REVIEW: Star Wars – The High Republic – Into The Dark (2021)

A book by Claudia Gray

I am woefully behind on my (now enormous) Star Wars backlog, so I figured it was time to start chipping away at it just a tad. Star Wars – The High Republic – Into The Dark by Claudia Gray is the first Young Adult entry in the High Republic series, and runs somewhat concurrently with both Light of the Jedi and Test of Courage. For those unaware, The High Republic is a new multimedia imitative from Disney that takes place some 200 years prior to The Phantom menace. The Jedi are at their most powerful and act as peacekeepers in The Galaxy, hoping to bring the ways of justice and order to The Outer Rim. As you can imagine, peace doesn’t last long and The Dark side has start to make itself known yet again. These books are to be set up into three phases, each with 3 waves each containing an adult, middle grade Young Adult, and children’s book in the mix. Seeing that Phase One is largely ending soon, I really NEED to start knocking some of these out. While any of these can be enjoyed by themselves, it’s definitely better to read them in order, and thankfully there are plenty of websites out there that help you out.

“Long before the First Order, before the Empire, before even The Phantom Menace…Jedi lit the way for the galaxy in The High Republic.Padawan Reath Silas is being sent from the cosmopolitan galactic capital of Coruscant to the undeveloped frontier—and he couldn’t be less happy about it. He’d rather stay at the Jedi Temple, studying the archives. But when the ship he’s traveling on is knocked out of hyperspace in a galactic-wide disaster, Reath finds himself at the center of the action. The Jedi and their traveling companions find refuge on what appears to be an abandoned space station. But then strange things start happening, leading the Jedi to investigate the truth behind the mysterious station, a truth that could end in tragedy…”

While not as technically detailed as Light of the Jedi, Into the Dark surpasses it’s predecessor in almost every way in terms of dialogue and characterization. This is always the strong suit of Claudia Gray and one of the many reasons that she is perhaps the fan favorite Star Wars writer of this time. The book introduces a good number of characters, but you get time to really know each one and they all end up making an impression on you. I was actually surprised as to how much I liked the bookish and extremely “by-the-book” character of Reath Silas. In the wrong hands, a character like him could have easily turned into a joyless “stick in the mud” or hardcore rule enforcer, both of which only work in certain situations. Here, however, we get the story of a troubled Padawan that has recently lost his master being forced to go on an adventure he has an aversion to doing. That said, he puts his feelings aside and does his duty becoming quite the hero in the process.

In Perhaps one of the biggest feats of writing I’ve ever seen, Claudia made a character that is literally a giant hunk of sentient rock have as much character as all of the characters that actually did normal things like talk and move around. This might seem like unneeded comic relief to some internet trolls, but Geode is easily my favorite character of the book. The way the main character, Reath, gets frustrated as people say “That Geode, he’s a real party animal!” and “Hey man watch saying that around Geode, he’s sensitive” while he never sees him do ANYTHING is hilarious, and in the end, Geode shows himself to be perhaps the biggest hero of all!

Perhaps my only issue with the book is that it somewhat has a false climax in the middle of the story then needs to have a reason for all of the characters, all from different places, to go back to the same area where most of the action was going on – in this case a large domed botanical space station. To me it was kind of convenient, but never crossed the line into being contrived or anything.

Overall, I loved this book, and can’t wait to read more. I still think Tempest Runner is my favorite bit of media from this series so far, but this is definitely a close second. It’s well written, enjoyable, and handles a story with two groups of antagonists pretty well considering most books would buckle under a situation like that. I am a HUGE fan of these High Republic stories so far, and urge any fence-sitters that may take the opinion of trollish YouTube personalities that monetize toxicity and outrage to try one of these books. Sure not everyone will like them, but, to me, it’s one of the more exciting times to be a Star Wars fan – simply because I have no idea what’s coming and it’s not all tied into the Skywalker Saga for once.

I should have had a picture taken, but I actually met Claudia Gray at Planet Comicon and got this:

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