A longer time ago in a familiar faraway galaxy is what is known as the High Republic. The Jedi and the government were at the heights of their influence, and there was an abundance of peace and prosperity.
But no matter how bright the light, darkness still persists.
The High Republic era takes place roughly two hundred years before Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. That means that there are no Clones, no Empire, and no Skywalkers. For the time being, it’s strictly a publishing initiative, with stories in this era being told across multiple books and comics. But just because you can’t hear the hum of a lightsaber doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be checking out these stories, because if you love Star Wars as much as I do, it satisfies the appetite just as much as the movies and television shows do.
That’s why I wanted to give you some of my highlights of the High Republic so far, in an effort to help you get your Force Fix.
After The Rise of Skywalker, we needed to get some distance from that entire family and their influence on the galaxy. Their presence made everything feel much smaller than it actually was. We got The Mandalorian, which is great. But even that show is tied into an era of the franchise that has specific rules.
The High Republic has no rules. It’s not tied into any preexisting story and it doesn’t follow any popular characters. Everything is new to us. But it does still follow a bunch of Jedi, so there is some familiarity there. Other than that, it’s all new characters, fresh stories, and no familiar plot point that the story has to follow to make sure the canon stays intact. Anything can happen.
Take a deep breath. The air is nice out.
These new stories are jump-started by an attack on a ship in hyperspace that results in debris emerging from hyperspace in hyperspeed, destroying anything and everything in its path. The Jedi have to band together to both predict and stop these emergences before they can do too much damage.
Star Wars may take place a long time ago, but they’ve always had some really cool technology. Turns out if you go back even further in time within the Star Wars universe, that remains the same.
The High Republic truly has some dope machinery that we haven’t seen before. I have two favorites: The Jedi Vectors and the Lightwhip.
The Vectors are the Jedi ship of choice. Not too dissimilar from a Starfighter or an X-wing externally. But what sets it apart is how it functions internally. The ships are light and don’t have a lot of extra gears and shifts because a Jedi’s intuition makes up for all of that.
The most interesting part of the ship is that they can only be flown by a Jedi. But it’s not the will of the force that does the trick. You need a lightsaber to turn the ship on. You simply place the hilt into a slot like a USB to turn the ignition, so to speak. The ship’s navigation, controls, and HUD all light up with the color of the lightsaber. The ship’s weapons system also shoots with the same color as the lightsaber.
This is a really dope way to make sure nobody can steal a Jedi’s ship, unless they steal their lightsaber of course. We’ve yet to see that scenario play out.
This is no doubt something that the Star Wars think-tank came up with to differentiate this era from the one that we know, but it’s such a cool and helpful feature, I’d be interested to see if down the road they ever explain how it fell out of favor with the Jedi.
My second favorite look at some new technology is the Lightwhip.
Vernestra Rwoh, youngest Jedi Knight in history at age sixteen has a modified lightsaber that can loosen up and turn into a whip. It’s said that the Sith used this during the Sith Wars in the Old Republic, forcing the Jedi to adopt the practice in order to even the odds.
I can see this being a very useful tool, especially if you want to turn your melee weapon into more of a projectile. But I can also see how it can be dangerous for the user, as the recoil on that thing has gotta be strong.
Star Wars hasn’t been as overly egregious as other franchises when it comes to diversity, especially in recent years. But there’s always room for improvement. The High Republic kicks it into another gear.
In the two books and two comics I’ve read so far, white characters are in the minority. And in their place are Black and brown Jedi. There’s even more alien Jedi than white Jedi. You truly love to see it.
I even feel like most of the main characters are women as well. It’s really great to see a concerted effort at putting characters like this at the forefront. Especially as some of the most powerful people in the galaxy. The trolls might be mad about it, but that just means the writers are doing something right.
I’ve felt seen in one way or another during every book I’ve read so far. And I know that others feel the same way. There seems to be a real effort to make this galaxy feel varied. And it’s all the better for it.
The villains of the High Republic are called the Nihil. They’re an intricate group of Marauders hellbent on conquest and destruction. If the Republic and the Jedi are a representation of order, then the Nihil are chaos.
What I like about the Nihil is how different they are from what we’re used to. Star Wars has always had villains that were evil, but they still prescribed to a high level of order. Take one look at a group of Stormtroopers standing in front of the Emperor’s shuttle as it lands on the Death Star and you’ll know what I mean.
The Sith are the same way. They may be bad from the Jedi’s point of view, but they’re really just on the opposite side of the same coin.
