The High Republic era of Star Wars in full swing. The first wave of the expanded universe-centered stories are slowly rolling out. We took a look at the Marvel series earlier this month and now we’re taking a look at the kickoff novel, The Light of The Jedi.
In this novel by Charles Soule, readers are sent back to an era that Star Wars fans have never seen before, almost 200 years before The Phantom Menace.
When a tragedy in hyperspace causes a disaster across the entire Outer Rim, the Jedi and the Galactic Republic rush to prevent a catastrophic loss of life and resources. However, the disaster is more sinister than even the Jedi might think. Unknown to them, a threat waits in the shadows, ready to tear the galaxy apart.
Soule’s novel is split into three distinct parts, and those story chunks reveal the its faults and strengths. The first is the initial response to the Legacy Run disaster and the “Emergences” of chunks of the ship leaving hyperspace at near lightspeed. The second is investigating the Emergences and the threats surrounding them. Part three chronicles the battle with the Nihil, a group of unique and terrifying raiders who seem to be responsible for the Legacy Run disaster.
The first part is a tense action-disaster story. It’s tight and well plotted, and gives each point of view character enough development that the reader is invested in their fates. The world building here is fantastic as well. Though the basics are familiar, we’re far enough removed from the Galaxy Far Far Away we know and love that it feels new. It makes learning about the Republic, its key figures, and the Jedi Order more interesting.
A highlight for the fans of the Jedi is that this story gives us Jedi at their most pure. Though you can see the beginning of the hand-wringing, strict rule enforcing bureaucrats that led to the fall of the Republic, the Order here is different. These are truly noble warriors and skilled pilots. Even better, Soule dives into how each Jedi hears and interacts with the Force in a way that I don’t think Star Wars has ever shown us before, making the sections focused on them the highlight of the entire book.
The second section of the story is where the novel shows its faults. After a tense and tight story proceeding it, the second section is a bit of a mess. It introduces too many plot threads and splits its focus between too many characters. Some from the first part are brought back so late in the story that I forgot who they were. Because there were so many, they sometimes got confusing. For example, for about half the book, I thought Loden Greatstorm, one of the best characters in the novel, was Nautolan- the same race as Kit Fisto- rather than Twi’lek- the race of Bib Fortuna and Aayla Secura.
However, after that, the third section brings the story home in a grand and exciting way. In a single space battle, Soule is able to completely change everything we thought about the Nihil and its leader, transforming them from a threat reminiscent of Jabba the Hutt to something completely unique in Star Wars lore.
This is the most excited I’ve been about the Star Wars expanded universe since Marvel’s return to the license several years ago. Even with its faults, this is an exciting new entry in Star Wars lore. Given the timeline break between itself and the stories we know, there’s also an element of unpredictability that little Star Wars media has ever shown.
In short, this is a must-read for every Star Wars fan.
Star Wars: The High Republic- Light of the Jedi is available now in hardcover and ebook from all booksellers. Also watch for Star Wars: The High Republic and Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures in comic stores this week, and the young adult novel Star Wars: The High Republic- Into The Dark by Claudia Gray out on Tuesday.
A genuinely fresh and exciting new take on the Star Wars mythos, Light of the Jedi creates a vibrant setting, gives us fascinating new characters, and a unique threat for any fan of Star Wars to enjoy.