A hyperspace disaster. Billions of lives at stake. Danger imperiling the entirety of the Republic, and the deaths of Jedi. These are the page-turning events unfolding in the first-ever adult novel in the Star Wars High Republic series, Light of the Jedi.
A lot is going on. So much that we barely notice the first hundred pages zip by. Such is the joy of reading Charles Soule’s book. It’s high-paced and keeps the action moving, bouncing from group to group in the early setup, explaining the disaster, its aftermath, and how the Republic and Jedi are responding.
The disaster event is the fuel for the first part of the novel (called “The Great Disaster”). It gives readers plenty of things to worry about while providing background on the primary characters involved. We’re told their placement in the galaxy, their stake in what’s happening, and their motivations for finding a resolution. While this part is easily the strongest of the three, its movement from event to event can sometimes feel frenzied and its introduction of multitudes of characters is thinly written.
Still, the description of the initial disaster and the subsequent appearances of its aftereffects (dubbed Emergences) is top-notch. These moments ground us and keep the adrenaline pumping, kickstarting the story anytime it begins to drift. There are few moments of downtime. The plot is tightly focused, narrowing down from the disaster, how it was caused, to who’s to blame.
The second part (named “The Paths”) is where the investigation truly begins. Republic officials and numerous Jedi scour the Outer Rim for answers, using various techniques to unravel the mystery. In this part, the plotting eases back a little and allows us readers to learn more about the primary characters involved. We learn their backgrounds, connections to one another, and how their choices will affect the outcome for billions.
Also, in this part, we begin to pull away the mask on the book’s antagonists. It’s here that we’re introduced to the Nihil. Who they are, what they’re about, and why they caused the disaster. While the Nihil are no Sith, their Viking-like adherence to lighting-fast raiding and wanton spilling of blood is terrifying especially when their ability to use The Paths is explained.
Like a force of nature, the Nihil can appear practically anywhere and wreak destruction on a system-wide scale. It’s why the Republic and Jedi take them so seriously. In the final part (called “The Storm”), the two forces collide in battles and skirmishes. Each encounter is rooted with the characters we’ve come to love, so the stakes are high for them as well as for us. This is especially the case for one Jedi in particular, whose fate is left unknown at the conclusion.
As you might expect from a Star Wars novel, the good guys win in the end, but the victory feels hollow. Mainly because the true power and menace of the Nihil has yet to be discovered. It’s assumed extinguished. Partly this is done out of convenience (by the Republic) and out of arrogance (by the Jedi).
Impressions of Light of the Jedi
Being an old-time reader of Star Wars books (dating back to the original Thrawn novels), I’ve come across a fair share that has been well-written. Along with a sizable clump that doesn’t pass the smell test. The Light of the Jedi is definitely among the former. Its plot is entertaining and functional. It effectively sets in motion the direction of the Republic, the Jedi, and the fate of the Outer Rim. And, without effort, the book introduces us to a new era — The High Republic — while also populating it with many flawed and provocative characters.
As you would expect from the first in any series, Light of the Jedi makes a great effort to introduce and reintroducing concepts, characters, and themes that’ll be important. Thus, we’re told about the Starlight Beacon and Supreme Chancellor Lina Soh’s Great Works. We’re given reasons to care about the primary locations involved (Hetzel, Eriadu, and Ab Dalis) and the political ramifications of the Republic’s expansion into the outer territories. Finally, we’re told why those efforts are opposed.
In short, the book does a lot in the pages it’s given, which is why I’m willing to overlook its flaws. Sure, it’s not self-contained. The novel isn’t the first in a trilogy by the same author. It’s the starting point for a project incorporating different writers with different vantages. Yet, unlike the sequel movie trilogy, the promise is that the overall story will be cohesive and strongly interconnected.
If the following books make good on that promise and are as engaging and thoughtful as this one, then this trilogy and the ones to follow will be very special indeed.
A Convergence of Threes
Intentional or not, threes come up a lot in the novel. There are three parts (The Great Disaster, The Paths, and The Storm). Three main sides (Republic, Jedi, Nihil). The Nihil are divided into three types of three tempests (storms, clouds, strikes). The Jedi have three levels (Padawans, Knights, and Masters). And three central systems in the Outer Rim areaffected (Hetzel, Eriadu, Ab Dalis). To top it off, the project surrounding this book (called Luminous) is rumored to consist of three adult novels in three different phases of the High Republic era.
Important? Probably not.
Or is it?
For further reading about the High Republic, check out our reading list.
- THE GOOD
- Wonderful introduction to High Republic
- Strong characterizations
- Feels like Star Wars
- A good page turner
- THE BAD