The High Republic Preview and the Star Wars Brain Trust

After a delay due to the global pandemic, we are now under a month before the launch of Star Wars: The High Republic. This is one of the biggest and most ambitious launch campaigns from a publisher and will see a slew of new content and characters that, if popular enough, will likely show up in TV or Film. There are already rumors of a possible animated and live-action series so Disney and Lucasfilm definitely have big plans for this new era of Star Wars stories. I will be doing full coverage of the content coming from The High Republic, which kicks off on January 5, 2021. 

Star Wars The High Republic gets its’ own opening crawl | credit Lucasfilm ltd.

Though not completely removed from Skywalker saga characters (we will have a younger Yoda), there will be many new ones navigating a time of relative prosperity for the Jedi. They will also be dealing with a threat unlike anything we, as Star Wars fans, have experienced in canon. It is interesting to note that they are borrowing language from Marvel and calling major events and the content associated with them “Phases.” For this overview, I will only be discussing the content that is coming out for Part of Phase One (January and February). More releases are scheduled currently to kick off in July 2021. Here is the overview of The High Republic heading our way:

The Media and Authors

The High Republic Team (from left to right): Justina Ireland, Cavan Scott, Daniel José Older, Charles Soule, Mike Siglain and Claudia Gray | credit Lucasfilm ltd.

Lucasfilm, under the creative direction of Lucasfilm Publishing’s Mike Siglain, has essentially created a “brain trust” of a popular and diverse group of Fantasy, Science Fiction writers, who all have written stories in the Star Wars canon prior, to tell the story of the Jedi Order more than 200 years before the events of the original trilogy across various forms of publishing. The new era of Star Wars stories will kick off with the novel by Charles Soule (The Light of the Jedi). Soule tends to explore the darker side of technological advances so expect his sensibilities to pour into his novel and the dark side of hyperspace travel. Gray has published some of the most critically acclaimed and fan-favorite Star Wars YA novels (Lost Stars, Bloodline) and shines in conveying the moral ambiguities that arise in characters having to survive in a galaxy at war so it will be exciting to read her character development for those coming to grips with the possible beginning of a war with Into the Dark. Justina Ireland, author of the historical/horror YA series, Dread Nation, will pen the Middle-Grade A Test of Courage. Ireland is a historian and served as an Arabic linguistics expert in the US Military and will no doubt bring her expertise in exploring race, class, and power for younger (and older) readers. Cavan Scott will be involved in two projects for Phase One: the Children’s book The Great Jedi Rescue and The High Republic Marvel comic series. Scott has melded horror and Star Wars with his Tales from Vader’s Castle and has hinted at horrifying creatures that await the Jedi in the High Republic era. And Daniel José Older, who wrote his first Star Wars novel Last Shot, will write his first comic series with IDW’s The High Republic Adventures which will feature a younger Jedi Master Yoda. José Older has made waves in a short time since his debut novel, Half-Resurrection Blues, in 2015 with championing diverse characters in Fantasy storytelling. His short story in A Certain Point of View: The Empire Strikes Back titled “STET” is probably one of the most creatively structured stories in the collection and I think his strengths as a writer will shine through in comic form.

I use the term “brain trust” because these authors are also working and building this story together, which is a different approach than the production of the recent films. You can already see the value of having a small group overseeing the storytelling of a section of Star Wars with what the animated and live-action TV has done with The Clone WarsRebels, and The Mandalorian which all seem to be converging into one long epic tale. Lucasfilm is starting to find ways of incorporating interconnectivity like its sister company, Marvel, and making it work for Star Wars.

Star Wars: The High Republic January and February Titles and Release Dates:

  • Adult Novel
    • The Light of the Jedi by Charles Soul – January 5, 2021
  • Young Adult Novel
    • Into the Dark by Claudia Gray – February 2, 2021
  • Middle-Grade Novel
    • A Test of Courage by Justina Ireland – January 5, 2021
  • Children’s Book
    • The Great Jedi Rescue by Cavan Scott – January 5, 2021
  • Comics
    • The High Republic series by Cavan Scott – January 6, 2021
    • The High Republic Adventures by Daniel José Older – February 3, 2021

The Stories and Characters

A look at some of the characters we will meet in Phase One | credit Lucasfilm ltd.

