By the Light! We're back for another session of Star Wars School! In contrast to last week's report, this week's book may have been published recently but the events take place a long long looooooong time before the Star Wars movies. Well, not THAT long considering Yoda is a Great Master already. But long enough that the characters are like "Anakin Sky-who?"
Light of the Jedi is one of the installments of The High Republic series. A talented team of Star Wars novelists were tasked with fleshing out what the galaxy was like before Palpatine went power-crazy. This novel was my first taste of The High Republic and can I just say: I am obsessed already.
Per usual, I'll give you the basic details and give you the chance to get your own copy of the book, and then we'll jump into spoilers.
Published: 2021 by Del Rey Press
Legend or Canon: Canon!
Time Period: Years before Episode I: The Phantom Menace. The golden age of the Republic circa 232 BBY. (BBY = Before the Battle of Yavin. The Battle of Yavin was where the rebels destroyed the first Death Star in Episode IV. Subsequently, ABY is After the Battle of Yavin.)
Setting: The first chunk of the book takes place in hyperspace and the Hetzal System in the Outer Rim. The book bounces between hyperspace and various planets such as Coruscant, El phrona, and Naboo.
Characters You Already Know: Yoda, who is mentioned a lot and makes an appearance at the very end.
Synopsis: Chancellor Lina Soh is preparing to launch her latest "Great Works: The Starlight Beacon. the new space station will connect the Outer Rim planets to the Core world. weeks before the official opening, a mysterious disaster forces the shutdown of hyperspace lanes while the Republic and Jedi knights investigate the tragedy and mitigate the damage. will a band of violent marauders break the light of the Republic?
Okay, if you want to immerse yourself in a prequel to the prequels, go grab a copy of Light of the Jedi and get to reading. After this picture, it's open season for spoilers.
My favorite part of this novel was how Soule gave insight into the different ways Jedi experience the Force. Master Aras Krist connected with the Force as if it were a song. Knight Elzar Mann sensed it as a bottomless ocean. Others felt it like fire or wind or gears or a tree. The idea that the force manifests itself differently hadn't occurred to me before, but it makes so much sense. I've spent most of my time since finishing the novel speculating how other Jedi perceive the Force.
Master Avar Kriss was an amazing protagonist. She had the ability to connect all of the Jedi through her Force song and could channel each person's strengths into action. She was strong and insightful, and I am excited to read more of her adventures. Soule hinted at a romantic relationship between her and her longtime companion Jedi Knight Elzar Mann and I really hope that their relationship blooms in the next novel. I can’t take another Obi-Wan and Satine Kryze heartache from the silly rules of the Jedi Order. (Truly how many problems could have been solved if they just allowed the Jedi to get married? Prime example: Anakin Skywalker.) Additionally, if Lucasfilm were to make a TV series of the High Republic, she's a great person to center it around.
Avar Kriss by Jake Bartok
Another strong female character I loved was Master Jora Malli, a Togruta on the Jedi Council. I probably loved her because she reminded me of Ahsoka, but that's neither here nor there. Like Ahsoka, Jora's lightsaber was also made from a purified Kyber crystal and shone a brilliant white. I loved her matter-of-factness and her dedication to doing the right thing. She follows her gut and trusts that the Force is what’s guiding her feelings. Her apprentice is named Reath Silas, a character featured in The High Republic: Into The Dark, and I have a feeling he will be heavily featured in the upcoming High Republic novels. I would say Jora as well, but she is tragically killed in battle.
Charles Soule had a way of making you really like a character and then killing them off. It's like Game of Thrones—don't get too attached to anyone. At the very beginning, I was like “Awww, Hedda reminds me of Hera Syndulla” and she was dead by the end of the chapter. A Master did his duty by saving as many people as he could from certain death and would have been an interesting character to learn more about, but he was dead by the end of the chapter. Two Jedi knights were talking about going on an assignment together and it was obvious they liked each other and one of them was dead by the end of the chapter. Thanks for ripping my heart out, Charles.
The antagonists of the book are a vicious group of pillagers called the Nihil. They are able to use secret hyperspace paths to attack their targets before they have time to react. Although the Republic defeats a portion of the Nihil at the end of the novel, there's still a bunch of them preparing for their next attack at the end of the novel. The leader of the clan, Marchion Ro, was able to capture Jedi Loden Greatstorm and is torturing him at the end of the book. Most of the Jedi believe Greatstorm died in battle, but his Padawan Bell Zettifar believes he’s still alive and hopefully will go looking for him in the next book. Luckily, the sequel is set to come out in June so I'll have more answers for you in a few months. In addition to expanding the canon about hyperspace in general, it's important to note that the Nihil are able to pull off light speed skipping. This is further confirmation from Team Disney that Poe Dameron light speed skipping is totally plausible.
I am extremely excited for the sequel to come out in June and in the meantime. I'm excited to peruse more High Republic content. I personally love seeing the Jedi at the height of their power and learning the stories of the predecessors to the characters we know and love.
For real though, this should be a TV series.
Have you read Light of the Jedi? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
Stay tuned for the sequel: The Rising Storm by Canvan Scott coming out on June 29, 2021!