High Republic Wednesday: The Fallen Star Review

(There may be some spoilers for The Fallen Star in this post).

by Claudia Gray, PRINT ISBN: 9780593355398 E-TEXT ISBN: 9780593355404

The Fallen Star, by Claudia Gray, is the third adult book in Phase One of The High Republic series, and it does a great job of wrapping up the “beginning of the end” of the the Jedi and The Republic at their very best.

This trilogy has shown the rise of the Nihil, a group of anarchist mauraders who take what they want, when they want, without regard to the lives of others. In Light of the Jedi, the Nihil cause the Great Disaster; in The Rising Storm, they attack the Republic Fair on Valo; and in this book, they insidiously attack the star of Chancellor Lina Soh’s Great Works, Starlight Beacon. Meant to be a light in the darkness of space across the Outer Rim, the state-of-the-art space station is home to a Jedi contingent, an advanced medical bay, and a place of refuge for people who need help.

Once again, the Republic and the Jedi believe the Nihil threat is nearly over, but they are wrong. They have no idea the Eye of the Nihil, their leader, is Marchion Ro, who has worked in the shadows, and who has sent a secret group of followers to the station to incapacitate it. They’ve also smuggled a creature onboard that somehow affects a Jedi’s connection to the Force. So when things start to go wrong, the Jedi are weakened.

Padawan Burryaga helps during the crisis.

Jedi Master Stellan Gios has stepped in as Marshall while Avar Kriss is on a mission to find Lourna Dee, who the Jedi believe is the Nihil leader. Elzar Mann, his good friend and fellow Jedi Master, has joined following a sabbatical after struggling with the dark side in the previous book. Elzar is accompanied by Orla Jareni, a Jedi who has become a Wayseeker, or one who explores the Force on their own, outside of the Order. Also on the station are Jedi Master Nib Assek and her Padawan, the Wookiee Burryaga, Jedi Master Indeera Stokes and her Padawan Bell Zettifar (along with his charhound, Ember, of course), and a Jedi we haven’t seen yet, Regald Coll (who happens to think he’s hilarious).

Also on board are pilots Affie Hollow, Leox Gyasi, and Geode from the Vessel (all were in Gray’s YA book Into the Dark); Nihil collaborators Chancey Yarrow and Nan, who were brought on board as prisoners; as well as several other pilots who happened to be on the station when things start to go wrong.

The Nihil saboteurs manage to sneak on board, cut communications, disable the escape pods and just about everything else; then blow up part of the station which causes them to move into the pull of the planet Eiram’s gravity (the station had been on a mission to help the planet after a devastating storm). So basically Starlight will eventually fall into the planet’s atmosphere and plummet to the surface, presumably killing all on board and a good portion of a coastal city on Eiram.

Orla Jareni and her white double lightsaber.

The Jedi begin a problem-solving mission, but their efforts are sabotaged by the mysterious creature that is roaming the station–one that instills crippling fear and paralysis in any Jedi who comes near, blocks their access to the Force, and that will literally suck the life out of them, reducing them to dry husks if they don’t get away. Several Jedi fall prey to this creature, whose description is deliberately vague, from the disoriented and terrified Jedi’s point of view.

The entire story takes place on the station (except for the few brief scenes with Marchion Ro on his ship), which leads to a kind of claustrophobic feeling, a feeling of urgency and anxiety.

The most interesting character arc in the book for me is Stellan’s–Stellan is a picture-perfect Jedi, the poster boy for the Jedi Order and the face of the Jedi for the Republic. Now, he’s cut off not only from the Order but from the Force itself, and Stellan is having an identity crisis. He doesn’t know who he is outside of the Order or without his connection to the Force, and it seriously affects his confidence. The very name of the book, in my opinion, not only refers to Starlight Beacon, but to Stellan himself. His friends, Elzar and Avar, had always referred to him as their “polestar,” a moral compass for them both. But now Stellan barely knows which way is up, lol.

Leox Gyasi of the Vessel.

Elzar, too, struggles in this story. When he is on retreat with Orla, he comes to realize his descent into dark-side emotions is a result of his denial of his feelings for Avar. Interestingly, I think Elzar is a foil to Anakin. Anakin struggles with similar emotions, and I think he would have done much better during the High Republic. First of all, when Elzar recognizes the dark side in his emotions and actions, he goes straight to his friends, confident that they will help him. And they do. He gets support, love, tears and hugs, special retreats. He’s taught to deal with these emotions, not bury them, not deny them. It’s a different situation, but I can’t help but think of Anakin’s mishandling when I read about Elzar.

Anyway, Elzar has decided to back off from the Force for awhile until he feels confident he’s dealt with these things properly, and as a result, doesn’t initially feel the disorientation the other Jedi feel on the station. This forces him to step up and become a leader when Stellan is out of commission, something he’s never felt comfortable with, and does a fine job. But Elzar isn’t completely out of the dark side woods yet.

