Star Wars' latest novel release Star Wars: The High Republic - Into The Dark is where the real fun begins for The High Republic franchise. That's not to say The High Republic hasn't offered Star Wars fans a good time so far - quite the opposite. The first novel, Light of the Jedi, introduced a sweeping look at the Jedi Order and Republic scrambling to deal with a galactic disaster, laying the first frame for this new era of Star Wars. However in Into The Dark, writer Claudia Gray gets to have fun living up to the book's ominous title, with a look into the underbelly of The High Republic world.
Star Wars: The High Republic - Into The Dark sees four Jedi (bookworm Padawan Reath Silas, independent-minded Orla Jareni, Force purest Cohmac Vitus, and popular-guy Dez Rydan) all thrown together on a strange journey. The Jedi are headed from the heart of The Republic on Coruscant to the new Jedi/Republic base on the Outer Rim, where each Jedi has a different reason for exploring and/or settling the frontier. The trip gets weirder when this odd-ensemble of Jedi find out they're being freighted by a rag-tag odd-trio of smugglers (Leox Gyasi, rock-creature Geode, and their young ward Affie Hollow).
The weird voyage becomes something much more drastic when the great hyperspace disaster (seen in Light of the Jedi) forces Leox's ship, The Vessel, to veer of course and into a remote corner of space. The galactic calamity forces the Jedi, smugglers, and other refugees to seek refuge on an abandoned station found in the region. That refuge quickly turns into something much more sinister; Affie and Leox discover the station is tied to the Byne Guild (the cartel run by Affie's adoptive mother), while the Jedi discover the station is also a prison for a powerful new form of the dark side.
What makes Star Wars: The High Republic - Into The Dark the most fun entry of The High Republic line yet, is in the offbeat collection of characters it introduces. We've met compelling Jedi characters so far, and others who are standouts for their power and/or personalities. However, Gray works a nice thematic subplot about Into The Dark's main cast of characters (Reath, Affie, Cohmac, and Orla) all suffering some kind of crisis of identity when it comes to the things they've sworn allegiance to. Star Wars is arguably at its best when it's exploring conflicted Jedi, and/or funny smugglers with cool swagger - and Into The Dark is basically an ensemble of both.
Gray clearly recognizes the fun to be had with the characters she gets to play with, and so the book is chock-full of wit and humor between the characters, in addition to each being rich with their own unique personality. These Jedi are also conduits for interesting new ideas about the Jedi Order (like Wayseeker Jedi) as well as new Force abilities. It's easy to predict Orla Jareni (a clear spiritual predecessor to Ahsoka Tano), and the crew of the Vessel (Leox, Affie, and scene-stealing Geode), all becoming bigger staples of the Star Wars franchise.
If a strong collection of protagonists isn't enough, Into the Dark also gets to go big with both of Star Wars: The High Republic's new villain characters. We won't say more for fear of SPOILERS for some of the better twists in the story. The book also fleshes out the Star Wars: The High Republic underworld for the first time - a place of shifting power that will forever change the Outer Rim, and the fate of the galaxy. In fact, as the story continues in new High Republic books and comics, the events of Into The Dark's underworld developments will quickly become a bigger deal.0comments
All in all, Star Wars: The High Republic - Into The Dark is the best story we've gotten so far from this new iteration of the franchise. You can order it here on Amazon.
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