We’ve officially entered phase two of Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: The High Republic publishing initiative, taking readers through an era of appropriately high adventure set 200 years before The Skywalker Saga and featuring a slew of new Jedi characters and just a few we’re used to, including a slightly-less-aged Master Yoda and long-necked Jedi Council member Yarael Poof, easily one of the most unusual character designs of the prequels and a personal favorite of mine.
But the High Republic era isn’t overly concerned with the familiar. From malicious, man-eating killer plants to hyperspace-defying space travel, there are many new concepts to explore for even the most Force-adept readers, and that feeling of freshness is doubly palpable in the spectacular second adult novel in the series, The Rising Storm by Cavan Scott.
Scott, who also pens the High Republic Marvel comic books, builds on the relationships and key conflicts established in Charles Soule’s Light of the Jedi, which was released earlier this year and features the heroic Avar Kriss uniting the Jedi against a cataclysmic event known as The Great Disaster. In The Rising Storm, Kriss is occupied elsewhere dealing with those aforementioned killer plants – the Drengir, chief antagonists of the Marvel series – allowing the conflicted Jedi Elzar Mann to take the spotlight along with Padawan Bell Zettifar, Jedi High Council Member Stellan Gios and my personal favorite, the not-quite-Jedi monster hunter Ty Yorrick. As Supreme Chancellor Lina Soh plans a landmark Republic Fair to celebrate and promote unity throughout the galaxy, the sinister Marchion Ro and the bloodthirsty Nihil plot to crash her party and throw the Republic into disarray. The Jedi respond to this threat with lightsabers in hand and the Force as their ally, although some of these heroes are forever changed by the battle.
The Rising Storm is intense, especially in its rollercoaster of a third act. The heroes are tested physically and psychologically as the Nihil push them to their limits and, in at least one case, to the shadow of the Dark Side. It all leads to a heart-wrenching final chapter that hints at disturbing times ahead in that galaxy far, far away.
The High Republic lineup spans adult novels, young adult fiction, children’s books and comics, so there’s a lot to experience if you’d like to immerse yourself in this new era of Star Wars storytelling. Otherwise, I’d strongly recommend Light of the Jedi and The Rising Storm to get caught up on the locations and characters. And you’ll be glad you did. Although there are dark times ahead for The High Republic, the future of this era looks bright.