Categories
Star Wars Holocron Blog

EXCLUSIVE: Star Wars: Age of Resistance Official Collector’s Edition Excerpt

by @holocronGeorge for @sw_holocron

An all-new hardback deluxe magazine detailing the making of The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, and The Rise of Skywalker is coming soon with Titan Magazines’ Star Wars: Age of Resistance – The Official Collector’s Edition. The new deluxe magazine features exclusive interviews with cast and crew and stunning photography and production art, making it an essential for Star Wars fans.

Included here is an exclusive, early excerpt and spreads from the upcoming magazine:

Impulsive and ruthless, Kylo Ren was lost in anger and hate. Through his veins ran the bloodline of the most powerful Jedi and Sith, for he was once Ben Solo, the son of Han Solo and Leia Organa, grandson of Darth Vader. A gifted Jedi and student of Luke Skywalker, Ben turned to the dark side of the Force, took a new name, and became the apprentice of Supreme Leader Snoke.

A CONFLICT

Kylo Ren was trying to become one with the dark side of the Force, immune to the light. But his journey was not yet complete. “The character of Kylo Ren was about becoming,” said co-producer Michelle Rejwan. “He’s not fully formed. He was on a journey to discover himself. To discover his full potential. In Star Wars, there’s the light and the dark side of both of those things. Kylo Ren was striving to be some kind of force, and having both the light and the dark in him, was warring on both sides. That’s what made the character so interesting to watch.” Despite the effort to hide it, his inner conflict was evident when he exited his shuttle on Jakku and faced the captive Lor San Tekka — the explorer who was harboring part of a map to Luke Skywalker’s location. As actor Adam Driver explained, that inner conflict, the becoming, showed in the character’s visual presentation. “His lightsaber was not quite finished, and his uniform was not quite perfect.” Lor San Tekka tells Kylo he cannot deny his past, his family, where he came from. As we would soon learn, Kylo’s parents were Leia and Han. Well aware of Kylo’s feelings towards his mother and father, Supreme Leader Snoke exploited his apprentice’s battle with the light and the dark to his own advantage.

FROM THE PAST

Obsessed with Darth Vader, Kylo kept the deformed mask of the fallen Sith Lord in his private quarters aboard the Finalizer — a Resurgent-class Star Destroyer — and talked to it as if it were alive. Kylo emulated Vader, striving to be as strong as he was, even though Snoke believed Vader’s weakness caused the end of the Empire. “It’s very important,” said Lawrence Kasdan, writer of The Force Awakens, “that Snoke, who’s a master manipulator, could frame the moment of Anakin’s redemption as Darth Vader’s biggest failure, and have that argument carry total weight with Kylo Ren, who is now Snoke’s protégée and servant. Someone else telling that story would talk about the great moment when Anakin was redeemed, and Luke did not give up on his father. But for Snoke, it represented Vader’s moment of fatal weakness, when he softened at the end.”

JUST A BOY

While Anakin Skywalker had to wear his mask to breathe, Kylo Ren didn’t. His mask — designed after the battle gear of the Knights of Ren, a new generation devoted to the dark side — served the purpose of intimidating his opponents and hiding his humanity. After taking Rey to Starkiller Base, Kylo Ren was ready to interrogate her. But first, he took off his mask and showed his face. What she saw took Rey by surprise. Kylo Ren was just a boy. “One of the most interesting things was he’s young,” said Kathleen Kennedy, Lucasfilm president. “So often, villains in stories are damaged, troubled, older characters. To bring a character into Star Wars as a villain who was only thirty years old was interesting. It took advantage of a troubled, teenage life, and a backstory that we didn’t know much about. We recognized this tension between dark and light, which is prevalent in Star Wars, and we used it as a metaphor for the path from young adulthood to being an adult, to whom you think you’ll be as an adult, what your aspirations might be. That interest in anything on the dark side. Anybody’s capable of that. I think that tension of being drawn into something dangerous is relatable. For audiences today, that’s a new and exciting and appealing character.”

THE MASK

Kylo Ren’s mask was part of his battered combat helmet. Servomotors could drive articulated arms to separate the mask from the helmet, letting Ren show his face to his opponents when needed. Supervising sound editor Matthew Wood and his team used the sound of chains to make Adam Driver’s voice —  when he is wearing the mask — as distorted and intimidating as possible: “The mask didn’t function like Vader’s mask to keep him alive. It was for intimidation and to make him very strange to interact with. The juxtaposition when he took the helmet off, his regular voice and face gave a nice yin-yang surprise effect.”

Star Wars: The Age Of Resistance The Official Collector’s Edition Book is released by Titan Comics on March 9 2021, and is available to preorder on Amazon or Forbidden Planet (UK and Europe).

Categories
Star Wars Holocron Blog

What’s New in Star Wars – March 2021

by @holocronGeorge for @sw_holocron

Victory comes at a price. Mysteries of The High Republic continue to unravel. The Rise of Skywalker and The Mandalorian are brought to life in new ways. All of this and more are in store for Star Wars fans this March. It is important to note all of these release dates are subject to change. Below includes a list and description of upcoming Star Wars projects in the month of March:

March 2 – Victory’s Price

The highlight of March’s Star Wars content comes with the concluding chapter of Alexander Freed’s Alphabet Squadron trilogy. We recently reviewed the novel and found it to be the most exciting and emotionally impactful installment in the trilogy. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “The aces of the New Republic have one final chance to defeat the darkness of Shadow Wing in this thrilling conclusion to the Star Wars: Alphabet Squadron trilogy! In the wake of Yrica Quell’s shocking decision—and one of the fiercest battles of their lives—the remnants of Alphabet Squadron seek answers and closure across a galaxy whose old war scars are threatening to reopen. Soran Keize has returned to the tip of Shadow Wing’s spear. Operation Cinder, the terrifying protocol of planetary extermination which began in the twilight of the Imperial era, burns throughout the galaxy. Shadow Wing is no longer wounded prey fleeing the hunters of the New Republic. With its leader, its strength has returned, and its Star Destroyers and TIE squadrons lurk in the darkness between stars, carrying out the fallen Emperor’s final edict of destruction—as well as another, stranger mission, one Keize has championed not for the dying Empire, but for its loyal soldiers. Alphabet Squadron’s ships are as ramshackle and damaged as their spirits, but they’ve always had each other. Now, as they face the might of Keize’s reborn juggernaut, they aren’t even sure they have that. How do you catch a shadow? How do you kill it? And when you’re finally victorious, who pays the price?”

