“Pure Star Wars action-adventure entertainment as only Drew Karpyshyn can write it.”—The Founding Fields
Star Wars The Old Republic #4: Annihilationby Drew Karpyshyn
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
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/i>/b>/i>/b>
Based on the epic videogame from BioWare and LucasArts
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
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.
Praise for Annihilation
“An espionage story interwoven with personal conflicts . . . space battles, lightsaber fights, and gripping spy missions . . . Annihilation may be Karpyshyn’s strongest novel yet.”—Roqoo Depot
“Pure Star Wars action-adventure entertainment as only Drew Karpyshyn can write it.”—The Founding Fields
“Pure Star Wars action-adventure entertainment as only Drew Karpyshyn can write it.”—The Founding Fields
Read an Excerpt
Annihilation: Star Wars (The Old Republic)
By Drew Karpyshyn
LucasBooksCopyright © 2012 Drew Karpyshyn
All right reserved.
Theron Shan walked quickly through the packed streets of Nar Shaddaa’s Promenade. His unassuming features--pale skin, brown hair, brown eyes, average build--allowed him to blend easily into the crowd. The cybernetic implants visible around his left eye and right ear were his most distinguishing features, but he wasn’t the only one sporting them on Nar Shaddaa, and they typically didn’t draw unwanted attention.
The Hutt-controlled moon was a landscape of unfettered urban sprawl, marked by towering skytowers crammed too close together and gaudy, glowing billboards that dominated the horizon as far as the eye could see in every direction. Sometimes called Little Coruscant, it was hard to accept Nar Shaddaa as a true homage to the Republic capital world; in Theron’s eyes it was more akin to a grotesque parody.
Coruscant had been designed with an eye to aesthetics: there was a pleasing flow to the cityscape and a consistent and complementary style to the architecture. The city was carefully divided into various districts, making it easy to navigate. The pedestrian walks were crowded but clean, the endless stream of airspeeders overhead stayed within the designated traffic lanes. On Coruscant, there was an unmistakable sense of order and purpose. At times, Theron found it positively stifling.
Here on the Smugglers’ Moon, however, it was a glorious free-for-all. Run-down residential buildings were scattered haphazardly among seedy-looking commercial structures; factories abutted restaurants and clubs, with no regard for the toxic clouds of filth spilling out over the patrons. With no traffic rules in force, airspeeders and swoop bikes darted and dived in seemingly random directions, sometimes flying so low the pedestrians ducked and covered their heads.
As Theron turned a corner, he realized someone was following him. He hadn’t actually seen anyone on his tail, but he could sense it. He could feel eyes watching him, scoping him out, measuring him as a target.
Master Ngani Zho, the Jedi who’d raised him, would probably have claimed Theron’s awareness came through the Force. But despite coming from a long line of famous Jedi, Theron wasn’t one of the Order. In fact, he had no special connection to the Force at all.
What he did have was a decade’s worth of experience working for Republic Strategic Information Service. He’d been trained to notice minute details; to be hyperaware of his surroundings at all times. And even though his conscious mind was distracted by the details of his coming mission, his subconscious one had instinctively picked up on something that had triggered alarms in his head. He knew better than to ignore them. Careful not to break stride, turn his head, or do anything else that might tip off his pursuer, Theron used his peripheral vision to scan the area.
At street level, everything was a chaotic mishmash of bright, flashing colors. A constant assault from an army of pink, purple, green, and blue signs and billboards provided perfect camouflage for whoever might be following him. Fortunately the intensity of the inescapable neon was muted by the layer of grime that clung to every surface--a reminder of the unchecked pollution in the atmosphere that would eventually transform Nar Shaddaa into an uninhabitable wasteland.
It wasn’t easy to pick someone who looked suspicious out from the crowd. The population of the Smugglers’ Moon was as varied, unpredictable, and seedy as the surroundings. In the years since the signing of the Treaty of Coruscant, the Hutts had remained staunchly neutral in the ongoing cold war between the Republic and the Sith Empire, making Nar Shaddaa a common gathering place for criminal elements from all corners of the galaxy: Black Sun slavers, Rodian pickpockets, Twi’lek hustlers, Chevin stim dealers. Any and all illicit activities were tolerated on Nar Shaddaa, provided the Hutts got their cut.
