Star Wars: The High Republic – Light of The Jedi

“Light of The Jedi” is the first book of the new “The High Republic” event that comprises not only regular novels, but also comics and young adult books, with supposedly more to come.

I “stepped” into it with reservations, as I hadn’t read a Star Wars book in a long time, and the one I did last was not up to my expectations, but I thought since this is a new thing in Star Wars, it’s got to start fresh, so I have a chance to jump in something unrelated to anything that was previously released, so it was a pretty good point to re-enter the Star Wars reading bandwagon.

“Light of The Jedi” is written by Charles Soule, well known to comic book readers, but a first timer in novel writing. And I have to say this is one of the best debuts I’ve seen to date. Perhaps the comics writer experience had a say, but I’ve seen bigger writers that had a worse start, so my hopes are definitely up for whatever he comes up with next.

I haven’t experienced such a good Star Wars story since “Heir to The Empire”, and I dare say that stepping in to read “Light of The Jedi” was the best choice I made this year in terms of books. The reader is dropped straight into action. Granted, with more questions than answers at the beginning, but who am I to argue good science fiction with a bit of a mystery added?

Without spoiling it for potential readers, the plot of the book takes place around 200 years before “The Phantom Menace” and revolves around an accident of arguably small proportions, but with biblical repercussions that threatens to endanger everyone in the galaxy, and it’s up to the (High – no Snoop Dogg pun intended) Republic as well as The Jedi to step in and save the day.

By the end of the book, although many answers are given, there are some new, underlying questions, that make room for a potential sequel. I have yet to see if the other books in The High Republic series pick up where this one left off, but I sincerely hope the answers would be given by Charles Soule himself in an yet-unannounced follow-up novel, and not another writer. Even though the team working on The High Republic is comprised of extremely talented writers, I believe this story suits Charles Soule’s style until the end and the team should see to it that it ends as well as it started.

I really don’t have anything to criticize in terms of writing style and storytelling, but I do have two things that I need mentioning that bothered me a little:

  1. “We are all The Republic!” – this is sort of a motto that’s being repeated constantly throughout the book by many characters related to The Republic. That being said, while I understand why members of The Republic, be them politicians or soldiers, would tend to adhere to such a political indoctrination (because yes, this is a form of political indoctrination, even though a positive one), it eludes me why the author also attributed this line to members of the Jedi Order. The Jedi are supposed to not form attachments, as we all know from the entire history of Star Wars. Just look at the Skywalker saga and you can understand what repercussions can attachments have on the Jedi. Now granted, “We are all The Republic” is not a romantic attachment, but a political one, however The Jedi are supposed to be Zen, One With The Force, not adhere to political beliefs regardless of which side of the political spectrum these would reside on. This, too, is a form of attachment, and in my opinion this line should have never been attributed to The Jedi.
  2. The Jedi were basically Supermen throughout the entire duration of the book, they’re practically perfect and even the sacrifices they make are well thought and to the point, but when the author needed a failure, he artificially added one – and involving a Jedi Master at that, not even a Padawan or a Knight. Now, this doesn’t bother me in the long run, since he makes up for it with good storytelling and I am pretty sure the result of that failure will also imply another good book at some point sooner rather than later, but it kind of catches the eye of the experienced reader and you can’t help but wonder if it wouldn’t have been better to at least portray them a little more like the Jedi we all know, which would have at least looked better with the failure added on top, than have them be Supermen for 90% of the book and have probably the best Jedi Master in the entire book make such a mistake.

Concluding, even though I am very picky and was able to pull two things that (in my humble opinion) don’t fit well with what we already knew about The Jedi or with how the High Republic era Jedi are portrayed in this book, I am telling you these are minor things and the book is straightforward a five star book, for the Star Wars reader or for the regular SF reader that is at least fascinated by Star Wars to a degree. If the rest of The High Republic books are at least half as fascinating, this shapes up to be one of the best line-ups in Star Wars literature history. I can’t wait to progress with it.