If you follow this blog, you’ll know that I love the High Republic, the publishing initiative about the Jedi and the Republic at their height that’s been going on for the past couple of years. Besides the fact that there are many talented writers telling this massive story, there are many reasons why I love it, and I thought I’d talk about them here.
- It’s Jedi-centered. I love pretty much everything about Star Wars, but my favorite thing about it is the Jedi. The Jedi and the Force are what define Star Wars for me. And the High Republic books are very Jedi-centric, telling the story of them at their very best, at a time when the Republic, too, is at its height. The Jedi in the prequels, while still very cool, had fallen down a slippery slope away from their ideals, and allowed themselves to be deceived by Darth Sidious. But what were they like when the Sith were still in hiding, when the Republic was expanding its reach, when they were sure of their place in the galaxy? When they stood for defending the innocent, serving the citizens of the galaxy, and helping those in need? How did they get from these ideal Jedi to the flawed ones we see in the prequels? This is that story.
- The Jedi aren’t so rigid with their beliefs and are more forgiving. The prequel Jedi are presented as celibate monks that forbid attachments. And while this true in a sense for the High Republic Jedi as well, they aren’t so rigid about such things. Or rather, they’re more forgiving in these areas. For example, it’s a known and accepted thing for Padawans to often experiment with sex and relationships before they take the Jedi vow. Avar Kriss and Elzar Mann from Phase 1 had done this as Padawans. The reasoning for this, I believe, is for the Padawans to truly understand what they would be giving up once they take the vow–and decide if that’s what they want to do. Once they are Jedi Knights, they are expected to choose the Force over relationships, to commit to the Jedi Path. (And Elzar, even years later, is still having trouble with his feelings for Avar). If they cannot truly commit, however, they are free to leave the Order for a time to figure it all out. And then come back when they’re ready. Master Kantam Sy did this, leaving for a year, taking on a lover, and travelling with a circus (!). He came back when he decided to choose the Force over anything else. Attachments aren’t forbidden–it’s only natural, as a living being, to form attachments; but as a Jedi, you can’t let such attachments take hold over you. It’s a form of not letting your emotions control you, obviously. When someone–your Master or Padawan, or another Jedi, or anyone you care for–dies, you’re expected to grieve, but you can’t live there. You have to let them go, as they are now a part of the Force. Wayseekers are another interesting aspect of this time. If you feel you need to leave the Order and study the Force on your own, you are allowed to do that, with the Order’s approval. Other things, like fancier robes (and more sober mission robes), more personalized lightsabers (Vernestra Rwoh even has a light-whip, and Master Silandra Sho has a lightsaber and a shield) are characteristics of this time. Flexibility and understanding are hallmarks of the Jedi in the High Republic.
- It’s a different time-frame. The first Phase of the High Republic takes place 150 years before the events of The Phantom Menace. Phase 2 takes place another 100 or so years before that. So we see a galaxy that’s a bit different from what we’re familiar with. The Republic is still trying to expand its reach to the Outer Rim, to bring in new worlds and create more hyperspace lanes. We see more of the San Tekkas and Grafs, rival families who are hyperspace prospectors paving new routes throughout the galaxy. Communication lines aren’t perfect; it’s often difficult to contact those in the Outer Rim, due to lack of or malfunctioning communication buoys. Republic Pathfinder teams, made up of a Jedi and their Padawan, a pilot, a medic, and a communications droid, explore the Outer Rim to set up communications with new worlds or help those in need. It feels more Wild West, lol.
- New and interesting villains. With the Sith still in hiding, the creators had to come up with a new and interesting villain. In Phase 1, it is the Nihil, a sort of space-Viking group that is violent and who take what they want without regard to anyone else. Most of the group are uninteresting thugs, but it is headed by a character named Marchion Ro, who is much more complex. He is very mysterious and raises a lot of questions in Phase 1, especially as to his past and his family’s history with the Jedi. It becomes more clear in Phase 2, with The Path of the Open Hand, a Force-cult (who believe the Force should not be manipulated by the Jedi or anyone else) that is the precursor to the Nihil. The Path is led by the Mother, another mysterious figure who discovers the Leveller, a creature that can strike incredible fear into the Jedi and turn them into husks. The Path, I think, will eventually come under the control of Marda Ro, an ancestor of Marchion. I’m curious to see how things will turn out in Phase 3 and how the Jedi will overcome this formidable foe. Oh, also in Phase 1, the Jedi encounter the Drengir, a meat-eating plant monster, lol.
- Some familiar characters. The High Republic has some familiar characters who are long-lived, like Yoda and Yaddle. Yoda, especially, plays a small role in the books, although he is there at some key moments and is a rather comforting presence. He is much more present in the High Republic comics, only a few of which I have read (I can’t keep up with it all, lol). Yaddle plays a larger role in Cataclysm, and I really enjoyed getting to know her better, especially after her appearance in Tales of the Jedi. It’s nice to have familiar characters show up, to anchor you in the world, which states, “Yes, you are in the world of Star Wars.”
These are some of the main reasons I love The High Republic and why it’s been such a satisfying journey so far. There have been books I loved and some I didn’t like as much, but the overall story arc is something I’m totally invested in. Path of Vengeance, the last book of Phase 2 is out now, and then Phase 3 will begin in the fall. I can’t wait!
“We are all the Republic.”
“For Light and Life!”
Have you enjoyed The High Republic? What’s your favorite aspect of it? Let me know in the comments and we’ll talk about it!