Star Wars: The High Republic – Light of the Jedi by Charles Soule Book Review (SPOILER FREE)

Wow!

Just… wow!

Charles Soule has introduced us to a phenomenal new era in the Star Wars saga in a way that, I feel, few others could have done.

From the explosive first chapter right through to the end, Soule gives us a rip-roaring adventure that hasn’t been seen in Star Wars since ‘The Empire Strikes Back’.

I don’t know if it’s down to the COVID lockdown in my area giving me more time, but I real this book very quickly. Split into three parts, I read part 1 the first night I got it, and it was only my incredible need to sleep that made me stop. Part two, which was around 200 pages was the next day, unfortunately, Christmas got in the way and I didn’t finish the third part until after Boxing Day but needless to say I tore through it when I got the chance.

For anyone who read the first eight chapters released back in November, they make up the first 30 – 50 pages and barely scratch the surface of the cataclysmic events that form the main narrative of the book.

The novel follows a number of main characters, introducing us to a few different mindsets and perspectives of the Force, let alone the Galaxy. The Jedi feel a lot looser within the Order. The rigidity that we see in the prequels hasn’t yet taken hold. Whilst their ideals are the same, the Jedi feel more separate from the Republic that what we have seen, despite their role as peacekeepers for the Galaxy.

The introduction of The Nihil, a band of Pirates and Marauders who have a terrifying ability to manipulate Hyperspace in ways the Galaxy only dreams about make them a threat unseen by us or the Jedi before. We learn a lot about The Nihil and their hierarchy through the book and get to know the leaders well. It’s true, we haven’t seen anything like this group before which feels new and refreshing and their threat level is high. I liken them to a more organised and sane version of The Reavers from Joss Whedon’s ‘Firefly’ and ‘Serenity’, these evil characters appearing from deep space and taking what they want, when they want and the rest of the Galaxy seemingly unable to stop them, even down to the design of their ships and some of the tactics used in battle, there are some similarities and quite possibly Whedon’s villains were used as a template.

If I had any criticisms, it’s this, the lack of a ‘Dramatis Personae’, with a whole new roster of characters, such a guide would have been welcome, if only to keep track of who’s who, especially at the start when we are introduced to a lot of characters in a short amount of time. Of course, some are there to fill a purpose at the time, but a guide of the main characters would have been handy.

One tiny complaint I have, it’s too short! At just under 400 pages it’s not a short book, but I was feeling very greedy, luckily we’ve got two more ‘High Republic’ books coming in the next couple of months, which I am looking forward to very, very much, especially having read the sampler and getting a look at the stories. Both are referenced in ‘Light of the Jedi’, not in an ‘in-your-face’ manner, but mentioned in passing, which helps bring the stories in the series together to make one big story.

For me, this is required reading for Star Wars fans. It’s fresh, it’s new and it takes us places we haven’t been before in a time we’ve never seen before and it’s incredibly enjoyable too. I’ve been looking forward to this since ‘Project Luminous’ was hinted at back at ‘Star Wars Celebration Chicago’ in 2019 and I was completely gutted when the release date was pushed from August to January, but after reading it, it was totally worth the wait.

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