With the launch of The High Republic in January 2021, Lucasfilm and The High Republic team promised and new era of Star Wars unlike anything we have ever seen (well, read) before. And, in many cases, that is true. There are familiar characters like Yoda, Yaddle, and Yarael, but there have been some truly unique elements to come out of The High Republic that are not around by the time of the Prequel Trilogy. We are still in the early stages of The High Republic but, looking back at Phase One, here are some of the best canon contributions. But first…
I supposed I must mention these creatures because they were such a large part of Wave One and Two, and they are Force beings. These sentient plants were trapped by ancient Sith Relics but accidentally released by Jedi in Into the Dark. The Drengir added to the chaos because the Nihil weaponized them against Republic citizens. They were defeated in Marvel’s The High Republic #8 when the Jedi, led by Avar Kriss and Keeve Trennis captured The Great Progenitor (the first Drengir). Ultimately, the Drengir were disappointing because there was no payoff for spending so much time with them (and a reveal that there are Drengir hybrids). While I do not miss them, I also am hesitant to say that we have heard the last of them even though Mother Progenitor supposedly died.
The Saber for Hire
I am genuinely surprised it took this long for Star Wars to introduce someone like Ty Yorrick. A former Padawan, Ty Yorrick left the Jedi Order shortly after a tragic event where she was forced to kill her Padawan colleague, Klias Teradine. Klias touched a dark side artifact and became possessed, attacking Ty.
Ty was a big part of Wave Two, getting a stand-alone comic series, The Monster of Temple Peak, but she is shockingly absent from Wave Three (except for a brief appearance in a flashback in IDW The High Republic Adventures #13). We will not see her again until Phase Three, and I hope to catch up with the monster hunter, especially since there is a terrifying new monster that has a particular taste for Force-sensitives.
The Top Five
5. The Nameless (aka the Shrii-ka-rai)
During the promotion of The High Republic before its launch in 2021, the High Republic team posted a simple question: What do Jedi fear the most?
Light of the Jedi introduced the Nihil as formidable agents of chaos in contrast to the Jedi Order and the unity promoted by the Republic. However, the true mastermind of The Great Disaster was revealed to be Marchion Ro, who made clear that he had a personal agenda against the Republic and specifically the Jedi. In Wave Two’s Rising Storm, we got a better sense of his weapon and the effect it had on Force-sensitive beings in the opening chapter. In the last chapter of the novel, the chilling reality of the power of his weapon was realized with the final line:
It would not be until Wave Three that this entity got a name…the Nameless. We learn that they are also called Shrii-ka-rai: Eaters of the Force courtesy of Dr. Uttersond, the Nihil doctor. Their mere presence causes madness in Force users.
The Drengir were just a warmup for this type of literal nightmare for the Jedi Order. Now, at the end of Phase One, the Jedi find themselves scrambling for answers quickly. Like the Nihil and the Drengir, the Nameless creatures are not a threat in the future of the Star Wars timeline. And there is still so much to learn about these creatures in Phases Two and Three. Still, they have such a devastating effect on Force-sensitives that they are one of the most intriguing elements that The High Republic has introduced to canon.
Readers were not introduced to the concept of a Wayseeker until the third novel in Wave One, Into the Dark when we meet Orla Jareni. Wayseekers are Jedi who no longer operate within the confines of the Jedi Order and travel the galaxy, letting the Force lead them. While the existence of Force users outside of the Jedi Order is not new, Wayseekers are unique because they have chosen to leave the Jedi Order, walking away not only from its restrictions but from its resources.
During her time as a Wayseeker, Orla helps Jedi Knight Keeve Trennis fight her demons triggered by the Drengir in Marvel’s The High Republic. She later helps Jedi Master Elzar Mann wrestle with his dark side tendencies in The Faller Star. Stellan and Orla, while close friends, clash on Orla’s decision to become a Wayseeker (Stellan views the decision as selfish, but there are also hints of jealousy). Orla’s death in The Fallen Star deeply affects Elzar, Stellan, and her closest former colleague, Jedi Master Cohmac, who decides shortly after sensing her death to leave the Order in Midnight Horizon.
