At the start of 2021, Star Wars: The High Republic ushered in a new and exciting era for the Star Wars franchise. The multimedia project has introduced fans to a time in the Star Wars universe set 200 years before the events of the Skywalker Saga through comics, novels, and short stories. Now, writer and Star Wars legend Cavan Scott looks to bring one more medium to the already deep catalog of Star Wars: The High Republicstories with his latest audio drama, Star Wars: The High Republic – Tempest Runner from Random House Audio.
With a plethora of new storylines in a galaxy as we have never seen it, there is no shortage of stories to be told. As we learn more about the heroes of this era, so do we learn about the villains who are proving to be just as compelling as the individuals who oppose them. Palpatine. Vader. Thrawn. Ventress. Zahra. Maul. Gideon. All names that reign supreme in the Star Wars villain hierarchy for not only their ruthlessness but their personal connections to fans. In Tempest Runner, a new name may be entering that infamous club: Lourna Dee.
The Star Wars franchise has had a phenomenal track record of audiobooks bringing novelizations to life through sound effects and quality narration. The bar was raised even higher after Scott’s first Star Wars audio drama, Dooku: Jedi Lost. Through a full cast of narrators, fans were able to learn more about the pasts of both Asajj Ventress and Count Dooku proving that not all villains are evil from day one. With Tempest Runner, Scott brings that same level of character development and intrigue to the vile Lourna Dee.
Fans were first introduced to Lourna Dee in Charles Soule’s Light of the Jedi as one of the leading members of the marauding Nihil. While only a small part of the novel, it was clear that Lourna Dee was one of the cunning and merciless of the Nihil. The twi’lek would get a bigger role in Cavan Scott’s The Rising Storm where she would prove to be respected by the leader of the Nihil, Marchion Ro, but often underestimated by her Tempest Runner counterparts. Now, in Tempest Runner, writer Scott sets the ruthless pirate as the main character following the events of The Rising Storm.
To bring Lourna Dee’s story to life, Random House Audio brought in a star-studded cast to give voices to various characters introduced in the High Republicera featuring Jessica Almasy, Dan Bitter, Orlagh Cassidy, Sullivan Jones, January Lavoy, Kathleen McInerney, Tara Sands, Vikas Adam, Jonathan Davis, Neil Hellegers, Saskia Maarleved, Soneela Nankani, Marc Thompson, and Shannon Tyo. Like its audiobook counterparts, Tempest Runner is also accompanied by a full score and sound effects to make the audio drama a truly unique audio experience.
Coming in at just over five hours of playtime, Tempest Runner wastes no time picking up right where The Rising Storm left off. The “opening crawl” gives listeners enough of The Rising Storm’s story to ensure that Scott’s novel is not required reading while giving background on Lourna Dee’s situation. While Tempest Runner focuses on Lourna Dee, other characters get plenty of time to shine. Hearing voices given to characters like Avar Kriss, Keeve Trennis, Sskeer, Marchion Ro, and Pan Eyta are more than worth the price of admission as characters that were only text in novels or panels in comics are now more real than ever.
As a fan of Cavan Scott’s previous work, I have always been in awe of his ability to weave in various aspects of Star Wars lore into an overarching story where everything connects in a perfect package. That masterclass of writing is on full display in Tempest Runner. Despite being an audio drama format where there is no description of characters or the sequences of events, it is very easy to follow. As the actors read through their scripts, there is just enough exposition of the species of characters, the environments, and the action sequences to make Tempest Runner easy to follow without beating the listeners over the head with narration.
As the main story progresses, listeners are thrown back and forth through Lourna Dee’s past through her own perspective and those who know her. By the end of the journey, all of the stories serve their importance as listeners learn who Lourna Dee truly is as she fights adversity in more ways than one. Much like with Dooku: Lost Jedi, there are plenty of intriguing character moments that gave new light to a clear villain that had me stopping to think if I could really fault her for the way her life turned out. Scott does an excellent job of raising these kinds of dilemmas while still outlining that Lourna Dee, like Ventress and Dooku, is still not a hero by any stretch of the imagination, but still has a story that deserves to be told nonetheless. Lourna Dee is on a search for who truly is and listeners are on the road with her for better or worse.
Scott continues to raise the bar for storytelling for villains in the Star Wars universe. Scott’s writing is enhanced by the audio drama medium to the point that I do not think Lourna Dee’s story could have been told in a better way. By the end of Tempest Runner, I only was disheartened by the fact that it was over. The cast, the pacing, and the first real look at a villain backstory in The High Republic era are a recipe for perfection.
Star Wars: The High Republic – Tempest Runner is available wherever audiobooks are sold.
Star Wars: The High Republic – Tempest Runner
By the end of Tempest Runner, I only was disheartened by the fact that it was over. The cast, the pacing, and the first real look at a villain backstory in The High Republic era are a recipe for perfection.