liked how Drew showed he history and what she has become. Just comes to show that when your feelings aren’t pure, persuasion towards the dark side become that much more easier… 

What for me was quite new to read about was the type of technology that Drew Karpyshyn introduced, of course you have the blasters, the lightsabers and typical spaceships of both the Republic and the Empire. But there is more as well. With different implants in Theron and in Darth Karrid as well, this added for me something new to the story and of which I haven’t until heretofore have read about. This technology, implants that allow communication and a sort of hacking technology was shown on a small scale in the case of Theron, but on a much larger scale with Darth Karrid. And in the latter case it went quite far and even as far as intermingling it with the Force. I really liked this part for the book as it inspired yet again that there is much more to the Star Wars universe that was shown in the movies, and adds on the whole a much grander feeling to everything. 

Just lastly I want to mention the lightsaber action. When you hear the “zzzzzing” in the movies I have this clear picture in my mind and likewise some other aspects of what I link to Star Wars I was hoping to see this, and yes it more than represented in Annihilation, even though the focus is on a non-Jedi protagonist as soon as Theron teams up with Gnost-Dural, the action really starts to take off. There are some very cool fighting scenes with the Jedi and the Sith and some various other action packed scenes. Overall the action that is shown from the deep space battles with several fighters and the Ascendant Spear to the shoot outs with blasters and Jedi on Sith battles the action is downright superb and lends itself to the big screen. This is the stuff you want to read when you have the face off of good vs. evil, it’s suitable to be turned in its own motion picture. 

Annihilation is a must read for every Star Wars fanatic, I know you won’t be disappointed by it. Drew Karspyhyn knows what he is writing about, from just showing the Star Wars universe in the big picture down to the fine details it’s like you are right there. His writing style is fast and engaging and only after a few pages you won’t be able to let this book sit aside. The way that the story is build up from Theron’s getting his assignment down to the actual mission this is just a non-stop ride to save the galaxy from the Empire yet again. Furthermore, with the emphasis on a completely unexplored setting for me with the technology aspect that is involved really produced a feeling that there is much more to the already multiple galaxy spanning universe of Star Wars. I’ll be definitely keeping a close eye on any new books in the Old Republic series.

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