Elzar Mann, reluctant leader.

I wish Avar were more a part of this story, but she’s been featured mostly in the comics, so even though she arrives on the station at some point, her part in this story is told in a comic. This frustrates me a bit–I want more of her, and of other characters that have been exclusively in the comics, like Keeve Trennis and Skkeer, but I can barely keep up with the books, never mind the comics (financially anyway, lol). I’m hoping for an omnibus of the High Republic comics soon, so I can get it all in one place, at once.

But that’s a minor complaint. It’s an excellent book, and ends this phase in a dramatic and foreboding way. I’m sad that we won’t see these characters again for awhile, as Phase Two is going even further back in time, to 150 years before this story. I’m disappointed about that, but have faith that the writers know what they’re doing. At least the next book in this wave is a YA book called Midnight Horizon by Daniel Jose Older, and focuses on Jedi I got to know in Gray’s Into the Dark, Master Cohmac Vitus and Padawan Reath Silas.

I would give The Fallen Star 4.5 out of 5 lightsabers.

Have you read The Fallen Star? What did you think? Let me know in the comments and we’ll talk about it!

High Republic Wednesday–Padawan Bell Zettifar

(There are some High Republic novel spoilers here, so beware).

Bell Zettifar is one of the many interesting Padawans in the High Republic universe, and one of the most prominent (at least in the novels), so I thought I’d profile him next.

Bell and Ember.

Bell trained with his master, Loden Greatstorm, at the Jedi Temple Outpost on the Outer Rim planet Elphrona, along with Masters Indeera Stokes and Porter Engle. Bell is a likable young man who has a great respect and love for his master, who pushes him to grow and learn about his Force abilities. Bell, like a lot of Jedi in the High Republic, sees the Force in a unique way–he sees it as fire or flames. Fittingly, Bell has become fast friends with a charhound from Elphrona he named Ember, who can breathe flames. The Jedi from Elphrona don’t chastise Bell for taking on a pet (an “attachment”), but others raise an eyebrow now and then (particularly Stellan Gios, who’s a stickler for rules; but everyone loves Ember anyway).

Bell and his master Loden Greatstorm.

In Light of the Jedi, Loden Greatstorm is presumed killed by the Nihil, but Bell has a difficult time letting him go. Many Jedi, including his new master, Indeera Stokes, advise him on his grief; they tell him it’s okay to grieve, but urge him to let go. But it’s hard for Bell to move on. Before he disappeared, Loden told Bell he was ready to become a Jedi Knight. After, however, Bell couldn’t bring himself to ascend to Jedi Knight without his beloved Master. In The Rising Storm, Bell discovers Loden was not killed by the Nihil but had been taken prisoner by Marchion Ro and tormented for his own nefarious purposes. He and Bell were briefly reunited, but Loden was indeed ultimately killed by an awful Nihil weapon, and Bell had to grieve all over again.

In The Fallen Star, which I’m almost done with, Bell plays a prominent part in trying to save Starlight Beacon, and has become good friends with another Padawan, Burryaga the Wookiee.

You can’t talk about Bell without Ember, who is his constant companion, the best girl, so here are a few renditions of the pair:

High Republic Adventures Annual 2021 variant cover by Jon Lam.
The only artist info I could find on this was “bel on Twitter.”

I just love the idea of a Jedi having an animal companion. Ember is more than a pet; she’s a comrade who’s saved Bell’s life on several occasions, she’s part of the Jedi family, and she’s a good friend.

For light and life! Thanks for reading.

My Entertainment Weekend Update

Happy weekend, my friends!

So I FINALLY received The Fallen Star a week after it was released, and I’m loving everything about it so far. While Light of the Jedi focused on The Great Disaster, and The Rising Storm focused on the Nihil attack on the Republic Fair, this one deals with the insidious Nihil plot to take down Starlight Beacon. Not only do they cripple the station, but they smuggle something on board that affects a Jedi’s access to the Force. “Who will survive when the light of the Jedi goes dark?” I’m afraid to find out! I’ll write a review of the book once I’m done and post it here.

The Fallen Star alternate cover by Jama Jurabaev. It’s no secret the station is destroyed, so no spoilers here.

I just barely started the Wave 2 middle grade book Race to Crashpoint Tower, but since I received Fallen Star I haven’t been reading it. Once I’m done with Fallen Star I’ll get back to it, before the Wave 3 young adult novel Midnight Horizon comes out on Feb. 1. I’m in a High Republic tizzy!

