Star Wars Book Review: Light of the Jedi

  • Author: Charles Soule
  • 377 Pages
  • Published in 2021
  • Canon
  • Placement in Timeline: The High Republic, 200 years before The Phantom Menace

What It’s About

It is a golden age of the Republic. Peace reigns in the galaxy, led by Chancellor Lina Soh and her Great Works, and the Jedi, who help keep the precious peace with their wisdom and strength. Their motto is “We are all the Republic.”

But when the transport freighter the Legacy Run encounters an obstacle in hyperspace, its debris threatens the Hetazl system, as well as many other worlds. Dubbed the Great Disaster, its shrapnel speeds toward Hetzal Prime and its moons at near light-speed. The Republic responds with sending its nearest ship, the Aurora IX, on its way back from the new space station Starlight Beacon, to help in whatever way it can.

On board is the Jedi Master, Avar Kriss, as well as other Jedi that were on the station. From the ship, Avar leads the other Jedi, in their ships called Vectors, in doing what they can to save Hetzal. It seems an impossible mission, but the Jedi and their Republic counterparts manage to save Hetzal and its moons on several fronts, in truly heroic ways, though there are casualties.

Once the immediate crisis is over, Chancellor Soh decides to shut down hyperspace lanes in the Outer Rim until the mystery of the Legacy Run is solved, and they can prevent such a thing from ever happening again. Complicating the matter are what’s called Emergences, other pieces of shrapnel and fragments from the Legacy Run that emerge out of hyperspace and threaten other systems randomly and without warning. They need to find a way to predict where the Emergences will surface, and quickly.

Chancellor Lina Soh, with Matari and Voru, her two targons, always by her side. How cool is that?

Meanwhile, we are introduced to the Nihil, the villains of the story. They are a group of maruaders and pirates, who exist to simply take what they want in vicious and savage ways. They’re run by three “Tempests”, or groups, led by Tempest Runners–Kassav, Lourna Dee, and Pan Eyta. The groups are further divided into Storms, Clouds, and Strikes. There is a mysterious person named Marchion Ro, who is the “Eye of the Nihil.” He has no real power over the Tempests, but does control what is called the “Paths,” or strange, unorthodox ways through hyperspace. His means of manipulating hyperspace in this way is a closely guarded secret, and that is his power, and gives him his vote in the Nihil. But Marchion Ro knows that the Nihil way —greed and violence against each other–will lead to their destruction; he also knows his power with the Paths will soon come to end. The Nihil must change–and Ro knows exactly how to do it, with himself emerging as their leader.

All of these events lead up to a confrontation between the Republic (with the Jedi) and the Nihil. Throughout, we come to know these new Jedi of the High Republic, who they are, what they believe, and what they can do. And I have to say, I’m not disappointed. Avar Kriss, Elzar Mann, Loden Greatstorm, Bell Zettifar, and many others–these are Jedi I’ve come to know, and yes, love.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is light-of-the-jedi-special-edition.jpeg
Jedi Knights Indeera Stokes, Bell Zettifar, and Loden Greatstorm confront the Nihil on Elphrona. Ember is seen in the foreground.

Light of the Jedi is a fantastic introduction to this new era of Star Wars, and I can’t wait for the next installment, The Rising Storm, coming in July 2021.

My Thoughts

I loved this book. The first 100 pages or so details the events of the Great Disaster, and weirdly enough, this is the part that took me longer to get through. It takes a while to figure out how to deal with the problem, and despite the urgency of the situation, it was only after it was over that I began to eagerly turn the pages. As if I was like, okay, that’s done, now we can get on with the story, lol. But through this crisis, we get a good introduction to the Jedi of this era and what they’re like.

They are both different and the same as the Jedi we know from the prequel era. They’re the same in that they are dedicated to helping others and will do whatever they can to do it. They’re different in the various ways they can or choose to do it. These Jedi can do things only prequel Jedi dream of.

Avar Kriss can link with other Jedi through the Force, whether they are near or far. During the Great Disaster, she remains on the Aurora IX, and links with the other Jedi in their “Vectors,” the little mosquito-like ships of the Jedi, linking them together and sending them messages–not in words, but in impressions and intentions. In this way, they are a united force. Avar hears the Force as a song.

And speaking of the Jedi Vectors, the Jedi pilot the ships not only through its instruments, but through the Force, as well, making incredible manouvers that they normally wouldn’t be able to do. And their lightsabers act as “keys” to activate their weapons systems. Really cool.

Elzar Mann, Avar’s closest friend since they were Padawans, sees the Force as a deep, roiling sea. He often plumbs the depths of that sea, exploring and discovering new things about the Force. He’s considered a loner Jedi, only working with Avar, and their other friend, Stellan Gios. Unlike the other two, he hasn’t been made a Master yet–the Council considers his tinkering with the Force a bit unorthodox, and perhaps see him as reckless. But whatever he does, he never endangers anyone else’s life. His ideas often seem impossible, but then he goes and does it–he and Avar actually made it rain on Hetzal Prime when it was needed. Jedi manipulating the weather! It made me think of Yoda in The Last Jedi, summoning up the lightning to burn the Uneti tree with the Jedi texts.

Elzar’s a really interesting character; and it’s clear that he and Avar were in love as Padawans. Once they ascended to Jedi Knights, they left that relationship behind, but it’s clear they still feel it, especially when they have missions together. They had also been very close to Stellan Gios as Padawans, but he’s not in this story too much. I’m eager to meet him in the next book and learn the dynamics of this trio, as I do believe they make up the iconic triumvirate we find in each trilogy (Anakin/Padme/Obi-Wan; Luke/Leia/Han; and Rey/Finn/Poe). What will Avar/Elzar/Stellan bring to the story? I can’t wait to find out!

So these Jedi are a little more fast and loose with the rules–their clothing is more ornate, less monastic than the prequel Jedi; they seem to have some attachments–Bell Zettifar even has a pet, a charhound named Ember. But this is a golden era; they can afford these indulgences. It’s clear that something happens between this era and the prequel era that changes that–something that makes the Jedi more strict, more wary of attachments and the dangers it brings. I’m eager to know what that something is.

The question of getting involved in military tactics also comes up here; it’s voted on in the Jedi Council on whether or not they will help the Republic face the Nihil and try to defeat them. As we know, this is a slippery slope for the Jedi, and causes their downfall in the prequel era, but here they simply do what they think is right.

It was so fun getting to know these new Jedi and the era of the High Republic. I think it’s a worthy successor to the Star Wars we’ve come to know and love, something both familiar but also very different in many ways. Bravo, Charles Soule and Lucasfilm Storygroup!

My Rating 5 out of 5 Lightsabers

3 thoughts on “Star Wars Book Review: Light of the Jedi

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