It’s been a pretty busy first half of 2023 for Star Wars fans, what with The Mandalorian and The Bad Batch episodes, the Jedi: Survivor game, and the High Republic book releases, all the way up through May. June is a quiet month (unless you’re a comics reader), but starting in July, we’ll have at least one Star Wars project I’m looking forward to each month to the end of the year.
July: Inquisitor:Rise of the Red Blade, by Delilah S. Dawson. July 18. Inquisitors are compelling characters–fallen Jedi, often younglings or Padawans who were captured and turned to the dark side rather than killed during Order 66. The young ones are easier to influence, obviously. Iskat Akaris is one such Jedi, and this is her story. There’s something both fascinating and horrifying about watching a formerly innocent young Jedi turn from a good-hearted soul to an evil one. For Reva, from the Obi-Wan Kenobi series, her motivation was revenge. I’m interested to see how Iskat’s story unfolds. I’ve really enjoyed Dawson’s Star Wars books, like Phasma and Black Spire, so I’m guessing this is going to be a great read. Here’s an excerpt:
August: Ahsoka series. Woo-hoo! This is the series we’re all looking forward to right now, and I can’t wait to see it. Rosario Dawson as Ahsoka Tano is pretty awesome, and based on the teaser trailer we got from Celebration this year, I have so many questions! Are Ahsoka and Sabine already looking for Ezra, or will that come to be in the show? Will we see Ezra this season (apart from a hologram)? Who are the dark Force-users with the orange lightsabers (and I’m so sad to hear of Ray Stevenson’s death; watching his performance will be bittersweet)? And will Thrawn be a big part of it? There’s no specific release date, only that it will premier in August. Here’s a link to the teaser trailer:
September: Tales of Light and Life, by various authors. I’ve seen release dates of July 25th and Sept. 5th, and I’m not sure which one is right, so I’ll just put it in September for now. Four High Republic authors–Zoraida Cordova, Justina Ireland, Lydia Kang and Tessa Gratton–offer some High Republic short fiction that adds to the already ambitious storyline. I’ve been loving the High Republic books and I can’t wait to see what this collection brings to the table.
October: Crimson Climb, by E.K. Johnston. Oct. 10. This is the story of Qi’ra that we don’t get to see in Solo: A Star Wars Story: when Han escapes Corellia and she doesn’t. Dragged back to the White Worm Gang, she is eventually bought by Dryden Vos of the crime syndicate Crimson Dawn. This book will go into detail of what she had to do to earn Vos’ trust and rise in the ranks to become who we see in the movie. Johnston wrote the Padme trilogy of books, as well as the Ahsoka book, all of which I enjoyed, so I’m guessing I’ll like this one, too.
November: High Republic Phase 3 The Eye of Darkness. Nov. 14. There’s not much information on Phase 3 of the High Republic yet, or even a cover for its first book, but we do know that it will be returning to the era and characters of Phase 1. Phase 2 was great, but I’m eager to get back to Avar Kriss, Elzar Mann, Bell Zettifar, and the many others that I came to know and love. I don’t know if this will be the adult or YA novel of Wave 1, but no matter. They’re all good! George Mann wrote a middle grade book in Phase 2, so this could be either/or. Excited for this!
December:Skeleton Crew series? This is a guesser for me, because we still don’t have a release date for Skeleton Crew besides “sometime in 2023,” and late 2023 seems logical. And it could perhaps be pushed back further due to the writer’s strike still going on (which I very much support, btw). But this story of a group of kids who rattle around the galaxy with a Force-sensitive pilot played by Jude Law sounds like it could be fun. I really don’t know much else about it, but I do hope we see it sooner rather than later.
So mostly books, and a couple of shows, and that makes me really happy. What are you looking forward to in Star Wars for the rest of the year? Let me know in the comments and we’ll talk about it!