Still, there were those too greedy or stupid to cut the Hutts in on their action. When that happened there were consequences. Things got messy.
Is that what this is about? Theron wondered. Is Morbo on to me? Did he send someone to take me out?
He passed by the statue of Karragga the Unyielding that dominated the Promenade. Though he’d been to Nar Shaddaa many times, he couldn’t help but pause for a second and shake his head in disbelief: a thirty-meter-tall Hutt made of solid gold was too ostentatious to ignore. Shaking his head also gave him a chance to quickly glance from side to side to catch a glimpse of someone darting into a doorway off to his left. He didn’t get a good look at whoever it was, but the sudden movement was unnatural enough to stand out.
Someone working alone. Could be a mugger. Or a trained assassin.
Theron was on a tight schedule; it was time to force the action. He turned down a narrow side street, leaving the worst of the crowds--and the relative safety they provided--behind. Off the main thoroughfare there were fewer neon lights and more shadowy corners. If his tail was going to try something, this was the perfect place to make a move.
A slight buzzing of the cybernetic implant in his right ear alerted him to an incoming transmission. There was only one person who knew his private frequency. Theron had to take the call.
“Accept incoming,” he whispered. Louder, he said, “Director.”
“Theron.” The head of Strategic Information Service, as he so often did, sounded annoyed. “Where are you?”
“I’m on vacation,” Theron replied. “I put in for some R and R. Remember?”
Theron realized the Director’s call could work to his advantage. Whoever was following him would think he was distracted, vulnerable. All he had to do was pretend to be oblivious while listening for his stalker to creep up close, then suddenly turn the tables.
“Vacation, huh?” the Director grumbled in his ear as Theron continued farther into the deserted alley. “That’s funny, because I have a report that one of our field agents has been spotted snooping around on Nar Shaddaa.”
“Are you keeping tabs on me?”
“What are you doing on Nar Shaddaa?” the Director demanded.
“Maybe I just like the climate.”
“Smog clouds and acid rain? Not likely. You’re up to something.”
Well, right now I’m about to be ambushed in a dark alley, Theron thought.
Out loud, he said, “I’m taking care of some personal business.”
“What’s Teff’ith mixed up in now?” the Director asked with a sigh.
Even though he couldn’t see the man on the other end of the call, Theron could picture his boss rubbing his temples in exasperation.
“Teff’ith’s not a bad kid,” Theron insisted. “She just tends to fall in with the wrong crowd.”
“Guess that explains how she ended up working with you,” the Director grumbled.
Theron had stopped walking, and was standing with one hand up to the cyberlink in his ear, staring straight ahead.
Might as well be wearing a sign that says, come and get me! Time to make your move, whoever you are.
“Ngani Zho saw something special in her,” Theron said to the Director.
“I know Master Zho raised you, but by the time he met Teff’ith he was . . . troubled.”
You almost said crazy, didn’t you?
“She has key underworld contacts,” Theron explained, “and she knows how to handle herself in a tough spot. We might need a favor from her someday. I’m just looking out for a potential asset.”
“What makes you think she’d ever help us? Didn’t Teff’ith say she’d kill you if she ever saw you again?”
“Then I’ll make sure she doesn’t see me.”
“I hate to do this, Theron,” the Director said with another sigh. “But I’m ordering you to pull out of Nar Shaddaa. It’s for your own good.”
Theron felt the unmistakable shape of a vibroblade’s tip pressing up against his back and a deep voice growled, “Move and you’re dead!” in his other ear.
“You worry too much,” Theron told the Director, keeping his voice light. “Everything’s under control.” In a whisper he added, “Disconnect,” and the comlink in his ear shut down.
“Get your hands up!” his unseen assailant snarled.
Theron slowly raised his arms in the air, silently cursing himself for letting his assailant get so close.
Never even heard him coming. Was I really that sloppy, or is he that good?
“Lose the piece.”
The words were in Basic, but the voice was definitely not human--too deep, too rumbling. The speaker was large, but without turning around there was no way for Theron to pin down what species he was dealing with.
The comlink in his ear buzzed again, but this time Theron ignored the Director’s call. He clicked his teeth together twice, temporarily shutting the cybernetics off so he could focus on getting out of the alley alive.
“I said lose the piece!”
