Star Wars has many kinds of villains in its many works, but the biggest threat to the galaxy far, far, away is always the dark stain of The Sith. The premiere wielders of the dark side of the Force used to be an entire empire – until the Jedi rallied together to wipe them out, and the Sith themselves imploded when their dark natures ultimately cannibalized one another during Darth Bane's era of the Sith Empire. In Star Wars: The High Republic, The Jedi Order and Republic are all basking in the new light of Sith Empire's fall – but we all know that the shadow of The Sith hasn't disappeared from the galaxy, forever. In the High Republic timeline, the Sith are still surviving in hiding, living by the Rule of Two.
Now, as we enter the third wave of The High Republic storyline, it looks like Star Wars is teasing the rise of a High Repulbic Sith Lord – even if we don't yet know who it will be, exactly.
(WARNING: Star Wars The High Republic SPOILERS Follow!)
The latest chapter of the main storyline of The High Republic is author Claudia Gray's new novel, Star Wars: The Fallen Star. As the name implies, the new book chronicles a pivotal moment in the High Republic era, as the dreaded pirates the Nihil's leader Marchion Ro finally makes his big move against the Jedi Order and the Republic – by blowing their monumental Starlight Beacon base out of orbit!
A lot of the main action of Star Wars: The Fallen Star follows the race against the clock as those aboard Starlight Beacon try to deal with the sabotage attack by the Nihil, and keep the base and those alive aboard from dying a fiery death. It's a mission that requires great and noble sacrifice – and it is those sacrifices that may herald the rise of a new Sith Lord, as a powerful Jedi may now be falling into the shadow of the dark side.
Even though Star Wars: The High Republic is telling many stories with a dozen Jedi characters all sharing the spotlight, the backbone of the series has been the triangle between Jedi Leaders Avar Kriss, Stellan Gios, and the troubled Jedi Elzar Mann. The three have been at the forefront of facing the Nihil threat, but the destruction of Starlight Beacon has dealt them some of the hardest blows of all. Stellan Gios sacrifices himself as the new Marshall of Starlight to crash the falling base in an Ocean of Planet Eiram, rather than a populated city. Elzar and Avar are left to mourn Stellan – who was the buffer between them and their burning romantic feelings for one another.
In the second wave of High Republic stories (specifically the preceding novel The Rising Storm), Elzar Mann tapped into the dark side of the Force to annihilate a "storm" of Nihil attack on the planet Valo. The Fallen Star sees him training with "Wayseeker" Jedi Orla Jareni, who teaches him not to tap into the Force so deeply or try to control it so strictly. Well, Elzar's teaching and studies go out the window in the novel's climactic moments: Elzar mistakes two Nihil defectors as more saboteurs, and cuts down revolutionary scientist Chancey Yarrow, just as she was about to save Starlight from doom.
Elzar's act of dark side rage is what ends up forcing Stellan Gios to have to die – something Elzar knows all too well. However, when Starlight is gone (and Stellan with it) Elzar doesn't use the clear opportunity to confess what happened to Avar, instead of wanting to indulge in their renewed closeness. It's pretty clear now that Elzar Mann has a lot of the red flags that eventually a Jedi turning Sith: Like Anakin Skywalker he is unusually powerful with the Force; is held back from graduating to Master because of his often rogue or disobedient ways of operating; has a significant love attachment that he should have relinquished as a Jedi Knight; has an act of murder committed in rage, which he now holds as a secret.
But is history truly repeating itself (or pre-peating itself in this case)? Or is this familiar feeling misdirection?
As stated, Elzar Mann's story is part of a triangle – one that now has two people left in it. It feels like Elzar and Avar are destined for a grand falling out – but is it necessarily Elzar that will fall to the dark side? or will his early failures be his saving grace? Avar has shown her (albeit more low-key) hints of having anger and loss and vengeance be an Achilles heel (see: her battles with the Drengir and the Nihil's Lourna Dee). Could The High Republic shock Star Wars fans with having Avar become Sith, and Elzar the one to oppose her? Or will Avar have to defend the order (and her 'Song of the Force") from what Elzar Mann seems to be becoming?
Star: The High Republic books are now on sale.