Review: The High Republic: The Eye of Darkness

Title: The High Republic: The Eye of Darkness

Author: George Mann

Release Date: November 14, 2023


Following the fall of Starlight Beacon, the Jedi of the High Republic are scattered, scrambled, and just trying to survive. Some, such as Avar Kriss and Porter Engle who are trapped in the Nihil's Occlusion Zone. Some like Bell Zetifar and Burryaga work on the frontier of the Stormwall, providing aid and searching for a way in. Still others like Elzar Mann and the Jedi council work from Coruscant to try to find a way not only to breach the Stormwall but to fight back against the Nameless creatures that seem to prey upon the Force itself.


Mann works primarily with characters that we have seen before, but takes us to them at a different time in their lives, where they are no longer thriving, but simply struggling to survive and come to terms with the trauma they experienced in Phase 1. Avar Kriss feels, perhaps, the best developed that she has been yet in a novel as she strives to find a way not only to escape the Nihil Occlusion Zone but also to render aid when and where she can to those struggling under the oppressive Nihil regime. Elzar Mann also has an opportunity to shine, though he does spend a majority of the novel trying to be something he is not and to take the place of his two best friends, one of whom is unreachable to him while the other has become one with the cosmic Force. A character that develops nicely in this book, however, is not a Jedi at all, but Ghirra Starros, who seeks to temper Marchion Ro's violent and vengeful tendencies with her own attempts to build a structured and ordered empire.

I also adored having the opportunity to see Bell and Burryaga following the events of the short story in Tales of Light and Life. Seeing Bells growth and the way that he now refuses to give up on his fellow Jedi both provides a sense of hope to the narrative and is deeply heartbreaking given all that he has had to contend with up to this point and continues to contend with as the novel carries on.

I would also be remiss not to mention that Porter Engle is the most perfect character. Ever. The end.

The overall feeling that this novel gives is one of magnitude and gravitas. The happenings in the novel feel incredibly personal, even as they span across a multitude of characters and corners of the galaxy. While there is less of a feeling of hope than there was in the first adult novel of the High Republic, a comparison to Charles Soule's Light of the Jedi feels very apt, as there is something to the scale and tone of the novel that feels very similar. I loved the pacing of this and felt like, given a long enough span of uninterrupted time, I could easily have read this behemoth of a book in a single sitting.

Politics also shine in this one, as is often the case in Star Wars storytelling, with oppressive governments using captive journalists to create propaganda lying about their prosperity while simultaneously committing atrocities against those in their domain. There were a few political moments that felt a bit on the nose, but I don't know if that is really a bad thing. Star Wars is, by its very nature, a political beast, and adding nuance and depth to that political landscape is always fascinating.

While the novel can often feel somewhat downtrodden, there is a pervasive sense of hope that something will finally go right, and that Light and Life will triumph. Hopefully the rest of Phase 3 gives us a chance to see hope win out.


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