'The High Republic' Finally Arrives

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    The wait is finally over! The much-touted publishing initiative, Star Wars: The High Republic, has finally begun with the release of The Light of the Jedi by Charles Soule and A Test of Courage by Justina Ireland.
    As frequent readers of this column will know, The High Republic is something I’ve been excited about for months, so naturally I was eager to get my hands on the books. While I secured my copy of Light of the Jedi easily, I haven’t been able to get my hands on A Test of Courage--an issue that seems to be fairly common (and quite unfortunate).
    As of the time of this writing, I haven’t had a chance to finish the novel yet, though I’ve read a good chunk of it. Without spoiling anything, I want to give you an idea of what this new era brings to the Star Wars universe.
    First and foremost, what is the High Republic era? It’s a time period roughly two hundred years prior to Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, meaning all of these stories take place long before the films. That in itself is pretty exciting; this is the galaxy in a way we’ve never seen it before. As the authors themselves are keen to point out, this means anything could happen--the characters and worlds are so far removed from the regular timeline that we have no idea what their fates might ultimately be. That’s exciting!
    Also exciting: this period is the height of the Jedi’s power. They are well-established and spread throughout the galaxy, but haven’t yet succumbed to the bureaucracy and complacency that led to their downfall in the prequel trilogy. For me, Jedi have always been the core of Star Wars; when I was a kid and the prequels were coming out, I was so excited to see what things were like before the Empire, when Jedi still protected the Republic. The High Republic era takes that even further, showcasing tons of new Jedi characters and examining how the Order functioned in its prime.
    Not to worry, though--if you’re interested in Star Wars for more than just the space wizards, there are plenty of fascinating characters who aren’t tied to the Force, too. My personal favorite so far is Captain Bright, who happens to share a name and rank with my favorite Mobile Suit Gundam character.
    The setting itself is as engaging as the characters. It’s amazing what a few hundred years can do; the ships are different, the villains are different--heck, there are even minor details like the fact that bacta can’t be mass-produced yet. The Republic here is a brighter, more optimistic place than the one we see in the films, and it’s fascinating to see how that sense of optimism informs the characters and their actions.
    There’s also a very cool mystery at the center of Light of the Jedi: the book opens with a terrible tragedy in hyperspace, the fallout of which takes up the book's thrilling first act. While this accident sets up a pulse-pounding mission that introduces us to the novel’s expansive cast, it also leaves us with questions that need answered; I’m flipping through pages not just to see what happens to all these characters I’ve already fallen in love with, but to find out just what is at the root of all these strange events.
    Overall, I’m as excited to be reading Light of the Jedi as I was to hear it announced. It’s a great story that catapults Star Wars in a new direction that long-time fans will love. There’s a ton more High Republic content on the way--books, comics, and more--and if it’s all half as good as this one, well… it’s going to be a pretty wild ride!
More articles and reviews by Ethan McIntyre can be found at rollwithit.blog.