For the past year, The High Republic has offered some of the most thoughtful and engaging Star Wars stories in recent history. For all of their glory, the Jedi are not perfect people, and each of the characters has been skillfully crafted to feel as real as the readers consuming the stories.
They have fears, self-doubts, worries, and concerns. For some of them, their responsibilities feel like too much; for others, they seek to be even better than their peers and mentors. In The Edge of Balance, Jedi Knight Lily Tora-Asi is trying to find her place within the Jedi Order — while learning how to train her Padawan and protect the people around her.
The Edge of Balance Tests the Jedi in New Ways
There are elements throughout The Edge of Balance that resonate throughout the entire High Republic era, particularly when it comes to the purpose of the Jedi. The younglings under Lily’s care are not the first to question why the Jedi have deadly weapons when they have been called on to be peacekeepers.
These sentiments have been echoed by Star Wars fans over the years who have tried to understand the duality of the Jedi as peacekeepers and military generals, and it is intriguing to see these ideas explored in this medium.
The High Republic has been skillfully crafted to have stories in various mediums — adult, young adult, and middle-grade books, several comic book series, and now a manga. Each of these stories can be self-contained within the confines of their individual stories. Still, when combined, they create a beautiful expansive story about a galaxy at a very pivotal point in history. The Edge of Balance spans the period just before the Republic Fair on Valo and the fallout of the Nihil attack during it.
Justina Ireland, who wrote A Test of Courage, crafted The Edge of Balance with Shima Shinya, who wrote the bonus chapter at the end of the book. It has been a long time since I read manga. Still, Mizuki Sakakibara did a spectacular job of creating engaging pages filled with gorgeous linework that captured the essence of everything The High Republic has been building to.
On Banchii, Lily, her Master Arkoff, and her Padawan Keerin have been tasked with helping refugees from Hon-Tallos resettle near the Jedi Temple on the planet. Other High Republic stories have painted the Jedi as colonizers; this story underlines their efforts to help refugees in the wake of the Great Disaster. Of course, the Jedi have already colonized Banchii by arriving and building a temple there, but they do seem to be trying to help.
Unfortunately, their efforts to protect the refugees and residents of Banchii go awry when the Drengir show up and wreak havoc in a rather grizzly scene of petrified wood and ripped-in-half settlers. While the readers can connect the dots and identify one of the alleged refugees as a Nihil who delivered the deadly Drengir to Banchii, Lily and the rest of the Jedi are oblivious to the act.
The story’s title has an underlying meaning as Lily spends most of the manga trying to balance her self-doubt with her desire to do the right thing. She has a clear desire to be the best Jedi possible, and it will be interesting to see how this evolves throughout the series, as this is just the first introduction to her character.
I hope she turns up in some of the other upcoming stories, especially as her story in The Edge of Balance intersected with Sellan Gios. They played a pivotal part in The Rising Storm and are set to be an integral part of the upcoming books.
The Edge of Balance is on sale now.