Path of Vengeance, by Cavan Scott (Canon). This YA novel is the final book in Phase 2 of the High Republic, and at 500 pages, it was a whopper of a good book. It continues the story of Marda and Yana Ro, of the Wave 1 YA book Pathof Deceit. It spans the events of the Battle of Jedha (as told in the Battle of Jedha audiobook) and the Battle of Dalna (as told in Cataclysm), and follows the doings of the two Evereni cousins, Marda and Yana, from the Path of the Open Hand. We hadn’t seen them since the Wave 1 YA novel, Path of Deceit. Marda is still naively following the Mother, the self-proclaimed prophet of the group, and Yana, disillusioned with the Mother after the death of her girlfriend on a mission from the Mother, is trying to distance herself; she keeps getting pulled back in with concern for her younger cousin. She also forms an uneasy alliance with her deceased girlfriend’s father, the Herald, who the Mother threw under the bus during the Battle of Jedha. They return to Dalna together, he to wrest power from the Mother, and Yana to try to convince her cousin to leave the Path. But Marda is already gone when she arrives: she’s on another mission from the Mother, this time to Planet X to retrieve more eggs of the Nameless, the Force-feeding monsters that kill Jedi. I find it interesting that both the Ro’s talk to and have visions of their dead loved ones: Marda sees Kevmo, a Jedi Padawan she loved and who was killed in Path of Deceit; and Yana sees her dead girfriend, Kor. They’re not really actual ghosts, but extensions of their conscience and their own inner dialogue. It’s also the story of Matty Cathely, a Jedi Padawan who is sent to Jedha, and Jedi Master Olivia Zeveron, who has a surprising connection to the Mother. This book is a very satisfying end to Phase 2, even though I still have some questions–I’m hoping Phase 3 will somehow answer them, perhaps through flashbacks.
Star Wars: Rebel Force Book 3–Renegade, by Alex Wheeler. (Legends).
Book three in the Rebel Force series, this one focuses on Han Solo (the first focused on Luke, the second on Leia). The Imperial assassin X-7 attempts to kill Luke (and fails) and frames Han for the crime. Leia, investigating the crime and trying to be objective, comes off as doubting Han’s innocence. This angers Han, naturally, so Chewie busts him out of jail and they flee Yavin 4. While Han tries to get back into his old life of smuggling, Leia and Luke go to Tatooine to hide Luke from any other attempts on his life, reuniting with his old friends, though they end up arguing. It’s clear Luke still has a lot to learn about being a Jedi, as he’s quick to anger, eager to impress his old friends, and acts reckless, to Leia’s disappointment. Jabba gets wind of Luke’s presence on the planet, and because Luke is Han’s friend (and Han owes him money), sends the bounty hunter Bossk after him to lure Han to him. Meanwhile, Han ends up on an Imperial station on a job to steal various supplies, gets betrayed by his partner, and while trying to escape the Imperials, finds out that Tobin Elad, the man who became a friend and part of their group, is actually X-7 and is the one trying to kill Luke. This whole scheme of Han going to the Imperial base is apparently orchestrated by the ghost of Ben Kenobi, which is a tad weird, to say the least. Anyway, Han and Chewie end up on Tatooine to save Luke just before X-7 attempts to kill Luke again. X-7 gets away, but you know he’ll be back at some point to finish the job. I do feel bad for X-7; he’s been tortured into who he is, forgetting his former life and living only to please the Commander. We get flashbacks of his “training,” and for a junior novel, it’s difficult to read. No gory details, but it’s clear what the guy went through. Sometimes it’s obvious these books are junior novels, taking us back to familiar faces and places, and elicits the occasional eye roll, but they’ve grown on me, and I’ll keep going on the series.
The next Star Wars book in my queue is Shatterpoint, by Matthew Stover. It’s a Legends book that focuses on Mace Windu. I’ve never really liked Mace (I thought he was mean, lol) but I’ve been softening my stance a little bit lately, mostly because of his character in the Clone Wars animated series. I thought I’d give him another chance in this book; I’m curious to see how I feel about him, and this book written by Stover, who wrote the brilliant novelization of Revenge of the Sith. Eager to dive in.
Have you read these books? What did you think? Let me know in the comments and we’ll talk about it!
I haven’t visited my Inner Jedi Notebook for quite a while, so I thought I’d do a post this week.
