Way back at NYCC 2019 Lucasfilm teased us by revealing the mysterious, upcoming “Project Luminous.” That, as we later learned, would become a whole new era of Star Wars storytelling centered in the High Republic. It is both the golden age of the Republic, and the Jedi Order. The never-before-explored era of the franchise is ripe with new stories, heroes, villains, and locations. But how, exactly, do you introduce an entirely brand new branch of Star Wars? That unenviable task falls on the shoulders of Charles Soule with his novel Light of the Jedi ~ Star Wars: The High Republic.
Soule is best known for his work on multiple Star Wars comics, specifically the 2017 Darth Vader series. Making the leap to writing the first, introductory novel for this brand new era was both daunting and ambitious for the author. (You can read his thoughts on the topic HERE.) My first thought on Light of the Jedi, unfortunately, was that it was perhaps a little too ambitious. Thankfully, as I settled in to the novel, it evened out into an enjoyable read.
Light of the Jedi: An ambitious introduction to a new era of Star Wars
The novel immediately opens with the disaster referenced in the story’s synopsis:
When a shocking catastrophe in hyperspace tears a ship to pieces, the flurry of shrapnel emerging from the disaster threatens an entire system. No sooner does the call for help go out than the Jedi race to the scene. The scope of the emergence, however, is enough to push even Jedi to their limit. As the sky breaks open and destruction rains down upon the peaceful alliance they helped to build, the Jedi must trust in the Force to see them through a day in which a single mistake could cost billions of lives.”
Though most likely meant to mirror the urgency of the catastrophe told through its pages, the first act of Light of the Jedi moves at breakneck speed. We’re introduced to a slew of characters, perhaps a bit too quickly. That makes the story a bit difficult to follow in its initial pages. There’s a seeming lack of focus, rendering it hard to appreciate what’s happening as the story shifts focus early and often. It almost feels as if Soule is trying to tell an entire comic series arc in just a handful of pages.
Settling in to the High Republic
Thankfully, things slow down a bit in Act 2. There we get a little more personal account of the Jedi whose story Soule tells in Light of the Jedi. For the first time in the franchise, really, we get to see groups of Jedi interact as a larger collective. Likewise, also learn a great deal about some of the initial players, like Avar Kriss, and the new and unique (to us) Force powers they possess. We also get some insight into the era’s threat to the galaxy, the Nihil.
Based on their initial description (and an image of one of their ships courtesy of starwars.com), one reminisces about the Reavers of the Firefly universe. Brutal and merciless, the Nihil have an agenda that will eventually shake the Republic to its core.
All in all, once Light of the Jedi gets past the initial excitement of the first act, it settles down to become an exemplary introduction into this new era of Star Wars. Soule’s portrayal of the various Jedi, and Nihil, provides the depth and range of character we’ve come to expect from a Star Wars feature. And yes, we get to see the Jedi in a whole new light, as the title suggests. It will be exciting to see where things lead us from here.
Light of the Jedi ~ Star Wars: The High Republic hits stores January 5. You can preorder the Del Rey feature HERE.