Another tale in Star Wars‘ newest era, The High Republic is here, and it’s something we have never seen before. Star Wars: The High Republic: Into the Dark explores some aspects of the dark side in a very unexpected way that will pull the reader in immediately.
This young adult novel follows an unlikely group of Jedi alongside the crew of a transport ship as they take on the unpredictable Outer Rim. The High Republic stories are set hundreds of years before Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, which kick-starts the events of the Skywalker Saga. This era depicts the Jedi at their most powerful as true guardians of peace and justice within the galaxy. Written by Claudia Gray — known for writing other Star Wars novels including Master & Apprentice and Leia, Princess of Alderaan — Into the Dark introduces compelling characters and a unique story that transports the reader into a world they’ve never seen before.
The 26-chapter novel follows Jedi’s Cohmac Vitus, Orla Jareni, and Dez Rydan, Padawan Reath Silas, and the crew of the Vessel — Affie Hollow, Leox Gyasi, and Geode as they navigate the Outer Rim of the galaxy, also known as the “Frontier,” and come face-to-face with ancient aliens, the powerful force of the dark side, and the Nihil — which is a group of anarchist space pirates.
Into the Dark begins with these seven characters, strangers to one another, coming together for completely different reasons. Reath is assigned a mission to meet his master, Jora Malli on the Frontier at the Starlight Beacon — the Republic’s space station in the Outer Rim, which begins his individual journey. Dez requested to be assigned to the Frontier. Orla and Cohma choose to return to the Outer Rim decades after a mission they were on together as Padawans. And the crew of the Vessel are hired to get them there, which unites the motley group.
After a tragic incident in the Outer Rim hyperspace lanes that results in the team taking refuge on an abandoned space station, the high stakes begin for each of the characters. Reath — undoubtedly the main character of this story — has to take part in an adventure even though he would rather read about them instead. His attitude is different from other Jedi. He would rather spend his days reading history books instead of living through history itself. He also holds doubt and uncertainty toward situations and people, including his own master. It’s an interesting perspective of a Jedi Padawan that fans normally don’t get to see.
While Reath is a bigger focus in this book, the chapters alternate between the points of view of the characters allowing us to get to know the others as well. In my opinion, the other characters are more interesting and have more depth than Reath. Orla and Cohmac’s past is shown throughout the story with flashbacks from 25 years prior. We see their relationship with one another and why they both chose to go back to the Frontier. Both characters have a complicated relationship with the Force. Because of this, Orla takes on the path of a Wayseeker — a Jedi who wishes to operate independently of the Jedi Order, and Cohmac is searching for peace within his complicated and conflicting emotions. Affie comes to a life-altering realization about the guild she works for, the leader of it whom she loves as a mother, and what really happened to her parents. And Dez, normally searching for adventure, encounters darkness ultimately changing the course of his future.
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For the majority of the characters, there is powerful internal conflict within each of them. Gray does an incredible job bringing this to life which ultimately makes for some of the more interesting parts of the book. This high stake story really dives into loss and grief as well as understanding that carrying on with bravery and determination is the right thing to do and also worth it in the end.
Gray’s writing is extremely strong in Into the Dark. She does a great job with describing what the character’s are seeing allowing the reader to feel as if they were actually there. The descriptive words used to detail The Force itself is really an interesting part of the book. It actually creates a visualization of the Force’s energy — dark and light — for the reader to imagine while taking in the story. Gray also gives the reader a unique look into this era of Star Wars. At one point during the novel, she describes a lightsaber duel and how rare that actually is during this time due to the fact that the Sith are thought to be gone. This is really interesting for the reader because as Star Wars fans, we are used to regular lightsaber battles in the stories that we know and love.
“This was a situation a Jedi would almost certainly never encounter even once in a lifetime of service.”
Into the Dark wraps up the storylines of each character nicely, leaving a satisfying feeling for the reader once they finish. The endings for each character’s journey perfectly concludes each of their arcs. There is no stone left unturned, expect for the small cliffhanger at the very end regarding a different character introduced in this book. It is obviously meant to set up a story for another book within The High Republic publishing campaign that will come at a later date.
I highly recommend this book for any Star Wars fan who wants to immerse themselves deeper into the lore of the universe. Extinct species, the ancient dark side, and old practices of the Jedi are all explored in this book. The writing is great, character growth really shines in this story, and it leaves room for the reader who may want more, as it sets up another, bigger story.
Star Wars: The High Republic: Into the Dark is available now. You can buy it wherever books are sold as well as Amazon.
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Stay up to date with Nerds and Beyond for more news about Star Wars: The High Republic as new stories within this era come out.