200 years before the events of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace occurred was the age of the High Republic. This was an era where the Jedi worked with the Republic to maintain peace and order in the galaxy. The republic was a beacon for good and the helped to shine that light into the darkness. This is the era that Star Wars: the High Republic take place in. While this era was more or less an era of optimism and hope, things still happened. One thing that happened was the “Great Disaster.” In Light of the Jedi, this terrible event was chronicled by author Charles Soule (read my review here). Now, Claudia Gray provides a different perspective on the Republic and Jedi during this era with the new book Into the Dark. It follows the story of a young Padawan Reath Silas who is traveling to a new assignment when his ship is knocked out of hyperspace. There, he and his shipmates find themselves with new friends, new challenges, and a dark threat.
Into the Dark revolves primarily around the story of Padawan Reath Silas, who is more of an academic than an adventurer who finds himself thrown in the midst of an adventure he probably wouldn’t have chosen. Around him are several other Jedi, the ships crew, and some other secondary characters that they encounter during their journey. What this ends up doing is creating a diverse group of characters that are adventuring together. This leads to some interesting combinations and scenarios. While this book is aimed at a younger audience, it has a wonderfully complete set of characters that make sense and each get their story wrapped up in a satisfactory manner by the end of the book. Because of this, there is a payoff for what the reader feels about various characters in the story. There is nothing worse than getting invested in a character and then their storyline is left unfinished.
The Jedi in this book are really fascinating to read about. With each book in The High Republic, more is revealed about the strengths and weaknesses of the Jedi during this time period. It also provides hints of potential ways that future events in the Star Wars universe could take place. Into the Dark gives a great look at the experience of being a Padawan and the relationship that is had between the Padawan and Master. This is wonderful to see in this context as opposed to the movies just because more or less, the process is successful and healthy. In the prequels of the Star Wars movies, the viewer gets to see a Padawan descend into darkness. In the Original Series, the Republic and Jedi Order in the traditional sense are long gone. The sequel trilogy is even further away from what once was in the events of The High Republic. It is fascinating to see how things once were for the Jedi and their Padawans when the system was “working,” and seeing that there were still flaws and many different personalities and approaches to mentoring, leadership, and even what it means to be a Jedi.
The plot for Into the Dark is very enjoyable and engaging. Claudia Gray pulls the reader right in at the start and takes them right along on the adventure that she wrote. It moves along at a solid pace. It makes sense. There are some surprises. It fits into the bigger picture and story being told in The High Republic. Most importantly, it feels like Star Wars.
Claudia Gray is an author that previously wrote multiple Star Wars novels. My personal favorite to date was Lost Stars, which tells the events of the original Star Wars trilogy from a very different perspective. It is fantastic. Just like in Lost Stars, Gray plays with perspective in this book as well. I dare say that Claudia Gray is one of the greatest Star Wars authors out there right now.
World building is so incredibly important, especially for a Star Wars book that is set in a new era that really is just beginning to be explored. This is an era that is beginning to take shape and Gray continued to build on what is known about it. She does this while moving the story along so it doesn’t become a lesson on geography of any given place or planet. This book also builds the world that is lived in during this era of the Republic from different perspectives than that of say Light of the Jedi. This makes the world feel more real and more complete and really enhances the other books that are taking place during this era. It is a gift to those who are reading these books and becoming familiar with this era.
Into the Dark was a very enjoyable and fascinating book to read. I found myself hooked almost immediately and finished reading it that very same day. The story made a lot of sense to me and moved along at a nice pace. There were also a few surprises along the way, which is probably why I kept reading it in one sitting. When a book can effectively do that, it almost becomes like binge-watching a show. You just want to keep going! I found this book to be that way. While it is written for young adults, I found it to be completely enjoyable. It’s definitely worth reading for any Star Wars fans. I personally am really enjoying the stories that are coming out of The High Republic and can’t wait to read more!
Did you read Into the Dark? If so, what did you think about it? If you haven’t, are you going to? I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions as well in the comments below!