“Jyn, trust the Force” – Lyra Erso
I finished the Rogue One prequel novel Catalyst last week and I have to say that I really enjoyed it. I’ve always been a fan of James Luceno’s work, (well, most of it) in the Legends continuity, and I’m absolutely thrilled that he continues to write canon novels, as well. When I heard that Luceno would be writing the prelude to Rogue One, I was overjoyed, because of his attention to detail and his ability to weld story arcs together within the canon, and Legends alike. But, I digress.
Catalyst formally introduces us to the Erso clan who will be featured in the upcoming Rogue One film. Jyn, the heroine of Rogue One, is just a small child in Catalyst, so the focus of the book is primarily on Galen Erso (played by Mads Mikkelsen.) Galen is a brilliant scientist with a knack for producing energy from crystals. I found Galen to be a very interesting and tragic character whose intellect was exploited for nefarious purposes. That said, the character I became the most fond of in Catalyst was Galen’s wife Lyra (Valene Kane) – a skilled planetary explorer and surveyor.
Doesn’t the fact that the Jedi intervened say something about the potential power of the crystals? Couldn’t it be that they were protecting the rest of us from that power? Even their lightsabers were just tools for keeping the peace.” – Lyra Erso
Unlike her somber and scholarly husband, Lyra is spirited and more concerned with the spiritual aspect of the Force-imbued “living” kyber crystals Galen was devoted to studying. Lyra also seems to be at least mildly Force-sensitive because of her ability to commune with nature. The more I read Catalyst, the more I realized that the story was really Lyra’s and not so much Galen’s. This is especially apparent once you realize that Galen has far fewer point of view chapters than his wife.
So why I choose to write about Lyra Erso? Well, I have to say that I was primarily motivated by a social media post or two stating that Lyra isn’t an actual character and only exists to birth Jyn for Galen. I was a bit surprised by this. Despite Lyra not being a Jedi or gun-toting politician, I’m of the opinion that she is one of the strongest female characters we’ve seen in current Star Wars canon.
“Don’t be an idiot. I didn’t fall in love with your research, Galen. I fell in love with you.” – Lyra Erso
When Galen becomes utterly consumed by his research, it is Lyra’s inner strength, love, and belief in the Force that brings her husband back to reality and causes him to realize just how precious his family is. Her moral convictions and respect for the sacred kybers also forced him to confront the fact that his research into the crystals was not as altruistic as he once thought. Because of this, the Ersos wisely make the decision to flee Coruscant with their daughter.
Lyra really was the glue that held the Erso family together and there was absolutely nothing dishonorable about her choice to raise her daughter at home and put her career temporarily on hold. I have to admit that the second reason I was so fond of Lyra and wished to write about her is due to the fact that she reminds me so much of my own wife. Like Lyra, my wife really is an anchor when I feel lost in my own thoughts or consumed by unimportant things. She’s the light that brightens my life in so many ways and she’s never afraid to speak her mind when something needs to be said. Every time Lyra stood up to Orson Krennic, I smiled because I could picture my spouse doing much the same.
Finally, I’d like to say that Lyra is somewhat analagous to the kyber crystals she so reveres. Both are light side-attuned relics from a bygone era and both are tough-as-nails and nearly indestructible. Lyra might not be a Jedi, but like Rogue One’s own Chirrut, she clearly believed in their tenets and had a deep respect for all life. We don’t know much about Lyra’s fate in the film or much about her daughter, but I get the feeling that Jyn will carry on her mother’s legacy in a very powerful way.
The Cantina Cast
The wretched hive your Jedi Master warned you about!