Convergence describes and depicts things that have only been referenced so far in The High Republic and brings four characters into the Star Wars canon that are truly special.
The main focus is the war between sister planets, Eiram and E’ronoh (also fighting in Phase One). During this time, we never get a genuine reason for the cause of the forever war, which is the point. It is a generational war that has forced the young generation of both planets to fight battles waged by their ancestors long past.
Similarly, the younger generation of the Jedi Order inherits the responsibility of bringing peace to the system. But what makes Convergence by Zoraida Córdova truly special is something that Star Wars often takes for granted and is a superpower when the franchise gets it right: Romance.
**Mild Spoilers for Convergence**
On E’ronoh, a mysterious woman sabotages an E’ronoh starfighter before a significant aide transfer the planet desperately needs. The young pilot flying the ship loses his life, and the Captain of the fleet, Xiri A’lbaran, also the Princess of E’ronoh, gets stranded on Eiram trying to save him. There, she is rescued by the Eiram Prince Phan-tu Zenn. Jedi Knight Gella arrives on the Valiant for a relief mission aboard the Republic ship, the Valiant. With Gella are Master Creighton Sun, Char-Ryl-Roy and Roy’s Padawan, and one of the Chancellors, Orlen Mollo, to help broker peace between the two worlds. Gella is struggling with a past failed mission and is rethinking her place within the Jedi Order. And the start of this mission does not give her confidence.
On Coruscant, uneasy with being left behind, Chancellor Greylark sends her son, Axel, to the Valiant to be her eyes and ears.
Gella soon meets both Xiri and Phan-tu and, as representatives of the next generation of E’ronoh and Eiram, is impressed by their commitment to their people. When Xiri proposes a marriage alliance between her and Phan-tu, the hope for a peaceful resolution to the constant fighting is renewed. However, some forces benefit from the war and will do anything to prevent Xiri and Phan-tu from marrying. Gella and Greylark try to solve the mystery of who is trying to stop a peace treaty and protect the two star-crossed royals with their own sense of righteousness and independence.
In her mission to protect the royal heirs, Gella has to overcome her past failures while fighting against enemies closer than she thinks.
There is always a lot going on in these adult novels; however, out of the four that The High Republic has put forth so far, Convergence is the most contained. Taking place on a few worlds but still manages to explain the state of the galaxy through the characters’ backgrounds and how they found themselves in their respective situations.
The story is nothing unique, and the motivation of one of the protagonists is predictable. The other seems unnecessary and is the one convoluted plot point that keeps Convergence from being at the top of the Star Wars novels. But, because the focus is on a small set of characters and includes romance, it might be one of the most approachable reads for a casual Star Wars fan wanting to jump into The High Republic. And just like Claudia Gray’s Lost Stars is a recommendation for non-canon junkies, Convergence can be that flagship entry point for The High Republic.
And Zoraida Córdova succeeds more than any author other than Gray in balancing romance and action, leaning into the space opera element of the franchise while respecting strong character growth.
Like most adult novels, we follow plenty of characters in Convergence; however, there are four central characters: Gella, Axel, Xiri, and Phan-tu, and each gets their moment. Prince-consort Phan-tu has the least to work with, so we will start there. Queen Adrialla adopted the Prince of Eiram after a flood killed his family. He has since felt unworthy of the title and suffers from imposter syndrome, but he is popular because the people consider him one of their own. So it is fitting that Phan-tu is the purest-hearted of the four, encountering Xiri when he saves her from drowning and then talks her out of committing suicide instead of falling into enemy hands. His journey comes in the novel’s latter half as he discovers some unfortunate truths about his mother. The conclusion to these truths is more practical than you might see in a Star Wars film as Phan-tu and Xiri look to a potential future of more war.
Xiri is fighting from the moment we meet her and never stops fighting, though the circumstances change with each page turn. She is as headstrong as her father and does not run away from a fight (whether challenged or not), but she is unwilling to doom her people to an eternity of fighting. Her growth comes as soon as she meets Phan-tu as the two get to know each other. Xiri has been so used to fighting that she views the marriage proposal more as a way to end suffering for her people than to secure her happiness. Xiri and Phan-tu’s connection sparks most of the conflict in the remainder of the novel as the two slowly but surely, fall in love. Unfortunately, Xiri also has to combat hate within E’ronoh forces that has persisted, with vested interests in the war continuing.