The order was accentuated by a jabbing of the blade against Theron’s back. Reaching down slowly, Theron slid his blaster pistol from the holster on his hip and let it drop to the ground. He briefly considered making a move; there were a dozen ways he could try to surprise and disarm his opponent. But without knowing exactly who or what he was facing, it was too risky.
Patience. Analyze the situation. Wait for your chance.
“Those are some fancy wrist guards you got. Maybe have a poison dart or a pinpoint blaster built in, right? Lose ’em.”
Any hope Theron had of catching his assailant by surprise with the weapons in his customized bracers vanished as he unclipped the metal bands from his forearms and let them fall at his feet.
The fact that his assailant had marked the bracers as potential weapons also meant this wasn’t some run-of-the-mill mugger. An Imperial operative would probably recognize the bracers, but it didn’t make sense for any of them to be targeting Theron on a Hutt-controlled world . . . especially now that Imperial Intelligence had been officially disbanded. That left only one other likely--and unsettling--option: a bounty hunter or assassin working for Morbo the Hutt.
“Now turn around, real slow.”
The pressure of the blade eased as the ambusher took a step back. Theron turned to see a violet-skinned Houk towering over him, his heavyset torso and thick, muscular limbs seeming to fill the entire width of the narrow alley. His froglike features were set in a grim scowl, his eyes fixed intently on his victim.
He was pretty sure the Houk didn’t have any backup--he would have noticed if there was more than one person following him. But even if he was acting alone, Theron was no match for the massive brute’s raw muscle. Under normal conditions he could make up what he lacked in strength with speed, but in the tight confines of the narrow alley avoiding the deadly vibroblade might be difficult . . . especially if the Houk was trained in close-quarters fighting. Given his choice of weapon, Theron had to assume he was facing a capable and deadly opponent.
“What’s your interest in Morbo?” the Houk demanded.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Theron said, his earlier hypothesis about his ambusher working for the Hutt seemingly confirmed.
“I’ve seen you scoping out Morbo’s place for the past three days,” the Houk snarled. “Lie to me again, and I won’t ask nicely next time,” he added, waving the vibroblade back and forth for emphasis.
The threat didn’t bother Theron nearly as much as the realization that he’d been made during his recon trips to Morbo’s club.
“Never saw you at Morbo’s,” Theron admitted. “Didn’t think anybody saw me, either.”
“I’ve been trained to know what to look for,” the Houk answered.
Trained? Theron wondered. By whom? Imperial Intelligence?
As if echoing his own thoughts, the Houk asked, “Who are you working for?”
Theron wasn’t about to reveal his connection to SIS, and he suspected another evasive answer would be met with violence.
“Take the shot!” Theron shouted, as if calling out to an unseen accomplice.
The Houk’s head turned just a fraction as he reacted to Theron’s bluff.
Seizing on the distraction, Theron lashed out with a quick kick to the Houk’s midsection. The impact caused no real damage, but it momentarily knocked the big alien off balance, giving Theron more room to operate.
He was already backpedaling in anticipation of the counterattack; even so he barely avoided the expected lunge of his opponent. As he feared, the Houk wasn’t just some clumsy brawler--he was quicker than he seemed.
As the Houk moved in, Theron tried to disarm him with a wrist lock, reaching out for the hand that held the blade. The Houk countered by twisting his body and throwing his opposite shoulder into Theron, sending him stumbling back.
Unable to set his feet, Theron was forced on the defensive. The alley was too narrow to dodge from side to side, so his only option was full-scale retreat, backpedaling rapidly as the Houk charged forward, the blade slicing and stabbing the empty air centimeters from Theron’s chest. Theron suddenly stopped short and dropped to the ground, rolling into the thick legs of his advancing foe. The move caught the Houk by surprise; he tripped over Theron and tumbled to the ground, the fall knocking the vibroblade from his grasp.
One of the Houk’s knobby knees caught Theron in the chin as he fell over him, splitting his lip and making him see stars. Woozy, Theron ignored the pain and leapt to his feet, and with his first step he staggered sideways into the side of the alley before crashing back down to the ground.
A massive hand closed around his ankle as the still-prone Houk tried to drag Theron close enough to finish him off. Theron lashed out with his free leg, smashing his foot twice into the Houk’s corpulent face. The viselike grip slipped just enough for Theron to free himself with a twisting roll, and he scrambled on hands and knees toward where his blaster and bracers lay on the ground.
