When Phase 2 of ‘The High Republic’ was announced and revealed to be set even further in the past, I had some concerns.
Seeing how brilliant the first Phase had been, with nary a misplaced step (with the exception of ‘Midnight Horizon which I have struggled to even get halfway through), the creative team, headed by Michael Siglain had hit a creative home run. Marchion Ro had devastated the Jedi, destroyed Starlight Beacon and was taking his wave of terror toward the heart of the Republic. It was an ending worthy of ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ comparisons.
Then, after months of not Star Warsing (it’s a word) I started dipping my toe into the waters via the audiobooks, so after blazing through ‘Shadow of the Sith’ I turned to the first part of the newest era of ‘The High Republic’, ‘Path of Deceit’.
‘Path of Deceit’, by ‘The High Republic’ co-creator, Justina Ireland and newcomer Tessa Grant came out of the left field for me, it took me places I couldn’t even begin to anticipate. Introducing us to Marchion Ro’s ancestor, Marda Ro, a Force worshiping cult and two Jedi sent on an investigation.
The lead characters of Marda Ro and Kevmo Zink are both well written and relatable characters. We get a look at how the Jedi of this time are different even to those from Phase 1, with Zink’s natural ability to converse with others and oftentimes result in flirting is used by his Master as a way of gathering information. The relationship between Kevmo and his Master, Zallah Macri has a different feel. This could just be how the two characters work together but they have a very different relationship than any we’ve seen before between Master and Apprentice.
Marda Ro is the second lead protagonist and, having read through most of Phase 1, the surname “Ro” holds some serious weight in the villain camp, so to get a lovely young woman, who despite her naivety, is so kind and sweet. Her devotion to ‘The Path’, whilst misguided, is unwavering. Her absolute faith in The Mother and the message that ‘The Path’ tries to put across shows a deep seated loyalty and makes her character even more likeable. Her story, right now, is the one that I am most looking forward to continuing through Phase 2. You could easily make comparisons between Marda and Anakin Skywalker from ‘The Phantom Menace’ and it wouldn’t surprise me if we were to get a similar story about her like we did for Anakin in the Prequel Trilogy.
Another surprising aspect of this book is the tone. Not to say that ‘The High Republic’ has always been happy-go-lucky, but we are talking some ‘The Rising Storm’ level of “WTF” moments. Things happened than not only did I not expect, but there were a couple of moments very close together that hit like a One-Two punch combo to both kidneys with brass knuckles on both hands.
Now call me weird, but I’m partial to a good old Cult, one of my favourite non-Star Wars books is ‘Fight Club’ by Chuck Palahniuk, where the protagonist forms a Cult, I wrote and Directed a short film about two friends who start a Cult. The whole concept intrigues me so ‘The Path of the Open Hand’ instantly jumped out to me, with ‘The Mother’ as the figurehead who is totally using the groups “religion” status to make a lot of money and use it for her own gains. I’m very interested is finding out more about her as this Phase continues, and I’m wondering if the story of Marda and ‘The Path’ will continue in Cavan Scott’s upcoming YA Novel, ‘Path of Vengeance’.
Overall, a surprising start to the second Phase of ‘The High Republic’, my trepidation have been unfounded and now I’m just waiting to finish ‘Shadow of the Sith’ (for the second time) before diving into the next book in ‘The High Republic’, ‘Convergence’ by Zoraida Córdova.
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