Many Jedi have passions that they explore through their dedicated roles in the Order. For example, Master Porter Engle is a skilled chef, who cooks meals for Jedi stationed at the Elphrona Outpost in the Outer Rim. Additionally, Master Jocasta Nu is anincredible archivist, who oversees the Jedi library.
How would you use your skills and hobbies within the Jedi Order? In your own life, how do those skills andhobbies serve those around you?
I think, like Jocasta Nu, I’d love to be an archivist. I’ve often thought it would be a nice fit to be a librarian. I love books, of course. Helping other people find the books they’re looking for would be satisfying. And just to be surrounded by books would be amazing. Of course in the Temple it’s all electronic–data files and holograms. Still, I think I’d be good at research and finding information. I’d be more flexible than Jocasta, though–if Obi-Wan wants to find Kamino, then dammit, I’m going to find it for him! There may be a section of the Jedi Archives that is made up of ancient scroll, paper books, and other physical items. I’d want that to be my specialty. To be like Gandalf in the archives of Minis Tirith, searching through the pages–what bliss!
As a Jedi, I feel like I’d also be a good mediator, kind of like Obi-Wan, who is known as “the Negotiator.” To mediate disputes and work for peace. I’m already a peace-keeper in my family and at work. To listen to all involved parties and come up with a solution or compromise is something I’d be good at (I think).
One skill I would hope to have is to have a connection with animals, like Ezra. So much so that I’m the one the Jedi send whenever there’s a problem with animals or wildlife.
Or, healing like Rey. That would be amazing, to heal people like that. To work in a medbay or hospital and to help people heal would be very satisfying. These last two are more like a wish-list for Force powers, but you get the idea.
What are your passions? How would you incorporate them if you were a Jedi? Let me know in the comments and we’ll talk about it!
As ever, the Star Wars reading continues. These are the books that have been entertaining me lately:
So You Want To Be A Jedi? by Adam Gidwitz. On the heels of my last Kindle read, The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy, I continued with the next in the series, which retells The Empire Strikes Back. As with the first book, it’s told in a rather unorthodox way. This one has the author writing in second person point of view (which usually annoys me–You walk into the room, you smell the food, you sit down at the table, etc. Ugh, lol). But in this way, the author addresses the young reader, who fancies him or herself wanting to be a Jedi, and so he tells the story of Luke Skywalker, the most famous Jedi, and how he became one, inserting the reader into Luke’s shoes. In the author’s note at the beginning, he makes a point that I never thought about before: that Luke, as a character, is rather bland. Compared to the characters around him, he doesn’t have much of a personality, at least in ANH, and I realized it’s kind of true, lol. But he’s supposed to be that way, the author insists, so that the viewer (or reader) can insert him or herself into his shoes easily, as the protagonist of the story. It makes a lot of sense (He makes the point that Harry Potter is another such bland character, but I can’t really speak to that). Each chapter also alternates with a short lesson on how to train to be a Jedi: how to meditate, focus, concentrate, be compassionate, doing the right thing, etc. It was fairly entertaining, mostly because it was so different. I could have done without the pee jokes, lol, but the target audience is NOT me.
Beware the Power of the Dark Side, by Tom Angleberger. The last in the series, this one retells the story of Return of the Jedi. This one tells the story in a rather straightforward manner, but it’s told in a very casual, conversational way. I did like getting into Vader’s head during the last third of the book, how he slams his mind shut whenever he’s reminded of Anakin (and Luke, of course, constantly reminds of him of Padme, and that other life he lived). The author makes references to characters that none of us knew back in 1983, like Ahsoka. It’s great reading this story with a perspective of having all the content from the intervening years, like the prequels and the Clone Wars.
