A Test of Courage by Justina Ireland

A Test of Courage (Star Wars: The High Republic)A Test of Courage by Justina Ireland
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I ummed and ahhed about whether to give this book four or five stars for a while, but then I realised that my only issue with it was that it wasn’t what I expected it to be, and it’s not fair to judge a book against my expectations, I should review it for what it actually is.

You see, I moved straight on to reading this after Light of the Jedi, rather than reading a non-Star Wars book, as I usually do after reading a Star Wars book, because I assumed it would be a quick read. I thought I’d plow through this in a matter of days, and I was wrong. It’s a smaller sized hardback book, with larger type and it’s aimed at a younger audience, so I thought I’d finish it quickly. But what I found was a much deeper and engaging book that I expected. So, it’s not the book’s fault that I wasn’t able to finish it quickly and move on to another Witcher novel!

This book mainly deals with the subjects of loss and grieving, and how the grieving process can lead you to a dark place…which is especially dangerous for a Jedi (which is why attachments are discouraged, after all). We not only see this through the young Jedi Padawan, Imri, who loses his master, but also through a young boy called Honesty, who loses his father. Both of these deaths occur during a Nihil attack that leaves these two boys, along with young Jedi Knight Vernestra Rwoh and the even younger Avon Starros (an ancestor of Sanna Starros, who’s currently hanging out with Doctor Aphra over in her comic), stranded on a moon called Wevo, where the rain is so caustic that it can burn through their flesh.

Eventually they discover that they have company on Wevo, the Nihil who destroyed the ship they were travelling on and who are ultimately responsible for the death of their loved ones. Naturally this leads them facing the moral quandary of whether to take revenge or seek justice…and, well, it’s a Star Wars book so you can probably guess how it ends, but there are enough twists along the way to keep you from getting bored.

The characters are compelling and the book leaves you wanting to know more about all of them, and I believe we will, at the very least, be getting more of Vernestra and Imri (who have already had a brief cameo in the High Republic comic series), but I very much hope we also get to see more of the brilliant Avon too.

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Star Wars: The High Republic #4 by Cavan Scott

Star Wars: The High Republic #4Star Wars: The High Republic #4 by Cavan Scott
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This series continues to be excellent, with outstanding writing and art.

The Drengir are a genuinely new, and very creepy, addition to the Star Wars universe, and there’s a feeling that literally anything could happen. Jedi could turn…could fall to the Dark Side…characters could die… Which makes a change from the main Star Wars comics, which are set between existing films, so you know that nobody of any importance is going to suffer any major life altering events.

It was also great to see Vernestra and Imri, as I’m currently rereading A Test Of Courage, which rather prominently features them. I like the fact that you don’t have to be reading everything in the High Republic, but there are little Easter eggs for those of us who are at least trying to keep up with it all!

Looking forward to the next issue…and the introduction of the Hutt Cartel!

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Light of the Jedi by Charles Soule

Light of the JediLight of the Jedi by Charles Soule
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It almost seems pointless to write a review of this book as it’s already been discussed so much online…often by people who haven’t actually read it but have been told by angry people on YouTube that it solely exists to further Kathleen Kennedy’s feminist, SJW, woke agenda and that Avar Kriss has been created purely to give Brie Larsen a character to play in Star Wars so she can spread her hatred of men…and…yeah…

So, does this novel further the feminist, SJW, woke agenda? Well, it has women in it…and they’re Jedi. There are also Jedi who aren’t women in it. There are a LOT of characters in it and Avar Kriss actually plays a very small part in the book.

What’s it about? It’s mostly about the Jedi and the Republic dealing with the aftermath of what seems to be an accident in hyperspace, which brings them into conflict with the Nihil. The Nihil are basically a criminal band of outlaw marauders…think the biker gangs from Mad Max, but in space. They have access to secret hyperspace “paths” which enable them to go anywhere and do some other hyperspace tricks which makes them a particularly deadly foe.

But, of course, there’s more to it than that, there are schemes within schemes, and that’s where this book really shines. Marchion Ro, the Eye of the Nihil, seems like he’s going to be a fairly one dimensional villain at first. One that doesn’t really control the Nihil but is more of a figurehead. But as the story progresses you find that everything is unfolding…well, not necessarily according to his plan…but to further his goals.

As others have pointed out, the book introduces us to a lot of new characters, but it does it well, and you find yourself caring about a lot of them. Particularly Padawan Bell Zettifar and his master, Loden Greatstorm.

