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.