March 2 – Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Graphic Novel Adaptation

After last month’s delay, The Rise of Skywalker’s graphic novel adaptation is set to debut this month. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “Faithfully bringing events from the film to the comics page, read along in The Rise of Skywalker as Poe faces the challenges of leadership, Finn and Rose make impossible decisions for the greater good, and Rey finally confronts her destiny. The true threat to the galaxy is revealed as the third Star Wars trilogy reaches its epic conclusion! Will Rey join Kylo Ren to lead the First Order? Can Poe, Rose, and Finn inspire a new generation of rebels to combat this grave threat? With Snoke destroyed, can anything keep Kylo’s rage in check? Capturing the galaxy-spanning action of The Rise of Skywalker, experience Episode IX as a beautiful graphic novel combining the epic wonder of Star Wars with streamlined, young-reader friendly designs. This all-ages graphic novel is a must-read for longtime fans and a great introduction for young newcomers!”

March 3 – The High Republic 3

We are all the Republic. The adventures in this new, exciting era of the Star Wars universe continues with Cavan Scott’s third issue in this Marvel Comics series. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “ALL-NEW SERIES CONTINUES! A DARK MYSTERY ONLY THE JEDI CAN UNRAVEL…BUT AT WHAT COST? A planet stricken by a mysterious blight. One JEDI missing and another driven insane. What horror lurks in the darkness beneath the rotting crops?

Death is averted, but a terrible union is formed. Can KEEVE TRENNIS protect an innocent life while facing betrayal from within her own order?”

March 3 – The High Republic Adventures 2

Daniel Jose Older and IDW Publishing are also delivering The High Republic content this month with the second issue in this new series. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “Flaming destruction has come to Trymant IV! Childhood best friends Zeen and Krix try to find safety, while Yoda’s Padawans, Lula, Farzal, and Qort are trying to evacuate the citizens, but the Nihil ship won’t let anyone onboard. And when a massive battle breaks out, Krix and Zeen get torn apart! Writer Daniel José Older, bestselling author of Star Wars: Last Shot, and artist Harvey Tolibao bring IDW into The High Republic, a massive publishing crossover spanning comics and prose!”

March 9 – Star Wars: Age of Resistance: The Official Collector’s Edition

Soon to be spotlighted on our website and Twitter account, Titan Magazines are dropping a hardback magazine featuring various interviews and behind-the-scenes information regarding the making of the Star Wars sequel trilogy. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “An all-new hardback deluxe magazine, detailing the making of The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, and The Rise of Skywalker. With exclusive interviews with the cast and crew that brought you the story of Rey, Finn and Poe, and their struggle against Kylo Ren and the dark forces of the First Order, this is the first book to chronicle the making of a beloved trilogy of smash-hits that brought the epic Skywalker saga to its conclusion. Featuring stunning photography and production art, this indispensable souvenir edition is essential for all fans.”

March 10 – Star Wars 12

Charles Soule’s mainline Star Wars series for Marvel Comics continues this March with its twelfth issue. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “REFLECTIONS ON THE LOST! LEIA ORGANA and KES DAMERON share stories of their lost loves! Learn how POE DAMERON’S parents met! Learn the real reason HAN SOLO is so important to THE REBELLION!”

March 17 – Bounty Hunters 10

The adventures of Valance continues in issue 10 of Ethan Sacks’ Bounty Hunters series for Marvel Comics. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “THE “TERMINUS GAUNTLET” CONCLUDES! VALANCE finds himself alone and outgunned against the dreaded NEW OHNAKA PIRATE GANG! The lives of the crew of a REBEL transport hang in the balance as he battles against grave odds. And what secret is DENGAR carrying that will upend Valance’s life?”

March 17 – Star Wars Adventures 4

Star Wars Adventures 4 is on schedule to release this month after several delays. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “Join the Wookiees of Kashyyyk for part one of a special Life Day celebration! Plus, an exciting adventure featuring a beloved bounty hunter!”

March 23 – Star Wars Insider: The Fiction Collection Volume 1

This special edition of Star Wars Insider is a compilation of various short stories from Legends. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “Star Wars Insider, the official magazine of the Star Wars saga, presents an amazing collection of tales from the galaxy far, far away. Featuring short stories starring familiar characters such as Han Solo, Princess Leia, Lando Calrissian and Darth Vader, this collection also includes tales featuring supporting characters such as Darth Plagueis, Hondo Ohnaka, Captain Rex, and Darth Revan. Featuring renowned best-selling Star Wars authors including Jason Fry, Matthew Stover, John Ostrander, and Paul S. Kemp, this volume also includes stunning art from some of the saga’s best-loved interpreters, including Joe Corroney, Brian Rood, Jan Duursema, and Magali Villeneuve.”

March 23 – Star Wars Legends Epic Collection: The New Republic Vol. 5

The Legends love continues this March with this Epic Collection trade paperback collecting issues related to New Republic story arcs in Legends. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “The Dark Empire trilogy! Six years after the Battle of Endor, the heroes of the Rebellion work to unite the galaxy. But a new Empire has risen from the chaos to strike back at the former Rebel Alliance, reclaiming its capital of Coruscant and building massive new World Devastators to ravage entire planets. And Jabba the Hutt’s ruthless heirs have placed a monumental price on the heads of Princess Leia and Han Solo! Together with Lando Calrissian, Chewbacca, R2-D2 and C-3PO, Han and Leia must fight to protect the future for their children – but the greatest threat may come from the last of the Jedi: Luke Skywalker! COLLECTING: STAR WARS: DARK EMPIRE (1991) 1-6; STAR WARS: DARK EMPIRE II (1994) 1-6; STAR WARS: EMPIRE’S END (1995) 1-2; STAR WARS HANDBOOK (1998) 1, 3; MATERIAL FROM STAR WARS TALES (1999) 8, 11, 16-17.”

March 23 – Star Wars: Doctor Aphra Omnibus Vol. 1

For those who have missed the incredible adventures of Doctor Aphra over the last several years, this omnibus collection is a must-own as it collects the entirety of Doctor Aphra’s Marvel Comics run from 2016 to 2020. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “Meet the galaxy’s most daring rogue archaeologist as she dances between the dark side and the light! Doctor Chelli Aphra’s unique skills made her of interest to none other than Darth Vader – but things went sour, and now she’s trying to keep a low profile. Which is easier said than done, since she’s traveling with two sociopathic murder-droids and a Wookiee bounty hunter! But as Aphra’s archaeological escapades get more dangerous, she soon finds herself over her head. Will a growing romance with a strict Imperial officer redeem her – or destroy them both? Adventure, excitement and terror await! Star Wars: Doctor Aphra (2016) 1-40; Star Wars: Doctor Aphra Annual (2017) 1-3; Darth Vader (2015) 3-4, 8, 21, 25; Star Wars (2015) 13, 19, 31-32; Star Wars: The Screaming Citadel (2017) 1; material from Star Wars: Empire Ascendant (2020).”

