ADVANCED REVIEW: ‘Star Wars: The High Republic: Into The Dark’

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Star Wars: The High Republic: Into The Dark is a young adult novel written by Claudia Gray and published by Disney Lucasfilm Press. Jedi Padawan Reath Silas is on a mission to explore the galactic frontier, alongside Jedi Knights Orla Jaleni and Dex Rydan and Jedi Master Cohmac Vitus. When an unknown disaster knocks them and their transport out of hyperspace, the Jedi take refuge in an abandoned space station. However, the station was home to an ancient evil and Reath soon finds himself pushed to his limits when it is unleashed.

Gray is no stranger to the Star Wars universe, having written for the From a Certain Point of View anthologies as well as Leia: Princess of Alderaan and the starcrossed romance Lost Stars and. With Into The Dark, she has a chance to explore a new era of the Star Wars universe. The High Republic takes place 200 years before the events of The Phantom Menace, so while there are familiar elements such as Jedi Knights and hyperspace, they’re presented in a new light. The Jedi are in their prime, with robes and lightsabers more akin to medieval knights than samurai warriors. The Sith are long extinct. And hyperspace travel, which is a common mode of travel, is even riskier than we’ve known it to be—and can be disrupted by outside factors.

Gray keeps the same strong sense of characterization that has permeated her other Star Wars books. Nowhere is this more evident than with Reath. His entire journey features him more or less learning to step out of his comfort zone. Unlike other Padawans, he prefers to stick to his research and feels extremely uncomfortable being separated from his master and going into the frontier. This is quite different from Luke Skywalker, who yearned for adventure, and even Rey who wanted nothing more than to find her parents. However, like those heroes, Reath rises to the occasion, putting his life at risk to save his friends and using his research to benefit them.

Other characters who get major focus are Orla and Affie Hollow, the copilot of the shipping vessel the Jedi board. Orla introduces a new concept into the Jedi lore as she is a Wayfinder; a Jedi who often breaks from the order to forge their own path. This is a clean break from established tradition, which often presented a rigid code that Jedi have to follow. It was this rigidness that led to the birth of Darth Vader, so it’s nice to see an era where Jedi can challenge previously held beliefs. Affie undergoes her own crisis of confidence, as she learns a dark secret surrounding the guild she’s part of. This left me slightly divided; while I enjoyed the unraveling mystery, it felt a little out of place in the main plot.

Rounding out the book is the introduction of two new groups of villains, the Nihil and the Drengir. The Nihil reminded me a lot of the Reavers from Firefly; with cobbled together spaceships as well as body painting and frightening helmets. The Drengir, on the other hand, are a Lovecraftian nightmare. A race of sentient plant creatures, they refer to other beings as “meat” and feature horrifying elements including poison thorns and Venus flytraps for mouths. These beings are meant to be the stuff of nightmares, and in my opinion, they more than succeed.

Star Wars: The High Republic: Into The Dark is a wonderful new entry into the Star Wars mythos, giving a glimpse into a new era and painting the Jedi in a new light. Hopefully, this is the start of many more great stories in the High Republic era.

Star Wars: The High Republic: Into The Dark will be available to read on February 2, 2021 wherever books are sold.

Star Wars: The High Republic: Into the Dark
4.5

TL;DR

Star Wars: The High Republic: Into The Dark is a wonderful new entry into the Star Wars mythos, giving a glimpse into a new era and painting the Jedi in a new light. Hopefully, this is the start of many more great stories in the High Republic era.