Rebel Force: Hostage, by Alex Wheeler. Casting around for an e-book to read, I went with the second installment in this junior novel series that takes place between ANH and ESB. The first book, Target, was fairly entertaining, so I thought I’d continue with the story. In this installment, the group (Han, Leia, Luke, Chewie and the droids) continue to travel with the treacherous X-7, who’s masquerading as ally Tobin Elad. X-7 is tasked by his Imperial commander to find out who is responsible for blowing up the first Death Star and to eliminate him (for some reason, it’s a big secret here, but wasn’t Luke and Han celebrated as heroes for the act? Doesn’t everybody know? Idk.) He continues to earn their trust while trying to ferret out the culprit. Meanwhile, they head to the planet Delaya, a planet that has taken in Alderaanian refugees. Leia wants to help the refugees there, and enlist whoever she can for the Rebellion’s cause. But not all the Alderaanian refugees see her as a hero–some blame her for the destruction of their planet. One particular refugee, Halle, is insufferable in her blaming and hatred of Leia. God, I hated her, lol. But Leia herself, both in flashbacks to when she was a girl, and in the present, is presented as, respectively, a brat, and a b**tch. Ugh, I couldn’t stand her in this book. I understand that when it comes to Alderaan, it’s a painful subject, but come on. Particularly in her treatment of Ferus Olin, a friend of her father’s, a secret former Jedi who has made it his mission to protect Leia. Yet she views him with nothing but contempt. I have no idea why he’s so devoted to her. There’s a lot going on in this small book, and it wasn’t bad, but I did not enjoy Leia’s portrayal at all. Yes, she is headstrong and stubborn, but never cruel.
And browsing the Barnes and Noble store one day, I left with this gem:
Visions Season 2 premiered on May 4th, and I have to say, it’s spectacular.
I enjoyed Season 1, with a few that I loved, some that were fine, and a few I just didn’t care for. With Season Two, I can confidently say that I loved them all to some extent, with a few favorites, and none that I didn’t like. They are all wildly different on the surface, with different anime styles but all beautiful in their own way; with similar Star Warsy themes running through them like a thread connecting them all. Here are some brief thoughts on each (and please forgive any mispellings or mistakes on names):
Sith. (El Guiri, Spain). The first one is my absolute favorite. Not only is it fantastically gorgeous, but I loved the story and the message that it illustrates. Lola lives with her droid in a place that comes alive with her art. She has nightmares, and tries to erase the darkness from her paintings, to no avail. It wants to be a part of her work. We find out that she is a former Sith, who left that life, and now her former Master has come looking for her. He is terrifying, and Lola must face her fear and overcome it, and to accept the darkness within her. She is no Sith, as she asserts, but must accept both the light and the darkness as equal aspects of herself. This realization helps her defeat the Sith Master. As she leaves the planet, she states that she is the Master now–of her own destiny, free to paint it anyway she wants. I loved this episode so much; it wowed me from the very start. I never knew anime could do these things, that it could look and feel like this. Absolutely amazing, and for me, the best of the bunch.
Screecher’s Reach. (Cartoon Saloon, Ireland). This one has a more cartoony look, but an even darker feel than “Sith.” There is no light anywhere, except perhaps in the hearts of the young ones that accompany Dal to Screecher’s Reach. They all work in a miserable factory, and Dal can’t take it anymore; she seeks escape in a journey to the dark cave. Her friends treat is as a lark, an adventure, but as things get real scary, they want out. But Dal is determined to face the darkness of the cave, often talking to a medallion she has around her neck, asking it for strength and courage. She faces the ghost/banshee/demon Sith or whatever it is in the cave, and kills it with its own red lightsaber. Once out of the cave, Dal speaks to the medallion again and a spaceship lands near them. A strange, creepy being descends and tells Dal that she passed the test, and that she must decide if she’ll come with her. Dal has dreamed of escape, and is excited at first, but is sad she must leave her friends. To them, and to us, the strange being is not benign, and we suspect the being is a Sith. Dal chooses to go with her, but her last look at her friends is one of uncertainty and fear. We fear that Dal has made the wrong choice, that her life going forward will be one of darkness. Probably the darkest of the bunch, and a bit depressing, lol.