March 24 – Doctor Aphra 8

We also get brand new Aphra content this month with the continuation of Alyssa Wong’s stunning series. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “OLD WOUNDS! After a narrow escape, APHRA and SANA’s investigation takes them to the site of an ancient battlefield! But VUKORAH and the UNBROKEN CLAN are hot on their heels! What answers await them amid the devastation?”

March 30 – The Mandalorian: Season 1: Volume 1

The first season of The Mandalorian is adapted in Random House’s Screen Comix style. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “Star Wars: The Mandalorian Screen Comix is a graphic novel-style retelling with full-color images and dialogue from the show! The adventures of the Mandalorian, a lone gunfighter in the outer reaches of the galaxy, are now retold in the new Screen Comix format! The mysterious Mandalorian walks a thin line between right and wrong far from the authority of the New Republic in the epic addition to the Star Wars universe, available now on Disney+. Star Wars: The Mandalorian Screen Comix is a 320-paged graphic novel-style retelling of the first four episodes of the first season, featuring final frames and dialogue from the series in vibrant full color, will delight fans of all ages.”

For reference, a condensed list of upcoming projects in March without descriptions is included below:

March 2 – Victory’s Price  

March 2 – Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Graphic Novel Adaptation  

March 3 – The High Republic 3  

March 3 – The High Republic Adventures 2  

March 9 – Star Wars: Age of Resistance: The Official Collector’s Edition  

March 10 – Star Wars 12  

March 17 – Bounty Hunters 10  

March 17 – Star Wars Adventures 4  

March 23 – Star Wars Insider: The Fiction Collection Volume 1  

March 23 – Star Wars Legends Epic Collection: The New Republic Vol. 5  

March 23 – Star Wars: Doctor Aphra Omnibus Vol. 1  

March 24 – Doctor Aphra 8  

March 30 – The Mandalorian: Season 1: Volume 1 

Images courtesy of Del Rey, Disney-Lucasfilm Press, Marvel Comics, Random House, IDW Publishing, Titan Magazines, Disney+, and Lucasfilm

Categories
Star Wars Holocron Blog

REVIEW: Victory’s Price

by @holocronGeorge for @sw_holocron

The post-Return of the Jedi era has been fleshed out across a number of projects in different mediums, including the hit Disney+ series The Mandalorian. Given the wealth of content inhabiting this transitional phase in the galaxy, it’s a testament to author Alexander Freed that his Alphabet Squadron trilogy stands apart as being some of the most emotionally resonant and impactful Star Wars content in this era and even the franchise more broadly in recent years. This is further showcased in Del Rey’s Victory’s Price, Freed’s concluding installment in the Alphabet Squadron trilogy. 

Victory’s Price follows the events of Shadow Fall and the shocking twist regarding the series’ lead character Yrica Quell. The galaxy is still reeling from the Emperor’s Operation Cinder, plummeting the galaxy into turmoil. The 204th Imperial Fighter Wing, a.k.a. Shadow Wing, have strengthened significantly since they first emerged in Alphabet Squadron. Led by Colonel Soran Keize, Shadow Wing once again go head-to-head with Alphabet Squadron in a conflict that is both intriguing and emotional.

Victory’s Price continues the tradition of its predecessors in really offering insight into what it is like to live in the aftermath of the Battle of Endor and be enveloped in the subsequent conflict. Yes, we see how the Empire ‘fell’ in Return of the Jedi, but it’s canon content like Victory’s Price or Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath trilogy that puts the audience in the shoes of people actually living through these events. Freed excels at this grounded, introspective storytelling and doesn’t restrict such a perspective to just the New Republic in also highlighting the perspectives of the antagonists.

This style of writing is best showcased whenever Yrica Quell takes centerstage. We really felt invested in Yrica’s moral conflict and warring sense of duties. Yrica is unlike many Star Wars protagonists we are exposed to as she’s more withdrawn and temperamental than others. This has made Yrica standout throughout the Alphabet Squadron trilogy and especially in this final installment.

The improvement of Victory’s Price over its predecessors is perhaps most evident when looking at the novel’s antagonists, in particular Soran Keize. The initial Alphabet Squadron novel provides a somewhat shaky characterization of the trilogy’s villains, but this issue has been ameliorated with both Shadow Fall and now Victory’s Price. Tonally, Victory’s Price is more akin to Shadow Fall than Alphabet Squadron, which is another advantage it has. Shadow Fall followed in the footsteps of The Empire Strikes Back in adopting a darker, nuanced tone relative to the more colorful Alphabet Squadron. Victory’s Price seems to blend the tones of Alphabet Squadron and Shadow Fall really well with plenty of levity that never detracts from the emotional weight or stakes of the plot.

Verdict:

Alexander Freed concludes his Alphabet Squadron in stunning fashion with Victory’s Price. The novel continues to flesh out the post-Return of the Jedi era by offering unique characterizations of figures on both sides of the morally ambiguous conflict. Exciting action, impactful emotional setpieces and decisions, and interesting easter eggs and references are abound in Freed’s novel and make us highly recommend it to Star Wars eager to engross themselves in a relatable, poignant tale in a galaxy far, far away.

Victory’s Price will release on March 2.

Image courtesy of Del Rey, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC

Categories
Star Wars Holocron Blog

EXCLUSIVE: Charles Soule Interview Excerpt from Star Wars Insider 200

by @holocronGeorge for @sw_holocron

Titan Magazines recently released Star Wars Insider 200, a hallmark issue of the acclaimed Star Wars magazine. Coupled with the issue’s main piece, 200 Reasons Why We Love Star Wars (a fitting article to commemorate such an event in the magazine’s history), Star Wars Insider 200 also features an interview with Charles Soule, author of works such as The Rise of Kylo Ren, Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith, and, most recently, The High Republic: The Light of the Jedi. 

Included here is an exclusive excerpt and spread from Charles Soule’s insightful interview with Amy Richau in Star Wars Insider 200:

Charles Soule’s Star Wars journey began while he was practicing law—first at a large firm in Manhattan doing corporate law, and later focusing on immigration law at his own practice. The transition from lawyer to writer didn’t happen overnight. “I found my work very rewarding, and things were going well, but I always knew I wanted a life based in creativity,” explains Soule. “So, on the side, in my tiny bits of spare time, I wrote. First, a novel (which remains unpublished, maybe for the best) and then comics. I started to get traction in comics after four or five years of learning the craft and the business, and around four years later I started writing Swamp Thing for DC Comics—that was my first big gig in comics, and it led somewhat rapidly to work at Marvel, where I signed an exclusive contract for four more years. During that time, I put out some creator-owned comics featuring my own characters, and two novels, The Oracle Year and Anyone. Somewhere in there, Star Wars came calling.”