This third wave of High Republic books concludes Phase One (Light of the Jedi) of the planned High Republic publishing initiative. Phase Two starts in the fall sometime, and it’s called Quest of the Jedi. I’ve heard that Phase two will take place 150 years prior to the setting of Phase one, and I’m not sure how I feel about that. I’m disappointed that we won’t be seeing most of the Jedi I’ve been reading about the past few months, and will have to start over with all new characters. One character in Phase one we’ll see in Phase 2 is Jedi Master Porter Engle, who is around 300 years old in the recent books, so he’ll be there 150 years ago. I imagine Yoda will be lurking around somewhere, too, though he hasn’t played a huge part in the High Republic yet (at least not in the novels). I’m just going to trust that the writers know what they’re doing, it’s all planned out, and every phase is going to connect with the others, and it’s going to be great. 🙂

Porter Engle, the “Blade of Bardotta.”

If you’re confused about the whole phase and wave stuff with the High Republic, here’s a handy chart:

  • Phase One: Light of the Jedi
    • Wave One: Light of the Jedi (Adult), Into the Dark (YA), A Test of Courage (MG)
    • Wave Two: The Rising Storm (Adult), Out of the Shadows (YA), Race to CrashpointTower (MG)
    • Wave Three: The Fallen Star (Adult), Midnight Horizon (YA), Mission to Disaster (MG)
  • Phase Two: Quest of the Jedi
  • Phase Three: Trials of the Jedi

I haven’t included the comics, in which a lot of events take place, too.

I enjoyed Episode Three of The Book of Boba Fett this past week, though there were some highs and some lows. If you’d like to read my review of the episode, go here.

In Marvel, I watched Eternals, and I really liked it. It felt kind of weird for a Marvel movie; it was just so different. I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy some new Marvel heroes, but since I fell in love with Shang Chi, I knew there was a good chance I’d accept them into the fold. I’m going to write a post on my thoughts on this movie for Monday, so stay tuned.

There’s a new (ancient) crew in town.

Speaking of Shang Chi, I watched Assembled: The Making of Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. I’ve enjoyed all the other making-of specials, and this one was no exception. I’m so amazed at this being Simu Liu’s first major film, and a Marvel film at that! What an amazing experience for him. And naturally since I watched the special, I wanted to rewatch Shang Chi itself, so I did. This is such a gorgeous movie with a profoundly moving family story. I especially enjoyed Ta Lo and the magical creatures there (that dragon!), and their Tai Chi-inspired fighting style is so beautiful and graceful. I just love everything about it!

That’s it this week. What’s been entertaining you? Let me know in the comments and we’ll talk about it!

High Republic Wednesday–Jedi Master Stellan Gios

I’m really enjoying The High Republic stories I’ve been reading in the new novels, and wanted to do a weekly post on some aspect of them every Wednesday if I can. I don’t read the comics at the moment, in which a lot of the stories take place, but I will focus on the adult and young adult novels, and perhaps middle-grade books if I get to them. (And maybe someday I’ll check out the comics).

For my first post, I’d like to focus on Jedi Master Stellan Gios.

Stellan in his Temple robes. The HR Jedi are a little fancier than the prequel Jedi, and have formal attire for official functions, ceremonies, etc.

Stellan features prominently in the High Republic adult novel The Rising Storm, in which he leads the Jedi in defending the Republic Fair against an attack from the Nihil. His strength is put to the test as he attempts to protect Republic Chancellor Lina Soh and fends off Nihil attackers like the brutal Lourna Dee.

Stellan in his mission robes. Even these are a little fancier than the bathrobes we see the prequel Jedi in.

Stellan is a described as easy on the eyes, a little in love with the sound of his own voice, and one who enjoys being in the limelight. The truth is, he simply loves to teach about the Jedi and the Force, and is always ready to enlighten people. He’s recently become a member of the Jedi High Council, and often feels he isn’t ready to take on the responsibility such a position entails. Like many of the High Republic Jedi, he perceives the Force in a unique way; Stellan sees the force as the firmament, all the stars in the sky (his name is a clue, lol).

Stellan’s unique lightsaber, with its laser crossguard and retracting quillons.

Stellan is friends with fellow Jedi Masters Avar Kriss and Elzar Mann. The three grew up together as Padawans, and have a deep bond. He wasn’t present too much in the first book, The Light of the Jedi (Avar and Elzar starred in that one) but in The Rising Storm, it’s Stellan and Elzar’s relationship that is explored. Elzar is a bit of a loose canon, and Stellan often feels he needs to keep an eye on him, in the best possible way. Their friendship is deep, and they rely on each other for support and advice.

A variant cover of The High Republic comic by Mike Mayhew.

