Review: ‘Star Wars Insider: The High Republic: Starlight Stories’

The High Republic undoubtedly represents a uniquely ambitious publishing initiative. More than a trilogy of books, it’s an integrated storytelling effort that includes adult, young adult, and middle-grade novels, multiple comic book series, audio dramas, and even children’s books.

And, although you may have missed it, it also includes short stories.

Star Wars Insider, the official Star Wars magazine, ran its first High Republic short story in December 2020’s Issue 199, a month before Charles Soule’s novel Light of the Jedi hit bookstore shelves and Amazon shipping queues. All told, Star Wars Insider featured five short stories (each running in two parts) from bestselling authors Charles Soule, Cavan Scott, and Justina Ireland.

Star Wars Insider: The High Republic: Starlight Stories collects all of them in an attractive hardcover edition in original magazine size, along with the original art. It also features a collection of interviews by Amy Richau, Amy Ratcliffe, and Mark Wright.

If you’re an Insider reader who has diligently kept up with every new issue, you admittedly won’t find anything new here. But for those who don’t subscribe (or, like me, are woefully behind), it’s a great way to enjoy more storytelling and some fascinating behind-the-scenes insight from the creators themselves. And if you’ve been on the fence about the whole High Republic thing, the collection makes an excellent way to sample the storytelling and worldbuilding before jumping into a full-length work.

Adding Depth to the Universe

After reading everything I could get my hands on from Phase 1 of The High Republic, I can’t say that any of these stories represent essential reading. They won’t transform how you see any aspect of the Jedi Order or the Republic at this point in galactic history, nor will you gain significant insight into any of their antagonists.

But these stories will further immerse you in life on Starlight Beacon, the massive Outer Rim space station that plays such an essential role in the first round of High Republic storytelling. And you’ll get a deeper look into the lives of a few characters with supporting roles in the novels and comics.

You’ll spend more time with Pikka and Joss Adren, contractors who nevertheless played a significant role in Light of the Jedi and show up again in The Fallen Star. Velko Jahen and Ghal Tarpfen, who, in their roles as administrator and security chief, frequently appear in books, comics, and audio dramas. In Starlight Stories, they feature in more fully developed character arcs. Further, they’re all regular people—no high-ranking politicians or Force users here—and their perspectives nicely balance those of the Jedi.

As if all that wasn’t enough. Starlight Stories includes a collection of interviews. In addition to a group discussion with the five original High Republic authors (Claudia Gray, Justina Ireland, Daniel José Older, Cavan Scott, and Charles Soule), we get to sit in on one-on-one conversations with each of them. The interviews give us a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at how this unique publishing initiative came together, from their initial meetings to their close collaboration through the writing process. It’s also about as close as most of us will ever come to visiting Skywalker Ranch.

Even if I had managed to keep up with the stories as published in the magazine, I’d appreciate having them collected in one volume. Star Wars Insider: The High Republic: Starlight Stories is a nice addition to the library of anyone following this new era of Star Wars storytelling.

Star Wars Insider: The High Republic: Starlight Stories is available from all booksellers or directly from Penguin Random House.

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.