When Marvel re-launched Star Wars comics in 2015 with the flagship Star Wars title, Darth Vader, Soule reached out to Marvel editor Jordan White to let him know he was interested in writing a new Star Wars story. “I pitched for two characters: Palpatine and Lando. It could have gone either way, but I ended up writing for Lando, and I’m glad I did. I love that book, and it led to so much more.”

Now, Soule is one of five writers behind an ambitious publishing program initially dubbed Project Luminous, set in an era 200 years prior to Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (1999).

The High Republic opens with Soule’s novel, Light of the Jedi, which centers around a catastrophe in hyperspace. “I was just really fortunate,” says Soule of the opportunity to pen the first release. “I’d come off some very high-profile, challenging Star Wars gigs that had done well (Vader and The Rise of Kylo Ren, in particular), and I think that helped in terms of giving Lucasfilm the confidence that I could introduce The High Republic to the world. I love writing novels, and I had a clear vision for what I thought Light of the Jedi could be. This can be a challenging, complex job, but it’s been very rewarding to create all these new ideas. I’m very proud of the book.”

Read the full interview and the second part of Soule’s The High Republic short story in Star Wars Insider #200 – on sale NOW!

And check out this great deal on Star Wars Insider:

8 issues for $47.99 – saving 40% on the newsstand price! Just click the link: https://bit.ly/36FjF1t

Images courtesy of Titan Magazines

Interview “Soule Man” conducted by Amy Richau for Star Wars Insider

Categories
Star Wars Holocron Blog

Celebrating the 200th Issue of Star Wars Insider

by @holocronJosh for @sw_holocron

Star Wars Insider’s 200th Edition is out now! 

This special issue features a variety of interesting sections, including exclusive interviews with the cast and crew of Star Wars projects as the reveal their love for the franchise and what it means to them. Also featured is a behind the scenes look of Star Wars Stories, an interview with The High Republic author Charles Soule, part 2 of Insider’s exclusive The High Republic story, and Anthony Daniels’ ‘Wonder Column’, a reprisal of the section that appeared in the early early editions of the magazine.

Star Wars Insider began in 1987 as Lucasfilm Fan Club, an issue in which creator George Lucas wrote a letter to fans of the franchise. In it, Lucas stated: “Ten years ago, when Star Wars premiered, I never dreamed that I would be writing a letter to members of a Lucasfilm Fan Club. What a decade this has been.” Also featured in this issue was an exclusive look at Willow (which is now getting a sequel series at Disney+) and an interview with Anthony Daniels.

The magazine was renamed to Star Wars Insider in the fall of 1994, in an issue that featured Sir Alec Guinness on the cover and included interviews with Carrie Fisher and Kenny Baker. Insider has gone on to cover the release of the prequel and sequel trilogies, along with spin-off films Rogue One and Solo.

Images courtesy of Titan Magazines & Star Wars Insider

Categories
Star Wars Holocron Blog

Why We’re Excited for The Acolyte

by @holocronJulie for @sw_holocron

With a slew of interesting Star Wars projects on the horizon, it’s easy to get caught up in all of the excitement as we eagerly anticipate shows like Obi-Wan Kenobi, Andor, The Book of Boba Fett, and, of course, the next season of The Mandalorian, amongst others. But one of the shows that particularly has our attention is one that has been seldom spoken about, relative to the other gargantuan projects in development. And that is The Acolyte, a new female-centric Disney+ series in development by writer and executive producer Leslye Headland. So why are we so excited about The Acolyte?

Headland leading the way

In recent years, Star Wars has attracted some incredibly talented writers and directors to helm projects and it looks like that tradition is continuing with Leslye Headland’s work on The Acolyte. The writer and director hit it out of the park recently with her Netflix series Russian Doll. For anyone who has not caught this show, definitely give it a watch. It’s eight 30 minute episodes that feel like a mix between Groundhog Day, Happy Death Day, and The Good Place. With her work on Russian Doll, Headland demonstrated that she not only has a steady hand behind the camera, but is capable of writing clever and quirky dialogue and narratives that would fit perfectly into the Star Wars universe. The twinges of sci-fi sprinkled throughout Russian Doll also lay the groundwork for Headland to tackle a galaxy far, far away.

Headland is a Star Wars fan and made a great comment at The Rise of Skywalker premiere when asked about her favorite Star Wars film. Headland said to Variety, “I’m the type of Star Wars fan that doesn’t have a favorite movie, I just want to live in the universe of Star Wars continually, in perpetuity forever. So, when people are like, ‘What’s your favorite Star Wars movie?’ I’m like, ‘There is no Star Wars movie, only Star Wars.’” That definitely seems like the kind of person who understands Star Wars to perfection.

Adventures in The High Republic

Another reason we’re excited for what Headland has in store for The Acolyte is the series’ place in canon. At Disney Investor Day, Kathleen Kennedy revealed that the series will be set during the last days of the High Republic.This means The Acolyte is likely to be the first live-action depiction of this new era in galactic history. As the High Republic continues to be developed in great novels and comics, it’s interesting to ponder what it will look like when captured in a television show. 

In an interview with Fantastic Frankey, Headland stated, regarding her upcoming series, “I would say it’s in a pocket of the universe and a pocket of the timeline that we don’t know much about….I’d like to think of my show as a tent revival. You can come over if you want to. We’re going to be talking about some cool stuff.” 

The dark side of the Force is a pathway…

Perhaps the thing that has most captured our attention about The Acolyte is its focus on the dark side. The Acolyte’s official description states that the show is “a mystery-thriller that will take the audience into a galaxy of shadowy secrets and emerging dark side powers in the final days of the High Republic era.”

This sentence alone leads to quite a bit of speculation. For starters, the show is described as a mystery-thriller. The Mandalorian is very much a Western series. Rogue One is very much a heist film. It’s great when Star Wars leans into genre a little bit and Headland once again leaning into the mystery genre, but now within the Star Wars realm, sounds really cool. 

The exploration of “shadowy secrets and emerging dark side powers” also catches our eye. In canon, the dark side is largely restricted to more sideline roles, in exchange for a primary focus on light side characters. It seems that The Acolyte will break from tradition in this regard by turning the focus toward characters who are traditionally conceived of as villains. 

If we begin to combine some of these pieces together and do a bit of Star Wars timeline mathematics, that’s where The Acolyte becomes even more intriguing. We know the series focuses on the dark side AND is a female-centric show. Immediately, our minds go to the Nightsisters. But, the mention of a series about the dark side set “in the final days of the High Republic era” also gets us thinking about Palpatine. The High Republic era concludes as the Fall of the Republic begins with The Phantom Menace. We know that, in the years leading up to The Phantom Menace, Palpatine was working behind the scenes to conquer the Republic. In this sense, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that a show about dark side powers during this time doesn’t touch upon Palpatine and maybe even his master Plageuis.