In the Stars. (Punkrobot Studios, Chile). This one has two sisters living on a planet that the Empire has taken over. They are the last of their tribe, as the others were killed when they fought against the Imperials. Their mother had led the attack, and she had the Force, but it wasn’t enough. We get this background story through the tribe’s art: glittering, living pictures brought to life by starlight. But the starlight (who they believe are the souls of their lost tribe) is dimming, as the Empire’s factories belch smoke into the sky, obscuring it. The younger sister is fierce in her desire to fight the Empire, while the older sister, impatient with her young, headstrong sibling, feels a responsibility to keep her safe. The young one insists they have “Mum’s power,” or the Force, but the older one scoffs. The Empire siphons off their water supply, so the older sister goes to the factory to steal some water. However, the young one follows and soon gets in trouble. They flee, but when the younger sister is captured and is thrown from a ledge, the older sister reaches and uses the Force to save her. Together, they use their mother’s power to destroy the factory, the smoke clears and they can see the stars again, and the world will heal. The younger sister was pretty annoying at first, but of course she was right.
I Am Your Mother. (Aardman, UK). This one was used with stop-motion technology, and is a sweet story about a young girl learning to appreciate her mother, who, let’s face it, is pretty embarrassing, especially to a teen. Annnie (Ani?) goes to a fancy flying school taught by none other than Wedge Antilles. There’s a family race taking place, but Annie doesn’t tell her mother. She forgets her lunch, though, so her Mom shows up with it just before the race. At one point, she hurts Mom’s feelings by telling her how embarrassing she is, but Mom’s a tough cookie, and when the snotty rich girl and her horrible mother make fun of them, Mom is all in for the racing to show them a thing or two. They win, of course, and it’s a fun, light-hearted story, the lightest of all of them. I do love a particular Easter egg in this episode: when Annie and her friends are walking through the street, you can see Maz Kanata’s arm reach out and take Luke’s lightsaber from the items alongside the street. I never would have caught it myself; I learned about it from an interview with the creator on an episode of This Week in Star Wars, and I looked out for it on rewatch. Also, Annie calls her Mom “Red Leader” and Annie is “Red Two.” I think Wedge was Red Two in ANH.
Journey to the Dark Head. (Studio Mir, South Korea). So this one seemed like your more typical anime, with some over-the-top lightsaber battles and histrionic screaming matches, which isn’t really my favorite type. I didn’t like it at all at first, but on a rewatch decided it wasn’t too bad. Atta is a girl who grew up on a remote planet which has two statues: a buddha-like head that represents the Light, and another the Dark. When it rains, the rocks below can be prophetic, and she sees something with three figures that may take place in the future. When she’s grown, she goes to the Jedi Council and tells them if the Dark head is cut off, then the Sith war that has been raging will end (I’m assuming it will cut off their power or something? Not sure of the significance). They agree and send a young Jedi with her, Tal, who has a lot of anger in him. His Master had been killed by a Sith, and he is restless, seeking vengeance. The Sith had recognized it in him, and told him they’ll meet again and he will join him. The Sith follows them to the planet with the statues, and engages Tal while Atta tries to blow up the Sith head. But a problem occurs: both the heads have red and blue light, representing the Light and the Dark. Clearly, one cannot exist without the other. They will always co-exist. So she can’t blow them up; she uses the explosives to help Tal in his battle with the Sith. Tal kills the Sith after realizing why he was sent there: to face himself, and the anger within himself. Not a bad message, and the banter between the two is charming.
The Spy Dancer. (Studio La Cachette, France). The Spy Dancer is another one of my favorites. It tells of Louie, a dancer in an Empire-controlled world who uses her art for the Rebellion. Her swirling fabrics cascade around her as she twirls down gracefully and elegantly, all the while attaching trackers to the stormtroopers who are in attendance. It kind of reminds me of a Star Wars Moulin Rouge, lol. Years ago, her baby son was taken by an Imperial commander, and she hasn’t seen him since–until this night, when he returns with his “father’s” cloak and staff. Louie recognizes him, and though she fights him, she does not hurt him. The fight goes to the top of the building, where she escapes with the help of her friends, but not before embracing the frustrated, puzzled young man and telling him who he is. A beautiful, poignant story that’s at the top of my list.
