Daniel Jose Older’s YA novel Midnight Horizon is the third, and last YA offering in the first phase of the High Republic books, and it was an enjoyable read. It takes place just before and during the events of The Fallen Star, the adult novel by Claudia Gray that tells of the Nihil attack and destruction of Starlight Beacon.
The Nihil are also causing problems on Corellia (Han Solo’s home planet); while the marauders have long plagued the Outer Rim, most of the Inner Rim is complacent that they wouldn’t dare attack a Core world. They also believe that the Jedi and Republic forces have hunted down and destroyed most of the Nihil and that they’re not that big a problem anymore. Oh, how wrong they are.
Corellia is famous for its shipyards, and it makes sense that the Nihil would want to attempt to steal some ships for their own nefarious purposes. Their plan is surprisingly sophisticated, but it’s interrupted by a group of young people that include Jedi Padawans Reath Silas and Ram Jamoram (and their masters, Cohmac Vitus and Kantam Sy), and a young native with pink hair named Crash who runs a protection agency.
Most of the book is a slow burn of character development and setting up of events that lead to a huge, rather exciting climax in the last part of the book. I will admit that I wasn’t particularly wowed by the first part of the book, and Crash was not a character I found interesting in any way. I’m a little tired of brilliant adolescents who vacillate between teen angst and impossible feats of valor and wisdom. But that’s YA for you–I’m not the ideal reader.
The Jedi, of course, are exceptions to this very biased opinion of mine, lol. Reath Silas is my favorite High Republic Padawan, precisely because he originally was the bookish, studious type who, while quite skilled with the lightsaber, hoped that he never had to use it. He didn’t want adventures. He wanted to live in the Jedi Archives. And I could totally relate. But, over the course of several YA novels, he’s been forced into living a life of war with the Nihil, and it’s rather poignant to see him struggling with that transition. And I love seeing him mentor the younger Padawan Ram, who is also struggling with the transition. He just wants to tinker with machines.
Mostly I preferred the scenes with the older Jedi, Cohmac and Kantam. Until the very end of the book, they took a backseat to the younger characters, but they, too, had their own emotional struggles to deal with. Since Into the Dark, Cohmac has struggled with his emotions and the Jedi Order’s stance on how to deal with them (though the High Republic Jedi are still much more open with attachment and emotions than the prequel Jedi). Kantam Sy (a non-binary character) had even left the Order for a time when they were young, to explore their burgeoning need to explore life outside of the Jedi. They tell this story to Cohmac during some of their down times.
All the Jedi, Masters and Padawans alike, struggle with their emotions and their attachments to each other and others, as the story unfolds. Especially as they find out what’s happening to Starlight Beacon; they worry for their friends and struggle with rage against the Nihil.
Even Crash, who lost a good friend at the beginning of the book, struggles with attachment–she decides to distance herself from her other friends in order to prevent being hurt again in that way.
The end of the book was inarguably the best part, as it climaxes into a battle between the Jedi and their allies and the Nihil in the shipyards. And we get a surprise appearance from a familiar green friend, who has also figured into some of Kantam’s memories in the book.
In the end, this was a pretty good book, but I do prefer Claudia Gray’s Into the Dark, as far as YA High Republic novels go. I do like how we get to know Corellia a bit more during the High Republic, its politics and inner workings (and we get to see the Grindalids, the White Worm gangs that rule the sewers and underground passageways that we see in Solo: A Star Wars Story, and the book Most Wanted). And I finally got to see some of the characters from the comics, like Lula Talisola, Zeen Mrala, Krix, and others that Older created for his High Republic Adventures comics.
I would give Midnight Horizon 3.5 out of 5 lightsabers.
Have you read Midnight Horizon? If so, what did you think? Let me know in the comments and we’ll talk about it!