Early on in The Rising Storm, a news reporter named Rhil Dairo has just met Stellan. Here are her thoughts on him:

Rhil liked Stellan. He was a bit stiff, sure…a bit earnest and, on days when she wasn’t feeling generous, a little too keen on the sound of his own voice, but she could tell that his heart was definitely in the right place. Of course, it didn’t hurt that he was a handsome son-of-a-blaster. Oh no, not at all. That chiseled jaw beneath the dashing beard, those blue eyes. And the smile. That smile! That was the real killer, right there. No wonder the Council had decided to make him their poster boy. (p. 55)

Later in the book, after the battle and Stellan is carrying the injured Lina Soh in his arms, these are his thoughts:

Somewhere in the back of his mind, Stellan knew the galaxy was watching. He could hear the whine of the cam droids, almost feel their lenses closing in, picking up every scrap of dirt on his robes, the injuries on his face, the tears in his eyes.

Jedi weren’t supposed to cry. They were supposed to keep their emotions in check. But weren’t they also supposed to feel compassion for those in pain?

For light and life.

For light and…

Stellan heard a whimper, but didn’t realize it was his own.

There was no avoiding the suffering of those whose lives had been torn apart, no avoiding their pain. If he could, if the anguish and the misery didn’t cut him to the quick, then what kind of Jedi would he be? (p. 339)

These two passages really show the two faces of Stellan, the public and the private. I wasn’t sure how I felt about him at the beginning of the book, but by the end, I loved him. Right now I’m finding Elzar Mann a little more interesting (more on him in a future post), but there’s no denying Stellan is a stellar Jedi.

For light and life. Thanks for reading!

My Entertainment Weekend Update

Hello friends!

I’m done with my reread of The Rising Storm, by Cavan Scott, and as I mentioned last week, I enjoyed it more the second time around. The crux of the story revolves around the Republic Fair on the planet Valo, which is attacked by the villainous Nihil. Jedi Masters Stellan Gios and Elzar Mann lead the Jedi in defending against the attack, along with Padawan Bell Zettifar and his devoted charhound, Ember.

Star Wars Holocron on Twitter: "Character of the Day: Ember  https://t.co/H1wwIxdCoY" / Twitter
Aw, what a sweet doggie. She blows fire out of her mouth.

I easily finished the book before The Fallen Star arrives at my door. The next High Republic book by Claudia Gray was released January 4th, but delivery being what it is these days, I’m not expecting it for a few more days. Waiting is hard….but while I’m waiting, I’ll start the middle-grade book Race to Crashpoint Tower, by Justine Ireland. It also takes place during the attack at the Republic Fair, but from the point of view of young Jedi Knight Ram Jamoram (that just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?). It was only 99 cents on Kindle, so why not? 🙂

Meanwhile, I’ve finished my rewatch of the sequel trilogy, with The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker. One of the most interesting aspects of the sequels for me, personally, is my flip-flopping of how I feel about Kylo Ren. After hating him in The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi delves a little more into his history and your feelings soften for him a little bit. You feel a little sorry for him, lol. But then at the beginning of TROS, he’s hardened again, and you think maybe he’s lost for good and there’s no hope for him. Right up until his and Rey’s last duel on the wrecked Death Star, he’s implacable.

Indeed.

And then, suddenly, his mother reaches out to him, and something answers. Rey deals him the death blow, and then heals him. And then the incredibly emotional scene with Han Solo happens, and he throws his wobbly lightsaber into the sea, and you know Ben’s back. It did seem really quick, but then again, throughout the sequels he’d been as wobbly as that lightsaber, feeling the pull of the light, struggling, torn, miserable. I really didn’t know which way he’d go until the very end. He’s one of the most interesting characters in Star Wars, in my opinion, and it helps that Adam Driver is such a great actor.

So, onto the second episode of The Book of Boba Fett, The Tribes of Tatooine. This was a great episode, and a lot happened, with a lot to take in. Hutts! A terrifying Wookiee named Black Krrsantan! Pykes and spice! A dream-inducing lizard up the nose! So many cool things. I like how we’re getting more cultural stuff about the Tuskens–we got a little bit in The Mandalorian, and there’s some interesting stuff in the book Kenobi that I recently read (although it’s Legends). They’re more than just savage brutes. I’m just learning that the warrior that teaches Boba how to fight with the gaffi stick is a female, which is awesome. (She’s played by stuntwoman Joanna Bennett).

Why Boba Fett's evil Wookiee is more important than you realise
This is one scary Wookiee. He and Boba have a history in the comics.

But besides all that, I think it’s important that we see Boba’s spiritual journey in these flashback scenes. Once he climbed out of that Sarlacc, he was reborn, and now he has to face trials, both physical and spiritual, to figure out who he really is and what he wants now. He needs to become more than his father’s clone, more than a bounty hunter. In Legends, Boba also escapes the Sarlacc, but he remains a bounty hunter for the rest of his life, for the most part. As a main character now, he needs to be more than that, and I think this show is doing a great job telling that story. I love the soundtrack, by the way.