If you had to describe Axel Greylark from existing Star Wars characters, he is probably a mixture of Han Solo and Lando Calrissian (complete with cape!), which still does not do the character justice. He is way more cutthroat than either and has much more influence. Dubbed “The Coruscant Prince,” he comes from extreme wealth and privilege, both of which he squanders on gambling. Outwardly, he projects apathy and chaos as his way of dealing with conflict in the present. Internally, he is struggling with the past trauma of losing his father, a tragedy for which he blames the Jedi Order. Greylark also has a strained relationship with his mother, so it is not surprising that he puts out an uncaring front, which sets an inevitable confrontation with Gella. It is an “opposites attract” relationship that feels a little rushed, especially when a big twist is revealed (there is foreshadowing peppered throughout the novel for this, so it might not be too surprising to astute readers).
Gella keeps her emotions close to her and does not get too rattled by the E’ronoh/Eiram conflict or Axel Greylark. But she carries with her the kind of empathy and curiosity of the galaxy that Axel lacks, Xiri aspires to, and Phan-tu understands.
There are a few too many antagonists in Convergence, which is where the connective tissue between The High Republic novels can hurt as more chess pieces are placed on the board for a heightened conflict. The Path of the Open Hand and its charismatic leader, The Mother, appear as we learn how wide of a reach she has in the galaxy. But Convergence shines more when it focuses on the conflict between E’ronah and Eriam and what that does, not just for the people fighting in long-lasting wars, but for the people they leave behind. And the weapons that get made as a response.
Even though these characters are adults, their angst reads YA, which works here, making the quieter moments. Cordova does what she does best and writes the conflict between the four’s evolving pathos well. Gella challenges Axel’s apathy, and Axel challenges her assuredness in her destiny within the Jedi Order.
As for the other character, Jedi Master Creighton Sun will feature in the audio drama, The Battle of Jedha, so we will learn more about him there. We could have done without Master Char-Ryl-Roy or his Padawan Enya. Future stories might prove their presence in this novel as necessary but, looking at this as a stand-alone, they feel unnecessary. Xiri and Phan-tu’s parents are the initial obstacles; however, Queen Adrialla is an indirect cause of some of the central story conflict (a fact that remains unknown by the Jedi) and will likely have consequences for her and her expanding family down the road.
The concept of star-crossed lovers looks good on Star Wars when done well, and it applies to both couples in Convergence. For Xiri and Phan-tu, it is a sort-of happy ending. Axel and Gella have two different paths in the story’s beginning, not to mention Gella is a Jedi. Gella comes out, assured of her next steps, while Axel’s future is less certain. Falling in love with a Jedi does not bode well for either party in Star Wars (we can look to the recent Marda and Kevmo relationship unfold in Path of Deceit). Axel finds himself in a rough situation he likely won’t stay in, and Gella is off to wander the galaxy and help where she senses she is needed.
Star Wars The High Republic now has a power couple in Xiri and Phan-tu, and I hope we get to see the evolution of their marriage through Phase Two. We know, unfortunately, that the two worlds still have conflicts 150 years later, but it is great to know that we were reading about their descendants. We learn about the culture of E’ronoh and Eiram and how the environment has shaped the people. E’ronoh is a desert, and Eiram is surrounded by water, both environments that can be unwavering and brutal but also beautiful.
I have often mentioned how intrigued I am with the concept of Wayseekers. It was disappointing that we spent surface-level time with Orla Jareni in Phase One, and there was tension between her and Stellan Gios, a true believer in the Jedi Order. Gella becoming a Wayseeker before the second adult novel should give us some time with one to learn more about how they fit or don’t fit with the Jedi Order and why this is not a thing by the time of the Prequels.
Ronto Roasters from the theme parks continue to make random appearances in Star Wars novels, and Convergence is another when Axel takes Gella to the Dalnan sector.
For the first time in Star Wars canon, we have two serving Chancellors: Chancellor Orlen Mollo and Chancellor Kyong Greylark. Throughout the novel, it seems like their working relationship is strained, with some mistrust coming from Chancellor Greylark. Still, a touching moment between the two near the novel’s end promises a true partnership moving forward. We do not learn much about how their power is shared, but the idea of two Chancellors seems like a way for a “checks and balance” system that was sorely missing during the Prequel era.
Convergence is the second High Republic novel I’ve read where I immediately want to read the next chapter in these characters’ stories (A Test of Courage being the first) and, in my opinion, the best adult novel from the Lucasfilm publishing initiative. Your move, Lydia Kang and Cataclysm.