Star Wars Book Review: Into the Dark

  • Author: Claudia Gray
  • 425 Pages
  • Published in 2021
  • Canon (Young Adult)
  • Placement in Timeline: Concurrent with Light of the Jedi, in the High Republic (200 years prior to the prequel era).

What It’s About

Into the Dark takes place at the same time as Light of the Jedi, when an event called The Great Disaster occurs. A ship called the Legacy Run collides with something along its hyperspace route, and sends debris scattering all around a section of the Outer Rim.

Reath Silas, Padawan to Master Jora Malli, is enroute to Starlight Beacon with three other Jedi: Dez Rydan, Jora’s former Padawn; Master Cohmac Vitus; and Master Orla Jareni. They’re on board a ship called, well, the Vessel, piloted by Leox Gyasi, Affie Hollow, and Geode (a Vintian, who is pretty much a big rock), who all work for the Byne Guild.

Reath is supposed to meet his master at the station (Jora Malli is slated to be the space station’s director), though he would prefer to stay on Coruscant among the Archives, where he is most comfortable and happy. The other Jedi have their own reasons for going: Dez seeks out adventure and excitement (I can hear Yoda in my head right now); Orla has recently decided to become a Wayseeker, a Jedi who, for whatever reasons, decides to operate independently from the dictates of the Jedi Council; while Cohmac’s reasons for going to the frontier are a bit more mysterious.

Orla Jareni
Orla Jareni, who is Umbaran.

While in hyperspace they encounter problems due to the Legacy Run disaster, though they have no idea what is happening at the moment. They drop out of hyperspace into an empty area of space, along with several other ships that have done the same. They do find an old, abandoned space station, however, and they all head for the relative safety of it against the system’s sudden solar flares.

The station had been built by the Amaxines, an ancient warrior race (the Amaxines were mentioned in Bloodline, as well) who are long gone. The station is a giant globe surrounded by several outer rings, and covered from top to bottom in foliage and vines, which they assume was not in the original design. Small droids called 8-T’s swarm around the station, tending to the greenery and protecting it fiercely.

There are a few problems at first with the other space travelers: two of the groups fanatically hate each other, and both decide to take whatever they find on the station for themselves. The Jedi try to instill order, but the denizens of the Outer Rim still don’t quite understand or trust the Jedi, and defy the authority of the Republic.

Once things get fairly settled and they come to understand the situation, they realize they have to wait it out on the station until the hyperlanes are opened again. The Jedi feel a “shadow” and have terrifying visions; they trace the darkness to four “idols” or statues that stand in a particular area of the station. They come to believe that the ancient Sith had bound some evil up in the statues, and decide to take them back to the Jedi Temple on Coruscant when the time came.

However, a tragedy befalls one of the Jedi before they can leave; and Affie discovers some disturbing information while exploring, information that changes her relationship with Scover Byne, her foster mother and leader of the Byne Guild.

But once they leave the station and get back to Coruscant, revelations are made that cause them all to go back–back where they must confront an new evil, their own past, and the threat of the Nihil.

My Thoughts

Claudia Gray is one of my favorite Star Wars authors, and she doesn’t disappoint with this book. One of her biggest strengths is character development, and all of the characters in this book are vivid and engaging.

Reath Silas, in particular, is quite relatable: he doesn’t crave adventure at all, like his predecessor Dez; he’s perfectly content to spend the rest of his life on Coruscant, studying the archives. As a bookish sort of person myself, I get it. His master, Jora Malli, understands this, but has other ideas–she pushes him out of his comfort zone and into the Outer Rim. As Reath will come to learn, being a Jedi isn’t about doing what you want to do; it’s about serving, both the Republic and the Force.

Dez must learn this lesson himself–always, he sought adventure and excitement, the complete opposite of Reath. But his actions cause him to see that he, too, must learn to serve rather than seeking out his own satisfaction.

The two older Jedi, Orla and Cohmac, have different lessons to learn. Both are struggling with the dictates of the Jedi Order: Orla has always wanted to go with her instincts in the Force rather than follow the stringent Jedi rules; Cohmac is struggling with darkness itself, in the form of grief for the death of his master, which happened 25 years ago, and anger at having to deny and bury that grief. Both Orla and Cohmac were involved with a mission as Padawans in the same area of space 25 years ago, and the mistakes they made back then, as well as the issues that came up from the event, still haunt them. The events of that mission are recounted in alternating chapters in the book.

Star Wars: The High Republic Launch Event | StarWars.com

As far as the crew of the Vessel go, I really liked Leox Gyasi, who is actually based on the actor Matthew McConaughey. I could totally picture him and hear his southern-like drawl, his laid-back attitude, and his spice-inspired philosophical musings. Affie Hollow, a young woman who is learning the ropes of piloting and the processes of the Byne Guild, didn’t capture me that much, to be honest, though I’m hard-pressed to tell you why. Maybe because she wasn’t all that impressed with the Jedi, I don’t know, lol. Geode, on the other hand, was a brilliant character. Even though, as I mentioned, he’s basically a big rock, has no lines of dialogue, and we never see him move, Claudia Gray manages to imbue him with a whole lot of character.

Inside Star Wars: The High Republic: Meet the Villains | StarWars.com

As far as the villains go, the Nihil make an appearance, but they’re not the main antagonists here. I will admit that before I read this book, the idea of the Drengir seemed a little corny and cartoonish to me. And even though they still are to a certain degree, it worked here. It helps that the characters themselves talk about them as “homicidal warrior plants,” and “evil plant guys.” Orla even jokes about it as she battles them: “And to think, some people–say gardening–is a relaxing hobby!” And Reath is immediately intrigued by them, the researcher in him asking them, “Whoa. That’s amazing. You guys are botanical rather than animal, but you’re sentient?” But the fact that the Drengir keep referring to the Jedi as “meat” makes them take the threat seriously, of course.

This is a great book that dovetails nicely with the events of Light of the Jedi, and makes me love this era of the Jedi even more. Especially here, with the questioning some of the Jedi are doing concerning the Order and the nature of the Force, I think we’ll be seeing some of the events that lead to the decline and downfall of the Jedi we see in the prequel era. Not necessarily with the questions themselves, but the reactions to the questions. Really intriguing, and I can’t wait to read more!

If you liked Light of the Jedi, love Claudia Gray, or just want more of the High Republic, this book is for you.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Lightsabers

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