Star Wars: The High Republic is set 200 years before The Skywalker Saga, at a time when The Jedi Order was flourishing, and The Sith Empire had been destroyed. Star Wars fans have been intrigued by the idea of seeing The Jedi at such a different time in their history, but with the Sith Empire over (for the time being), fans have been wondering: just how much of a threat does the dark side pose in The High Republic era? Well, true to its title, the new High Republic novel Into The Dark reveals a new kind of dark side threat for the Jedi to face!
Warning: Star Wars: The High Republic - Into The Dark SPOILERS Follow!
The plot of Into The Dark sees four odd-pair Jedi (Padawan Reath Silas and Jedi Knights Orla Jareni, Cohmac Vitus, and Dez Rydan) thrown together on a voyage to the new joint Jedi/Republic base in the Outer Rim, Starlight Beacon. However, a massive disaster in the hyperspace forces the smuggler ship transporting the Jedi to divert to an abandoned space station in a remote sector of space. It's upon that station that the Jedi make an unsettling discovery: the unmistakable presence of the dark side.
The first act of Into The Dark sees the Jedi track the presence of the dark side to a set of idols found in a large arboretum found aboard the station. The second act of the book sees the Jedi combine lose one of their own in a tragic accident (Dez), and use their combined Force powers to perform a Force sealing technique, meant to keep the dark side energy inside the idols from leaking out. However, after safely bringing the idols back to Coruscant and the Jedi Temple, Reath, Cohmac, and Orla are thrown the twist of learning they've made a grave mistake: the idols weren't meant to contain dark side energy, they were suppressors of a dark side threat inside the station.
The final act of Into The Dark sees Reath, Cohmac, and Orla return the idols to the station only to discover the threat waiting there: a race of living plants known as the Drengir. It turns out the station's arboretum was a prison cell, with the idols keeping the dark side creatures in forced stasis. Reath Silas makes an even darker discovery in the bowels of the station: a transport system leading directly to a planet of Drengir. On that planet, Reath also finds Dez Rydan, who wasn't vaporized as thought, but rather transported to the Drengir world, where he was held prisoner and tortured.
With the Drengir, Star Wars has introduced a very different kind of dark side threat. The plant creatures are virtually unkillable due to their amorphous plant forms; their weapons include long, whip-like vines and thorns which are also coated in poison and can be used as projectiles. The Drengir aren't savage beasts but rather an intelligent and highly-cunning race of war-mongering brutes. They're adept at learning new technology and military strategy, and the toxins they use are a unique threat to the Jedi.
The epilogue of Into The Dark tracks where all four of its Jedi characters end up. In the case of Dez Rydan, the young hotshot Jedi Knight is left shaken by his experience as the Drengir's captive. As he confides in Reath, the evil dark side influence of the Drengir and their toxins didn't just break his will, mentally - it actually broke his connection to the Force in a way that may be irreparable.
Star Wars has always presented The Sith as the primary dark side threat to the Jedi, but now The High Republic has introduced a more expansive picture of how the dark side can be weaponized. The encounter with the Drengir is just the beginning: Now that they know their old foes The Jedi are out there, the Drengir will be looking for revenge, and so far there's no real strong evidence the Jedi can stand against them.
Star Wars: The High Republic - Into The Dark is now on sale. You can order it HERE.