REVIEW: Star Wars – The High Republic – A Test of Courage (2021)

A Novel by Justina ireland

For our second outing into the world of The High Republic, we are getting something a bit different this time. This book is NOT a follow-up to January’s Light of the Jedi, but a younger reader book that seems to happen at around the same time in the timeline. Being a “Middle Grade” book, this is definitely not the same experience as the previous one – but not in a bad way or anything. If you keep in mind that you are reading a book for a younger audience, it is still enjoyable.

“Vernestra Rwoh is a new Jedi Knight at age sixteen, but her first real assignment feels an awful lot like babysitting. She’s been charged with supervising twelve-year old aspiring inventor Avon Starros on a cruiser headed to the dedication of a wondrous new space station called Starlight Beacon. But soon into their journey, bombs go off aboard the cruiser. While the adult Jedi try to save the ship, Vernestra, Avon, Avon’s droid J-6, a Jedi Padawan, and an ambassador’s son make it to an escape shuttle, but communications are out and supplies are low. They decide to land on a nearby moon, which offers shelter but not much more. And unbeknownst to them, danger lurks in the forest….”

Publisher’s description

I enjoyed the characters in this book, but I will confess that it took me a while to finish it – the book goes heavily into a survival storyline, not unlike Robinson Crusoe or something, and the plot drags for a while. The moment the characters come back into contact with the chief antagonists, it gets moving again and I really enjoyed the third act. Moving forward, it will be interesting to see how the dynamic between Vernestra Rwoh and Imri Cantaros builds after the events of this book. Both are pushed to the brink due to the circumstances of surviving a huge ordeal and then trying to survive in a hostile environment – I’m excited to see more.

Perhaps my only issue with this book is that the antagonists are sort of bland. Granted this is for older children, so I don’t see the bad guys doing horrible atrocities or anything. I mean, they did blow up a huge spaceship and kill tons of people, but it all comes across like they are just misguided kids – like bullies at school or something. It’s no deal breaker, but as members of the Nihil, they pale in comparison to any others that we’ve seen. I guess every evil organization needs young flunky characters! I am also a bit worries Vern is going to turn into a Mary Sue character – here’s hoping the writers all avoid this.

This is a solid book, despite it’s pacing issues, and I’m excited to read more of the series. I hope we run into more of these characters in the future to see how they grow. If you are a High Republic fan, like myself, reading this is a no-brainer, but if you just want to read the main books, you can likely sit this one out.

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