Force Friday: Frontiers, Jedi, and Plants REVIEWING Into the Dark

Welcome back to Force Friday! It's been some time since we've had one of these - but it's back, with some new titles from The High Republic (the newest addition to Star Wars canon).

The High Republic - Into the Dark

Author: Claudia Gray
Genre: Science Fiction
Year: 2021


Not everyone who hears the call to adventure wants to answer it....

Jedi Padawan Reath Silas loves adventure - reading about it, that is, not living it. Content to spend hours browsing the Jedi Archives on Coruscant, Reath dreams of being one of the great scholars of the Jedi Order. But Reath's master, the well-respected and virtuous Jora Malli, has other plans: she's taken a post at Starlight Beacon, the Republic's shining new outpost on the edge of known space. As her Padawan, Reath must join her, whether he likes the idea or not. (And he most definitely does not.)

So Reath reluctantly boards the ship that will take him and a few other Jedi to the dedication of Starlight Beacon, where Master Jora waits for him to start their new adventurous life on the frontier. But trouble in hyperspace leaves the ship and other nearby vessels stranded, with only an eerie abandoned space station reachable for shelter. And the secrets hidden there will not only bring Reath to a crossroads but, it left unchecked, could plunge the entire galaxy into darkness....


While this isn't officially the first book in The High Republic era, this was the first one that I wanted to read in the new era. I do own the kickoff novel (Light of the Jedi by Charles Soule), but for my own work and comic reading into the era, I wanted to know more about the Drengir. The Drengir are one of the newest villains added to the Star Wars universe and knowing about them has been integral to my present High Republic coverage. So this is my first novel foray into the era and I'll read Light of the Jedi next. 

The High Republic is a new era within Star Wars canon. It occurs 200 years before the events of the prequel film trilogy. It also comes after the Old Republic. This gap of time within the universe is now being filled with multiple media projects, including novels and comics. At present, the novels are showcasing what the Jedi Order was like before, what their ambitions are within the galaxy, and the new threats that they are facing. 

This is a YA novel, focused on a Padawan who does not want to go to the frontiers of space. Reath Silas would much rather spend his time studying in the archives, but his master has taken a post at a new outpost: Starlight Beacon - meaning he has to meet her there. On his way, trouble occurs within space, blocking his route. He connects with other Jedi, meets other inhabitants of the galaxy, and has to face his fears, as well a darkness that could be unleashed on the galaxy. 

This book also introduces one of the funniest things to hit the Star Wars galaxy in a while: Geode. Numerous new characters are introduced within this book (traders in the Guild, people living at the galaxy's present outskirts) and new villains get some page time (Drengir, Nihil). Geode is a Vintian - a sentient species that has a rocklike appearance. By rocklike appearance, I mean he's literally a rectangular rock with no face and no limbs. He doesn't speak, but those closest to him know how he's looking at them, what he would say, and what he wants to do. He even moves on occasion, when nobody notices and really without explaining how. He just does. This aspect has been viewed as dumb, absurd, ridiculous - and as a result, I find it absolutely hilarious. It's like Elmo's feud with Rocko on Seasame Street all over again, but with a Star Wars slant. Geode is a navigator and he's handy within the plot at times, but having him around and the reactions to him from some Star Wars fan are just funny to me. I'm personally not bothered by him. 

The Drengir are a plant-like sentient species that have their own motives and desires. They're supposed to be from an older time and are now reawakening. The Nihil are a mysterious new group that serve as major opposition to the Jedi. Their full motives and desires are not revealed within this novel, but there are little tastes of their characteristics which will be more developed in other books as the High Republic era progresses. These definitely aren't Sith level villains at the moment, but again, this is only the beginning of something new. I've seen where the Drengir get expanded upon within comics and that was much more enjoyable for me - so I'm taking this as the beginning of a broader crossover concept. 

Reath is a simple enough character to understand. His motivations are simple and so is his character arc. He's a Padawan so his master expects him to learn a particular lesson and he spends the course of the book doing just that. The Jedi Masters within the book are interesting enough and at least one will appear in later stories within this era. They do provide some insight into doubts that are already creeping into the Order that Star Wars fans are already rather familiar with. It'll be fun to explore the Jedi during this era and how they ended up where they were at the time of the prequel trilogies. 

For me, this book is a decent enough start. It didnt grip me intensely. I didn't feel any particular rush to finish it, but I did enjoy it and I like that I have it as part of my collection. I'm definitely excited to see more of what The High Republic will be delivering, but this certainly isn't my favorite Star Wars book of all time. It's a fair read with enough new concepts to be interesting, while still feeling like it belongs in the Star Wars galaxy even if it's different than what fans are used to thus far. I give The High Republic - Into the Dark a Lone Star rating of ✯✯✯ & a half. It's decent. It's a good time, but it wouldn't be the first Star Wars book I'd recommend reading. Long-time fans might like it just to see where the galaxy is heading to next. I'd like more Old Republic era canon reading, however. That'd be very interesting to dive into with some new writers and current canon. 

Thanks for joining me for today's Force Friday here at The Real World According to Sam, where I bring the books to your computer screen and even put in my two cents about them! See you at the next review!