REVIEW: Star Wars – The High Republic – Light of the Jedi (2021)

A Novel by Charles Soule

The High Republic is a large multi-media initiative to flesh out one of the many glassed over periods in the Star Wars Canon. Instead of veering into already trod territory (such as re-starting the Old Republic), or going past the sequel trilogy in the timeline, Lucasfilm and Disney have decided to jump to around 200 years prior to Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace to a period of what we all assumed was reasonable stability. We’ve already seen what happens when dark elements corrupt The Republic, and use politics to corrupt the Jedi Order, but what about when The Jedi were at their best? When they were seen as beacons of hope for many people? This period isn’t too different from The American Wild West in terms of a historical perspective. The Republic was seen as fairly strong and prosperous. So much so that they started to creep deeper and deeper into the outer rim, only to have some of the worst of The Outer Rim creep back. Jedi are used somewhat like frontier cavalry – stationed in remote areas to help keep the peace and come for assistance when needed.

“When a shocking catastrophe in hyperspace tears a ship to pieces, the flurry of shrapnel emerging from the disaster threatens an entire system. No sooner does the call for help go out than the Jedi race to the scene. The scope of the emergence, however, is enough to push even Jedi to their limit. As the sky breaks open and destruction rains down upon the peaceful alliance they helped to build, the Jedi must trust in the Force to see them through a day in which a single mistake could cost billions of lives.”

Excerpt of publisher’s description

Light of the Jedi is split into three acts: Act one is a high-paced disaster of sorts, where every page makes you eager for the next to see what’s happening. Act two is the appearance of the Nihil (this book’s chief antagonists) and them trying to lay-low after a series of unfortunate events make them enemy numero uno for the Republic, and finally act 3 is all of the crazy action that you would expect from any Star Wars finale. My favorite part of the book was definitely part 2, there is a section that reads like an old-west stagecoach chase that was great – for fans of westerns, this may be an unlikely pick for you as well.

Perhaps my only real issue with this book is that it suffers from not focusing on one character for most of the book. The first 100 or so pages are entirely about the hyperspace disaster and jump from person to person, many of which immediately die. This made it hard for me to really process character names and gauge significance of certain characters. Its almost written like a series of vignettes at first – which makes the action VERY fast paced, but I would have liked focus to settle on somebody fairly quickly. Act 2 is where it finally slows down and gains the ability to breathe. This isn’t to say that I hated act 1, but I always wince when I realize I’m about to have to start taking notes on characters and such due to the rapid-fire introductions. I’m looking at you Game of Thrones or Legend of the Galactic Heroes.

This was a very good book, and a solid introduction to the High Republic era. The only other thing that I’ve read by Charles Soule was the recent Darth Vader comic from Marvel, and I felt that it was a great story that really filled in the blanks between Anakin Skywalker and his Sith incarnation. I see that he’s mostly known as a comic and short story writer, so I was surprised he was tasked with the very first book in this series. I am eagerly awaiting the second part of this “main story” which appears to be out now, but I’m way behind on other things I want to read. Until then, I have a steady stream of other High Republic content to keep me busy, so that’s good! I’d definitely recommend this, it’s a great entry into the Star Wars mythos.

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