The Bandits of Golak. (88 Pictures, India). This is another one high on my list. The story of a big brother helping his Force-sensitive younger sister get to a safe place, this one is visually stunning, and I love the Indian influence. The young sister, Ronni, is, again, annoying, being incredibly stupid in using her powers in public. Aside from this, I loved the Inquisitor, and the old Jedi woman who fights him. Parting the water in the pool, revealing a secret passageway, is super-cool, and I’d like to think it leads to the Path, the sort of underground Jedi railroad we saw in Obi-Wan Kenobi. I just loved the feel and the visuals of this one.
The Pit. (D’Art Shtajio and Lucasfilm Ltd, Japan and the US). This one has no Jedi or Sith, but it has plenty of Imperial stormtroopers. The stormtroopers had gathered a group of prisoners to mine kyber crystals in a large pit (for the Death Star, one would assume). Once the mine is spent, the Empire simply abandons them, leaving them behind in the pit. With the workers despairing, a young man, Crux, climbs to the top of the pit and travels to the nearby city, seeking help to get everyone else out. His pleas fall on deaf ears at first, as the people go about their business. But once he makes clear what’s happening, the Imperials in the city capture him and drag him back to the pit, hurling him down back into it, killing him. But the people of the city heard him, and head out to the edge of the pit. They are drawn to it by the trapped workers shouting “Follow the light!” over and over. The stormtroopers try to drive them away, but they do not succeed, and the city folk send ships down to save the pit workers. It’s a great story about ordinary people coming together to help each other.
Aau’s Song. (Triggerfish, South Africa). I’m not a big fan of the stuffed-animal look, but this one was charming, and links music with the Force. A young girl named Aau lives on the planet Korba, which is filled with kyber crystal, but they had been corrupted by Sith a long time ago. The Jedi often come to the planet to help heal the crystals. Aau’s father works in the mines, but she is not allowed to go, as her voice has an effect on the crystals that they don’t understand. The Jedi who comes to the planet senses that she has a gift and encourages her to use it. So she sneaks down to the mines and sings, and her voice heals the crystals–all of them. A sweet story about using the gifts we possess, even if we don’t always understand them or where they will lead.
I loved the international flavor of these shorts this time around, and I really hope this becomes an annual thing. Visions is a great way for creators to make unique stories with Star Wars flavors, something different in the fandom that we can all look forward to. If I had to choose my top three this year, it would be Sith, The Bandits of Golak, and The Spy Dancer.
Did you enjoy Visions? What were your favorites? Let me know in the comments and we’ll talk about it!
So a lot of people have a “bucket list,” a list of things they want to do or accomplish before they die (kick the bucket, lol). I sort of have one for life in general, but more importantly, I have a Star Wars bucket list. Star Warsy things I’d like to do or accomplish before I die. In no particular order, here are the things I’d love to do in the world of Star Wars:
Star Wars Celebration. Having tuned into the last couple of Celebrations, I’ve firmly decided that I MUST attend one of these amazing gatherings of fans and creators. I think it would be immensely fun and exciting. And yes, expensive. No matter. You find the money for the things that are important to you, right? Celebration is skipping next year, and will be in Japan in 2025. Pretty sure I’m going to wait until it’s back the States. Who knows when I’ll get there, but just thinking about seeing the stars, the cosplays, listening in on panels, and just gathering together with fellow members of my tribe makes me determined to get there some day.
Galaxy’s Edge. I’ve never really wanted to go to Disney, but this looks fun. Another expensive excursion, but one well worth it, I would think. I’d love to stroll through Batuu’s Black Spire Outpost, having read the book (and it’s actually a really good book, not just a plug for the park). One thing I’d love to do is make my own lightsaber. Very cool.
Write a Star War. Everybody’s got a book in them, don’t they? I’ve got a few gathering dust in the drawer, so to speak, but I’d really love to write a Star Wars story. Not in any official capacity, of course–as if!–but my own fan fiction. I’ve actually got one in the works, but alas, only work on it in spurts here and there. It’s about a young woman from Alderaan who is determined to find her father, who was imprisoned by the Empire for defending the Jedi in the early days of the Empire. She’s helped by her ex-flame who’s a pilot, and a reluctant young Jedi who was trained by her father’s Jedi friend. I really do like it, and have some great ideas for it. I’ve got about 100 pages, and an outline. But I will finish it one day. Promise, lol.
