Path of Deceit: Character Gallery

I’m going to admit right off the bat that I didn’t have the energy to do a proper “review” of the first book of The High Republic Phase 2, Path of Deceit, by Justina Ireland and Tessa Gratton. But I did love the book, so instead I’m doing a little tour of the characters through images, which seemed a lot more fun to me.

Kevmo Zink. Kevmo is a Jedi Padawan, a Pantoran who has an exuberant and outgoing personality. He and his master are conducting an investigation on Dalna concerning stolen Force artifacts. He immediately meets Marda Ro, a shy, sweet girl who is a member of the Force cult The Path of the Open Hand, and they are immediately attracted. The problem is, the Path believe that the Force should be “free” and not manipulated in any way, especially the way the Jedi use the Force. It’s a point of contention between them, but they try to understand each other’s differing points of view. Kevmo is a bit flirty for a Jedi, and must be reminded by his master about attachments.

Zallah Macri. Zallah is Kevmo’s Jedi Master. She is Soikan, and therefore very calm and focused, a good counterpoint to Kevmo’s exuberance. She and Kevmo are investigating the theft of a Force artifact from the Queen of Hynestia. When they learn of the Path of the Open Hand, she encourages Kevmo’s friendship with Marda in order to learn more about them and if they are possibly connected to the theft. But they have a difficult time meeting with the Path’s leader, who is called The Mother.

Marda Ro. Marda is a member of the Path of the Open Hand, who watches over and teaches the children of the group. Marda is a true believer, passionate about the Path and their beliefs. They believe that if the Force is manipulated in any way, it has ripple effects and causes damage somewhere else. When she sees Kevmo using the Force simply to float a flower in the air, it greatly upsets her. Marda and her cousin, Yana, are Evereni, a species that is rarely seen in the galaxy and who have a bad reputation. Marda, sheltered on Dalna with the Path since she was a young child, doesn’t understand the prejudice, but does her best to be a good person and member of the group. Marda, unlike her cousin, is quite naive, believing that the Path doesn’t “steal” artifacts, they simply “liberate” them from those who would use them and corrupt the Force. Her cousin is far more cynical, being one of the members who do steal the artifacts, and often kill those who own or guard them. Marda’s beliefs and loyalties will be tested in the book.

The Mother. Her name is Eleni, but everyone calls her The Mother. She didn’t found the Path, and no one really knows where she came from, but she has Force visions that guide her decisions for the Path. When she receives an artifact that looks like a glowing purple egg, she becomes more reclusive, obsessed with the egg and never letting it out of her sight. If she had good intentions previously, she definitely becomes more sinister when the egg comes into her life.

The Herald. The Herald is one of the Elders of the Path and its previous leader. He now defers to the Mother. He is the father of Kor, Yana’s girlfriend, and has a part to play towards the end of the book.

Sunshine Dobbs. A prospector with the unlikely name of Sunshine, Dobbs is the one who brought the purple egg, which he found on a planet beyond the Outer Rim, to the Mother. Immediately upon meeting her, he seemed to fall under her spell, and became willing to do anything for her.

The Nameless. This lovely fellow is the Nameless, also called the Leveler, or Shrii Ka Rai or Eaters of the Force (so not really nameless, right?). He is what eventually came out of the purple egg (clearly a dark side artifact) the Mother tended so lovingly. The Nameless have the power to kill Jedi through utter and extreme fear, turning them to ash. Presumably the Mother will use it against the Jedi and their offensive use of the Force. What other plans she has in mind remains a mystery for now.

This was a great book that hints at the origins of the Nihil and their leader Marchion Ro, who are the main villains in Phase One of The High Republic books. I can’t wait to read the rest of Phase Two to get a clearer picture of what led to the events of Phase One.

My Entertainment Weekend Update: What I’ve been up to

Hello friends, and happy weekend!

I’ve been away for awhile. My 86-year-old mom, who broke her hip some six weeks ago, passed away on Oct. 3rd. It was a fairly quick, but painful, decline, and it was the most difficult time of my life (and I’ve been through some stuff). I needed some time to process everything and grieve, and while that will continue for a long while yet, part of me knew that I wanted to get back to blogging soon. One of the things that kept me sane during Mom’s situation, besides my wonderful family, was continuing to read and watch all the stories that I love. It’s pure escapism, yes, but the point is I found small nuggets of joy during a very dark time.

And so, here’s a few of the things that saved me (and I really mean that) the past few months:

First off, let’s talk about Andor. I knew I was probably going to like this show when it was announced, and when I saw the first trailers, I knew I was going to love it. And it really has surpassed all of my expectations. I can’t say that I love it more than, say Obi-Wan Kenobi or The Mandalorian. I just love it differently. Or rather, for different reasons. Andor is the show that I knew Star Wars could be, if its approach changed. It’s “serious” Star Wars. It’s gritty, it’s mature (but not in a Rated-R kind of way; its maturity lies in suggestiveness), it’s political-thriller-noir. In a word, it’s sophisticated, without a lot of the camp or pulp that can define so many Star Wars projects (which I also love, by the way). It’s a slow burn that leads up to explosive violence, and then starts over again.

Andor is different–it doesn’t feel like Star Wars, somehow, but it’s also undeniably Star Wars, if that makes sense. And that might push a lot of people away, while others embrace it. From what I can tell, I’m not seeing any hate towards it, but if you love it, you really love it, or if not, it’s just not your cup of tea. And that’s fine. But I’m totally engrossed and invested, and can’t wait to see the next episode. Oh, and I love the music!