Time will tell…

Not much is known of The Acolyte currently, but everything we’re heard so far has us excited. A female-centric Star Wars project like this is long overdue and Leslye Headland seems like the perfect choice to take the franchise in this direction. A live-action series depicting the High Republic era and dark side powers also have us intrigued and are sure to contribute to a lot of fan speculation in the coming months. Time will tell how The Acolyte eventually pans out, but we certainly have our hopes up.

Images courtesy of Disney+, Lucasfilm, & Los Angeles Times

Categories
Star Wars Holocron Blog

What’s New in Star Wars – February 2021

by @holocronGeorge for @sw_holocron

Quality over quantity is the theme of the month as February is looking to deliver relatively fewer new Star Wars projects, but projects that we’re eagerly anticipating nonetheless. As The High Republic era continues to unfold, graphic novel adaptations of great films, the continuation of Operation Starlight, and Vader’s journey in between Episodes V and VI are sure to make February a great month for Star Wars fans. It is important to note all of these release dates are subject to change. Below includes a list and description of upcoming Star Wars projects in the month of February:

February 2 – The High Republic: Into the Dark

February kicks off with Claudia Gray’s YA novel published by Disney-Lucasfilm Press. We had a chance to review the book several weeks ago and, overall, found it to contain lots of great content for Star Wars fans to feast on. The third novel in the High Republic era introduces some unique characters in a contained thriller that sets the stage nicely for inevitable sequels to come. The somewhat lightweight world-building in Gray’s novel is offset by an engaging adventure with unpredictable twists and threatening villains. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “Padawan Reath Silas is being sent from the cosmopolitan galactic capital of Coruscant to the undeveloped frontier—and he couldn’t be less happy about it. He’d rather stay at the Jedi Temple, studying the archives. But when the ship he’s traveling on is knocked out of hyperspace in a galactic-wide disaster, Reath finds himself at the center of the action. The Jedi and their traveling companions find refuge on what appears to be an abandoned space station. But then strange things start happening, leading the Jedi to investigate the truth behind the mysterious station, a truth that could end in tragedy…”

February 2 – Star Wars: The Mandalorian – The Art & Imagery Collector’s Edition, Volume Two

Volume two of Titan Comics’ Art and Imagery series debuts this month after several delays. We recently published an early look at the collection and loved the brilliant art of The Mandalorian it contains. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “This collector’s edition includes stunning artwork from chapters 5- 8, featuring the droids, rogues, and soldiers of the Empire as seen in the hit series. A unique mix of photography, art and concept illustration showcases the Mandalorian, his allies, his foes and his incredible adventures.”

February 3 – The High Republic 2

If the brilliant cover art by Phil Noto is any indication of what’s in store with the second issue of The High Republic, we’re in for a treat. Cavan Scott’s first issue of the Marvel Comics series provided a great set-up for what’s to come that complements the other High Republic works we’ve seen so far. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “ALL-NEW SERIES CONTINUES! WHO DESTROYED ONE OF THE JEDI’S DEADLIEST ENEMIES? The NIHIL strike! A ship found adrift in space, the crew brutally slaughtered and cargo stolen. What terror awaits the THE JEDI OF STARLIGHT BEACON as they explore the wreck? Newly knighted KEEVE TRENNIS must overcome her insecurity in the face of new teammates, but can she trust her closest ally?”

February 3 – Star Wars 11

Charles Soule’s main line Star Wars series continues with this eleventh issue. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “OPERATION STARLIGHT GOES SUPERNOVA! The mission to reunite the REBEL FLEET is countered by a deadly trap sprung by the cunning COMMANDER ZAHRA!

How will WEDGE ANTILLES, SHARA BEY and the other elite pilots of STARLIGHT SQUADRON survive? And then there’s LANDO CALRISSIAN… forced to choose between THE REBELLION and one of his oldest friends!”

February 3 – Star Wars Adventures 3

Delayed from last month, the third issue of the Star Wars Adventures comic series is written by Michael Moreci and Sam Maggs. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “Join the Wookiees of Kashyyyk for part one of a special Life Day celebration! Then, follow Kylo Ren as he learns what it means to be the Supreme Leader of the First Order.”

February 3 – The High Republic Adventures 1

The first issue of another High Republic comic series debuts this month, written by Daniel José Older and published by IDW. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “Flaming destruction is coming to Trymant IV! A remnant of the Hyperspace Disaster appears in the sky, and Zeen and her best friend Krix have only minutes to get to the Elders of the Path and find safety! Meanwhile, Master Yoda, Master Baro, and a group of Padawans are racing towards the disaster for a daring rescue mission.”

February 10 – Darth Vader 10

It’s amazing to look back at the last few years and see how much depth to Vader’s character the various comic series have added. This is exemplified in Greg Pak’s stunning Darth Vader series, with the tenth issue debuting this month. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “THE RED HORROR! After passing the test of THE EYE OF WEBBISH BOGG, DARTH VADER has learned the route to the hidden location of THE EMPEROR’S greatest secrets! But in THE RED NEBULA along the way, can Vader survive the onslaught of the greatest predator in the galaxy? Especially if the monster’s most brutal attack transcends the physical? And what horrors await the Emperor if a transformed Vader makes it to his dark door?”

February 10 – Star Wars: The Phantom Menace Graphic Novel Adaptation

IDW Publishing are also bringing us one of our most anticipated projects of February – a graphic novel adaptation of The Phantom Menace. Written by Alessandro Ferrari, the publisher’s summary is as follows: “Experience the excitement and thrill of the epic Star Wars movies in this young-reader friendly adaptation of Episode I! Peace reigns in the Galaxy, guarded by the thousand-years old Jedi Order. But dark forces plot in the shadows to restore the power of the Sith, long believed gone. Unaware of this evil plan, two Jedi knights rescue Queen Amidala of Naboo and discover a young boy who could forever change the fate of the universe. Capturing the galaxy-spanning action of The Phantom Menace, experience Episode I as a beautiful graphic novel combining the epic wonder of Star Wars with streamlined, young-reader friendly designs.”

February 10 – Star Wars Insider 200

The 200th issue of Star Wars Insider drops this month. The issue contains part two of a short story by Charles Soule and a great list of the 200 Reasons We All Love Star Wars. An interview with the Emperor himself Ian McDiarmid is also featured in the issue, in addition to a Wonder Column written by Anthony Daniels and a tribute to Carrie Fisher from the actors who have voiced Leia in Star Wars animated adventures.

