Review: ‘The High Republic: The Battle of Jedha’ Explores the Perils of Peacemaking

I’m not normally an audiobook person, but I make exceptions for Star Wars, and I make exceptions for their full-cast audio dramas. The latest one has the challenge of tying together narrative threads from three different books and a comic book series, all while setting the stage for a further three titles. Fortunately, George Mann is up to the task and packs it all into about five and a half hours of story.

As The Battle of Jedha’s title suggests, it takes place on the sacred moon first introduced in 2016’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. After the events in Convergence resulted in a tentative path toward peace between the long-warring worlds of Eiram and E’ronoh, the Jedi and the Republic have chosen the holy site as the location for a formal treaty signing. They hope that the setting will help highlight an example of what peace and unity can achieve.

Mann shows us more of the mystical world than we see on screen. In so doing, he highlights other sects and traditions that revere the Force. Including groups with different views of the Force makes this universe feel larger and more believable. After all, how many unique faith traditions does our own world have?

Not only do we encounter the Guardians of the Whills — made memorable by Rogue One’s Chirrut and Baze — but also the Church of the Force and the darkly fascinating Brothers of the Ninth Door. And, of course, the Path of the Open Hand, whose motives still aren’t entirely clear, is on Jedha, too.

Things Progress Quickly

Jedi Master Creighton Sun and Jedi Knight Aida Forte, whom we first met in Convergence, are to ensure the treaty signing ceremonies go off without a hitch. We also reunite with Jedi Master Silandra Sho, who first appeared in Mann’s Quest for the Hidden City. Audio dramas don’t lend themselves to exposition, but dialogue between the Jedi catches listeners up on the plot without sounding too unnatural.

Mann sets galactic politics and religion on a collision course in the holy city and then delivers a fast-paced finish. While we’re not surprised at the battle (it’s in the title, after all), he makes the stakes clear and gives deaths — even those of minor characters – a sense of gravitas. While the Path’s machinations could have been more deeply examined, we get some fascinating moments between the Mother and Master Sho that shed more light on their differing interpretations of the Force. Meanwhile, Marda Ro, whom we met in Path of Deceit, seems to have undergone fascinating changes in her outlook. One can’t help but wonder if that will be explored in forthcoming books.

While the story’s outcome arguably undoes the progress we saw in Convergence, it’s a valuable reminder that making peace is not always easy or linear. At the same time, we’re left wondering where things will go in the next wave of books. What will become of Eiram and E’ronoh? What does the Path of the Open Hand have up its sleeve?

From a production standpoint, you hear all of this unfold against the backdrop of classic sound effects and music. Even though the story takes place hundreds of years before the films, there’s no mistaking that you’re in the Star Wars universe.

Additionally, like the three audio dramas before it, The Battle of Jedha features a full cast of voice performers. Highlights include Raphael Corkhill’s portrayal of Creighton Sun, which captures the Jedi Master’s sense of strain under weighty expectations and high stakes. Kristen Sieh’s performance as Aida Forte nicely balances Master Sun’s wary outlook. Longtime audiobook listeners will enjoy Marc Thompson’s roles and January LaVoy’s portrayal of the Path’s mysterious Mother.

Though I felt Mann’s storytelling and the cast’s performance made the characters distinctive, others might find so many characters hard to keep track of in an audio drama. Fortunately, a script book is available as of February 14th, 2023, so you can read along.

Not to Be Missed

If you have followed The High Republic storyline so far, The Battle of Jedha is required listening (or reading when the script book comes out). The pivotal clash ties the works you’ve read so far together and is a critical bridge to the next wave of books coming in spring 2023. Top-notch production and George Mann’s storytelling make it a worthy addition to the canon audio drama collection, and here’s hoping he gets to do another one soon.

Raphael Corkhill stars as Creighton Sun, along with Kristen Sieh as Aida Forte, Christian Barillas as Mesook, Jonathan Davis as Piralli, Sean Kenin Elias-Reyes as P3-7A, James Fouhey as Ensemble and B9-H0, Neil Hellegers as Elder Delwin, Philip Hernandez as Morton San Tekka, Catherine Ho as Silandra Sho, David Lee Huynh as Selik, Sullivan Jones as Tilson Graf, January Jones as The Mother, Saskia Maarleveld as Meldan, Kathleen McInerny as Moona, Brandon McInnes as Keth Cerapath, Cassandra Morris as Gella Nttai and Nadi, John Prikis as The Herald, Salli Saffioti as Ambassador Cerox, Marc Thompson as Mytoin and Kradon, and Shannon Tyo as Marda Ro.

Star Wars: The High Republic: The Battle of Jedha by George Mann is available from Penguin wherever audiobooks are sold.

The script book is now available for pre-order.

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.