This book suffers a bit from being the first in a series, and establishing a whole new era in the Star Wars canon, and as such it can’t possibly deliver a satisfying conclusion. This is not a complete story, and if you’re expecting one then you’ll be disappointed. What it does do, however, is leave you excited to read more, and as such it’s a resounding success.

Light of the Jedi is a bold new venture and a very welcome addition to the Star Wars canon. It’s exploring new ground, something which hasn’t happened in the Star Wars novels since Disney took over, and for that it should be commended.

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Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures #2 by Daniel José Older

Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures #2Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures #2 by Daniel José Older
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This issue picks up right where the last left off and plunges us directly into a battle between the Jedi padawans and the Nihil…but not before Master Yoda and Torban “Buckets Of Blood” Buck to help out. We learn that Torban Buck is a medic and he earned his nickname “Buckets Of Blood” due to his endeavours to keep people’s blood inside them and that he actually hates fighting.

Yoda sneaks on board the Nihil’s ship to rescue Zeen’s friend Krix, where we discover that the Nihil are being led by Marhcion Ro, the Eye of the Nihil…although if you hadn’t read Light Of The Jedi you wouldn’t know this as he’s never identified in the narrative. Yoda also discovers a box that contains a mysterious purple glowing something. Curiouser and curiouser…

The writing is fast paced, and perhaps a little too fast paced at times…there are moments when we could do with slowing down a little and getting our bearings…but given that all this is taking place during both an Emergence and a Nihil attack the confusion seems appropriate. The art is also great, not a style I would usually prefer, but it suits the book well.

This continues to be a great book and I’m looking forward to reading more.

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Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures #1 by Daniel José Older

Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures #1Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures #1 by Daniel José Older
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Squarely aimed at younger kids, as all of IDW’s range of Star Wars Adventures comics are, this focuses on a group of padawans out on their training cruise with Master Yoda when they’re called to deal with one of the remnants of the hyperspace disaster at Hetzal, which occurred in the novel Light of the Jedi. This brings them into conflict with the Nihil and into contact with a young, Force sensitive alien girl on a planet that’s wary of The Force.

The art is lovely, with very subdued colouring, and the writing, while aimed at children, never feels patronising and will still be enjoyable to older readers (even those of us in our forties!). These new characters are likeable and interesting and I’m keen to learn more about them.

Yoda is, thankfully, not in this much, as he and the padawans’ other trainer decide to deal with the large chunks of debris in space while the padawans deal with things on the planet’s surface. I don’t say “thankfully” because I don’t like Yoda, but because one of the refreshing things about the High Republic in general is that the focus is on new characters rather than leaning on our familiarity with and connection to existing characters.

All in all a good start to a new series.

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Star Wars: The High Republic #2 by Cavan Scott

Star Wars: The High Republic #2Star Wars: The High Republic #2 by Cavan Scott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well, this is good!

And, well, I’m not sure that I have a lot to say about it other that that. I’m not only still getting to know these characters but still getting to know the setting.

I initially though that Terec and Ceret might be annoying, but their unique bond was actually handled very well and I’m curious to…hopefully…see more of them.

It’s clear at this point that Skeer is very badly damaged and that things are going to go very badly for him, and his newly knighted apprentice Keeve Trennis is going to get caught up in the fallout of that.

But, beyond that, I’m simply enjoying exploring a new part o the Star Wars universe!

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Star Wars: The High Republic (2021-) #1 by Cavan Scott

Star Wars: The High Republic (2021-) #1Star Wars: The High Republic (2021-) #1 by Cavan Scott
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I never met a Star War I didn’t like.

Sadly, I haven’t been able to read Light of the Jedi yet because Amazon haven’t shipped it to me…and, let’s face it, at the speed I read novels I was never going to…so I can’t really review this in context, but never mind…

It’s still exceptionally good, and I can already tell that Keeve Trennis is going to become a favourite Star Wars character of mine. This is my first real taste of the High Republic era and I like what I’m seeing…although I’m not sure that Yoda being around feels right…but I think I have to remind myself that this isn’t the Old Republic, and the long ages of some species in the Star Wars universe make it inevitable that a few familiar faces are going to show up.

Seeing the Jedi at the height of their power is a real treat, though. It’s something I think we all expected from the Prequels, but, really, the Jedi had already fallen so much by the time of The Phantom Menace. They were so blind to the Dark Side that they weren’t able to sense a Sith Lord sitting right next to them. So it’ll be interesting to see the height from which they fell.

The art is great, and the cover, by Phil Noto, is gorgeous…although I’ll be forever kicking myself for missing out on the Stephanie Hans variant. Still, you can’t win ’em all…

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