The Nihil are completely different. Yes, they want to rule and cause trouble for the Republic. But it almost seems like they’re doing it simply because they want to, or that they want to have the space do whatever they want. There isn’t some overarching goal that they want to achieve (at least not yet). That’s what makes them scary.
They may be rusty space pirates that alone wouldn’t stand a chance against a Jedi, but when you’re a group of killers and thieves freed from political ideologies and moral compasses, you’re gonna be a threat to anyone, because there’s no reasoning with you.
And we all know how much the Jedi like to try and reason with people.
I’m petty because this is literally my favorite part of the High Republic because lightsabers are my favorite part of Star Wars in general. Every time I see one, I feel like I’m 5 years old again seeing one for the first time. I want to see sabers go swoosh all day everyday.
What I love about the High Republic is that they’ve got a wide array of colors for their Jedi. One of my biggest issues with Star Wars up to this point is their flat out refusal to have any colors other than blue and green for the Jedi. With an overabundance of blue at that.
Of course, we had Mace Windu’s purple lightsaber, Ahsoka’s white lightsabers, and Rey’s new yellow one. But in one way or another, it’s always implied that those are special circumstances.
That doesn’t seem to be the case in the High Republic. We’ve got all the colors in the rainbow. Even variations of colors. And there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason as to why that is. At least not yet.
I’d love to see them explain in more depth how a kyber crystal’s color is determined. The new canon is a bit murky. But in an era where there are so many colors, that would be a really good place to solidify the rules.
I’d also like to see why by the time of the fall of the Republic, most colors seemed to fall out of favor. There’s definitely a story there.
A Familiar Face
I lied earlier when I said there aren’t any popular characters in the High Republic. There is one tether from this era to the one we’re familiar with. And his name is Yoda.
Because our little green friend was over 900 years old when he died, that means that in the era of the High Republic, he was still like 700.
So yeah, still old.
He basically looks the same, too. Same scraggly hair. Same ruffled brow. Same cane. He does look a little bit more spry, though.
During the time of this new conflict, Yoda is on a sabbatical from the council, and he’s out in the field with his group of Padawans giving out some real life lessons. It’s really fun to see.
Having Yoda be the one mainstay was really smart. It’s something that seems like a no brainer. But they could have just as easily made one of the main characters an ancestor of Obi-Wan Kenobi or something like that. I’m glad they didn’t. Yoda makes the most sense.
Now Get to Reading
Now that I’ve convinced you that this publishing initiative is fire, let me tell you about the actual books.
As of the time of this writing, there are three main novels, and two comics. There are a couple other younger grade books, but they are abbreviated versions of the middle and adult grade ones.
The first novel is called The Light of the Jedi, written by Charles Soule. It is essentially the inciting incident for this whole story, and all of the other books and comics spin out of this one. This is where you’re going to meet all the important characters like Avar Kriss, Loden Greatstorm, Elzar Mann, and Sskeer for the first time, as well as get introduced to the Nihil.
If you’re going to read anything from the High Republic, this is where to start.
The second book is called A Test of Courage written by Justina Ireland. It follows two young Jedi and two young children of diplomats, led by Vernestra Rwoh, as their ship is attacked by the Nihil, and they are forced to survive on a hostile planet.
The third book is called Into the Dark and is written by Claudia Gray. It follows Padawan Reath Silas as he’s leaving his home of Coruscant to go and live on a developing frontier planet. But on his way, his ship is knocked out of hyperspace, and he’s thrust into battle.
The first comic is a monthly story called Star Wars: The High Republic. It’s written by Cavan Scott and illustrated by Ario Anindito. It follows Keeve Trennis as she’s about to go through her Jedi trials to become a Knight. But something is wrong with her Master, the Trandoshan Jedi Sskeer. Rage and uncertainty brew under the surface.
The second comic is a monthly story called The High Republic Adventures. It’s written by Daniel José Older and illustrated by Harvey Tolibao and Pow Rodrix. It follows a group of Yoda’s Padawans as they stumble into a Nihil conflict on Trymant IV. While there, they meet a force-sensitive girl named Zeen who has immense raw power.
These are just the introductory stories of this new era. They’ve got more books and comics planned well into next year.
Now go get some reading done! Trust me, if you’re a fan of Star Wars, you will love these books. They do right by the story, and they expand the universe. Don’t be put off by the reading. The passion and fantastical elements of these stories shines off the page just as bright as it does on the screen. And you get the same special feeling reading a lightsaber ignite as you do seeing it.
May the Force be with you, always.
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Not sure I trust Disney with Star Wars at this point but fingers crossed!