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!

My Entertainment Weekend Update

Hello and happy weekend, my friends!

I’ve finished reading The Fallen Star, by Claudia Gray, and I was not disappointed in this third adult novel in the High Republic series, and the last in Phase One. I’ve enjoyed all of Claudia Gray’s Star Wars novels, and she does a great job telling this story of Starlight Beacon, symbol of the Jedi and the Republic, being destroyed by the Nihil, or more specifically, orchestrated by Marchion Ro, their mysterious leader. The Jedi, led by Stellan Gios and Elzar Mann, don’t even know what they’re up against, as something mysterious is affecting the Jedi’s connection to the Force as the incapacitated station plummets toward destruction. I’m going to post a review of the book on Wednesday (my High Republic post day), so stay tuned for that.

Since finishing that book, I’d like to get back to Race to Crashpoint Tower, the middle grade book from Wave 2 of the High Republic, before Midnight Horizon comes out on February 1st. I shouldn’t have a problem finishing the relatively small book in a week or so, and I’ll write up a review of it.

The wonderfully-named Padawans Lula Talisola and Ram Jamoram

I enjoyed the latest episode of The Book of Boba Fett (Episode 4) called “The Gathering Storm.” Again, some good things, some wince-inducing things, but the most exciting thing about it came at the end when we hear Mando’s theme, suggesting Din Djarin will be making an appearance, hopefully next week! For my full review of the episode, you can go here.

In Marvel, I caught the Moon Knight trailer, and man, does that look trippy and weird, and I’m so ready for it! I haven’t seen Dune yet, and so missed Isaac Oscar’s performance in that film, so I can’t wait to see him in this new Marvel series that premieres March 30th. I’m new to Marvel, having caught up with the Avengers and company in the past 6 or so months, and I have no idea who any of these new superheroes and villains are, but I’m just going along for the ride and I’m loving it!

Oscar Isaac looks to be having a spot of trouble in Moon Knight.

Case in point, I’m on my third viewing of Eternals (and have another post on them coming soon, probably Monday; if you want to read my review of the movie you can do so here); and I’ve also watched Shang Chi about three times so far. Just fabulous movie-making. Marvel is really hitting the mark for me right now!

But I’ve also been thinking about another franchise I haven’t visited for awhile: Star Trek. When I heard about the new series Picard, I knew I wanted to watch it, but I wasn’t keen on paying for another streaming service to do so. But now I can watch it on Youtube for about $2 an episode. I can swing that. I loved The Next Generation back in the day, much more than the original Star Trek (although it’s still cool in a campy way), and Picard, Riker, Worf, and Data are a part of my beloved sci-fi memories. So I’ll probably be watching that show during the Disney vacuum once The Book of Boba Fett ends, and I’ll be talking about it here. Can’t wait to see what Jean-Luc has been up to!

I will boldly go wherever this man goes next.

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

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!