Learn Aurabesh. Aurabesh is the Star Wars alphabet that you can see in many places in Star Wars stories. I don’t think I have the patience to learn a new language like French or Russian, but this I think I can do. That way I can read the hidden messages sometimes put in the Aurabesh in the shows or movies. And it just seems fun.
Read all the Legends books. This is a tall order, seeing that there’s an endless number of these books, but going through the Youtini Academy, I’m getting excited about reading them. All the while keeping up with Canon books, which seem to come out at breakneck speed these days. So this will be a long project, as I pepper in a Legends book here and there amid the Canon. This could take years, lol, but that’s okay because there is a finite number of them, at least.
Have you done any of these things? What’s on your Star Wars bucket list? Let me know in the comments and we’ll talk about it!
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!
So now that Season Two of the Bad Batch has ended with a final Season 3 on the way, it’s safe to say that the show is a fan favorite. I’ve seen a ton of love for this show on social media, and I couldn’t agree more. I love these guys so much. But for me, at least, it wasn’t always so.
When we first met Clone Force 99 back in the first arc of Season 7 of the Clone Wars, I thought, who the heck are these clowns? They just seemed so over the top and stereotypical: the broody leader, the strong one, the smart one, and the grumpy sniper with the toothpick. I kind of rolled my eyes. I already loved the clones; why’d they have to create these weirdos? Lol.
By the end of the arc, they’d grown on me a little bit, but I swiftly put them out of my mind as the exceptional season 7 continued. But then the announcement came: The Bad Batch would have their own show. Really? I thought. Those guys? Why? Oh well, I’ll tune in, but I’ll probably hate it.
Two seasons later, and I’m slightly obsessed (okay, full-on obsession), and Season 3 can’t come fast enough. And can’t we have more than 3 seasons? Please????
So how did this turn around so much and so fast? I thought about it, and here are the main points about the show that won me over completely:
First off, we get a glimpse of the early years of the Empire, which we haven’t seen too much of, outside of books and comics (and yes, another Order 66 scene, one that involves a young Kanan Jarrus. Points for familiarity and ties to Rebels). We see what happens on Kamino and how the clones are affected; including Project War Mantle, or how the clones were being replaced by stormtroopers. Later, in Season 2, we see Mt. Tantiss, a throwback to Legends, and Palpatine’s secret doings there. It’s a different timeline than we’ve seen before, and it’s interesting.
It’s the continuation of the story of the Clones. Clone Wars told of how the clones and the Jedi worked together during the war, what exceptional soldiers they were, and helped us see them as individual human beings. We also saw hints of what’s to come with Fives and his malfunctioning inhibitor chip, and our dread increased. In the BB, that story continues, with the fallout from Order 66. It’s not just the Jedi who were betrayed, but the clones themselves, used as a tool for Palpatine’s plan, and then discarded. What happened to Kamino and the Kaminoans? How were the clones replaced? How did the clones feel after Order 66? What happened to them? These questions and more are answered in the show.
Besides these two rather objective plot points, I want to talk about the Batch themselves, naturally. They are what make the show. Yes, they were rather stereotypical at first in the Clone Wars arc, and perhaps at the beginning of Season 1. But theyquickly became more three-dimensional as the show wenton, and I, for one, came to love them all. In Season 2, especially, we see a lot of character growth for all of them.
Hunter. Hunter’s growth comes mostly in Season 1. He has to learn to adapt and lead his team in this new world of the Empire. But mostly his growth comes with Omega, who he has taken on as his responsibility. And as the season wore on, he had to learn to let go and not overprotect her so much. It’s natural to worry about a child’s safety, but Omega is part of the squad. As a mom, I thought it was a huge leap of faith to allow her to participate in dangerous missions. In Season 2, he has to decide what’s best for the team, pull away from Cid, and decide whether or not they should stay on Pabu. In the end, it’s about protecting their own: going after Crosshair, and finding Omega.
