Set just before, and concurrently, with the heartbreak of Claudia Gray’s Star Wars: Fallen Star, Daniel José Older’s young adult novel Midnight Horizon takes a different approach to The High Republic era, marching to the beat of its own drum with a delightful cast of characters, thrilling pace, and some truly brilliant storytelling.
If you have been reading Older’s film-noir tinged Trail of Shadows series, then you will be right at home with the mystery plot at play in Midnight Horizon, as its main characters set off for an adventure on the grungy industrial planet of Corellia, and conveniently bypass the tragedy on the Starlight Beacon.
Ram Jomaram (who first appeared in Older’s Race to Crashpoint Tower) and Reath Silas (who was introduced in Into the Dark) are sent to investigate a Nihil-related situation in Coronet City, where they team up with Alys “Crash” Ongwa (from The High Republic Annual). Crash is such a fun character and a natural fit for the chaos that is Ram and Reath—she balances out their too-sweet, somewhat guileless personalities. Older does well with giving us enough backstory about Crash and her work with the Supreme Coronet City Diplomat Protection Agency, without overshadowing that this is—for better or for worse—a story about the Jedi. As much as she may be a secondary character, supporting the driving force of the Jedi vs. Nihil storyline, she feels like a fully fleshed-out character that’s suited for her own spin-off series about her exploits on Corellia. It helps that she’s loosely inspired by Doctor Aphra author Alyssa Wong.
Since the launch of The High Republic, I have been theorizing that we would see a lot of devastation for the Jedi of this era, especially with the question of “What do the Jedi fear?” In the last few waves of novels and comics, we have seen Elzar Mann, Stellan Gios, Avar Kriss, Keeve Trennis, and even Reath Silas struggle with their connection to the Force and Midnight Horizon is no different. In this novel, Reath’s enigmatic Master, Chomac Vitus, is the latest Jedi to find himself questioning his place and purpose within the Jedi Order.
Older also employs flashbacks throughout Midnight Horizon, filling in Cohmac Vitus’ backstory, as well as Kantam Sy’s. In Kantam’s flashbacks, we learn about when they fell in love with Aytar, a circus performer, and how Lula Talisola (from Older’s High Republic Adventures) became their padawan. It’s a really beautiful flashback when paired with the present storyline, which features Lula and Zeen grappling with their own emotions for each other. It’s surprising to see how much love The High Republic has managed to pack into its stories, especially when the Jedi are so attachment-adverse.
There is a lot of weight on the shoulders of the youngest characters in Midnight Horizon and Older does exceptionally well with the way he balances the gravity of their situation, while reminding all of us that they’re just kids. They’re quirky, off-beat, weird, and funny. So many young adult and Middle-Grade books, especially ones where kids are handed life-or-death situations, forget that they’re still kids who are figuring out who they are, who they like, what they want out of life. Older never forgets that and in return, he’s created characters that feel like the kids in our own lives. Even the ones who overuse their new favorite catchphrase. Wizard.
Midnight Horizon is a hard book to write about because Older has packed this book full of incredible moments that I just don’t want to spoil. From Lula and Zeen’s burgeoning relationship, to Crash’s storyline, to the place where we leave Chomac, to the world-building at play, there’s truly something for every Star Wars fan in this one. Even in the midst of heartbreak, Older manages to infuse his writing with a sense of hopepunk that I desperately want to see more of in this franchise.
Star Wars: Midnight Horizon is on shelves today.
This post was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.
Maggie Lovitt is a writer at Wealth of Geeks where she covers her favorite topics: Star Wars and pop culture nerdery.
In her free time, she is also a novelist, screenwriter, actor, and member of the Screen Actors Guild.