Light of the Jedi
By Charles Soule
- Light of the Jedi
Author: Charles Soule
- Series: Star Wars: The High Republic
- ISBN: 9781529124644
- Published: January 2021
- Pages: 377
- Format reviewed: Hardback
- Review date: 05/01/2021
- Language: English
The Universe of Star Wars is a vast one full of unexplored planets, characters and timelines but the will of The Force always seems to drag it back to the Skywalkers. The brand-new Star Wars: The High Republic is an attempt to write Star Wars free from the restraints of the films as it is set 1000 years earlier in a time of Jedi ascendency. Charles Soule has been given the unenviable task of helping to launch what could be a major part of Star Wars content in the future. Could the author start the series with the flourish it requires, whilst also creating a structure that future tales can be built upon?
Hyperspace provides the lifeblood that supports the flourishing Republic. No longer are the planets on the Outer Rim left to fend for themselves as trade and supplies can be delivered regularly through known Hyperspace points. They are thought to be safe, but when a ship carrying migrants shatters into pieces, the Hyperspace network is closed. Fragments are appearing randomly in space and creating havoc in their path. Was this a unique accident or a sinister plot from a group finally ready to step up against The Republic?
Launching something as ambitious as The High Republic had to start with a statement. What was this new era in Star Wars aiming to represent? In Light of the Jedi, Soule opens with an epic set piece that suggests these books will show the Jedi at their full power and be full of action and adventure. The first part of the book is all about a colony planet and its surrounding moons. They are being battered by Hyperspace debris that is arriving with such velocity that billions could die. The Republic, along with their Jedi allies, are on hand to try and prevent as much destruction as possible.
This open element of the book is some of the most exhilarating action the Star Wars books have produced. It evokes memories of epic space battles from the films but has more at stake as this is not just military personal at stake, but billions of innocents. Soule keeps the action beats coming as we jump from various Jedi, Republic Members and natives from the planet. Not everyone will survive. This epic set piece can do two things; greatly entertain the reader, but also build the relationships. By the end the reader will have a clearer understanding of the Jedi’s role in society.
After the catastrophic introductory elements, the story settles down as The Republic and Jedi start to investigate what happened. Here we get a sense of what the future holds for the series. The Republic are opening a vast Spire in The Outer Rim to bring their message to more people. On this station is a large Jedi Temple whose job will be to police the nearby planets. Both the Republic and Jedi are inherently good, but many of the residents of The Outer Rim decided to live there to get away from civilisation. Can a structure as rigid as The Republic work in the Wild West?
Some of these questions are explored via the mysterious Nihil, a marauder group known for their vicious nature. They can travel the Hyperspace channels in a way no one else can. As an entity they may not have the size or power to take on The Jedi, but Soule does a great job of making them an enemy you can dislike. By the end of the book, things are not all as they seem and The Nihil may be more powerful than at first imagined.
Part two and three of Light of the Jedi splits the action across several Jedi who are investigating The Nihil in their own way. Progress is made not just via the Force, but also science and sometimes the lightsaber. It is wonderful to read about the Jedi in their pomp. You get a sense of what they can achieve when there are hundreds available. It is exciting to imagine what adventures they could undertake before being almost wiped out 900 odd years later.
As an introduction to a brand-new Star Wars spin off, Light of the Jedi does an admirable job. The opening section is electric. The latter parts settle into more familiar Star Wars territory and hint at what is to come. With more freedom than the books caught within the film timelines, there is a possibility to be more subversive and explore darker avenues. Are the Jedi too proud and perfect? Does their unflinching respect for The Force and the Light Side inevitably mean that they will fall as the more anarchic races around them become frustrated? I very much look forward to discovering more.
Written on 5th January 2021 by Sam Tyler .