Echo. Echo was a reg and not part of the original team, so he’s always felt like the odd man out. Maybe that’s why he’s always so grumpy, lol. But the squad welcomes him in as one of their own, a clone who’s not like the others. But from the first episode of Season 1, Echo has wanted to do more to fight the Empire. He was a loyal soldier to the Republic, and this Empire doesn’t sit right with him, especially with what it’s doing to his brothers. But Hunter has other priorities: Omega, and keeping them safe. It comes to a head in Season 2, when he leaves to join Rex on his missions. It saddens Omega, but I’m glad they had a little moment that brings them closer together.
Wrecker. Wrecker couldn’t get more stereotypical: the big dumb muscle of the group. He likes to blow things up (because he likes to blow things up!), but he’s nevertheless child-like with a big heart. He bonds with Omega right away, a fellow kid he can have fun with (and share Mantell mix with). His brute strength is impressive, but he’s not all dum-dum: in Season 2, while trying to escape clones on Serenno, he innovates and creates a new weapon out of old ones. Still no genius, but he’s good with weaponry, at least. And I think it’s easiest for him, out of all of them, to adapt to their new situation. He’s very happy blowing things up, but he’s also very happy fishing for dinner on Pabu. Love the big lug.
Tech. I’m not going to say Tech had the most character growth out of them all, but I would say he had the most dramatic. From the very beginning, I think Tech struck a nerve with a lot of fans–some feel he represents the neurodivergent community, and that’s cool. He’s clearly more comfortable with a datapad in his hand than with interpersonal relationships, and as someone who often has her nose in a book to escape socializing, I totally get it. Season 2 really got into his character, highlighting the fact that although it’s hard for him to show emotions, or even articulate them, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t feel them. He has a wonderful bonding moment with Omega showing this, when she’s so upset about Echo leaving. It’s hard for him to even explain this to her. But he clearly loves his squad/family, as he sacrifices himself to save them in the season 2 finale. Oh, and that sort-of thing between him and Phee is delightful–she flirts and teases, and although he doesn’t quite know how to react, he’s definitely not unaffected by it. If you pay close attention, you can see that he watches her a lot. You can tell he wants to say something to her when they leave for that last mission, but he doesn’t know what to say or how to say it. Which is all the more heartbreaking. 😦
Omega. I love this girl so much. She’s sweet from the very beginning, and has served as the moral compass of the group, always insisting on doing the right thing, even though it may be inconvenient to them. She’s spirited and brave and smart and learns quickly. She loves her brothers unconditionally (even Crosshair). It’s only in Season 2 that she starts to display a bit of adolescent rebellion, lol. While it took me awhile to warm to other Star Wars kids, like Ahsoka and Ezra (and I love them both so much now), it wasn’t a struggle to love Omega. I think it’s really interesting that she’s actually older than her brothers, and maybe even saw them when they were babies. How weird is that?
And let’s not forget Crosshair. Crosshair’s betrayal in the very first episode of the series is the twist that gives this show its dramatic gravitas. One of their own, their brother in arms, has joined the Empire and hunts them down like enemies. That hurts. It hurts even more when we realize he consciously makes this decision, as he had his inhibitor chip removed at some point. One of the more compelling questions of the show has been: why? If it’s not the inhibitor chip, what makes him stay with a regime that is so clearly contemptuous of him? That is so heartless, violent, and cruel? Personally, I think it’s fear: he doesn’t know who he is if he isn’t a soldier. The others in the Batch are dealing with that conundrum, but Crosshair can’t even consider it. So he does everything the Empire asks of him, just so he can be what he’s used to being. My take. Anyway, Crosshair is one of the most interesting and complicated characters of the show, and his episodes are consistently excellent. I can’t wait to see what will happen with him and Omega on Mt. Tantiss in Season 3.
I could go on and on. The gorgeous animation, Kevin Kiner’s awesome score, the humor, the attention to detail–the way Hemlock holds his black-gloved hand (what’s up with that, anyway?) So these are the things that won me over, and this is my love letter to The Bad Batch. 🙂
What do you think of the show? What’s your favorite thing about it? Let me know in the comments and we’ll talk about it!