So with this new year, I’m going to be doing more blog posts, and I’ll write briefly about that in my Monday post. Stay tuned.

That’s it for now; what’s been entertaining you? Let me know in the comments and we’ll talk about it!

My Entertainment Weekend Update

Happy New Year, my friends!

I’m continuing my reread of The Rising Storm, by Cavan Scott, and I find I’m enjoying it much more this second time around. I’m not sure why, but it happens to me a lot–I’ll reread something, or rewatch a film, and like it a lot more than the first time. I guess I just need time to absorb and think about the story and see it from a new perspective. Or maybe the timing just needs to be right. I’m so ready to continue the story of The High Republic, and can’t wait for The Fallen Star next week!

The Book Of Boba Fett Episode 1 Breakdown & Easter Eggs Explained
This Tusken knows what’s what.

So of course the first episode of The Book of Boba Fett premiered this past week, and like many others, I’m cautiously optimistic about the series. As I’ve mentioned before, I was never a huge fan of the guy, but his appearance in The Mandalorian piqued my interest. The first show answered some of our questions, like how he got out of the Sarlaac, and what happened just after. I thought it a clever device to show the flashbacks while he was in the bacta tank. As for ruling in Jabba’s (and Bib Fortuna’s) wake, I don’t think he entirely knows what he’s doing, lol, but he’s figuring it out as he goes along, with Fennec’s help. We have to shift our view of him from being a villain to being the protagonist of his own show, which means he can’t be a villain, not entirely. As the main character, we need to root for him, so he needs some redeeming qualities. I think his experiences with his near-death in the Sarlaac and the trials with the Tuskens changed him, at least a little. And I’m okay with that; it makes him more interesting, at least to me. I’m looking forward to the upcoming episodes and to see where this leads.

It’s not the inhibitor chip; he’s just naturally a jerk.

After my rewatch of The Clone Wars, I wasn’t intending on continuing with the animated series, but it just naturally segued into The Bad Batch, transitioning from the Republic to the Empire after Order 66. The first episode, Aftermath, is fantastic, but I found, again, that I enjoyed watching the series more this second time around than the first. Maybe it’s because I can binge-watch it rather than wait a week between episodes. I don’t know, but I just love it. I didn’t love Clone Force 99 right off the bat when they first showed up in The Clone Wars, but I love them now, every single one. Even Crosshair, that bastard, lol. There are a lot of things I’d love to see in Season 2, and I’ll probably do a little post about it as its premier gets closer (I don’t think we have a specific date yet).

This still hurts. A lot.

Seems I’m doing a lot of rewatching/rereading of familiar territory, as I rewatched The Force Awakens on New Year’s Eve. I don’t care what anyone says, it’s such a great movie. I’ll never forget how I felt when I watched it for the first time in the theater in 2016: I was so incredibly excited to be watching a new Star Wars movie. To see Han, Chewie, Leia, Threepio and Artoo, as well as a batch of interesting new characters, was amazing, and it reignited my love for the franchise. I never thought I’d see these characters on film again, and here they were, so many years later, dealing with new bad guys, and incredibly painful personal stuff. No Star Wars movie is perfect (except perhaps Empire), but they’re all enjoyable, this one included. I’ll probably watch the rest of the sequel trilogy this weekend.

So with the new year comes new goals and resolutions, and one of mine (besides cutting down on the dark chocolate consumption, lol) is getting back to writing, specifically the Star Wars fan fiction I began a couple of months ago, and predictably, set aside. I really like the story idea and the characters I’ve created, so I’m not sure why I put it down (I suspect it’s simply laziness, lol), but I intend to get back to it and stay in it. If I accomplish one thing in the coming year, I’d like it to be a finished story that I can be proud of and that I enjoyed writing.

So that’s it for this week (and this year!) What’s been entertaining you lately? Any New Year’s resolutions? Let me know in the comments and we’ll talk about it!

A Whole Lotta Star Wars Books Next Year

As a booklover and a Star Wars fan, there’s a lot to be excited about for 2022. There’s a ton of Star Wars books coming out, and I’ve pre-ordered nearly all of them. Looks like I’ll be a very busy reading bee next year! Here’s a run-down of what’s coming up:

The High Republic:

The Fallen Star The High Republic by Claudia Gray - Lucasfilm, Star Wars Books

The Fallen Star, by Claudia Gray. January 4th. Adult. The second wave of the High Republic stories is kicked off by this adult novel which continues the Jedi’s struggles against the Nihil. I love Claudia Gray’s novels, so I have very high expectations for this one.

Midnight Horizon, by Daniel Jose Older. Feb. 1st. YA. The young adult entries in the High Republic have been hit or miss with me, but this one concerns Reath Silas, a Jedi Padawan that I’m particularly fond of. So I have high hopes.