The Houk struggled back to his feet, but by the time he was upright Theron had seized one of the bracers, slapped it onto his right forearm, and taken aim.
“Toxicity seven,” he muttered, squeezing his hand into a tight fist.
A small dart launched from a thin barrel built into the bracer and buried itself in the Houk’s chest. The mighty alien went rigid as a powerful electrical charge surged through him. He convulsed for several seconds, and then dropped to the ground, twitching slightly from the aftereffects.
Theron considered what to do with the immobilized but still-conscious Houk as he quickly gathered his gear. It wouldn’t take long for the effects of the electrical blast to wear off, but for the next few minutes the Houk was basically helpless. Theron wasn’t about to execute a helpless opponent . . . but he wasn’t above interrogating him. “Toxicity two,” he whispered, firing another dart into the Houk’s thigh from point-blank range.
He waited thirty seconds for the mind-clouding drug to take effect before he started asking questions.
“How did you spot me?” he asked. “You said you were trained. By whom?”
Excerpted from Annihilation: Star Wars (The Old Republic) by Drew Karpyshyn Copyright © 2012 by Drew Karpyshyn. Excerpted by permission of LucasBooks, a division of Random House, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
Drew Karpyshyn is the bestselling author of Star Wars: The Old Republic: Revan and the Star Wars: Darth Bane trilogy: Path of Destruction, Rule of Two, and Dynasty of Evil. He also wrote the acclaimed Mass Effect series of novels and worked as a writer/designer on numerous award-winning videogames. After spending most of his life in Canada, he finally grew tired of the long, cold winters and headed south in search of a climate more conducive to year-round golf. Drew Karpyshyn now lives in Texas with his wife, Jennifer, and their cat.
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Practice makes perfect and Annihilation may be Karpyshyn’s strongest novel yet. With a small, tight nit cast of characters, Drew presents an espionage story interwoven with personal conflicts. On the surface there are space battles, lightsaber fights, and gripping spy missions. But beneath that is a subtle exploration of emotional turmoil. Whether it’s the exploration of a much more relatable dark side when a person becomes consumed with anger, or the burden and doubts of duty, there’s a clear emphasis on showing the depth of the human character. The book has a great start that immediately perks the imagination with dozens of questions. Rather than diving into a mission with Theron, it actually begins with his birth and his mother, Satele Shan. It takes a poignant look at Jedi pregnancy. The prologue, while brief, manages to explore the emotional complexity of the issue. Even at this time, the Jedi code still frowns on relationships. It’s a unique and touching way to start off. Personally I’d say it’s on par with the shocking and tantalizing start of James Luceno’s Darth Plagueis. From there the story jumps to Nar Shaddaa to introduce Theron Shan. Unlike the stars of most Star Wars novels, Theron is not Force-sensitive. Not even a little bit. No Force pushing, no lightsaber, and no danger sense. But Theron isn’t a helpless individual. Like Han Solo, he relies on skill and the occasional ally to get by. And maybe a little luck. For anyone who has read the Agent of the Empire comics, Theron is similar to Jahan Cross. They’re both intelligence agents working for the prospective governments to battle the enemy using both covert and overt methods. Theron is not alone, though. A decent chunk of the book gives page time to Jedi Master Gnost-Dural. There’s also a female Twi’lek named Teff’ith who Theron has a complicated, non-romantic relationship with. Both Gnost and Teff’ith provide some variety to the story. Gnost is the former master of the story’s primary antagonist, Darth Karrid. Teff’ith, on the other hand, is a reluctant, cavalier ally seemingly motivated by credits, but buried down deep…real deep…has a heart. They also provide a couple real good laughs toward the end. On the opposing team is Darth Karrid and the Sith. Karrid doesn’t play as big of a role as we’ve seen from other Sith in Karpyshyn’s novels. Her role is definitely smaller than Scourge’s in Revan. She also has a very peculiar relationship with her ship, the Ascendant Spear, which becomes a major focus. Blending technology and biology, she can connect with the Spear and empower it with the Force. The result is that both she and her ship are a force to be reckoned with. One thing that really pushed Annihilation to a new level was the flow of the story. It kicked off strong, took a step back to build things up, and then consistently moved forward with a strong focus. Unlike Revan, there’s no break midway through the story. And unlike the Bane Trilogy, we get the whole story in one book. Drew manages to develop Theron as a likeable character early on, yet surprisingly pulls off a depth to the story through the supporting characters. While Theron’s character is explored and faced with some dramatic choices, it’s the supporting cast that plunges into both intellectual and emotional depths. By doing so, the story is able to move forward without slowing down. In between the action, we get short bursts from the Dark Council, the Republic leadership, and Theron’s allies that provoke questions and reflection on the characters and the story. There’s some nice concepts to chew on and I love how it added layers to the story. Without spoiling anything, Annihilation is a great story. Personally, I liked it better than Revan. While Theron is no where near the same magnitude as Revan the character, the storytelling is superior. Again, this is helped by having a smaller time span to cover with no need for a time break in the middle. But another factor is the strength of the supporting cast and the directions Drew goes with them. Some of the intellectual and emotional explorations are as deep as those seen in books like Paul S. Kemp’s Riptide and Deceived. In a way, Drew is able to combine the best elements of a fast paced adventure story with a slower, more reflective character tale that ends with a pacing that’s just right.
