Star Wars The High Republic: The Battle of Jedha Thoughts

4 out of 5 credits

The Star Wars audio dramas continue. After Dooku: Lost JediDoctor Aphra, and The Tempest Runner, we have the Phase Two audio entry with The Battle of Jedha. It is the first of the audio dramas that not only do not revolve around a single person but also focus on the Jedi. 

None of the previous audio dramas have really been a hit, in my opinion— thin on plot and packed with similar scenes and difficult-to-follow action. The Battle of Jedha has the opposite problem as far as the plot. There are too many heroes, too many antagonists, and too many side plots. But the ones that shine overcome the deficiencies. 

The Story

The cover is slightly deceiving to whose story this is | credit Lucasfilm ltd.

The story begins at the start of the battle before we jump back to 72 hours. As the signing of the Eiram and E’ronoh peace treaty, Jedi Master Creighton Sun wonders if the Jedi made the right decision bringing once hostile forces to Jedha. Jedi Knight Aida Forte hopes the two sides will come together at the signing. Meanwhile, the Festival of Balance is also taking place during this time as various sects of the Force are preparing. Jedi Master Silandra Sho, straight from her adventures in Quest for the Hidden City, arrives in Jedha City to attend the festival alongside Tilson Graf, claiming to be on Jedha to document the Eiram/E’ronoh signing. Graf had been excommunicated from his family and now travels the galaxy documenting historical events.

It is not long before Silandra runs into members of The Path of the Open Hand in the Jedha City marketplace and is promptly made aware of their disdain for the Jedi. Wanting to understand more, she tries to speak to a Little (the Path’s name for their children), but Marda Ro interrupts her. A Guardian of the Whills member tells her the Path is harmless but distrusting of the Jedi. Their leader, the Mother, is busy making preparations for something. Given her involvement in the Eiram/E’ronoh conflict in Convergence, there is a reason for concern. Of course, the Jedi are none the wiser to the Path leadership’s nefarious deeds, but that does not stop them from being suspicious. However, their main focus is signing the peace treaty without the Prince, Princess, and the two High Republic Chancellors present. 

It is not long before things go sideways, and Creighton Sun enlists Silandro and the Church of the Force adjunct Keth Cerepath (from Tales of Enlightenment) to investigate. But as the countdown nears zero hours and tensions continue to build, not just between the Ambassadors of Eiram and E’ronoh, but the different religious sects within the city, the Jedi find themselves in the middle of a perfect storm of conflict. 

Here, George Mann takes a page from The High Republic: Light of the Jedi in presenting a countdown to the big event to track events that goes a long way toward The Battle of Jedha being at the top of the list. The other major factor is that the subject matter is far more engaging. Dooku: Jedi Lost has the depth of the content but is presented in a Hitchcock gothic-style narration through the POV of Asajj Ventress (a better understanding of Dooku comes from the shorts Tales of the Jedi series on Disney Plus). Doctor Aphra is an adaptation of parts of Darth Vader and Doctor Aphra Volume One, with the quirky Space Archeologist narrating her story. Luckily with The Battle of Jedha, we get multiple POVs, so you are not left questioning the truth of the story unfolding and people’s motivations.

In many ways, this conflict and residual hatred between the two groups reminds me of the end of the Civil War into Reconstruction. While the war officially ended, the rise of reactionary groups like the Klu Klux Klan exercised violence and terrorism for years to reverse any progress temporarily made in the South. A comment made with disgust by the Ambassador from Eiram about marriage between the Eiram people and E’ronoh is reminiscent of the sentiments of whites sharing spaces with blacks. 

The Characters

Creighton Sun, the cynic, is a Jedi I can relate to | credit Lucasfilm ltd.

The cover of this audio drama is deceiving. Creighton Sun and Aida Forte appear with their Jedi robes and lightsabers, and while they do play a big part in the anxiety of the “will it or won’t it” happen with the Eiram and E’ronoh War peace treaty, the two main characters are Sildandra Sho and Keth Cerepath, both minor characters until now (Silandra as the Jedi Master in Mann’s Middle-Grade lackluster Quest for the Hidden City and Keth from Star Wars Insider Tales of Enlightenment). Here, Mann upgrades Silandra to lead, and the character, and the story, are all the better for it. Continuing from Quest for the Hidden City, Silandro is there solely for the Festival of Lights but finds herself entangled in a mystery that leads to the Path of the Open Hand. Her passion for helping others and her desire to understand the world around her make Silandra a good pair with Keth, who feels he needs an adventure. 

But her chemistry works with almost everyone in the story, particularly Mother (no spoilers but the development of this relationship might return in future novels). Of course, the voice work of Catherine Ho boosts Silandra’s likeability, plus the use of her shield is something I would love to see brought to live action. We know Keth from Mann’s short stories in Star Wars Insider, and he has already established the character to build on here. Keth is the most realized character from The High Republic short stories and has a simple but touching arc. 

The one that almost steals the whole story is Keth’s droid P3-7A (voiced by Sean Kenin Elias-Reyes), Frankensteined by Bonbraks with a vocoder from an old Temple droid. Everything it says is pious, even its sarcasm, and it might be the most creative addition to Star Wars canon from The High Republic. I am not joking. 

Jedi Master Creighton Sun is the resident cynic, but with good reason. Introduced in Convergence, Sun witnessed first-hand that one act cannot make two worlds forget generations of war. Creighton’s frustrations with knowing something is wrong and that plenty of questions are still unanswered in the end will no doubt factor into his appearance in Cataclysm

The Mother is still shrouded in mystery and apparently knows everyone in the galaxy. It is the same criticism I have with Convergence (which was mostly perfect): the Path of the Open Hand does not need to be involved in an Eiram/E’ronoh story—the complexities of trying to end the war between populations used to fighting presents enough conflict. Luckily, Mother is the main focus, but she is still a surface-level character whose motivations are still unclear.

The character that feels unnecessary here is Aida Forte. The role seems intended for Creighton Sun’s Padawan, but it falls to Jedi Knight Aida since he does not have a Padawan (or we do not know one). It feels like Mann could not decide whether he wanted her to have more or less page time, leading to a character who acts more as an antithesis to Creighton. As such, Aida does not have an arc and is solely used for Creighton’s development, which is a waste. But Mann can turn it around as he did for Silandra with a great story where Aida can truly shine. 

Canon Contributions

While we have information about the San Tekka family through the Star Wars generations, we know very little about the Graf family other than they all seem antagonistic. The only exception is Lina Graf from the Sequel Trilogy era, which indicates that the Graf fortune is long gone. Here, the moon of Grast is referenced in an incident caused by Tilson Graf’s cousins that inadvertently resulted in thousands of deaths. The cousins knew about hyperspace routes but did not declare them. The Galactic Republic sanctioned the cousins, believing that disclosing the routes may have prevented the disaster. The incident sounds like something that might come up again in future The High Republic Phase Two content.

We know from Phase One that there are secret paths that the Nihil use thanks to the prolonged life of Mari San Tekka, but could the Graf family also have private hyperspace lanes? 

The Battle of Jedha gives us a new Force-sensitive creature, the Wagaran. These predators use the Force to hunt, sensing the ripples left by beings. Their introduction, and subsequent damage, is a genuine high-stakes moment in the drama, but they do not face a Jedi. It would be great to see how a Jedi or other Force-sensitive would navigate a confrontation with the Wagaran.

The Battle of Jedha is a win for The High Republic Phase Two, which has lacked the excitement and consistency of Phase One. As we round the corner to Cataclysm, we are sure to continue the fallout of the failed peace talks for Eiram and E’ronoh, but George Mann delivered a great chapter in The High Republic.