REVIEW: Star Wars – The High Republic -Midnight Horizon (2022)

A book by Daniel José Older

Star Wars – The High Republic -Midnight Horizon by Daniel José Older is the final book in phase one of the High Republic multimedia project, and while not as action packed as Fallen Star, this Young Adult book has a lot of interesting things to add to the overall story. This is a character heavy book, sometimes bordering on being thematically a romance novel of sorts, so it will be interesting to see how divisive it is by other fans. The big draw for me is the inclusion of a handful of characters previously seen in other books, such a Reath Silas, a character that has been slowly becoming one of my favorites in this whole series.

“After a series of staggering losses, the Republic seems to finally have the villainous Nihil marauders on the run, and it looks like there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Until word comes of a suspected Nihil attack on the industrial cosmopolitan world of Corellia, right in the Galactic Core. Sent to investigate are Jedi Masters Cohmac Vitus and Kantam Sy, along with Padawans Reath Silas and Ram Jomaram, all fighting their own private battles after months of unrelenting danger. On Corellia, Reath and Ram encounter a brazen young security specialist named Crash, whose friend was one of the victims of the Nihil attack, and they team up with her to infiltrate Corellia’s elite while the Masters pursue more diplomatic avenues. But going undercover with Crash is more dangerous than anyone expected, even as Ram pulls in his friend Zeen to help with an elaborate ruse involving a galactic pop star. But what they uncover on Corellia turns out to be just one part of a greater plan, one that could lead the Jedi to their most stunning defeat yet….”

One of the more interesting topics this book touches on is the concept of attachment, which is one of the more important facets that guides The Jedi order. We have seen many times that Jedi that hold onto personal attachments ultimately slip into The Dark Side, the most famous being Anakin Skywalker who let personal relationships, among other things, drive him into the arms of The Sith. Reath Silas realizes that he has fallen victims to a multitude of teenage crushes, most notably a Nihil spy that used flirting to extract information from him. To counter this, he now seems to be holding onto crushes on everyone as to not create on attachment that clouds his mind. The book discusses that when Jedi try to suppress urges such as attraction to the opposite sex, it usually results in a slide into the dark, so achieving a balance between your relationships is the true way to handle things. Despite being a mere Padawan, many other older Jedi, such as Elzar Mann, could learn a thing or two from Reath.

Like a lot of these books, the story hangs on a murder mystery, this time the death of a prominent member of a bodyguard service and disappearance of his important client, an act we readers know as an act of Nihil aggression. This is an issue for Alys “Crash” Ongwa, a young-ish woman that acts as the head of the Supreme Coronet City Diplomat Protection Agency, as her company as seemingly blamed for this brazen attack, or rather her lack of preparedness for it. Behind the scenes there are rumors of Nihil operating on Coreillia, and some shady goings on that seem to signify that they are starting to trickle into core worlds. jedi are being sent off, leaving the planet largely undefended, and it all seems as if a conspiracy is afoot. Readers know this is all a part of Marchion Ro’s master plan to destroy Starlight Beacon and lay waste to the Republic. Unfortunately, The Nihil don’t take into account that Ram Jomaram, Reath Silas, Cohmac Vitus, and Kantam Sy would soon be investigating these rumors.

While I cringed at the prospect of yet MORE new characters this late into the lifecycle of this initiative, this book handles it well and fleshes out some of the characters in a previous book, Race to Crashpoint Tower a LOT. While I like Older’s work on the comics, I felt that Crashpoint Tower was easily my least favorite book of all of these because it just threw the readers into the middle of a story that seemed like an excised extra chapter from another book. Characters like Ram Jomaram are a lot better here, albeit I could see him as being annoying if not grouped with a straight-man sort of character, for which Reath definitely fits the bill.

One of the goofier things about Ram is his over-use of the term “Wizard”, which fans may remember as a slang term in The Phantom Menace that has somewhat become an inside joke in Star Wars fandom ever since. The Robot Chicken Star Wars Specials even had a gag where Darth Vader was pondering “How come nobody says ‘wizard’ anymore?”, then after killing Palpatine, asks Luke “That was pretty Wizard right?!”. Din Djarin from The Mandalorian uses the phrase, and now Ram, some hundreds of years prior, is a huge fan. Perhaps he’s even the originator? Like I said, this could be annoying, but the author does good by not over-doing it.

The book is a bit slow at first, which according to other reviews is a typical complaint about the Young Adult books as a whole, but has a fairly action packed second half culminating in a pretty solid final arc, The Battle of Corellia. It was one of the cooler action-scenes in this whole line so far, and was a great ending to the book. I will say the book dragged a bit when it did this whole sub-plot involving an almost farcical scheme to dress up a character named Zeen Mrala as a up-and-coming pop singing sensation, while Ram and Reath donned the garb of an ancient order of elite bodyguard child soldiers, in order to get information on possible Nihil activity by investigating the various night clubs in Coronet. It was convoluted and frankly, pretty silly. However, this segment in no way ruined the book. Stuff like this did a great job of showing the socio-economic status of the planet and its culture, something a lot of Star Wars books somewhat avoid for whatever reason.

Overall, this book was a HUGE step up from the previous work of Daniel José Older, and a solid final act of phase one of this series. While not perfect, by any means, the book is entertaining and has a great ending, I just wish the middle wasn’t so random in an almost “The Last jedi” sort of way. I am excited to get my hands on more stories with some of these characters even though it appears as if we have to wait out another year or so, but I’m sure the wait will be well worth it!

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