The third book in The High Republic era brings an unconventional protagonist to the forefront of the story in Claudia Gray’s Into the Dark.
Into the Dark Brings a Fresh Approach to the Jedi in The High Republic
Set 200 years before the Skywalker Saga, Star Wars: The High Republic explores a time of peace in the galaxy that is disturbed by the Nihil’s crusade against the Jedi. Into the Dark is geared towards young adult readers, but like A Test of Courage, it is an engaging read for all ages.
Reath Silas, a Jedi Padawan apprenticed to Jedi Master Jora Malli, is not like the typical Jedi we’re accustomed to reading and watching. Rather than journeying across the galaxy to find adventure, he would be far more comfortable holed up in the Jedi Archives reading through historical digital texts. Where other characters in The High Republic seem to enthusiastically embrace their situation with humor and a particular brand of vibrancy, Reath seems to be a more middle-of-the-road character. In a lot of ways, he feels more “real” in his way of existing in this universe.
Into the Dark starts out rather slowly, but once Reath, Jedi Knights Orla Jaleni and Dex Rydan, and Jedi Master Cohmac Vitus make their way to the Starlight Beacon, by way of an unknown Amaxine space station, the real action starts to pick-up. Once they arrive, the Jedi and the pilots of the vessel are faced with two enemies. For those who have already read the first two High Republic-era novels, the Nihil will be familiar foes, but Gray introduces a new — and terrifying — enemy with the Drengir.
Another subplot in the novel centers around the shipping vessel’s co-pilot, Affie Hollow, who has to come to terms with a dark secret about the guild she belongs to. This was a plot-point that did feel secondary to the central plot, which made me believe it may be addressed again later in the series.
As with the previous two additions to The High Republic era, there are a number of threads left untied by Gray, which suggests that this era is still ripe for storytelling. Over the course of three books, readers are introduced to a wide variety of new characters that are often only mentioned in passing in subsequent books. This alone suggests that we’ll see the same cast of characters as the story of this era progresses forward.
Claudia Gray, who has previously authored the Star Wars titles Bloodline, Leia: Princess of Alderaan, and Master and Apprentice, to name only three, is highly adept at taking existing lore and mythos and creating something that is solely her own. She brings that same deft hand to The High Republic, introducing new characters, building on existing knowledge of the Force, and creating a world that is truly page-turning.
Into the Dark may not be centered around a conventional Jedi protagonist, but Reath brings an engaging look into the High Republic era. I appreciated how his arc pushed him to step out of his comfort zone and embrace the duality of being bookish but adventurous too. It’s refreshing to see new approaches to the Jedi, which is what The High Republic has done best.
I remain interested in seeing how the Nihil will evolve as a group in The High Republic novels and comics. At present, I still feel that they have some very valid points to make about the way the Republic is moving into “their space” and I hope that’s explored more in a way that they’re not solely seen as antagonists for it. Each introduction to members of the Nihil have made me anxious to learn more about them.
You can find Into the Dark on bookshelves starting February 2, 2021.