The era of The High Republic set c. 232 BBY and before the original trilogy, is a time when the Jedi can be at their best, meaning there is relative peace throughout the galaxy and they have the numbers to help maintain peace and stability. The galaxy is also a lot smaller as hyperspace lanes were developing and scouts were sent out to explore new lands. This all gets thrown out of balance with the event known as “The Great Disaster” where a ship carrying cargo, supplies, and people to the frontier collides with something in hyperspace. Parts of the ship get thrown out across the galaxy and a cry for help is sent to the Jedi, who must investigate. Through various investigations, the Jedi will cross paths with two major villains: the Drengir, a plant monster created in the vein of something out of Lovecraftian horror, and the Nihil, a group of anarchist marauders who have no qualms about killing anyone who gets in their way. Here is what we know about the stories surrounding this event.

Star Wars: The High Republic Phase One Stories and Character Breakdowns:

NOTE: There is not much info on The Great Jedi Rescue (which is a 24-page children’s book with stickers) so I have excluded it from this breakdown.

  • Light of the Jedi: The novel that kicks off The High Republic and where The Great Disaster happens and the ensuing investigation. This story will include the following Jedi:  
    • Avar Kriss: Human Jedi Master who perceives the Force as music and helps protect a populous system from anomalies from The Great Disaster 
    • Burryaga Agaburry:  Wookiee Jedi Padawan who perceives the Force as a massive forest and himself as one leaf on a tree. 
    • Nib Assek: Burryaga’s Human Jedi Master who, along with her apprentice, is a part of rescue efforts due to The Great Disaster 
    • Loden Greatstorm: a renowned Twi’lek Jedi Master 
    • Bell Zettifar: Human Jedi Padawan of Loden Greatstorm who spends his time on the outpost training and exploring with his charhound. 
  • Into the Dark: On a mission to the frontier, a young Padawan’s ship gets knocked out of hyperspace from The Great Disaster and he finds himself stranded at an abandoned space station where a bigger mystery is about to unfold. This story seems to revolve around one specific Jedi Padawan:
    • Reath Silas: a Human Jedi Padawan who is usually Coruscant-based due to his Master, Jora Malli, being a member of the Jedi Council.  
  • A Test of Courage: This follows a Jedi Knight, a Padawan, and a group of survivors of The Great Disaster who land their escape pod on a forest moon and must find a way off safely. The following Jedi will be the focus of this story:
    • Vernestra Rwoh: a Mirialian Jedi Knight who, at sixteen, is one of the youngest Jedi Knights in a generation. She finds herself stranded on a jungle moon after The Great Disaster. 
    • Imri: a Human male Padawan who accompanies Vernestra and the other survivors of The Great Disaster. 
  • Marvel’s The High Republic Comic Series: This series revolves around Jedi who are stationed on the Starlight Beacon, a space station that is a beacon for travelers to the frontier when The Great Disaster happens. This series will introduce and follow these Jedi:
    • Sskeer: a Trandoshan male Jedi Master who takes his apprentice Keeve Trennis to Shuraden for her Jedi Trials 
    • Keeve Trennis: a Human female Jedi Knight starting her Jedi Trials who might possibly be a distant relative of a Jedi Master who was a member of the Lost Twenty
  • IDW The High Republic Adventures Comic Series: This follows a team of inexperienced Padawans who aid citizens of Tymant IV, an area that has recently been attacked by the Nihil. This will also feature a younger Yoda. Here are all of the new main players of this story:
    • Lula Talisola and Farzala: a Human and Zygerrian Padawan working with Master Baro and Master Yoda on Trymant IV, which is under attack by the Nihil 
    • Qort: Another Padawan and friend of Lula and Farzala whose species has not been revealed.
    • Master Baro: A Jedi Master who supervises the group of Padawans on Trymant IV 

This is a big deal for Star Wars, Disney, and Publishing and if it succeeds could be copied by other franchises. I look forward to reading about new characters and situations in this age of exploration within the Star Wars canon. As I stated before, I will be doing full coverage of Star Wars: The High Republic so stay tuned for some great discussions, reviews, and revelations.  

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