Justina Ireland is busy. Just her recent Star Wars content alone is something to be in awe of, with ‘Out of the Shadows’, the YA entry to the second wave of ‘The High Republic: Phase One’ as well as ‘Edge of Balance’, the first Manga entry into ‘The High Republic’ and ‘War of the Bounty Hunters: Jabba the Hutt’. A pretty impressive roster to say the least, not to mention her upcoming book for the next wave of ‘The High Republic’, ‘Mission to Disaster’.
Of course, this post is my review of ‘Out of the Shadows’, which follows Vernestra Rwoh and her Padawan Imri Cantaros who team up with Cohmac Vitus and his Apprentice Reath Silas are sent on a mission with pilot Sylvestri Yarrow, who has been wrapped up in Hyperspace Prospector family politics thanks to Xylan Graff, whose family are the main competitors of the San Tekka Prospectors to visit the Berenge sector where Sil’s ship was previously pulled out of Hyperspace by The Nihil in an attack that her and her crew barely managed to escape.
Along the way, they learn that the Graff family are in league with The Nihil, assisting them to build a gravity weapon to disrupt Hyperspace (which so happens to be in the Berenge sector, coincidence I think not) and when they are double crossed and Syl and the Padawans are captured by Nan (from ‘Into the Dark’) and Syl’s mother, Chancey Yarrow, whom Syl had believed to have been killed in a Nihil attack, who is the brains behind the Hyperspace weapon.
Master Cohmac and Vernestra, joined by Syl’s ex-girlfriend Jordanna go to rescue Syl, Reath and Imri whilst calling the Jedi Temple for reinforcements. Thanks to an ability to experience visions through the Force in Hyperspace, Vernestra begins to communicate with an unknown woman, who turns out to be Mari San Tekka, the old woman that Marchion Ro had kept alive in a medical pod who was the key to The Nihil’s ability to use Hyperspace.
As the two groups reunite onboard the weapon, Gravity’s Heart, they seem to rescue Mari who is finally able to pass away peacefully after giving Vernestra a secret Hyperspace Path.
Gravity’s Heart is destroyed in a battle between The Nihil and the Jedi and Republic forces, during which, many of the pirates are captured. Chancey and Nan return to the Graff stronghold and form an alliance with the family, turning their backs on The Nihil. The Jedi are able to once again go about thier business, with Vernestra and Imri deciding to return to Starlight Beacon, with Syl and Jordanna being their pilots on Syl’s new ship provided as promised by Xilan Graff.
In all honesty, ‘Out of the Shadows’ has been my least favourite part of ‘The High Republic’, and not in terms of the story, which has some hefty implications for ‘The High Republic’ moving forward, but in terms of the pacing. For me there were whole stretches where I wasn’t sure where the story was going but then suddenly we’d get some sort of information that, whilst important to the plot, could have been revealed earlier.
Having a nice mix of new and known characters really give ‘Out of the Shadows’ the opportunity to give us fresh eyes and perspectives as well as further develop characters that, over the course of ‘The High Republic’ have become fan favourites. At first, when we were first introduced to Vernestra Rwoh before ‘A Test of Courage’ was released, I initially (and rather stupidly) wrote her off as just a character made for kids. The youngest Jedi to be made a Knight at sixteen, if just felt like a way to have this character that kids would gravitate towards without having the parental figure breathing down their neck all the time, but when I finally read that book and have continued to follow her story, she is a great character. The growth we see from her, especially in ‘Out of the Shadows’ is phenomenal, from her concerns over telling her former Master, Stellan Gios about a modification she had made to her lightsaber that allows it to change between the traditional blade to an energy whip to her coming to understand an ability she had previously thought to be an occurrence that happened a couple of times as a child where she would have visions through the Force when travelling through hyperspace which become an integral plot point in this book.
I really like two of the new characters, Syl and Jordanna. Syl is completely down on her luck, she’s suffered some hardships and the Nihil attack really sets her off to making sure something goes right. She puts herself into an uncomfortable position with Xylan, who seems to say all the right things to convince her to join him on his mission, of course we later learn that it’s all a manipulation because of her connection to Chancey Graff. Her perspective on the Jedi is also a fresh take, she doesn’t really care for them, especially after her mother’s “death”, feeling that if the Jedi were doing more to protect the Galaxy that her mother would still be alive. Of course her opinion changes by the end of the book, as well as her general outlook, where everything went badly for her before, the end of the story, however really shows her development. Brand new ship, her relationship with Jordanna is repaired and feels better than ever and a new lease on life.
In terms of the audiobook, narrated by Keylor Leigh is good. Once again I wish we had Marc Thompson (he’s the voice of literary Star Wars much like Kevin Conroy will forever be the voice of Batman in my head). on the mic but Leigh does a phenomenal job.
Despite my issues with the pacing, I still very much enjoyed this book, Justina Ireland has continued to evolve Vernestra Rwoh’s character and given us some great insight into the ongoing state of the Galaxy with The Nihil infiltrating the Republic and making connections with powerful groups their threat level feels like it’s increasing, just in time for the third wave to come out next January, which I’m very excited about.
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