I was shocked that Orla was killed off in Phase One because she was the first and only Wayseeker we have met in Star Wars, and it seemed like there were many more adventures to go on with her.
Wayseeking is also the closest to what Ahsoka Tano has been doing behind the scenes of the Original Trilogy. It could also be the path that Lily Tora-Asi is on in the manga The Edge of Balance, choosing to stay in the Outer Rim and not return to Coruscant per Master Yoda’s orders. Orla’s death, while tragic, almost guarantees that we will meet more Wayseekers in future Star Wars content.
3. The Knowns and Unknowns of Hyperspace
The High Republic is at the peak of galactic expansion so a lot of new information is given on hyperspace. And there are multiple POVs provided within the novels on hyperspace. One of the first is a conversation between Avar Kriss, Elzar Mann, and the San Tekka family in Light of the Jedi. The San Tekka family in The High Republic made their fortune charting paths in hyperspace and provide the Jedi with resources to help prevent more tragedies after The Great Disaster. This is also when the existence of a Force-sensitive member of the San Tekkas, Mari San Tekka, is revealed to be the Nihil’s secret weapon. And so, hyperspace is presented to us as a mix of science and fantasy. There are scientists like Chancey Yarrow, who specialize in theoretical hyperspace physics and prove valuable to the San Tekka’s business rivals, the Graf family and the Nihil. The Nihil use her technology to create a massive barrier that cuts off hyperspace travel to parts of the Outer Rim.
Mari San Tekka uses the Force to map out secret hyperspace paths that the Nihil have used to move undetected throughout the galaxy. Marchion even mentions he has a hyperspace path that could put him right on Coruscant. And Jedi Vernestra Rwoh occasionally has visions while in hyperspace and later receives a secret path from San Tekka before the older woman dies. Vernestra believes that the Cosmic Force is a part of how hyperspace works, and she might be right. We will see if all this remains a mystery (no clarification has been given in Star Wars content during the Prequel, Original, or Sequel Trilogies), but it is an interesting element driving important storylines.
2. The Nihil
In an age of accelerated growth and expansion, there are winners and losers. And the Nihil have presented a lifestyle of selfishness wrapped in violence and drugs. As we get further into The High Republic Phase One, we meet the type of people who make up most of the Nihil: Galactic citizens that would probably be worse off on their own.
But then, as all movements started under the guise of legitimate grievances, some see financial and political opportunity: Families like the Grafs, who run a real estate and hyperspace prospect empire, and politicians like Senator Ghirra Starros for potential political advantage. And all of them are pawns to the leader of the Nihil, Marchion Ro, an egotistical psychopath who has strategically planned the mass casualty events in Phase One. However, the Nihil as an organization is more interesting than its leader because the people within them are more complex.
In Out of the Shadows, Jordanna Sparkburn observes the danger of the Nihil:
“The Nihil have given the castoffs and losers of the galaxy a home. They’ve given people with nothing something, and that is a very powerful thing. Are they bad? Of course. But they’re bad because it’s all a lie based around violence.”Ireland, Justina. The High Republic: Out of the Shadows.
The Nihil are a refreshing villain in Star Wars as an organization of chaos and a perfect foil for the Jedi of The High Republic.
1. How Jedi Experience the Force
Like the Nihil and the Drengir, the knowledge that the Jedi of The High Republic see the Force in different ways was revealed in the marketing campaign. The Force and conveying how it works has always been challenging in live-action (the best being Rey sensing all life on Ahch-To in The Last Jedi).
The description of tapping into the Force has fared much better on the page, which is not surprising. But having a differentiator like this for each Jedi adds another layer to character development. Understanding that Jedi Master Avar Kriss HEARS the songs of other Jedi is an insight into who she is and how she connects with her fellow Jedi. And we do not learn how every Jedi sees the Force when they are introduced. How Jedi Master Stellen Gios experiences the Force is not revealed until the last adult novel in Phase One, The Fallen Star with great emotional effect. Jedi Master Elzar Mann sees the Force as an ocean and, when Orla is helping him manage balance, she leans on that in her instruction. It is a clever tool to put in the hands of creators and, therefore, the best canon contribution to come out of Phase One The High Republic.