The third wave of The High Republic begins with Claudia Gray’s novel, The Fallen Star. Like its predecessors, Light of The Jedi by Charles Soule and The Rising Storm by Cavan Scott, the adult novel continues the story of the valiant Jedi of the High Republic era as they face the unrelenting evil of the mysterious Nihil. As with the aforementioned novels, this book is primarily focused on a specific catastrophic event and how the Jedi and Republic work together to combat the evil of Marchion Ro and the mysterious Nihil. The Fallen Star ups the chaos ante to unprecedented levels, resulting in a paradoxical white-knuckle thrill-ride blended with a slow-burning psychological thriller that is as suspenseful as it is terrifying.
The strength of this novel is that it places some of the most interesting and compelling characters of the first two waves of The High Republic (minus one of my favorites, Vernestra Roh, but she will be featured in Justina Ireland’s Mission To Disaster, the middle-grade novel of wave three) into one centralized narrative; almost a greatest hits of The High Republic. The basic premise is that several key Jedi Knights (as well as some high-profile Padawans) find themselves trapped aboard Starlight Beacon along with a menagerie of civilians and plenty of rough-and-tumble pilots. Add in some of Claudia Gray’s wonderful characters from Into The Dark, and you have the ingredients for an ensemble piece that is the best example of collective storytelling from The High Republic so far, and that is saying something, considering that this publishing initiative has not missed.
Gray’s novel is a masterclass in combining several narrative threads into one cohesive story that truly carries equal weight with each turn of the page. She deftly balances the interior struggles of Elzar Mann and Stellan Gios, Bell Zetiffar’s search for meaning after the loss of his Master, the crew of The Vessel’s reunion with a dangerous rival, and some ambivalent prisoners with conflicting intentions. And if you really want to crank this one up to eleven, be sure to check out the audiobook, read by the legendary Marc Thompson. Thompson truly has transcended the medium, voicing each character with a unique tone and quality that takes it to another level. You would never know one person is performing each character!
Naturally, this review is spoiler-free; there is so much to comment on about the events in The Fallen Star (rest assured that it will be discussed on Coffee With Kenobi in the future), but I will wait until the book has been available. Suffice to say that The Fallen Star is a game-changer for fans of The High Republic that will have you running the gamut of emotions. Claudia Gray proves yet again that she is a Star Wars narrative genius, and brings her absolute best to one of the best entries in The High Republic storyline.
4 1/2 out of 5
Thank you to Disney Publishing and Del Rey for providing an advanced copy to review
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