Cover courtesy of Disney Lucasfilm Press.
Cover artist: Giorgio Baroni
“Into the Dark” is the third book in the High Republic line-up. It’s also the first Claudia Gray book I’ve read, but I have a feeling it won’t be the last. It just blew my mind and took me completely by surprise. I believe, up to this point, that it’s the best book in the High Republic series. People keep saying it’s a YA (Young Adult) book, but for me it doesn’t read like a YA book, it reads like an adult novel with a young adult protagonist (a Padawan, Reath Silas). However, after checking official statements I was able to find that indeed it is labeled as an YA book, and that’s a first for me, because it’s a YA book that I loved, and I haven’t been able to find any of those until now. Yes, any, as I was saying in my previous book review. How intriguing that the first YA book I like ever turns out to be a Star Wars book.
The events in “Into the Dark” go somewhat in paralel with “Light of the Jedi”. It starts a little bit earlier, and the intrigue of “Into the Dark” turns out to be the Prologue to “Light of the Jedi”, as the protagonist and his Jedi friends are in hyperspace the exact moment the Legacy Run disaster takes place. Unlike “Light of the Jedi”, this book focuses on a set of characters and doesn’t jump from a place of the galaxy to another, in other words the action is more continuous and has very little interruptions. It reads like a good story from start to finish.
Granted, it has some flashback scenes that take place 25 years prior to the events in “Into the Dark”, but they need to be read as such to have the whole story make sense, more so the backstory of the two senior Jedi in the story (Master Cohmac Vitus and Orla Jareni). Apart of those flashbacks, the story is perfect in its unfolding, and I enjoyed every bit of it. I have not read a book this fast in a long time.
We meet enemies old and new alike, as the Nihil are back, just as tough and dangerous as we remember them from “Light of the Jedi”, and we also meet the Drengir, a new race and perhaps just as (if not more) dangerous as the Nihil. What I found interesting about them is not their physiognomy or the fact they were Force-sensitive, but their name itself. I recently finished Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and I know that in Old Norse, as well as Old Swedish, a drengr, or a drænger, was a lieutenant of Ragnar Loðbrók. The word itself can mean either servant or warrior, or in this case, both. I wonder what does it have to do with the Drengir, and if their name was based on the notion of drænger or if it had anything to do with Norse or Icelandic legends of old, or it was simply an invention of Claudia Gray which had nothing to do with the drænger. Until now I was not able to find a direct connection. Maybe future books will enlighten me on that.
Another interesting part was that most of the action unfolded on Amaxine Station, the place were Snoke resides during the times of the New Republic. Now, I’m not a big fan of the New Republic era, I prefer Old/High Republic, mostly because I consider the films to be failures, with maybe the exception of Force Awakens, which indeed felt like a Star Wars movie. But I do have to admit that it was a nice touch. I didn’t even realize it was the same place until after I read it, when I started researching further information on Wookiepedia.
I will not insist on the plot and leave you guys to discover it for yourself, suffice to say I loved every character and I didn’t have so much fun in reading a Star Wars book since the Timothy Zahn books in the old Expanded Universe canon. I know Reath Silas will appear again, alongside Vernestra and Imri in a future book, which I hope I’ll be able to read at some point. But until the next High Republic book will release, I will dust off all the Claudia Gray hardcovers from my bookcase and start reading them one by one. I was just looking through them, undecided what I will start with (it’s a tie between “Lost Stars” and “Master and Apprentice”, the second being more appeasing to me), when I noticed my copy of Bloodlines is actualy SIGNED by Claudia Gray. THIS IS CRAZY, I had no clue I had her autograph!!! (I remember pre-ordering the book, but I never noticed it was signed, not even after I received it.) So I’m double-proud of myself right now – once for having ALMOST every Claudia Gray book in the Star Wars canon (I am still missing Leia – A Princess of Alderaan, going to fix that one soon) and having her autograph on my copy of Bloodlines. By the way, I just found out that Claudia Gray is a pseudonym, and her real name is Amy Vincent.
I give “Into the Dark” a full five stars, without the shadow of a doubt. I loved this book greatly and I believe so will you. If you like books, regardless of being a Star Wars fan or not, you will find the storytelling in this book next to incredible and you’ll definitely agree with me.