There’s also:

Queen’s Hope, by E.K. Johnston. April 5th. YA. I’ve enjoyed the previous two entries of the Padme series (a character who’s often gotten short shrift, in my opinion), and this third in the trilogy promises to be the best of the bunch. It concerns Padme’s marriage to Anakin during the Clone Wars, and I’m eager to see her side of the story.

And then there’s also a new batch of canon Star Wars:

Star Wars: Brotherhood by [Mike Chen]

Brotherhood, by Mike Chen. May 10th. (Adult? I think so.) This book centers on Obi-Wan and Anakin on a mission to Cato Neimoidia during the Clone Wars, and maybe we’ll get an answer to Obi-Wan’s cryptic reference to “that business” of Anakin saving him that “doesn’t count.” At any rate, it’s an Obi-Wan and Anakin adventure, and I’m so here for it. Maybe it will coincide with the Obi-Wan series on Disney+?

Stories of Jedi and Sith. June 7th. Middle-grade short stories. This one isn’t as high on my list, but I’m sure I’ll check it out at some point. I recognize a few of the authors and they’re quite good, so I’m betting these stories have a lot to offer.

Shadow of the Sith, by Adam Christopher. June 28th. Adult. No cover yet. This is the one people are frothing at the mouth for–it’s a post ROTJ Luke story (finally!) And it refers to events that will take place in the sequel trilogy: Luke and Lando are pursuing Ochi of Bestoon, a Sith assassin tasked with kidnapping a young girl–Rey. This one comes out on my birthday, and it will make a splendid birthday present to myself, lol.

Padawan, by Kiersten White. July 26th. YA. No cover yet. This one is about Obi-Wan when he is newly apprenticed to Qui Gon Jinn, on a mission to a planet with Force-wielding kids and teens. This one sounds fun, and really, there can never be too much Obi-Wan Kenobi, right?

I’m looking forward to ALL of these books, and I’ll be in Star Wars book heaven for at least half the year.

Are you looking forward to any of these books? Let me know in the comments and we’ll talk about it!

The Next Wave of High Republic Books

I was thrilled to see recently some revealed covers for the next wave of High Republic books that will be coming out starting in January 2022, and thought I’d share them here. To recap, here are the first two waves of Phase One (Called the Light of the Jedi):

Phase One, Wave One:

  • Light of the Jedi (Adult), by Charles Soule
  • Into the Dark (YA), by Claudia Gray
  • A Test of Courage (Middle Grade), by Justina Ireland

Phase One, Wave Two:

  • The Rising Storm (Adult), by Cavan Scott
  • Out of the Shadows (YA), by Justina Ireland
  • Race to Crashpoint Tower (Middle Grade), by Daniel Jose Older

I’ve read all of the Adult and YA books, but only one of the Middle Grade books, A Test of Courage, and only because I accidentally ordered it on Kindle, lol. It was actually pretty good! Here’s the next upcoming wave:

Phase One, Wave Three

This is the Adult novel. Looks like Stellan Gios, Orla Jareni, Bell Zettifar, Burryaga and Indeera Stokes.
May be an image of 2 people and text that says 'STAR WARS THE HIGH REPUBLIC MIDNIGHT HORIZON NEW YORK TIMES BEST SE SELL ING AL THOR DANIEL JOSÉ OLDER'
Young Adult novel. I believe that’s Padawan Reath Silas and his master, Cohmac Vitus.
May be a cartoon of text that says 'STAR WARS THE HIGH REPUBLIC MISSION TO DISASTER NE NEW YORK TIMESBEST SE ING AU THOR JUSTINA IRELAND'
Middle Grade novel. Vernestra Rwoh and her Padawan Imri.

There’s a ton of High Republic comics out there, too, but I don’t read those. I try to keep up with the events in them, but I can’t always do that. One I’d love to read, however, is this upcoming comic with Marchion Ro in it. He’s a fascinating character, and I’d love to know more about him.

May be an anime-style image of text that says 'MARVEL 1 STARWARS THE HIGH REPUBLIC EYE OF THE STORM RATED $3.99US STIVG RYAN'
That’s Loden Greatstorm’s lightsaber, by the way. Thief!

The three Phases of the High Republic are:

  • Phase One: Light of the Jedi
  • Phase Two: Quest of the Jedi
  • Phase Three: Trial of the Jedi

Each Phase has three waves, I’m assuming, so that means a lot more High Republic books, and a lot more great stories! What I really love about the High Republic is that it focuses on the Jedi, for the most part, which is my favorite part of Star Wars. Anything Jedi, and I’m on board, lol.

What do you think of these covers? Do you like the High Republic books? Let me know in the comments and we’ll talk about it!

Weekend Update: Star Wars, Marvel and Vampires

Happy weekend Star Wars friends!

