It has been a few months since the Nihil attacked the Republic Fair on Valo, causing countless deaths, and the combined forces of the Jedi and the Republic have amped up their brutal counterattacks against the feared Outer Rim pirates.
Justina Ireland’s Out of the Shadows is a Well-Orchestrated Symphony of Character Building
Jedi Knight Vernestra Rwoh is still working through a complex awry of feelings in the wake of the attack on Valo, though they’re not quite as complex as the feelings that Padawan Reath Silas is having about one particular Nihil he met during the events of Into the Dark.
Between the three High Republic novels, Justina Ireland’s Out of the Shadows is the most character-rich story. While there is no driving central plot that keeps you on the edge of your seat, like with The Rising Storm or Race to Crashpoint Tower, Ireland’s novel delves deep into its four central protagonists, developing their personalities and personal quests. Of course, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a plot in the novel, but Out of the Shadows feels like it’s building out a much bigger web of stories that will be picked up in the next phase of novels.
Sylvestri “Syl” Yarrow has a chip off her shoulder and for good reason. Her mother upped and abandoned her on the planet Tiikae, her girlfriend left her to become a deputy, and most recently she lost her beloved ship Switchback to the Nihil. Fortunately, or maybe unfortunately, for Syl the events of Out of the Shadows cause her to cross paths with not only her ex Jordanna, but her mother too.
If you have been waiting to see how The High Republic would utilize the San Tekka legacy, look no further than Out of the Shadows. So many of the questions we had following the first wave of The High Republic find their answers in Justina Ireland’s novel and those answers build onto larger questions.
Reath is still the sweet bookish boy that we all fell in love with while reading Into the Dark, but the events of that novel have had an effect on him. He’s a little braver, a little more certain of himself and his future, and a little hung up on the betrayal of the Nihil saboteur Nan.
I anxiously await and hope for the day that we get a novel where the Nihil are the central points of view because I adored every single one of Nan’s chapters. It was so refreshing to see how she interacts with her fellow Nihil, as well as how she survives on her wit and skill. Nan ushered in so much added context about the Nihil, how they function, and even some humorous commentary on my favorite bad boy Marchion Ro.
While Marchion Ro’s presence is woefully lacking in the novel, there are story elements and choices made that will have direct and intriguing ramifications on not only him but the Nihil at large.
Justina Ireland is such a talented writer. It’s one of the reasons A Test of Courage was my favorite novel in the first wave of The High Republic. She has this way of effortlessly taking us on a journey that is equal parts of rollicking adventure and an emotional journey for the young protagonists. I read a lot of YA novels and I have yet to come across a writer as gifted as Justina is at making me care, deeply, about characters that are so much younger than myself. Each character is given a full roster of interests, desires, motivations, and flaws. Vernestra and Nan have both jumped up the list of favorite High Republic characters for me, ranking among Marchion Ro, Lula Talisola, Elzar Mann, and Farzala Tarabal.
Out of the Shadows is a well-orchestrated symphony of character building, bookended with the unfurling of much larger and overarching plots that will, without a doubt, play a pivotal part in the future of The High Republic.