If I’m going to nitpick, it’s something that another blogger pointed out and that I hadn’t really thought about until she did: there aren’t many aliens in this show. There’s a plethora of humans, and on the Empire side I can understand that, since they’re so xenophobic. But everywhere else? Not many. There’s that tall furry guy on Farrix that Cassian talked to, and quite a few in the background on that resort planet he went to. And…that’s it? Now that it’s been pointed out, their absence is glaring to me. Huh. Maybe more will show up in later episodes.

The other show I’ve been watching is The Rings of Power. Season One just ended, and now I have to wait a long time for Season Two, lol. I’m one of the viewers that absolutely loved it. I know there are criticisms, and complaints that it mangles Tolkien’s work. I’m no Tolkien expert, so maybe that’s why I don’t give a fig and love the series. I’m a huge fan of Peter Jackson’s movies, and I’ve read The Lord of the Rings. I’ve tried to read The Silmarillion several times, and simply gave up after awhile. It’s more of a history book rather than a novel, and that just doesn’t work for me. Sorry. But it’s still on my shelf as a kind of reference.

Anyway, I think the writers did what they could to distill the Second Age into something watchable, and it worked for me. I loved all the story arcs, and didn’t feel there were too many. I loved the young versions of Galadriel and Elrond. The supporting characters were wonderful. I especially loved the friendship between Elrond and Durin. I could watch them all day, lol. Arondir was another favorite. I was totally heartbroken that a certain someone turned out to be Sauron, but in hindsight (and a rewatch) it’s not surprising. Some people thought the Harfoots were silly, but I found them charming. What can I say, I’m easily entertained, lol.

One thing that sticks in my craw is that no one can survive a pyroclastic flow from an erupted volcano. We’re talking thousands of degrees here, people. Fantasy show or not, that’s just not within the realm of believability, from a simple biological perspective. But that’s my only nitpick. Otherwise, it’s just a gorgeous and entertaining show.

I also watched all six episodes of Tales of the Jedi. This was a fun group of animated shorts that focused on key moments in the lives of two Jedi during the prequel era: Count Dooku and Ahsoka Tano. At first glance, they seem like very different people, but they have one thing in common: they both became disillusioned with the Jedi and left the Order. But the choices they made leading up to their departure, as well as afterward, show their differences. I loved both story arcs, but we already know quite a bit about Ahsoka; it was Count Dooku’s story that was really interesting. I never read Dooku: Jedi Lost (but I might do so now), but besides that, there really wasn’t that much out there that shed any light on his character and what, exactly, led up to him leaving the Jedi and turning to Sidious. I find I understand his character much better now, and maybe even feel a little bit sorry for him (but only a little). As for Ahsoka, her last episode was a kind of distilled version of the Ahsoka novel, and I’m okay with that. Oh, and Yaddle! It was so cool seeing her in action.

Onto books: I read and loved the Star Wars High Republic novel Path of Deceit, by Justina Ireland and Tessa Gratton. (I originally thought I was going to wait a bit on the High Republic books, but who am I kidding?) It’s a YA novel, the first book out of Phase 2, which takes place 150 years before the events of Phase 1. It takes place on Dalna, a familiar planet from Phase 1, and concerns mostly the two young protagonists: Kevmo Zink, a male Pantoran who is Padawan to Jedi Knight Zallah Macri; and Marda Ro, an Evereni female who is a member of the Force cult The Path of the Open Hand. The Path believes that the Force must be “free,” meaning it should not be manipulated in any way, including, of course, the way the Jedi use the Force. It’s considered a sacrilege. The Jedi are on Dalna investigating the theft of a Force artifact, which happens to have been stolen by the Path (they call it “liberating” the Force by keeping these artifacts from those who would use them).

Kevmo and Marda form an instant attraction, but Marda has a hard time reconciling his Force use, and Kevmo needs to be reminded about attachments from his master. I knew their feelings for each other would only lead to ruin, and I was right. No spoilers, but it’s not a happy ending. And the fact that Marda’s last name is Ro (the same as the main villain in Phase 1) doesn’t bode well, either. I might do a book review in another post later, because I really enjoyed this one and there’s so much to discuss.

On my Kindle, I finished Crash of Fate, by Zoraida Cordova (who happens to be the author of the next HR novel, Convergence, out on November 22nd). This is a YA novel that takes place during the sequel era, at Black Spire Outpost on Batuu. I really enjoyed Black Spire by Delilah Dawson, an adult novel that takes place on Batuu as well, so I thought I’d revisit it. The book was fine–two young people who grew up on Batuu together are reunited years later and fall in love, all the while having adventures together at the Outpost. We see familiar faces and places of the planet, and it’s fun but ultimately rather forgettable. They do eventually run into some Resistance members that have taken up residence there from the book Black Spire, but they’re just making a delivery and it’s a very brief moment. I kind of wish the Resistance played a bigger part in the story, or maybe even seen Vi Moradi. Oh well. At the end of the book it’s implied that the two young people may join the Resistance, but that’s it.

In between Star Wars books I’ve been reading The Broken Earth series by J.K. Nemisin. I’m on the second book of the trilogy, The Obelisk Gate. This series is so absorbing; it’s unlike anything I’ve read before. I can’t even begin to explain it, and this post has gone on long enough, lol, so I’ll just say if you like apocalyptic fantasy, or African-inspired fantasy like the stories of Nnedi Okorafor, you’ll want to read this.

Anyway, that’s what’s been keeping me afloat during this sad time of my life. I thought I wouldn’t be able to focus on anything because of my grief, but I just turned to these things even more fiercely. Mom would have wanted it that way.