Original edition: Del Rey (January 5, 2021)
National edition / Spain: Comic Planet (May 2021)
Author: Charles Soule
Translation: Albert Agut Iglesias
Format: Paperback with flaps. 376 pages. 22 €
Let there be light
“We are all the Republic”
Star Wars is a western. Deserts, unsavory canteens, bounty hunters… Swap bullets for blasters, get science fiction and fantasy out of the way, and it’s obvious. Even the first story of the saga starred a young farmer (albeit wet) who dreamed of emotions beyond his home.
Star Wars is Camelot. Swords, chivalric orders, noble ideals … Dull the light from laser swords, swap the mythology of force for the cultural Macedonian of Arthurian myths, and you’ve got it done. If even A new hope He set out with an old wizard helping a chosen young man to find his destiny.
Star Wars is a westernBut they have never told us about the conquest of the West. Star Wars is Camelot, but we’ve never seen the round table in all its glory. Up to now.
Project Luminous was the code name that concealed one of the most ambitious initiatives in Disney for the franchise, until its presentation in society in February 2020. This led to what we now know as The High Republic, a multimedia initiative aimed at growing the expanded Star Wars universe like we’ve never seen it before.
The proposal takes us around 200 years before the prequel trilogy, specifically 232 years before the Battle of Yavin, during the splendor phase of the Galactic Republic. It is not about that corrupt and hypertrophied organism that George Lucas It presented us with the change of our century, but of a prosperous and flourishing government that truly strives for the well-being of all, through sincere negotiation, honest agreements and multilateral decisions. Its control is fundamentally reduced to little more than the Core of that very, very distant galaxy that we know well, but it aspires to expand towards the periphery, with its ideals of peace, prosperity and mutual collaboration. Everyone does their part, because everyone is the Republic.
And nothing represents those ideals better than the construction of the Starlight Beacon, a gigantic space station located on the edge of the Outer Rim, aimed at guiding and assisting those pioneers determined to explore and enlarge the galaxy. Because in this day and age, more than ever, hyperspace travel isn’t like taking a walk in the country, kid. And it is precisely a hyperspace anomaly that serves as a trigger for Light of the Jedi, the initiative’s opening novel, written by Charles Soule.
A priori this, a few years ago, would have put me rather on notice, because Soule He has never been exactly my saint. His writing career at Marvel has left behind a trail of readable comics, pulling in mediocre at best, if not downright bad at worst. However, after taking on various responsibilities in Star Wars comics, the franchise change seemed to sit well with the leguley.
Special (and deserved) good reviews found its regular series Darth Vader: Lord Oscuro, with a different tone and time frame from the previous Emperor’s right hand series. And this detail could well be a constant, when he was commissioned to relaunch the central Star Wars series between episodes V and VI, and later to kick off the High Republic.
On Light of the Jedi, Soule it seems to have finally finished its metamorphosis and spread its wings, presenting us with a whole universe of possibilities in a galaxy that, make no mistake, tends to revolve too much around tropes, legacies and various nostalgia. Located at a sufficient temporal distance from what is already known, but not too far so that the future does not matter, the team that supports the initiative of the High Republic can show us that it is the journey that is important, not the destination.
Because both the High Republic and Light of the Jedi they are choral initiatives: the first in authors and media, the second in plots and protagonists. And both present us with a vibrant galaxy, new, but at the same time recognizable. The Outer Rim is still that dangerous frontier territory, but it is not so much an outlaw haven and bounty hunter as it is pioneers, settlers, and explorers of hyperspace routes.
Coruscant is already practically a planetary city, and the largest Jedi Temple in the galaxy is there, but gentlemen and teachers have yet to hunker down in the armchairs of galactic politics. We see Camelot in all its glory, and the Jedi Knights as unequivocal defenders of justice. They fight more than for the Force, they fight for life, for light.
And what gentlemen, what teachers. Never before (maybe only at some points in Luke Skywalker’s new Jedi Order in the old Legends) we had seen such a variety of perspectives and philosophies around the Force. Don’t get me wrong, he still maintains his code (they are still an order of chivalry), but his perception of the Force is not unambiguous, and this allows enormous wealth for both the Order and the reader.
The literary format is especially useful when it comes to capturing and describing these visions. We immerse ourselves in the feeling in the Force as an immense ocean of life, as an all-encompassing tree (as if it were a galactic Ydgrassil), or as a symphony of music. There are gentlemen and teachers eager to stretch their limits, eager to understand it even better. To serve his designs by protecting life wherever it is. The Sith have been, theoretically, exterminated, and only light, progress and hope remain.
