REVIEW: Star Wars – The High Republic – The Rising Storm (2021)

A book by Cavan Scott

After the shocking conclusion to Light of the Jedi, I have been eager to get to the second “adult line” book of the new High Republic multimedia franchise. I didn’t want to skip around, and with some of these books running concurrently, I wanted to ensure that I got the whole picture from start to finish. I was somewhat skeptical of the difference between some of the lines (adult and young adult seem somewhat alike), but The Rising Storm by Cavan Scott establishes a definite edge that none of the other books have had so far, a fact that makes this one stand out in particular. This is especially evident with how the story handles one particular character almost losing themselves to The Dark Side throughout the story. if the first wave of phase one of this initiative was testing the proverbial waters in regards to this era in the Star Wars timeline, this book is the proof of concept.

“[…]Led by Chancellor Lina Soh, the spirit of unity extends throughout the galaxy, with the Jedi and newly established Starlight Beacon station at the vanguard. In celebration, the chancellor plans “The Republic Fair,” a showcase of the possibility and peace of the expanding Republic—a precept the Jedi hope to foster. Stellan Gios, Bell Zettifar, Elzar Mann, and others join the event as ambassadors of harmony. But as the eyes of the galaxy turn toward the Fair, so too does the fury of the Nihil. Their leader, Marchion Ro, is intent on destroying this spirit of unity. His storm descends on the pageantry and celebration, sowing chaos and exacting revenge. As the Jedi struggle to curb the carnage of the rampaging Nihil, they come face to face with the true fear their enemy plans to unleash across the galaxy. The kind of fear that even the Force cannot shield them from.”

Chancellor Lina Soh watches from above as the Jedi Stellan Gios battles the Nihil. From Starwars.com

My only real issue with the previous book was that it introduced an insane roster of characters and gave little room for any of them to really breathe until well into the story. A group of people would pop up, build a bit of character, then die, another would take their place, then meet a similar end. It was very tiring to be quite honest. I still enjoyed Light of the Jedi immensely, but was worried the massive ensemble cast would continue being an issue in this book. Thankfully, it’s a lot more constrained and the scope and breadth of the cast never really goes past a handful of small groups that the story rotates around. The book really concentrates on a handful of the more prominent Jedi characters, all of which have become favorites of mine due to how much characterization they have received.

The Rising Storm doesn’t really Pidgeon hole itself into a genre template as much as the previous installment, which was basically one half a disaster story and one half a western, and as such seems far more like a typical Star Wars book. This is really no big surprise for me, as Cavan Scott has really made himself one of the more reliable authors of this new-ish era of canon Star wars books.

Perhaps, my favorite part of this book was the “fleshing out” of the main antagonist of this series, Marchion Ro. After spending the majority of the last book seeming a tad weak and perhaps unable to keep up with his status within The Nihil, his true colors were revealed at the end of the book. Suddenly, Marchion has been revealed to be a very intelligent mastermind of sorts, perhaps not as gifted as a character like Thrawn, but smart enough to use his entire throng of Nihil warriors as pawns, usually unwitting, for whatever his true scheme is unfolding to be. He put on a weak façade to fly under the radar and avoid drawing the ire of his subordinates which he spends most of this book trying to remove from power – quite successfully I might add. He’s a very complex character, one that is dealing with what appears to be a terrible upbringing and mental issues, and is hard to place into a archetype so far. Moving forward, I can’t wait to see exactly what happened between his family and The Jedi that would lead to such anger and hatred that he displays in The Rising Storm.

Another high point was the complete and utter fall from grace that one of the Jedi Knights has in this book. I am avoiding spoilers the best I can, but this characters actions were pretty shocking. In a page right out of Anakin Skywalker, they go off the deep end after a handful of bad mistakes and nearly fall completely into The Dark Side. Keeping an eye on him for subsequent books will be very interesting.

Marchion Ro

I overall enjoyed this book a lot, and it’s somewhat better than it’s predecessor in a number of ways. It flows better, has a better concentration on important characters, and contains a cool mix of both horror and action that makes everything very exciting. This series has yet to do me wrong so far, and I always finish one of these up eager to read the next. If you are a Star Wars fan, I cannot stress enough how much I enjoy this series, and hope it achieves continued success moving forward.

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