“Transformers: Exodus” Spoiler Review and Discussion

{mosimage}"Transformers: Exodus" is an important book. It is not so much a novel as it is a foundation – a foundation for what, is yet to be fully revealed by Hasbro. The book, written by Alex Irvine, is available now in bookstores everywhere. Read a full review of the novel here, and then join the ongoing discussion about the story and revelations on our boards!


"Transformers: Exodus" is not a great book. It is however, an important book. It is not so much a novel as it is a foundation – a foundation for what, is yet to be fully revealed by Hasbro. But it is safe to say that though "Exodus", all facets of the Transformers multiverse have been tied together in a way no Transformers fiction has tackled before.

The novel itself, standing on its own merits, is nothing to write home about, and not that good. Much in the same vein "The Veiled Threat" and "Ghosts of Yesterday", recent Transformers novels by Alan Dean Foster for the movie-verse that were also not much to write about. Character descriptions are nonexistent, and had I begun reading this book as a non TF-Fan, it would have taken me approximately half the book to figure out we were talking robots at all! In contrast, author Alex Irvine spends a lot of time on location descriptions, so you will get a much better feel for Cybertron itself rather than its occupants.

The plot is divided neatly into two halves – the first half deals with the rise of Optimus Prime and Megatron, and the origins of the War for Cybertron. The second half chronicles the final days of the war, and the eventual exodus from the planet. The plot is loose and the writing is decidedly average, and sometimes unexciting. Were I not a Transformer fan, I would rate the book very poorly indeed.

But being a ‘good book’ does not appear to be on "Exodus"’s agenda. The book is not so much a good read; it is a foundation. And here is where Transformer fans will find this book interesting and fascinating. "Exodus" lays out the War for Cybertron clearly and concisely, setting up backgrounds and themes that appear ready to be carried forward into future TF fiction.

To delve into this in any depth at all requires MAJOR SPOILERS, and the rest of this review will contain them. If you do not mind spoilers, then read on!

The first and most important aspect this book deals with is the relationship between Optimus Prime and Megatron. No longer are they mere leaders of opposing factions, but Optimus (or rather, Orion Pax) and Megatron began as friends and allied revolutionaries. Both rebelling against an oppressive Caste System imposed a long time past, Orion Pax and Megatron become close friends, and sowed the seeds of a revolution that would blossom into the Great War. Orion Pax, a data collector and librarian, seeks out the former Pit Gladiator Megatron, and offers to help give legitimacy to his burgeoning political movement to overthrow the Caste system. When it turns violent and Sentinel Prime is kidnapped, Orion and Megatron are granted an audience with the High Council. But when the High Council appoints Orion Pax as Optimus Prime, a new leader for a new era, Megatron’s rage at Optimus’s ‘betrayal’ sets Cybertron on a path towards war.

Here, Megatron and Optimus are two sides of the same revolutionary coin. Both desire freedom for Cybertron’s inhabitants, but while Optimus acts as a diplomat, Megatron is a violent revolutionary, and the irreconcilable differences between the two form the foundation of the great war.

The mythical origins of the Transformers are dealt with quite heavily as well. We learn the Fallen’s true name was Megatronus (and it was in his honor that Megatron took his name), that the Matrix is the ‘jewel of the Hilt of Prima’s Sword’, that Energon comes from the life-essence of Primus – and that Dark Energon is the essence of Unicron, and brings immense power at the cost of rage, addiction, and sustainability. More surprisingly, we learn that Alpha Trion is one of the original 13 Primes – and the only surviving member on Cybertron. He has become the Archivist, keeper of the Covenant of Primus, a book which records the past, present and even future, though the future is obscured to those who have not lived it. We also dabble in the mythos of Vector Sigma, The Allspark and the Well of AllSparks, the Plasma Energy Chamber, and the ‘Key of Power’ and ‘Key of Justice’, which could be call backs to Cyber Planet Keys (or the Key to Vector Sigma, if you so prefer!)

The book is absolutely rife with obscure references – Irvine must be a Transformers fan – or at least, spent days reading the TF Wiki, if not extensive research. Velocitron and Gigantia both get call-outs as Transformer colony worlds (in which they have long lost contact). If you read about any location on Cybertron, you’ll find it in this book. From Darkmount to Maccaddam's, to Six Lasers Over Cybertron to the Crystal City, they’re all there. Minicons are plentiful (and the Cassettes are among them), as are Combiners – you’ll see Bruticus Maximus, Defensor, and a 7-bot Devastator described as monstrous – and even some Insecticons. Space Bridges, the Hub and more are in this cacophony of Transformers trivia.

The character selection will delight just about anyone. You get the obvious – Prime, Megs, Starscream, Soundwave and his Cassettes, Shockwave, Jazz, Ironhide, Ratchet, Prowl and Bumblebee (who is mute), but a number of more obscure bots get call outs as well. Skywarp and Thundercracker get namedropped, as do Barricade, Blackout and Lugnut. Ratbat returns to being a sneaky politician. Omega Supreme and Jetfire get key appearances, and Ultra Magnus and Springer are there – with Magnus leading the Wreckers, no less! Trypticon shows up at the end – as a space-station-bot… and as the Nemesis!

If "Exodus" is the setup for a new continuity, then we are in for a treat. Hasbro is taking this opportunity to establish an ‘ultimates’ style Transformers Universe, one that dabbles in just about every successful aspect of the last 25 years. While the book itself is decidedly average, the universe it creates has fantastic possibilities that I look forward to seeing in the next year or so.