ADVANCED REVIEW: ‘Star Wars: The High Republic: Out of The Shadows’

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Out of the Shadows High Republic - But Why ThoStar Wars: The High Republic: Out of the Shadows is a young adult novel written by Justina Ireland and published by Disney-Lucasfilm Press. Taking place within the same timeframe as The Rising Storm and Race to Crashpoint Tower, the novel follows the points of view of multiple characters as they intersect in the Nihil’s latest plot. Sylvestri “Syl” Yarrow is a simple cargo pilot attempting to make ends meet after her mother Chauncey was killed by the Nihil. A Nihil invasion leads Syl to the planet Coruscant, where she is drawn into the web of the wealthy Xylan Graf. Meanwhile, newly minted Jedi Knight Vernestra Rwhoh and her Padawan Imri Cantaros investigate a Nihil attack that leads to Vernestra discovering a mysterious object that the Nihil are pursuing—and which is instrumental to their plans. Together with Jedi Master Cohmac Vitus and his Padawan Reath Silas, Vernestra, Imri, and Syl battle the Nihil while coming to terms with long-hidden secrets.

Ireland had previously written for the High Republic era before with the junior novel A Test of Courage, which first introduced Vernestra and Imri. In Out of the Shadows, she continues to build upon the duo’s Jedi abilities and their bond as Master and Padawan. Vernestra’s Force visions, which take her past the bonds of hyperspace, prove to be integral to the novel’s plot, and Imri’s abilities to sense emotion are a test for Vernestra as Jedi are encouraged not to form attachments. Vernestra also struggles with proving herself, as she is the youngest being to become a Jedi Knight. Something that is refreshing about The High Republic era is that Jedi are actually allowed to feel emotions; it’s hard to connect with characters if we don’t know what they’re going through. Vernestra is shown to be struggling with frustration and doubt, which are the same feelings that plagued Jedi such as Luke Skywalker and Ahsoka Tano. It helps humanize her and forges a connection between audience and character.

Ireland picks up on the events of another book as well, as Reath and Cohmac made their first appearance in the High Republic novel Into The Dark. Reath is still the same Jedi who’d rather spend time in the Jedi Temple’s archives than battling, and he still holds resentment and hurt over the betrayal he suffered from Nan, the Nihil spy who tricked him. I love that Ireland is able to reference events from the previous novels without making new readers feel lost. Writing in a shared universe is a tricky task and she navigates it with ease.

However, the true standout character of the novel is Syl. Not only does Syl have a connection to both the events of the novel and interactions with nearly every major character, but she also has some of the biggest emotional moments in the narrative. Part of that is due to the grief she still carries from her mother’s death, which leads her to question the effectiveness of the Jedi. But she also broke up with her girlfriend Jordanna to go spacefaring, and those feelings still surge strong-especially when Jordanna is brought back into her life by Vernestra and Imri. Syl is not the first LGBTQI+ character to be introduced into the new Star Wars universe, but the push and pull between her and Jordanna is immensely well-crafted and hits quite a few emotional notes. None is bigger than their first interaction on Courascant after years apart, which is just as awkward as you’d imagine two exes meeting up to be.

Finally, the Nihil’s machinations come to light. Previous High Republic material had shown them to be an extremely deadly force, but Out of the Shadows deepens their menace. Even though the Nihil revel in violence and conquest, it’s been shown that they aren’t afraid to stab each other in the back, and that could affect their reign of terror on the galaxy.

Star Wars: The High Republic: Out of the Shadows serves as an emotionally engaging entry into the second wave of High Republic novels, featuring plenty of Star Wars action and a cast of characters readers will grow to love. The High Republic continues to serve as one of the most engaging elements of the new Star Wars universe, and I hope future installments keep up this energy.

Star Wars: The High Republic-Out of the Shadows will be available on July 27, 2021 wherever books are sold.


Star Wars: The High Republic: Out of the Shadows
5

TL;DR

Star Wars: The High Republic: Out of the Shadows serves as an emotionally engaging entry into the second wave of High Republic novels, featuring plenty of Star Wars action and a cast of characters readers will grow to love. The High Republic continues to serve as one of the most engaging elements of the new Star Wars universe, and I hope future installments keep up this energy.