Star Wars: The High Republic is finally here to take fans way back in Star Wars history. The multimedia project ushers in a new age of Star Wars ore with new novels, comics, manga, and short stories. With the first novel out today and Marvel’s Star Wars: High Republic #1 arriving on Wednesday, fans are learning more and more about this new and exciting time in Star Wars lore. 200 years before the event of The Phantom Menace, the galaxy is not quite the same as we know it today. Even with one book currently released and a few more to come over the next month, we have already learned so much. Here are five things we have learned about The High Republic with the novels A Test of Courage, Into the Dark, and Light of the Jedi.
Everything is Connected (So Far)
Continuity is everything in expanded material. The High Republic looks to have interconnectivity nailed down from the get-go with the first three novels. Despite being for different audiences, with A Test of Courage being for middle school readers, Into the Dark is a young adult novel, and Light of the Jedi being a full novel, all three take place around the same event: The Great Hyperspace diaster. This allows every fan, despite your reading level, to experience the tragedy and its initial aftermath. While the Light of the Jedi covers the bulk of the initial sequence, A Test of Courage and Into the Dark taking place relatively alongside the same timeframe, providing multiple perspectives on how the disaster is starting to affect the galaxy at large. The first steps into the lore of The High Republic are off to a great start by being able to capture multiple audiences.
Hyperspace is Much Different
The iconic streaming blue lights and the unmistakable sound of a starship making the jump to lightspeed is a cornerstone of Star Wars. Being able to jump to hyperspace has always been a convenient way to explain how fast people are able to get around the galaxy and, until hyperspace tracking was introduced in The Last Jedi, how heroes and villains alike are about to make daring escapes in Star Wars. However, the convenience and relative safety of hyperspace is only relatively new in Star Wars canon. As mentioned above, the first major event to take place in The High Republic timeline is The Great Hyperspace Diaster. When the Legacy Run, a large freight transport, is ripped out of hyperspace after a collision on a well establish hyperspace lane, it creates a system-wide disaster as pieces of the ship hurtle across space at frightening speeds. The ripples expand even further as other ships are traveling in hyperspace are also abruptly sent from hyperspace lanes, leaving them stranded lightyears from their destinations. The events of The Great Hyperspace Disaster have thrown the entire galaxy into chaos. The Jedi and members of the Republic are sent to help but with the hyperspace being compromised, help is not as easy to come by as we have seen in other Star Wars stories.
The Villians are Scary, as Advertised
From all the press surrounding the High Republic, it was clear that we were going to be introduced to two main forces opposing the Jedi and the Republic: the marauding Nihil and the mysterious Drengir. The Nihil live up to the hype as a savage group. Even from what little we know about their group with the introduction novels, it is clear that they are much more dangerous than any crime syndicate fans are used to. The Nihil have no issue with killing countless innocents, have a sense of unity that rivals the Jedi, and seem to possess technology beyond the Republic’s comprehension. The Drengir are nightmare fuel with a different kind of ferocity compared to the Nihil. The sentient carnivorous plant-like creatures are described as born from the darkness, can seemingly integrate with planets, and can communicate outside normal means. The Jedi are keepers of peace but what kind of moral dilemma will make itself evident when dealing with sentient beings that are unlike anything they have seen before?
New Jedi Lightsabers and Powers
One of the biggest things that immediately jumps out from the art surrounding the announcements of the High Republic was how different the lightsabers looked compared to what we know today. There have been some interesting lightsaber designs in the animated shows and the Sequel Trilogy for Star Wars but the typical design that comes to everyone’s mind is likely the single-bladed lightsaber. The High Republic already gives readers different kinds of lightsabers to think about with only the first three novels. While I don’t want to spoil any of the designs, don’t expect just the mere single hilt, the single blade lightsaber that Luke and Vader swing around in the Original Trilogy. They are more versatile and cooler than ever before. Further, we are getting a deeper look at the Force with the Jedi in the High Republic. From the ability to sense moods and intentions more deeply than just a feeling, to creating a Force communication network, to details on how individual Jedi perceive the Force in vastly different ways, fans are going to see the Force in a much different light. The use of the Force is more personal than just the black and white versions we are used to in the Skywalker Saga and I can’t wait to learn more.
From the first time fans enter the cantina on Mos Eisley, it is apparent that the galaxy is filled with a plethora of species. It is one of my biggest gripes with the films both new and old that there is so much focus on the humans as main characters. Even more deeply, the diversity in the humans themselves is also severely lacking at times. The High Republic seems to flip this on its head. There are more aliens featured in the stories than you can shake a gaffi stick at. Even one of the main villains of the era is the Drengir, which is a welcome departure from just the human-led Empire or First Order. While race, as we see in our world, doesn’t necessarily translate to the world of Star Wars, it is welcoming to see more than just the white, brown-haired characters we have become so accustomed to. From lightsaber-wielding Trandoshans to melanin-rich humans, the team behind the High Republic is nailing giving fans the most diverse Star Wars yet.
Overall, it is a great time to be a fan of the Star Wars franchise. The High Republic and its stream of content are certainly off to a good start with only three books so far. With more projects being announced ranging from comics, other novels, and even manga, it is clear that we will be learning more and more about this era of Star Wars for years to come. Strap in because this is where the fun begins.