The High Republic is here, and it was well worth the wait. I just got my hands on the physical copy of Light of the Jedi, written by Charles Soule, the first book in the High Republic series that kicks off this new Star Wars era. I’m already on Chapter Eleven, and I wanted to share my initial thoughts of the book, which so far has exceeded all expectations and drops the reader straight into the action as only Star Wars would. I won’t address any specific spoilers, but I will go into detail once I finish the book and post a full review.
As a fan who gravitates more towards the books in the Star Wars franchise (seriously, I still haven’t seen Rebels, and it took me way too long to get through Clone Wars), I couldn’t be more excited for Light of the Jedi. When the announcement of the High Republic publishing event dropped, I felt a bit of hope restored. While I loved The Force Awakens, I felt let down by the sequel trilogy and by Disney’s earlier decision to scrap the extended universe, meaning I’d probably never see the heroes I grew up reading about—no Mara Jade, no exploits of the Solo twins, no Lowbacca, and no New Jedi Order period. I won’t go on and on about my personal issues with the sequel trilogy; it’s a conversation for another day, it’s still an entertaining addition to Star Wars, and the internet is full of essays on the topic.
One of the things I do love about the sequel era and Disney’s new canon is the books. I devoured EK Johnston’s Queen’s Shadow and Queen’s Peril and tackled Claudia Gray’s Leia, Princess of Alderaan and Bloodline, with a passion I hadn’t felt since reading Legends books Darth Plagueis and the Darth Bane trilogy back to back. They provided attention to detail and thoughtful explorations of characters old and new. However, it still felt weird internally reconciling the new timeline with the one I grew up with and viewed as canon. That’s why I was so excited for the High Republic because this would be a new and unexplored era of Star Wars, a clean slate, so to speak, and I was ready for it. Light of the Jedi didn’t disappoint.
From the first page, I was dropped into a galaxy that felt both familiar and new. The High Republic is the golden age of Star Wars. The universe is at peace, and the Jedi Order is at the height of its power and influence, but when a terrifying catastrophe in hyperspace tears a massive ship to pieces and sends waves of shrapnel that threaten an entire system, the Jedi rally together. However, even they are pushed to their breaking points with the impending crisis, and they still don’t know what caused the disaster, which kills hundreds of people in the blink of an eye and threatens billions more.
The writers and executives at LucasFilm and Disney weren’t joking when they said the Great Disaster would be the event that kicks off the High Republic with ramifications felt across the new novels and comic books set in the era. The Great Disaster truly felt terrifying, and the stakes were higher than I initially envisioned. Hyperspace is a dangerous element in all its appearances throughout science fiction, but it’s not something that gets explored much, and it’s an expected aspect of the sci-fi genre. Suddenly, something that felt like an accessory to any Star Wars or Star Trek adventure became something pivotal and dangerous. I truly felt emotional for the characters who die or whose lives are upended by the disaster, and trust me, you will meet some of these characters, bond with them in their brief appearances, and mourn their tragic and sudden deaths.
The main characters, particularly the Jedi, are all compelling and beautifully written. I’ve always felt drawn to the rather unconventional Jedi—Aayla Secura, Kit Fisto, Quinlan Vos, Mara Jade—and I love how different the Jedi Order feels in the Light of the Jedi. This Order is an extravagant one, in which emotions are more freely accepted and tolerated, and the Jedi adorn themselves in fine clothes and wield decorated lightsabers. However, they’re no less skilled in the Force, especially Jedi Master Avar Kriss, who listens intently to the song of the Force and has a unique connection to the energies that bind all life in the galaxy.
I’m excited to finish Light of the Jedi and I’ll post a full-length review once I do. The early chapters are incredibly promising—emotional, beautifully written, and full of edge-of-your-seat action. I highly recommend you get your hands on a copy of this book, and if you’ve had a chance to read it, let me know your thoughts in the comments.
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