Star Wars: The High Republic: Trail of Shadows is Daniel José Older’s newest contribution to the ever-expanding catalog of High Republic era storytelling. The miniseries picks up right after the devastating attack on the Republic Fair at Valo, and it introduces a gritty noir-style mystery subplot to the story as the Jedi Emerick Caphtor and the private detective Sian Holt team up to solve the mystery before anyone else dies.
Star Wars: The High Republic: Trail of Shadows (#1)
Trail of Shadows opens on one of the most memorable — and heartbreaking — moments from Cavan Scott’s The Rising Storm. Stellan Gios and Ty Yorrick watch in horror as the ruined body of Jedi Master Loden Greatstorm, abused and grotesquely open-mouthed, turns into nothing more than a pile of shattered dust.
Emerick Caphtor is brought on to investigate what happened to Loden, but his cursory investigation comes back inconclusive. Apparently, the dust lacks anything that would identify it as Loden, containing nothing more than bio-matter and detritus. This answer isn’t good enough for Stellan Gios, who Emerick notes is more stressed than usual. Loden’s shocking and horrifying death has clearly shaken him to his core, in addition to the devastating defeat they suffered at the hands of the Nihil.
During their brief interaction at the start of the issue, Stellan was humming a creepy nursery rhyme which Emerick later recognizes might be a clue worth investigating. The first time the pair of them heard the nursery rhyme was thirty-five years ago when they were merely scared young boys. A memory that will clearly be explored further as the mystery of the Trail of Shadows continues to unravel.
Emerick sets off to get to the bottom of Loden’s death and he finds himself facing off against the Nihil on Vrant Tarnum — which has been an integral location in Older’s Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures series. On the other side of the galaxy, Sian Holt has not yet found herself caught up in the mystery, but she is busy tackling her own investigation on Coruscant, where she very narrowly gets herself killed. It seems that everything is connected, but it will take a little while for readers to be privy to those connections.
As a long-time mystery lover, I am keen to see where Older goes with Trail of Shadows. I also hope that this is the start of Star Wars introducing other genres into the mix. The High Republic has already introduced shades of horror, proving that the franchise doesn’t have to be inherently bound to purely be a western-infused science fiction fantasy.
The first issue of Star Wars: The High Republic: Trail of Shadows is on sale now.