Probably the best of the Sith/TOR era books I've read and that's even including the Revan and Bane books. Absolutely worth the read.
Worth a buy
This was a promising start for a well developed character. Theran is the most interesting character that has come out of the Old Republic series. It is nice to see a character that is not a Jedi, but still survives in the Star Wars universe by his own set of skills and courage. I look forward to more books about this character.
Theron Shan is cool and I enjoyed how the story had both of his parents in it; I liked how it it begsn with Theron's birth and did not reveal his father till a good way through the book
Colonel. Not corporal.
This book is awesome and is one of my favorite Star Wars books and I have read lots and lots of them.It is packed with action and has a couple of lightsaber duels too.Plot:Theron Shan is on vacation and his path crosses with an secret agent who works for the Republic.He saves some POWs who were about to be sold as slaves by a Hutt.This gets him in big trouble with his boss,Marcus.Soon Theron is on a mission to destroy a sith superweapon which is under control of a ruthless sith lord.This book is definitely 5 stars. If I could rate this book over 5 would rate it 10000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000 stars.This book is AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
An Incredibly Fun Book Theron Shan: son of Jedi Grandmaster Satele Shan, descendent of the famous Jedi-turned-Sith-turned-back-to-Jedi Revan and Bastila Shan, and (wait for it) NOT Force sensitive. That’s right, despite his rich lineage in the Jedi Order the hero of Annihilation lacks any ability to use the Force. On top of it all, his mother has effectively disavowed him as the secret of his parentage would be the biggest scandal this side of the Hydian way. Not surprisingly, Theron, accustomed to secrecy, chooses a career in Republic intelligence and when the Sith acquire a new weapon capable of decimating starfleets, the Republic assigns him to take it down. The plot of the novel is fairly standard: the Sith Empire has a superweapon and our heroes attempt to stop it, nothing that hasn’t already been done. Despite this, the strongest part of Annihilation would be its characters - Theron’s backstory alone is enough to pique interest. A common theme in Star Wars is the hereditary nature Force-sensitivity causing characters related to some great Jedi (e.g Luke) to be locked-in to be great Jedi themselves. In contrast, Theron has found his own path fighting battles of information rather than of lightsabers. What’s more, Theron often comes off as cynical towards the Jedi believing them to be somewhat overrated but never to the point of disrespect which I found quite refreshing. Add to that his tendency to disregard orders and he makes for a very fun character to read. Other characters include Teff’ith the smuggler who reluctantly found her way into Theron’s team and Gnost-Dural, a Jedi Master who must come to terms with the fact that his fallen Padawan is the very enemy the three of them must face (and, incidentally, he’s the guy who voices the galactic timeline record videos). This slew of colorful characters made for a very entertaining character dynamic reminiscent of Luke’s first trip aboard the Millennium Falcon and allowed for great dialogue between them. To fully enjoy this novel one has to come in with the right expectations. Don’t go in expecting a deep story, compelling narrative, or philosophical views of the nature of the Force. Instead, expect a fun story full of action, suspense, and humor. I would also recommend being familiar with some parts of The Old Republic video game as the book does make references to characters and events in the game, but the book can still be enjoyed without that knowledge.
Awsome fiting and dueling
Out most awesome
Best book ever. So Coool