So I finally caught up with all of my reading and finished four, count ’em, four books this week!

  • Out of the Shadows, by Justina Ireland. I finally finished this YA High Republic Star Wars book, mainly featuring young Jedi Knight Vernestra Rwoh and a young hauler named Sylvestri Yarrow. I’m really enjoying the High Republic stories, and this one’s not bad, but I also felt it was kind of all over the place. There seemed to be a lot going on, and yet nothing really seemed to happen, if that makes sense. There was a lot of characterization, which I like, but the plot was a bit dull, concerning a possible Nihil weapon being built in an out of the way sector of space. But it’s about Jedi, which is what I love about the High Republic, so I’ll keep reading!
  • Freefall, by Alex Segura. This is the other YA Star Wars novel I’ve been working through, this one about a young Poe Dameron and his time with the Spice Runners of Kijimi. This one was fine, as well, a solid story about 16-year-old Poe wanting to get away from the boredom of Yavin 4 and kind of accidentally getting involved in the Spice Runner organization. The only reason he really stays is because of Zorii Bliss, but she is clearly more invested in the group than he is. It’s a decent coming of age story for Poe, when he finally decides what path he wants to pursue in his life.
  • Truth and Other Lies, by Lyra Wolf. This is the latest Loki novel I’ve read, and it concerns mythical Loki and his relationships with the other gods of Asgard. This one is borderline paranormal romance, and it seems Loki’s slept with quite a few of them, including Sif, Thor’s wife, and Odin himself. But it’s when he meets the human woman Sygin that he falls head over heels. It’s also a sign that Ragnorok is coming, with Loki at its center, as The Destroyer of Worlds. Quite entertaining, actually. It’s the first of a trilogy, and I’ll be starting the second book, The Order of Chaos, soon. Here Loki is ginger-haired and green-eyed, incredibly vain but witty and passionate.
  • I Was Anastasia, by Ariel Lawhon. This is a novel my book club is reading, and it’s split between the events leading up to the murder of the Romanov family in 1918, and the story of Anna Anderson, the woman who claimed to be Anastasia. Since Anderson was proven a fraud in 2007 through DNA results, the book was less about “is she or isn’t she?” and more about “how in the world did this woman pretend to be Anastasia for 60 years? And why?” Although I was more interested in the real Anastasia and the lead-up to the murders, this was an interesting and ultimately heartbreaking read, for both Anastasias.

With all these books finished, what’s next? Well, the next Loki book, as I mentioned, as well as the next book club book, which we’ll choose in a few days. But I was also thinking about exploring the Old Republic in the Star Wars universe. I haven’t done that yet, and since there will be no more High Republic books out until January (except the comics) I thought it was high time. So I’ve ordered the first Revan book by Drew Karpyshyn. I think I’m ready to dive into that era of Star Wars.

On the Marvel front, I watched All Hail the King, a short (15 min) film with the Mandarin aka Trevor Slattery, the “villain”/actor from Ironman 3, and his time in prison. At first it seemed kind of pointless, if diverting, but then it got to the point in linking to the new Marvel movie Shang Chi and the Ten Rings. Oh, okay. So there’s that. (I haven’t seen Shang Chi yet, and probably won’t until it comes out on Disney+. But don’t quote me on that).

Marvel's What If...? is more important to the MCU than you think
Dr. Strange prepares to face….Dr. Strange.

I much more enjoyed the new What If? episode with Dr. Strange. These shows have been fun and entertaining, with characters switching roles or what have you, but this one was really quite moving and heartbreaking. Besides Loki, Dr. Strange is my favorite Marvel character, and this is my favorite What If? by far. This one wasn’t so much about a hero turning evil (although that’s what happens), but about grief and the impact it has on an individual, and the entire universe. Really good stuff. I’m just wondering who the heck The Watcher is, to be honest. What’s his purpose? He can’t interfere, he can’t change things. He’s not a god, as he tells Dr. Strange, the first time he’s actually spoken to anyone he watches. I guess he’s just a celestial observer of some sort, lol.

Finally, in my quest to acquaint myself with more Tom Hiddleston work, I discovered a gem called Only Lovers Left Alive. TH and his Marvel co-star Tilda Swinton (The Sorceress Supreme–who happened to show up in the What If episode above) are modern-day vampires that have been alive for several centuries. Now, I haven’t been into vampires since Anne Rice in the 90s, but this film was really quite fabulous. It meanders along like a dream, with Adam and Eve (yeah, those are their names, lol) doing their vampire thing–Adam is a musician, creating music (anonymously) and tinkering with technology in an abandoned part of Detroit, while his wife Eve lives in Tangier with her multitudes of books, hanging out with her vampire friend Christopher Marlowe (yeah, that one) who apparently wrote all of Shakespeare’s works. They don’t kill people for blood (not anymore, anyway) and have to find it some other way, especially since most people these days have contaminated blood (alcohol, drugs, chemicals, etc.) Mostly they just hang around and listen to music and talk about Life and stuff. But then Eve’s wild sister Ava shows up and causes trouble. I absolutely loved it! Hipster vampires, lol. Oh, and I love how Adam calls humans “zombies.”

