Review: The High Republic: Tales of Light and Life

Star Wars: The High Republic: Tales of Light and Life is a collection of short stories by all of the High Republic, previously known as Project Luminous, authors to date. Each author has a chance to provide us with a short story of a character that they have had a chance to develop throughout their other projects, or to preview the stories that will be upcoming in the third and final phase of the publishing initiative. Stories span both of the phases that have already been published and also begin to create a bridge into the remaining phase. Overall, the collection was amazing, as everything in the High Republic to date has been, but it makes sense to talk about each of the stories individually.

"The Queen's Bloom" by Zoraida Cordova is the earliest story in the collection and takes place prior to the events of Phase 2. It follows a younger version of Cordova's character, Axel Greylark, through an unintended heist. The story is a really fun bit of backstory and exposition for a character that is one of my favorites from Phase 2, and provides excellent motivation for who his character eventually becomes and his motives moving forward.

"A Closed Fist Has No Claws" by Tessa Gratton is absolutely stunning in execution, and features another of our favorite characters from Phase 2, Marda Ro. For anyone who finished Phase 2 wishing that they had a chance to see how the Path of the Open Hand would become the Nihil, I think that this is the perfect transitional material. The style is different and feels almost like a diary or a story that is being told to you, but it's absolutely perfect and Tessa Gratton can do no wrong in the High Republic, as far as I am concerned.

George Mann's "Shield of the Jedi" is the third and final piece in the Phase 2 timeframe from one of three of the authors who penned their first novels in the second phase. This story centers on the Jedi Trials of Padawan Rooper Nitani, and provides an excellent look at how these Trials are tailored to each of the Padawans and their paths as Jedi. Rooper needs to complete a relatively simple task, but quickly determines that there is much, much more complexity to any problem than can be seen at first glance.

"The Lonely Traveler is Home" by Daniel Jose Older is a personal favorite, even as it feels like the youngest and silliest story in the bunch. This story is set in the middle of Phase 1 and centers on my absolute favorite Padawan, Ram Jomaram. Like everything DJO writes for the High Republic, this story is funny and goofy and full of heart, while centering themes like friendship and self-care and I adore it with my whole heart.

From fun and silly to incredibly somber, Claudia Gray's "After the Fall" brings us back to the Vessel Crew following the events of her final adult book of Phase 1. This book, like many of the others that follow, begin paving the way for what we can expect to see in Phase 3 and I am beyond excited. Seeing people who have become heroes of sorts figure out what they need to do to take care of a galaxy in chaos and turmoil is incredibly powerful, and Gray's gravitas definitely lends itself to this story.

If Gray's story is powerful, Justina Ireland's "The Force Provides" is equally profound. While it masquerades as an escort story, it is really about Jedi Knight Vernestra Rwoh and her coming to terms with her world disintegrating around her. Will Vernestra remain a Jedi? Will she become something else entirely? Can she even trust the Force anymore? I don't know and I need to see her in Phase 3 stat just to make sure she's okay.

Speaking of making sure that things are okay, you will not be okay when you read Charles Soule's "All Jedi Walk Their Own Path" which is an absolutely heartrending introspective look at Bell Zetifar following the events of Phase 1. And, honestly, Bell needs this introspection. He becomes a fisherman and refuses to give up on the people that he cares about, and I just need this poor boy to be taken care of. Plus, this is probably the most important story of the collection in terms of the information that it provides us regarding what happened to a certain character at the end of The Fallen Star.

Cavan Scott chooses to take us to a new location and center his story on some unknown characters for his contribution, "Light in the Darkness" which makes sense, because Cavan's work does tend to be more experimental and risky in Star Wars publishing, and I am not sure if this one pays off for me as much as some of the others, but that is just because the others are so, so incredibly good. That said, it does give us a good idea what the galaxy looks like just before the start of Phase 3 and eventually lets us check in on a favorite character from his comic run.

The final story in the collection, Lydia Kang's "The Call of Coruscant" introduces us to brand new characters who are expected to play a larger role in Phase 3. The story centers on Amadeo Azzazzo, a Padawan who isn't quite sure that this whole Jedi thing is for him, as he enjoys a wild night out on Coruscant. This story, along with Midnight Horizon's flashback scenes, convince me that all Jedi need to do a Jedi rumspringa of sorts to figure out how to be people before they commit to being Jedi.

As a final note, while this version of the book does not include it, the Barnes & Noble special edition includes an additional story, "Rogue Element" by Alyssa Wong, and can I just say, I am more excited than anything to see them joining the team for Phase 3, and I absolutely adored this story that brings back old favorites, Alys "Crash" Ongwa and Svi'no Atchapat, but also introduces a rogue former Jedi named Ruu that I am incredibly interested in seeing more of down the line. This was probably my favorite of the bunch, and I am so sad that not all readers get this story in their editions. 


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