This review of Star Wars: The High Republic: Light of the Jedi may contain minor spoilers.
A new era of Star Wars storytelling has begun. Star Wars: The High Republic: Light of the Jedi by Charles Soule, set 200 years prior to the events of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, is our first foray into this golden age for the galaxy. There's peace and prosperity and the phrase “We are all the Republic” is on everyone's lips. However, tragedy looms and the repercussions will soon be felt everywhere.
As Light of the Jedi opens, a ship called Legacy Run is ferrying settlers to the Outer Rim territories. A routine trip through hyperspace. Until a deadly encounter results in the ship tearing itself apart, scattering the remnants of wreckage throughout hyperspace and onto trajectories that will cause mass destruction and casualties. These events become known as “Emergences.” Chancellor of the Republic Lina Soh tasks the Republic Defense Coalition (RDC) and the Jedi Order with investigating the cause of the tragedy and anticipating Emergences in the hope further losses will be avoided.
All this is set against the backdrop of the opening of Starlight Beacon, and outpost located in the Outer Rim designed to foster unity. The Beacon is a space station featuring an embassy, medical and cultural facilities, a security force, and a Jedi temple. It is the first of many ambitious endeavors planned by Chancellor Soh. What comes from the tragedy of Legacy Run and the Emergences threatens those plans. Because of the uncertainty surrounding the cause of the initial tragedy, the chancellor shuts down hyperspace travel, leaving many worlds cut off from the rest of the galaxy.
Into the mix come the Nihil.
The Nihil are pirates, beholden to no laws or mores, living purely to satisfy their own wanton desires. They are adept at using uncharted pathways through hyperspace, allowing them to come and go without warning and in secret. They wear monstrous masks designed to instill fear in their victims. They're a growing threat — even beyond their acts of piracy — that must be faced by the Republic, and the Jedi.
Many compelling and complex characters are introduced in Light of the Jedi, from Republic leaders to Jedi, and even to the Nihil. A few standouts for me include Jedi Master Avar Kriss, who experiences the Force as song, and Jedi Knight Elvar Mann who feels the Force as a deep sea, never experiencing it quite the same way twice. He likes to push the limits, a tendency that has kept him off the Jedi Council. The Master/Padawan duo of Loden Greatstorm and Bell Zettifar call to mind Qui-Gon Jinn and the young Obi-Wan Kenobi with their banter and mutual respect. And then there's Marchion Ro, known as the Eye of the Nihil. He holds the secret to the hidden hyperspace pathways, along with a strong desire to bend the Nihil to his design.
Charles Soule does a masterful job of world-building in Light of the Jedi, creating the new while grounding the story in the familiar with names such as Jedi Master Yoda and the surname San Tekka, alongside planets and locations that are already known. It couldn't have been an easy task, stepping out first to establish this new era, but it all feels like Star Wars. Soule has also written “Starlight: Part 1: Go Together,” a short story created exclusively for Star Wars Insider Issue #199 in which you meet the husband and wife team of Joss and Pikka Arden, project managers on Starlight Beacon. The story goes hand-in-hand nicely with Light of the Jedi. It's not required reading, but recommended if you have access to the latest issue.
Star Wars: The High Republic: Light of the Jedi propels you forward through the story, making it an exciting read and the perfect set-up for what's to come from The High Republic. Charles Soule has a writing style that is very accessible, and he doesn't waste a word. I was already somewhat intrigued by The High Republic, but now I'm truly eager to see how all the stories (books, comics, graphic novels) intertwine and what effect they will have on Star Wars lore in the future. I'm expecting only good things based on this auspicious start.
You can purchase a copy of Star Wars: The High Republic: Light of the Jedi now from Amazon.com.
Thank you to Penguin Random House for providing a copy of this book for review purposes.Powered by Sidelines