Star Wars The High Republic: Light of the Jedi
Disney Books/ Random House
Written by Charles Soule
Lucasfilm and Disney are crafting a new universe set before the events of The Phantom Menace. In this first novel in a new series of stories, Charles Soule takes the reader to the height of the Republic. There is relative peace throughout the galaxy and the Republic is looking to expand its influence to the Outer Rim territories with the upcoming dedication of Starlight Beacon, a space station designed to allow for greater communication among Republic worlds and staffed by the Jedi.
Unfortunately, the light mood is interrupted by a disaster in space. A freighter runs into something its captain and crew couldn’t suspect in hyperspace and the resulting disaster sends pieces of the ship traveling through hyperspace and on collision courses with inhabited planets. The Republic forces as well as the Jedi are dispatched to both find a way to protect the planets and investigate the catastrophe before it happens again. A prospect that becomes more difficult when a group of marauders known as the Nihil use the disaster for their own dark ends.
Charles Soule crafts an entertaining and often dark story in this book. There are elements of a disaster film throughout and the characters dealing with those external threats is handled really well. There are some humorous elements in the novel that come through organically and Soule does a great job of both setting a scene and painting a picture with the descriptions of the ships, characters and action. While the story talks a lot about the golden age of the Republic and the Jedi at the height of their power, the book takes a lot of time on the villains.
In many ways, the book makes the villains more nuanced characters than the heroes. In a book called “The Light of the Jedi”, I was hoping the Jedi characters would be more compelling and have more presence. Soule does an impressive job of building conflict and interpersonal drama which make the book enjoyable. What is also impressive is the scope and scale of the story. There are a lot of threads being weaved throughout the book and I am curious to see how they ultimately come together.
The Light of the Jedi looks to setup all the characters and conflicts that are coming in this new expanded world of Star Wars. On that note it succeeds. It also succeeds in making me interested in the bigger story waiting to be told and I hope Soule has the opportunity to make the Jedi and Republic characters as interesting and compelling as the villains.
Star Wars The Light of the Jedi is a good read that sets up a new expanded universe, but the scope of the story doesn’t allow for much connection to the characters.