Clearly, there is a darkness beyond the difficulties of maintaining peace and justice in a growing galaxy. But it is not about an obscure master and his apprentice, no matter how Disney give us long teeth with the possibility of a young Palpatine in the series of The acolyte. The main opponent before us are the Nihil, a mixture of space pirates and chrome witnesses almost taken from Mad Max, roaming freely around the Outer Rim.
Behind their terrifying masks they hide more than one secret that I will not reveal here, enough in their own way to confront Jedi perfectly suited to their roles as defenders, knights with shining crossed lightsabers, aboard ships specially designed for their abilities.
It’s a new beginning for the series, and you don’t need to know much to jump on the bandwagon. Yes, obviously there are details and connections to everything previously seen, to the three trilogies and a little more. The most knowledgeable fan will recognize worlds, races, names, trends. It will deduce attempts of problems, cracks in armor, dogmatisms that portend a dark future.
But all of those are little winks, tiny gears that pale in comparison to the dynamism that permeates the novel. We must recognize the enormous merit of the writer at the time of successfully handling the juggling of parallel scenes and plots, and sometimes overlapping, without losing a bit of rhythm. His wisdom when it comes to presenting us with a constellation of protagonists that sometimes comes by dropper, and at other times, by hyssop.
The reader will never be overwhelmed by a number of characters, because these (whether political, military or civilian, Nihil or Jedi) are simmered through the different chapters (whose duration, by the way, varies well consciously to time to speed up or pause the story). It is possible that at the end of the book we will not be able to recite the names of the protagonists from memory, but we will be able to recite their essence. The scene changes will not make it difficult to follow the story, since they will know how to make themselves perfectly recognizable with each appearance.
And it is that, again, the simple prose favors that the three-dimensionality of those takes shape. Obviously, illustrations, animated shorts or vignettes dealing with the High Republic in other formats (for which new seeds are proposed here) have their own advantages, the greatest of which is to associate a specific image with the characters. But this novel, through a particularly introspective narrative, allows us to delve into them in a fluid way and in balance with their surroundings, seeing the galaxy from their eyes, and in their own shoes.
This is an opening novel, and it presents situations and characters that will be later developed in other books, comics and media related to the franchise. But at the same time it is a story in its own right, with an opening, a middle and an ending, which leaves us wanting to know more about the unknowns and mysteries of this new world, a little older than we are used to.
We want to see these Knights of the Round Table act as sheriffs and protectors of the Outer Rim borderlands. Hardened pioneers with less advanced technology than we know, making their way through the unknown. For once, a sincere political body in its common effort to protect the advance of what is fair. But at the same time, we expect adversaries to rise: criminal organizations, pirates and unknown threats that make us forget, at least temporarily, the dark side-flavored galactic fascism that we know awaits the galaxy far ahead.
I’ve never been a trekkie nor do I know the franchise beyond the first movie of Abrams, but I have the feeling that Star Wars fans will be able to find in the High Republic the same as the parallel fandom in Star Trek: Discovery. A new world of well-developed possibilities, with care, on old assumptions that are familiar to us. Adventures with an unknown horizon, but towards a future that we know and love.
The High Republic is all that and much more. Light of the Jedi he intends to make this time our own and he does it, he does not try. After the brakings and sharp turns of the latest film trilogy, the franchise is one with the Force, and the Force is with it. The team behind the initiative has done its job well, and now it is your turn to pitch in and breathe your personal breath of life. And so, in the end, we are all the Republic.
• Quickly ushering in a new era in the Star Wars galaxy with ease, interest, and original new approaches.
• The promise of more stories in this age, in a well-structured movement to simmer it.
• A perfect starting point for a new reader drawn to the series, or for a viewer who wants to broaden their sights by starting from scratch.
• The diversity of races and descriptions can force the reader to have to search for certain terms simply to show the main characters in their head.
• Although well developed and exciting, it will not be a story for those fans of the saga who seek the chiaroscuro more appropriate to productions like Rogue One.
• The parallel plots and the level of complexity of the saga make this book more recommendable for readers of a certain age; the youngest of the house will have to wait for the publication of other novels (already arisen or programmed) destined to a younger public, and also within the framework of the High Republic.
Guest Signature: @superlayo_.