February 16 – Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Graphic Novel Adaptation

Another graphic novel adaptation by IDW Publishing is still currently set to debut in February, although we’re not certain this will be the case. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “Faithfully bringing events from the film to the comics page, read along in The Rise of Skywalker as Poe faces the challenges of leadership, Finn and Rose make impossible decisions for the greater good, and Rey finally confronts her destiny. The true threat to the galaxy is revealed as the third Star Wars trilogy reaches its epic conclusion! Will Rey join Kylo Ren to lead the First Order? Can Poe, Rose, and Finn inspire a new generation of rebels to combat this grave threat? With Snoke destroyed, can anything keep Kylo’s rage in check? Capturing the galaxy-spanning action of The Rise of Skywalker, experience Episode IX as a beautiful graphic novel combining the epic wonder of Star Wars with streamlined, young-reader friendly designs. This all-ages graphic novel is a must-read for longtime fans and a great introduction for young newcomers!”

February 24 – Star Wars Adventures 4

Star Wars Adventures 4 is on schedule to release this month after several delays. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “Join the Wookiees of Kashyyyk for part one of a special Life Day celebration! Plus, an exciting adventure featuring a beloved bounty hunter!”

For reference, a condensed list of upcoming projects in February without descriptions is included below:

February 2 – The High Republic: Into the Dark

February 2 – Star Wars: The Mandalorian – The Art & Imagery Collector’s Edition, Volume Two

February 3 – The High Republic 2  

February 3 – Star Wars 11  

February 3 – Star Wars Adventures 3  

February 3 – The High Republic Adventures 1  

February 10 – Darth Vader 10  

February 10 – Star Wars: The Phantom Menace Graphic Novel Adaptation  

February 10 – Star Wars Insider 200  

February 16 – Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Graphic Novel Adaptation  

February 24 – Star Wars Adventures 4  

Images courtesy of Disney-Lucasfilm Press, Marvel Comics, Random House, IDW Publishing, Titan Magazines, Disney+, and Lucasfilm

Categories
Star Wars Holocron Blog

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Paul Sun-Hyung Lee Talks Working on The Mandalorian, His Love for Star Wars, the State of Fandom, and Representation

by @holocronGeorge for @sw_holocron

Fresh off of his appearances in The Mandalorian, Star Wars Holocron had a chance to speak with Paul Sun-Hyung Lee on working on the hit Disney+ series, his love for Star Wars, the state of fandom, representation, and more.

In speaking of his long-standing love for Star Wars, Lee discussed how the three trilogies had unique impacts on him at different periods of his life:

“I was 5 years old [when A New Hope released] when my dad took my sister and I to see it, 8 years old for Empire when my babysitter took my sister and I to see it, and I was 11 years old for Return of the Jedi and my sister and I went by ourselves to see it. That relationship with the movies where I was going to those movies is really stuck in my head. And then the prequel trilogy, 1999 I was working at Blockbuster Video when The Phantom Menace came out, 2002 I was married already at that point, and then 2005 I was a dad already at that point. Going from a retail job to having a kid. And then the next set of trilogies, the sequel trilogy, as a dad, bringing my kids to see it too and watching them go through that cycle and it being their first Star Wars movie in the theater. And I took them to all three of [the sequels]. It helps that I’m a big Star Wars nerd too. And then they have their own formed opinions on these movies. Talk about a full life cycle. I feel really old! [Laughs].”

As a fan, Lee felt like his wildest dreams came true when he was cast in The Mandalorian:

“I use this turn of phrase a lot, but I felt like Cinderella at the ball. You don’t expect to be there and when you’re there everything is so beautiful. And so above every other experience you’ve had working on sets and what not. I’m still speechless about it and it’s still very surreal, because it’s a universe I’ve always wanted to play in. It’s something I’ve fantasized about being a part of since I was a little kid.”

While working on The Mandalorian, Lee was blown away by the advanced technology used to bring the show to life, especially the volume:

“I got to see things that I thought I would never be able to see in terms of the technology they use…This is cutting edge tech. This is next generation stuff that is so specific to just that show. It’s amazing. I mean, the volume is transformative, because it’s immersive. You go in there and you cannot believe what’s happening in front of your eyes is actually happening. It’s so realistic. And the confluence of technology and innovation and intelligence and planning to get all that to come together is … I’m standing there and thinking, ‘I’m living in the future.’ This is the future. Like in the 50s when everyone was thinking about flying cars and stuff like that, that’s what it felt like. Because, you’re not on location. But you might as well be, because it looks exactly the same. And so that was really cool.”

Given The Mandalorian’s mammoth popularity, Lee is appreciative of what working on something this successful means for his impressive acting career more broadly:

“I have a bunch of stuff on my resume. But having The Mandalorian on there jumps it up a couple of notches in terms of credibility. I was the lead on a hit Canadian television series that is doing great on Netflix, it’s internationally known. And then, I do two episodes of The Mandalorian and my IMDB page just explodes! [Laughs] All of a sudden, everyone is looking at it. It’s amazing the power of [the Star Wars franchise] and the effect it will have on people’s careers and resumes. You look at that and you go, ‘Legit. He’s on a hit show on Disney+ and is part of a huge franchise that has spanned 40+ years. That is absolutely insane. I’m so grateful for that opportunity. I keep saying that. Grateful. Grateful. Grateful. But I am. I got to live a dream that millions have had and haven’t had the opportunity to, sort of, follow through on to get that opportunity. So I’m very grateful for it. I’m still in disbelief.”

Lee plays Carson Teva, a pilot in the New Republic Starfighter Corp, in two episodes of The Mandalorian so far. Lee was given little background information on the character, but playfully came up with his own funny backstory for Teva:

“It’s hard to play that, because it’s literally just a sketch or an outline of a character. So, what can you do to make him seem more grounded or have that gravitas of someone who has been around the block? And so I joked with Dave. It was funny…We knew he was a guy who’s been around since pre-Yavin, right? So, wouldn’t it be funny if he’s the guy that missed out on all the battles for whatever reason, and he’s super bitter about it. He wasn’t in the Battle of Yavin, because the power converters on his X-Wing weren’t working. And, for Hoth, like he’s stuck babysitting a transport as it leaves the system. And, for Return of the Jedi and the run against the Death Star, he had diarrhea so he couldn’t make it out there. And, for Scarif, he [missed it] for whatever reason. So the reason he’s patrolling the Outer Rim is because he missed out on all that service. So they’re like, ‘Well, you get the Outer Rim, buddy.’ And I joked about it with Dave and he was like, ‘Ummm…No.’ It was fun.”

