Greetings ladies and gentlemen... and our readers! It has been some time since our last written HAR of John Jackson Miller’s The Enterprise War, and there’s been a lot of books in between but nothing that truly felt needful of a review, until now! The catalyst for necessitating a new HAR is the publishing efforts of Lucasfilm and their launch of The High Republic with Charles Soule’s Light of the Jedi.
As I’ve related the story on the podcast and here previously, I’ll remind everyone that I’ve been reading Star Wars books since I was a kid and they have always held a special place in my heart. It’s with great personal joy that I’m finally writing a review for one here. Without any further blustering from me let’s get into it with minimal spoilers.
It is a romantic time in the Republic; the citizens of the Inner Core and Mid Rim are prosperous and happy. The Chancellor has deemed it a time of expansion and outreach. That is, until there’s a catastrophe in hyperspace leading to the Emergence of the wreckage of pieces of a large vessel exiting hyperspace at destructive speeds at random times and places in the Outer Rim, leading to mass destruction in several systems. This emergency calls into action all the forces of good in the Republic, including Jedi and regular citizens of the Outer Rim territories, to halt this threat to life. Meanwhile, there’s evil machinations of a fringe group called the Nihil that will bring about great conflict and change in the galaxy as we know it.
Time. This works on multiple fronts. First, it is a fresh era for Star Wars to explore. Set 200 years prior to the events of The Phantom Menace, we (the reader) are given a period previously untouched in all of Star Wars lore whether it’s “Legends” or Canon. This means that there is nothing for it to contradict or change and that is very exciting. Second, the pacing of the first section of the book plays with the Emergence event down to the minute of catastrophe. You end up jumping from different characters and locations to have an almost cinematic experience.
Diversity. I’m not referring to gender, race, orientation, or species though there is diversity of that in abundance. What I mean by diversity is in the Force. Each of the Jedi represented approach and commune with the Force differently than the others. It is in stark contrast to the prequel era Jedi that were very much a homogenous monastic order in their approach and perspective. I would be remiss to give away more here as I feel it is better experienced while reading but I will say that I got the feeling that someone like Qui-Gon Jinn would have fared better as a Jedi in this era.
The Nihil! These pirates are more than they seem. From how they travel through their Paths, to their “leader” Marchion Ro, they are wholly new to Star Wars. Although I found them very familiar to the point where I described them to friends like a mixture of the Reavers from Firefly/Serenity and the war tribes from the Mad Max/Road Warrior films. Within the Nihil there are layers from Tempest Runners to clouds, strikes, and more. But, not all Nihil are the same; they reflect their individual leader and that which they “value” most. Altogether, they promise to be an interesting and unexpected foe.
Secondary Characters. Without going into too many specifics, the B level characters are fantastic and actually fleshed out. They all provide a complete picture to round out the galaxy and give alternate perspectives to the Jedi or Nihil, while setting up future storylines and gifting us with easter eggs.
Speaking of characters, there are a lot. So many so that it can be hard initially to follow and keep track of everyone. Therefore, a lack of Dramatis Personae is the only bad. Back in the days of Legends, beginning with the New Jedi Order, each book began with a Dramatis Personae where you were given Name, Species, and Affiliation of the key characters. This served as a great tool to refer back to in case you got lost. Since Disney took over Lucasfilm and they rebooted the canon the Dramatis Personae has been discarded and it’s an absolute shame.
“Fans.” This isn’t about the book at all but I would caution any reader that enjoyed this book to stay away from so-called fans on places like YouTube. On the launch stream of The High Republic the chat was filled with these toxic trolls that would spam and ridicule anything the authors said and anyone that expressed enthusiasm for this new publishing effort. You can lament the retiring of Legends, dislike the sequel trilogy, and overall not enjoy the efforts so far by the Disney era of Lucasfilm without being a dick about it. Remember, there is always someone that loves that which you do not.
We’ve reached the end of my review of Charles Soule’s Light of the Jedi, and I can’t wait to read this book again! I was skeptical of reading everything from The High Republic era but this offering has given me the desire to consume all and fully dive into this time in the galaxy far, far away.