The High Republic was first announced as “Project Luminous” at Star Wars Celebration in 2019 and in 2020 the multimedia project was officially unveiled, ushering in a completely new era of Star Wars. Set in the High Republic roughly 200 years before the Prequel Era and approximately 800 years after the fall of the Old Republic, The High Republic offered Lucasfilm’s creative team a completely blank slate of storytelling potential. The publishing initiative has been marked by three distinct phases—Phase I: Light of the Jedi, Phase II: Quest of the Jedi, Phase III: Trials of the Jedi.
The first wave of Phase I was marked by the release of Charles Soule’s adult novel Light of the Jedi, which presented the events of the Great Disaster. Following the Nihil’s destruction of a ship in hyperspace, the debris threatened to destroy an entire system were it not for the Jedi’s interference. This one incident was the inciting action that bled into the subsequent books in the Phase, including Claudia Gray’s young adult novel Into the Dark, and Justina Ireland’s middle-grade novel A Test of Courage.
The second wave was launched with Cavan Scott’s Rising Storm, which further expanded upon who the Nihil are and what their motivations are in their plan to destroy the Jedi. It’s in the Rising Storm that the Republic Fair on Valo is attacked by the Nihil, causing a pretty significant death toll and setting up wide-reaching ripples for not just the Jedi, but the Republic and the Nihil. The subsequent books which include Justina Ireland’s young adult novel Out of the Shadows and Daniel José Older’s young Race to Crashpoint Tower start to lay the groundwork for the culmination of Phase I.
With the third wave, Claudia Gray was tasked with pulling everything together—both with the Nihil’s continued scheming and with where the Jedi are left in the wake of the Starlight Beacon’s destruction in The Fallen Star. Unlike with the previous waves, Daniel José Older’s young adult novel Midnight Horizon and Justina Ireland’s middle-grade novel Mission to Disaster both are set prior to the heartbreak on the Starlight Beacon, offering a brief reprieve from impending doom.
In addition to Del Rey and Disney Book’s publishing initiatives, there have been a number of comic books, mangas, and tie-in materials released during Phase I. Cavan Scott’s phase-spanning comic run with Marvel, Star Wars: The High Republic, told the story of Keeve Trennis’ struggle with her place in the Jedi Order, while Daniel José Older’s IDW run, Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures focused on Lula Talisola and Zeen Mrala, a Jedi and the Force-sensitive girl that she befriends and eventually falls in love with.
Both authors also had mini-series runs as well, with Cavan Scott digging deeper into Ty Yorrick’s backstory in The Monster of Temple Peak, and Daniel José Older trying his hand at a gritty noir tale as Jedi Emerick Caphtor private detective Sian Holt set out to investigate the attack on the Republic Fair in Trail of Shadows.
Justina Ireland and Shima Shinya penned the first manga story, The Edge of Balance Vol. 1, which features a story about Jedi Lily Tora-Asi and Arkoff, with Shima Shinya and Daniel José Older writing The Edge of Balance Vol. 2, which continues Lily’s story onward into the impending attack on Starlight Beacon.
There were other tie-in materials as well, including Cavan Scott’s The Great Jedi Rescue, George Mann’s Showdown at the Fair and The Battle for Starlight, which are children’s versions of the adult novels of Phase I. Cavan Scott also put out an audiobook and novel adaptation of Tempest Runner, which tells the story of the Nihil’s Tempest Runner Lourna Dee.
Phase I was closed out with Charles Soule’s two-issue comic book run of Eye of the Storm, which delved into the villainous and somewhat sympathetic backstory of Marchion Ro.
The High Republic is full of intriguing new characters, both good and bad. Far too many to list in totality here, but there are a few stand-out members of the Jedi and the Nihil that make this era of storytelling that much more compelling.
If Star Wars eras are marked by the trios created, then Avar Kriss, Stellan Gios, and Elzar Mann are The High Republic’s trio. Though, just like the trios that came before, their story is marked with heartbreak and tragedy. The three Jedi have been a close-knit group since they were Padawans, but new responsibilities in the face of the Nihil’s attacks put undue strain on their connection.
The younger cast of The High Republic are the true stars of the story, with each one of them choosing their own paths within the Jedi Order and making a lasting impact on readers of both the novels and the comics. Right from the start, Bell Zettifar and Burryaga Agaburry stand out as intriguing characters, though their stories are far from fully developed in the first wave. Keeve Trennis’ struggle throughout Marvel’s The High Republic comics is equal parts beautiful and tragic, especially with the knowledge that something unfortunate will befall her in the future. The High Republic: Adventures also introduce readers to Lula Talisola and Zeen Mrala who are perfect mirror images of one another and throughout their story you get witness them growing up, maturing, figuring out who they are, and what they mean to each other. There’s also Vernestra Rwoh, a shining Padawan who becomes a Jedi Knight very early on in the story, both she and Reath Silas have gifted kid burnout written all over their characterizations.
The Jedi aren’t the only characters in The High Republic however and the Nihil pose quite the challenge for the Galaxy’s heroes. Led by the upstart Marchion Ro who has taken his late father’s place as the Eye of the Storm, the Nihil wreak untold havoc on the Outer Rim, though most of it in the name of liberating the Outer Rim from the Republic’s attempts to colonize it. Though the Nihil very clearly have their own agenda which isn’t as straightforward or liberating as it seems. Marchion also takes on a prodigy of sorts with Krix, a former friend of Zeen Mrala’s who despises Force users almost as much as Marchion Ro does.
While Phase III has yet to be revealed, the second phase, Quest of the Jedi, was announced earlier this year with Zoraida Córdova penning the adult novel Convergence, Tessa Gratton and Justina Ireland writing the young adult novel Path of Deceit, and George Mann writing the middle-grade novel Quest for the Hidden City.
With Star Wars comic rights returning to Dark Horse, Claudia Gray will be penning a new comic run entitled Star Wars: The High Republic: Quest of the Jedi, with Cavan Scott returning to write Marvel’s The High Republic series. Charles Soule is also set to write a comic series about Porter Engle, though nothing has been revealed for that yet.
The second phase of The High Republic will veer away from the characters that have been featured in Phase I: Light of the Jedi, and will instead focus on the era 150 years prior to Charles Soule’s Light of the Jedi, acting as a prequel to the era.
Fans of The High Republic will also be thrilled to know that Leslye Hedland’s upcoming Acolyte series will also be connected to the era. While Disney+ may have plenty of Star Wars live-action series on the table, there is a lot on the horizon for this publishing initiative.
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Image Credit: Disney Books.