Lee is enthusiastically open to reprising his role as Teva, either in The Mandalorian, Rangers of the New Republic, or even a buddy cop-style show with Dave Filoni’s Trapper Wolf: 

“Oh my god, yes, yes. Like a million times, yes. Of course. I mean, jeez, I got a taste of how cool that universe is with those two episodes of The Mandalorian. And I would absolutely…any fan would say, ‘I would do anything you need me to do. I will go off buildings. I will kidnap pets. I will do all sorts of nasty things just to be able to do the show.’ [Laughs]. Yeah, you know it starts with the people who are fantastic on these sets. Jon and Dave and the powers that be. The set is an absolute pleasure to work on. Everybody is so kind and professional…and they’re giddy about Star Wars. I mean, it’s the ultimate sort-of nerd camp! You get to go there and play and dress up and then you have all this fantastic technology you get to play with. The costumes. If you love Star Wars, you’d leap at that. So, yeah I’d do that.”

Lee has some insights regarding what it’s like to act alongside Dave Filoni:

“I think I have a lot of fun with Filoni too, because he hates being in front of the camera [Laughs]. He hates it!…The episode that we were in together, he took that role because I was doing it. He thought it would be fun. So that’s a big win for me too, man. To act with Dave Filoni.”

Working with Filoni behind the scenes allowed Lee to catch a glimpse of what The Mandalorian executive producer and writer was working on with Ahsoka in the series:

“So, being on the set, it was amazing, because Dave actually showed me some of the work and rough cuts of the Ahsoka episode. I didn’t even know Ahsoka was going to be in the episode, but Dave’s like, ‘Because I’m your friend, I’m going to show you,’ And so, he shows me some of the footage of Rosario Dawson with Grogu. It’s that beautiful shot with the huge moon and they’re sitting and meeting each other. And I was like, ‘Oh my god! Oh my god!’ I mean, I’d heard rumors, but that was the first time I’d ever saw that.”

As a massive Star Wars fan, Lee was surprised and blown away by the appearance of Luke Skywalker in the season 2 finale: 

“That was a complete and total shock. I honestly did not expect it. I was hoping…The Dark Troopers are pounding against the door and they’re hopelessly [under threat]. And you see that single X-Wing fighter. And I will admit, for a split second, I thought, ‘Oh my god! It’s Carson Teva!” [Laughs]. Then I was like, ‘No, you idiot.’ I was thinking, ‘It’s Luke. It has to be Luke….There could be no one else.’ No one else could save them. And then the little reveals…the cloaked figure, the gloved hand, the green lightsaber, the Force, and I’m still getting goosebumps now just thinking about it….How could it be? And he just mows right through them. And the door opens and it’s him. And it was just pure. As a fan, my heart wept with joy, because he was there. And I’m still kind of processing how wonderful it is…That whole reveal with Mark Hamill, it just killed me. And I loved it. It was just so perfect. And that’s the beauty of that set is you get little snippets, but they still save lots of surprises. I’m just blown away by it.”

In discussing Star Wars fandom more broadly, Lee sees the Star Wars universe as having something for everyone and believes that fans should embrace the content they emotionally and personally resonate with:

“As much as there’s hate for the prequel trilogy, there’s a whole generation of kids where that was their jam. Those were the movies they saw when they were growing up. So there’s a link that they’ll have to that that I don’t have. And it’s great. I’m in the 501st and I actually know a couple of members and that’s their Star Wars growing up. One of them is a huge Jar Jar fan. And you go ‘okay man, that’s cool!’. That was his favorite character growing up and I don’t want to steal his joy. And it’s the same with the sequel trilogy. Everyone has their differing links to it and it speaks to them personally as well on different levels. For me, that’s fandom in a nutshell. We all associate these movies personally. We internalize them, personalize them, they mean different things to all of us. The best parts of fandom is not judging that. The best parts is finding things that we love and being able to talk about it and getting some insight into certain things that we’d go ‘I don’t think that was the best’. But if you learn something about it, I think that’s pretty cool. For me, that’s what fandom should be about. Just sharing that love and that joy and learning new things as much as we can.”

Despite the joy people can get from Star Wars, Lee notices that sects of fandom have become quite competitive and negative:

“It’s gotten weird in terms of the gatekeeping that’s going on. Someone will stand there and say ‘you’re not allowed to be a real fan unless you’re able to answer these questions’. Fandom isn’t a pissing contest. You’re not a bigger fan because you know more about the Expanded Universe or this or that. And so it’s one of those things, more and more, it feels like fandom has become about scoring points. Or being the most this, or being the most that. And I think that’s the worst part of fandom honestly. It’s not a contest. And somebody knowing more about something that you isn’t something you should feel bad about. And you shouldn’t feel better about yourself if you know more than somebody else about certain things. Because, at the end of the day, it’s like, ‘What are we geeking out over, right?’ Nerdy things that really should be things you enjoy. So let’s not turn it into a contest. Fandom isn’t a contest and it never should be.”

On a touching, final note, Lee speaks about what it means to be a person of color acting in such a prominent franchise dear to his heart:

“It meant so much. The world really. Because it’s being given the opportunity to play in a universe I thought I’d never have a chance to do that. Growing up, watching these movies and wanting to be a part of it, there’s a part of you that’s like, ‘That’s me up there.’…There were no Asians in Star Wars. So you gotta play someone with no face or with a helmet on the whole time, because you can’t be Han, you can’t be Luke, you can’t be Leia, you can’t be any of these characters. Because nobody looks like you who’s up there. And it makes a big difference. And for myself, as a professional actor and a fan, to get that chance to be there and be a representative of Asian Americans, and Asian Canadians, and Asians in general, I think is fantastic, because, for the next group of fans, they can look and say, ‘Holy crap! There are Asians in space. And they don’t have to die. And they can play cool characters. They don’t have to be relegated to the background like pilot in the third row who gets blown away in the second reel. It means a lot. And it’s so funny, because you said, ‘Directed by an actor of color.’ And I was like, ‘Person of color? Carl?’ I didn’t even think about the color of his skin, because he’s such an icon. Carl Weathers. Superstar. Iconic action hero from the 80s and the 90s. This is a guy who has built an incredible career for himself and has represented his community so well. And for me to take a small step and take this small role and turn it into something Asians and Asian Americans can look at? Yeah, it means a ton. It’s funny, because a lot of people say, ‘Star Wars is being ruined by the social justice warriors.’ Man, it’s a galaxy. It’s an entire galaxy and there’s so much. Just purely scientifically speaking there should be so much more than the Swedish all-star team at the top of the screen…And so I don’t see how more diversity affects fandom in a negative way, The narratives aren’t that much different. It’s really about getting more people involved…Equality doesn’t mean less rights for you. It means extend the same rights to everybody. I think that gets lost in the message sometimes, because I think some people are unfairly meant to feel like they’re being persecuted for something out of their control as well.”

It was a genuine pleasure to speak with the incredible Paul Sun-Hyung Lee on a range of interesting topics. Lee was kind and endearing and we hope to see more of him flying around in an X-Wing as Carson Teva sooner rather than later!

