The jury is out on this The Rising Storm. Cavan Scott does some truly awesome things throughout the story.
The Rising Storm is the second adult novel in The High Republic initiative and is penned by the extremely talented, Cavan Scott. Scott is one of the forerunners of modern Star Wars literature. Most of Scott’s work has been for children. So it’s exciting to see how he writes something meant for adult Star Wars fans.
STAR WARS: THE HIGH REPUBLIC ‘THE RISING STORM’ | By Cavan Scott
The novel starts about a year after the Great Disaster. And the Republic is trying to combat the looming threat of both the Nihil and the Drengir. It isn’t an all-out war, (as the creators know that war can’t break out in canon until The Clone Wars). But it is a serious problem that one of the characters even compares to that of a hydra. Cut off one head and four will grow in its place.
Elzar Mann, the unconventional Jedi kicks off the action by immersing himself in the ocean on Ashla (Tython’s moon). He has a horrible vision of death and destruction and is a great prologue for the battle to come. We pick up with our young hero, Bell Zettifar as he mourns the supposed death of his master, Loden Greatstorm. He has been temporarily re-assigned to Indeera Stokes. Even though he was up for a chance to do the trials to become a Knight. Yet, life is put on hold when disaster strikes and Bell is in limbo. His new master tries to encourage him to let go of his grief, but also reminds him that he is allowed to “feel”.
This goes back to the whole problem with the Jedi and loss and attachments. How can you just expect someone to let go? Why is passion the path to the Dark Side? We don’t have those answers and neither do the Jedi. But Indeera echoes Luke Skywalker from The Rise of Skywalker “Nobody is ever really gone.”
Basically, Bell should feel the presence of his deceased master in the Cosmic Force, but he does not. He chalks it up to him closing himself off from the Force, due to his sadness. I like this, as it also mirrors Luke Skywalker when he went into Exile, and I would have liked it if Scott explored it a little more. The book has many perspectives, like all Star Wars books of the day. And Marchion Ro embarks on a mission with a “trusted” ally to an arctic world to uncover a secret weapon.
Secret superweapons and Star Wars go hand in hand, so this is not a surprising plot point. Ro seems to care about his companion and his cousin who he meets on the planet. And that is certainly out of character for the cold and psychopathic Marchion. I really don’t like him as a character and I give kudos to Scott for creating him that way. He hides behind smoke and mirrors. But is not smart or powerful. He relies on things and skills that he does not possess. Essentially, a wannabe.
The Nihil attack a major shipyard, and no it’s not Kuat, but a new planet to the Lexicon. Bell and Indeera can hold off the threat but Bell is grievously injured. I’m not even going to go into detail on how gruesome it is. Bell is very young, and when he blows up a Nihil ship, he, unfortunately, feels a sense of pleasure which is NOT something a Jedi should be feeling. Maybe he’s not ready to be a Knight. Meanwhile, the Drengir are on the move, as an infestation, threatening many frontier worlds. They remind me of the COVID-19 pandemic (Which these authors have all been influenced by, it would seem). As they are difficult to stop, come seemingly out of nowhere and infecting everything in sight.
Ty Yorrick is hunting these beasts for credits. And we get into the head of a character we meet only at the climax of Race to Crashpoint Tower. She kinda reminds me of a more moral Aurra Sing, at least with her backstory. And I don’t feel a pull towards her as a character. Despite all the dangers, Supreme Chancellor Soh is very excited about the upcoming Republic Fair on Valo. She is a wonderful woman but I agree with Senator Tia Toon, that she is wasting money on this. When she should be building a Republic Defense Force.
Tia Toon is annoying, but he wants the Republic to have something to rely on besides the Jedi. He wants to make an army for the Republic. And while very condescending and irritating, has a great point. His wish of course will not really be granted until over 2 centuries later. I also take this opportunity to note that it seems to be an unspoken agreement from the authors on The High Republic team to mention Yoda but never have him appear. He is like a legend. Only spoken of in awed whispers, And I wonder if this is deliberate and they are building up a book for him somewhere down the road.
I would love a novel from Yoda’s perspective. Elzar Mann is a Jedi character in the story who is shown to be rough around the edges. But very important. I find him to be quite annoying, but not in a good way. There is a lot of sexual tension between him and the Samera, and it eventually culminates in them sleeping together. I don’t like blatant sex in Star Wars, it should only be implied as it just doesn’t fit into my view of Star Wars. Claudia Gray, another High Republic writer LOVES to write sex in Star Wars, and I wish Cavan Scott hadn’t followed suit.
THE NIHIL STRIKE
The main focus of the novel is the Nihil attacking the fair. They plan to kill as many people as possible and make the Republic nervous and on edge. Scott has given us a good spotlight on various Nihil. And it seems most of them are outcasts from their societies, due to their love for violence. They are all despicable beings and none seem to be redeemable in any way. Excellent.
Some parts of the book are extremely interesting and some are downright boring. Cavan employs many writing techniques; some of which work and some which don’t. He tries to tell a series of events happening at once across all different perspectives and it just isn’t effective. He also uses the phrase a hundred and one at least 3 times, and I don’t like it. It’s not as annoying as Daniel Jose Older’s insistence on writing out gibberish alien dialogue, but it is a close second.
RACE TO CRASHPOINT TOWER
The Rising Storm overlaps with Race to Crashpoint Tower. Yet there are no scenes of a certain important character and feel bummed out since I would have loved to see Scott’s take on them. The Jedi need to work together to save lives at the fair. And even employ a technique seen from Light of the Jedi, to clear the Nihil’s smoke cloud. We also see a bunch of “regular” civilians operating with the Jedi. And it reminds fans that most people in the galaxy cannot use the Force and most use ingenuity and tech to survive.
I love Bell’s pet charhound Ember. She is the pet that any young person would want. And I only mention her because she plays a big role in this story. The chapters are completely schizophrenic. Cavan gets us to 76! However, this doesn’t mean that this is an 800-page book. Some chapters are only a few pages, and others are standard length. It’s an interesting technique, as it gives the reader a sense of satisfaction when progressing through each one. The ending was NOT what I expected, as I feel this end would have normally occurred in a separate sequel book and not crammed into the last 10 “chapters”. Elzar Mann feels like the main character of this story, but being such an unlikable character, I hope the writers shift back towards Bell or Yoda even. The end of the ending is truly the beginning of something far darker, and I advise all readers to read on.
As for The Rising Storm? The jury is out on this one. Cavan Scott does some truly awesome things throughout the story. But as I read it I found myself speeding through it as some parts were highly boring. I would like to end by saying that I miss the writing styles of writers from the ’90s and ’00s. Star Wars books were SO different back then. And I feel this new gen is a little too much ingrained in the 2021 world as opposed to a story that takes place in space in a galaxy far far away. Yet, I feel if you are in it for the ride (for The High Republic), check this book out. Read it with Race to Crashpoint Tower and then read Out of the Shadows in late July.
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Max Nocerino is a regular Staff Writer for The Future of the Force. He is a passionate Star Wars fan and loves the literature of the galaxy far, far away. Follow him on Twitter where he shares his love of the Force frequently!