Friday, December 8, 2023

Between Books - Star Wars The High Republic: The Eye of Darkness

Yeah, I just can’t stop. Call me a completionist! Call me stubborn. Or just call me a bit loony, because Star Wars: The High Republic is back with a book and I chose to read it so you don’t have to…unless you want to.

Star Wars: The High Republic The Eye of Darkness by George Mann brings us back to the later High Republic after Lucasfilm publishing had moved us to earlier in the period for several books. We need a printed info graphic timeline to track this thing! In those books we learned why Marchion Ro hated the Jedi so much. Though, I am not buying it! Now, Mann brings us back to the original High Republic time frame and story line that Disney introduced to us. There’s just a lot of confusion here as we jump between different stories in different times in a Star Wars era we’ve not spent a lot of time in. For example,e, I found myself confusing characters between the two phases of the High Republic.

Back to Star Wars: The High Republic The Eye of Darkness! The Nihil led by Marchion Ro are at the heights of their power after the fall of Starlight Beacon. Ro’s forces has claimed a portion of the galaxy, with the Nihil establishing the Stormwall, a buried that Republic forced cannot pass. Within Nihil space, the chaos of the Nihil causes disorder and death. Outside the Stormwall, the Jedi hide from Ro’s ultimate weapon, the Nameless, animal force user hunters. Mann follows a few key Jedi as they struggle to stay alive within Nihil space or seek to crack the Stormwall to bring freedom to the Nihil captives.

It is getting better? A little bit! There are fewer characters to keep track of which helps a lot. Honestly, the first volumes had so many Jedi and other characters it was difficult to remember who was who. At this point, the cast has been weeded down enough that really we are focusing on a few characters like Avar Kriss. It just makes the plot easier to follow. And it also brings stakes as we have seen so many of them reach the end of their stories in their past. The basic plot of hostages and hopelessness also creates a lot of internal stress. I will admit, there are stakes as we don’t know where these heroes and villains end.

Mann’s writing provides an adventure tale that holds attention. However, it does feel like it rushes to an ending. I kept looking at how much needed to get at least partially involved and it felt like a lot for me, especially reading in Kindle and knowing there was a small percentage of the book to go.

Yet, I still have thoughts.

I don’t believe that the added earlier phase of the New Republic is needed to enjoy this story. The story within this phase focusing on Starlight Beacon is the best preread for this story. The idea that the Ro family has complaints about the Jedi doesn’t give me more depth to Marchion Ro. No, just let him be a horrible terrible person. That’s enough. And we could have avoided the literary flashback that none of our characters asked for.

I’ve had concerns about the Jedi, starting with the prequel trilogy forward. When I was a kid, Yoda was a hero, mentor, and someone to look up to. Now knowing that he worked closely with a Sith Lord and allowed him to groom his future apprentice under his watch my thoughts have evolved. The earlier phase of the High Republic makes it even worse for me. Yoda we now know was aware of the Nameless, had seen Jedi die to the Nameless, and seemed committed to learning how to combat the Nameless. Now generations later, he seems to have done nothing. Yoda quite simply does not come off as the hero that young me needs and wants him to be.

I recently saw a TikTok that declared the High Republic to be a failure. I’m not that far yet. I may say the High Republic isn’t the most interesting or what I want! But that did get me thinking. Disney and Lucasfilm have a history of scraping projects. We have all heard of movies and Disney+ offerings that were canceled, never made, and walked away from. I mean I would still like to see Star Wars: Rouge Squadron. If fans are not loving the print offerings on the High Republic, why hasn’t Disney done so here? I get that publishing is a lot cheaper than movies and television. I understand how comics and books can be trial balloons to gauge interest. And if this is a pilot, well I think interest is low. Personally, I think that it’s time to revise what the High Republic could be or should be. If I was the architect, I would revise the plan for this era to follow one Jedi, I vote for Porter Engle, who is longed lived, like Porter Engle, has some mystery behind him, a Porter Engle type, and some drama, such as Porter Engle, and is respected by others, much like Porter Engle. They’d probably need to create an entirely new character! You could have this one Jedi travel the galaxy and have adventures. Then this one Jedi’s journey could give us the backstory for the High Republic if Disney really wants us to enjoy stories in this era.

Star Wars: The High Republic The Eye of Darkness by George Mann shows us that Marchion Ro is a bad bad man. He holds millions hostage and the Jedi are helpless. If one can look at this story as one of good versus evil in the Star Wars universe, the tale works. But as something that is part of a larger framework, it does not connect as well as Lucasfilm might hope.

Oh yeah, remember when I said I felt like Mann had to rush to an ending? As those who have read books before might guess, the story doesn’t end here. So everyone can look forward to more Marchion Ro and his hatred of the Jedi.

Will I try to read it? Well, there is no try, only do or do not!


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