Adam and Eve chillin’.

That’s it for this week. What’s been entertaining you? Let me know in the comments and we’ll talk about it!

Star Wars: Minor Character Showcase–Lor San Tekka

Star Wars obviously has some great main characters, but it’s also filled with intriguing minor characters as well. So I thought it would be fun to do a series on these small but significant characters in the various Star Wars films.

The first one that came to mind, and seemed the most interesting to me, was Lor San Tekka (played by Max von Sydow). If you’ll remember, he was the person Poe Dameron met on Jakku at the beginning of The Force Awakens and received some important information from him. It turned out to be a partial map that led to Ach-To, location of the first Jedi Temple, and of the missing Luke Skywalker as well.

Star Wars Characters, Planets, and Vehicles | StarWars.com
Lor San Tekka

When I first saw TFA, I had so many questions about this character: who was he, actually, and how did he acquire this information? How did he know Leia? How did Poe find him? And what the heck was his name (it was never mentioned in the film)?

We learn his name in the The Force Awakens Visual Dictionary, along with some other vital information about him. I don’t have that book, but learned some things about San Tekka during the course of my own research.

Lor San Tekka with Poe Dameron on Jakku.

It turns out that San Tekka is a member of The Church of the Force, which is a group of beings who are not Force sensitive but believe in the power of the Force, and that there can be no balance in the Force until the Jedi return. The Church was forced to go underground during the Imperial era, but had more freedom during the New Republic. The village he was in on Jakku, Tanual, was made up of members of the Church of the Force (who unfortunately were all killed by Kylo Ren’s forces, as well as San Tekka himself).

Speaking of Kylo Ren, Lor San Tekka makes an appearance in the comic The Rise of Kylo Ren. San Tekka is an explorer, and one of his missions as a member of the Church of the Force is to locate ancient Jedi artifacts. Luke Skywalker, after the Battle of Endor, explores the galaxy also looking for Jedi artifacts before he begins to rebuild the Jedi Order. San Tekka accompanied Luke on several missions, including in The Rise of Kylo Ren. This is presumably how Leia knew him, and Kylo Ren, of course.

Kylo Ren: “Look how old you have become.”

Lor San Tekka: “Something far worse has happened to you.”

From The Force Awakens
Lor San Tekka with Luke Skywalker and a young Ben Solo in the comic The Rise of Kylo Ren.

So how did Poe find him? This is recounted in the comic Star Wars: Poe Dameron. In it, Poe and his team, Black Squadron, follow in San Tekka’s exploratory footsteps. They meet with a spiritual people called the Creche, whom San Tekka lived with for a time to learn about their culture.

Poe looking for San Tekka in Star Wars: Poe Dameron.

Light of the Jedi Spoiler Alert!

Lor San Tekka is an explorer, and he comes from a long line of galactic explorers. One thing I found very interesting in the High Republic novel Light of the Jedi is that we meet some San Tekka ancestors. Marlowe San Tekka and his husband Vellis are visited by Jedi Knights Avar Kriss and Elzar Mann, during their investigation into the Great Disaster. Since the Disaster occurred in hyperspace, they went to the San Tekkas, who are the head of the San Tekka empire: the family had made their fortune in hyperspace prospecting, finding routes through the wild spaces of the galaxy. It was dangerous work, but the San Tekkas seemed to have a knack for it and sold the navigational data for a fee.

There’s another San Tekka in the book, one that Marlowe and Vellis know about but don’t share with the Jedi: Mari San Tekka. She was a relation who had been kidnapped by the Nihil when she was young, and is now over 100 years old. Mari has a special talent: she can find routes through hyperspace with her mind alone, and can navigate a ship through these paths with her mind. The Nihil–specifically, Marchion Ro and his father before him–have used that ability to give the Nihil the gift of the Paths and made them strong. It also caused the Great Disaster, orchestrated by Marchion Ro.

So Lor San Tekka comes from an important, and formerly wealthy, family (they might still be wealthy, I don’t know) connected to hyperspace lanes. He comes from a long line of explorers, people who may have had a special (Force connected?) talent in finding these routes.

I find this information about a minor character from a Star Wars movie all very fascinating. It took me a few years to figure out who the guy actually was and get my questions answered, lol, but that’s okay. I’m very eager to find out more about the San Tekkas in later installments of the High Republic novels.

Star Wars: Poe Dameron comic

What do you think of Lor San Tekka? Let me know in the comments and we’ll talk about it!