Images courtesy of Disney+ and Lucasfilm

Categories
Star Wars Holocron Blog

Recapping the Big Week at Lucasfilm Games

by @holocronJosh for @sw_holocron

This week, Lucasfilm announced that upcoming video games will be under the umbrella of Lucasfilm Games, with several upcoming projects to be announced.

Indiana Jones game by Bethesda

On Tuesday, Lucasfilm Games announced an all new Indiana Jones project developed by MachineGames and executive produced by Todd Howard of Bethesda Games Studios. Howard is best known for his work on the Fallout and Elder Scrolls franchises. Lucasfilm also revealed that the game will tell a completely original and standalone story set during the prime of Jones’ adventures. A brief teaser trailer for the game was also released, featuring the iconic fedora and whip of the character.

Lucasfilm Games VP Douglas Reilly had this to say:

“I have wanted to do an Indiana Jones game for a long time, and we’ve never had the right fit of partner and idea to make that happen. We are extraordinarily fortunate to be working with Todd Howard, the executive producer for the upcoming game, which will be developed by MachineGames and the team at Bethesda. He has a unique vision and a unique passion for Indiana Jones, and pitched us a story and a concept that is so amazing, I can’t wait to start sharing it with folks. I love Star Wars and we love making Star Wars games, but it’s been a long time since we’ve made Indy. We’re really excited about this one.”

Open World Ubisoft Game

Also announced this week is a project that Star Wars fans have longed for for quite some time: an open world game set in a galaxy far, far away. Ubisoft is a big player in the world of video games, developing series such as Assassins Creed, Watch Dogs, Tom Clancy projects, and more. Ubisoft’s Massive Entertainment, best known for its work on The Division 2, will spearhead the project.

Lucasfilm Games VP Douglas Reilly stated:

“We’re really excited about an opportunity to work with the team at Massive, led by David Polfeldt and the creative director, Julian Gerighty. We’ve spent almost a year now, working to get to know them and what they want to bring to the table. I’m a huge fan of them, personally. I think we’re really excited about where that project is going, because they have a unique vision for the story and the game they want to deliver.”

Upcoming EA Projects

Lucasfilm also confirmed that EA will still continue to develop games in the future. After the success of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, EA confirmed that sequels to that game are currently in development, along with other projects.

After only 4 new Star Wars games in 5 years, it seems as if Lucasfilm are putting their video game development into light speed.

Images courtesy of Lucasfilm Games, Bethesda, EA, and Ubisoft

Categories
Star Wars Holocron Blog

REVIEW: Star Wars The High Republic: Light of the Jedi

by @holocronGeorge for @sw_holocron

The High Republic era launched with a bang, with a new comic series and childrens, middle-grade, and YA books all debuting simultaneously. However, amidst this welcomed array of new Star Wars content, perhaps the most anticipated of the bunch was The High Republic: Light of the Jedi, an adult novel written by Star Wars veteran Charles Soule. Despite a somewhat disjointed, overwhelming beginning act, Light of the Jedi finds its footing as the narrative progresses, culminating in a thoroughly entertaining, emotionally resonant kick-off to the High Republic era.

Two hundred years prior to The Phantom Menace, a disaster occurs in hyperspace that sparks the series of High Republic projects we’ve gotten so far. In an event known as the Great Disaster, a freight transporter called The Legacy Run is destroyed while traveling through hyperspace, causing fragments of the wreckage to be dispersed randomly and disruptively throughout the galaxy. Being protectors and guardians of peace, the Jedi of the High Republic are sent to the site of the wreckage and tasked with rescuing survivors and preventing further destruction. Soon enough, the Jedi find themselves caught in the middle of a mystery involving the Nihil, an insidious crew of space pirates, that threatens the Republic and the entire galaxy.

It’s hard to become immersed within the High Republic publishing initiative without being reminded of the MCU (in a very good way). Although the Marvel Cinematic Universe has its critics, Kevin Feige and company have been universally praised for creating a brilliantly interconnected series of stories spanning various movies and shows. Light of the Jedi and the other High Republic projects really evoke the best of the MCU in that, as a reader, you feel as if you’re being thrown into this grand, interweaving segment of the galaxy. This involves characters from and events occurring in Light of the Jedi being integral to other projects, and vice versa. This sort of interconnectivity elevates Light of the Jedi in feeling as if we’re just getting our feet wet into something really vast.

Charles Soule expertly navigates Light of the Jedi and clearly shows why he was the perfect choice to spearhead this new era. Soule has always had a great knack for dialogue and this skill is on full display in this High Republic novel, with the banter and rapport between different Jedi being a particular highlight. Each Jedi feels like a truly distinct character with unique personality features and characteristics. Soule definitely draws upon some of the post-Return of the Jedi content in Legends when writing his new collection of Jedi characters. The unique Force connections and aesthetics of each Jedi evoke some of the highlights from Legends in a positive way. A lot has been made of Avar Kriss, the shining light of this new era, but various other new characters in the novel are just as interesting and had us eager to see more of them.

Soule also strikes a great balance between world-building and story-telling, something that we pinpointed as a potential criticism in some of the other High Republic projects so far. We’ve loved everything we’ve read in this new era so far, but found some of the world-building to be a little lightweight, making the distinctiveness of the High Republic era a little ambiguous. Soule subverts these issues in avoiding dense paragraphs of exposition and, instead, building out this new era of the Star Wars universe with interesting character moments, dialogue, and references. A particular reference to The Force Awakens was a personal favorite.

Despite striking such a great balance overall, the first act of the novel can be a little jarring. So many new names are thrown around so quickly that it can be difficult to get a grip on who’s who and what’s going on exactly. This issue is ameliorated as the novel progresses, however, as we see more of these characters and come to realize that they are surely to play larger parts in subsequent projects. In fact, the novel adopts an interesting structure in thrusting readers in the midst of a chaotic, climatic event, only to slow down considerably and become more personable as the chapters progress. I commend Soule for this bold structure to the High Republic’s leading book, although it doesn’t always pay off.

It was also somewhat difficult to get a good grip on the Nihil, the antagonists of the novel. The stakes of the Great Disaster seem, well, great. But, it may take some getting used to the Nihil. It’s questionable, at this point, to conceive of how the Jedi Order at the peak of their power would be greatly threatened by this band of pirates. However, this may be the point. Ben Kenobi stated in A New Hope that the Jedi were guardians of the peace for thousands of generations before their downfall, implying that any threats prior to The Phantom Menace aren’t that monumental. 

Verdict:

Beyond a somewhat rocky start, Charles Soule delivers an enthralling introductory installment into the High Republic era. Full of interesting new characters and a mysterious overarching conflict, Light of the Jedi excels in almost every department and sets the stage nicely for what’s to come.

Image courtesy of Del Rey Books