Carl jumps back in time to the era of The High Republic and takes on Cavan Scott’s The Rising Storm!
Ever since the announcement of a new set of books, set before the opening events in ‘The Phantom Menace‘, I have been intrigued. There are great ‘Star Wars.’ books. Some enjoyable, some ok but unmemorable. And some downright cash grabs. However, Charles Soule wrote a terrific opening novel to this new series with ‘Light Of The Jedi’. Here was something grounded in ‘Star Wars’ but with its own unique and wonderful twists. Cavan Scott has the daunting task of following Soule’s novel. Picking up after the events of ‘Light Of The Jedi’. The question is: Can Scott produce a novel that companies Soule’s work while moving the story forward and establishing itself on its own merits?
STAR WARS: THE HIGH REPUBLIC ‘THE RISING STORM’ | By Cavan Scott
TAKE A BOW, CAVAN SCOTT!
The answer is a resounding yes. ‘The Rising Storm’ is a wonderful novel. It acknowledges what Charles Soule created in his novel. While moving the story and the characters forward in unexpected ways. This feels like the middle part of a trilogy. This era’s ‘The Empire Strikes Back.’ if you will. By that, I mean many things. It is highly enjoyable, exciting, emotional, and action-packed. But with a darker edge in places. And it DOES have a cliffhanger ending. And it doesn’t go the way you think it will. Cavan Scott should take a bow. He has nailed the novel to perfection.
The book starts a year after the events of ‘Light Of The Jedi’. The Republic is still rebuilding and coming to terms with the events of ‘The Great Disaster’. Chancellor Lina Roh continues to show true leadership and vision. In her eyes, the Republic needs to offer friendship and protection to more worlds including Togruta. Her ‘Spirit Of Unity’ extends throughout the galaxy. With the Jedi and the Starlight Beacon station continuing to be at the forefront of her drive, all is well. The Nihil seem to have vanished and are only carrying out sporadic raids. All seems calm and peaceful. In celebration, Loh plans and creates ‘The Republic Fair’, an exhibition for everyone to come and enjoy. A showcase of the peace of the ever-expanding galaxy and the possibilities that exist.
Jedi’s Stellan Gios, Elzar Mann, Bell Zettifar, and many others are chosen to be the ambassadors of harmony for this prestigious event. Gios isn’t too enamored of his posting. But takes it on as he is expected to. Mann is still suffering from his Force vision of death and destruction. And his rejection at the hands of his old friend Avar Kriss. He hopes to see her at the Republic Fair, only to be disappointed when she doesn’t attend. Bell is still feeling the loss of his master, Loden Greatstorm. Both he and his new master, Indeera Stokes are located at the Cyclor shipyards. Where they are observing the construction of a new science vessel. The ‘Innovator’ has been built to be the greatest scientific and research vessel the Republic has at its disposal.
Without warning, a Nihil attack commences. Their mission is to scavenge from the shipyards and the Innovator as much as they can. During the attack, the shipbuilders themselves take on the Nihil marauders as they enter the shipyards. While Bell and Stokes take on the attack ships themselves. All is going well until Bell makes an almost fatal mistake. While taking on the main Nihil ship, they fire a harpoon at his Vector craft in an attempt to capture it. The harpoon not only spears the front of the craft but smashes through the cockpit, spearing Bell in the belly. With Stokes engaged against the other fighters and with air leaking from his damaged craft, Bell is in serious trouble.
The Republic is also having trouble with Drengir, a species of flesh-eating mutant plants that are appearing on planets across the galaxy. On the planet of Safrifa, a mercenary has been hired to destroy one that has been killing children and adults alike. Her name is Ty Yorrick. She is carrying out this assignment as she needs repairs and parts for her ship. But Ty has a secret, one that no one could guess at. Ty is a fallen Jedi, someone who left the order and has turned her back on them. Her name doesn’t feature in any archive the Jedi have. But she wields a lightsaber of her own. It is with this weapon that she kills the Drengir creature and completes her task. She is approached by a scientist, Mantessa Chekkat. Mantessa wants to hire Ty as a bodyguard for herself and her daughter, Klerin. Mantessa has a secret cargo that she needs protecting.
THE NIHIL RETURN!
The Nihil, led once again by Marchion Ro are lying low after their defeat by the Jedi a year before. They are still conducting raids across the regions but not as they were before. After the ill-fated attempt to attack and strip the Innovator, a large ship and ‘Storm’ is lost. Ro didn’t authorize the attack. He has been searching for a lost artifact. A weapon that will tip the balance in his favor once and for all. Upon his return, he gathers the Nihil together and gives them the mission he has chosen for them all. To attack the Republic fair and in particular, kill Chancellor Roh.
The attack surprises everyone, including the Jedi attending the fair as guests and representatives. Many people are killed in the attack, including several Jedi. The wholesale destruction and violence that rains down upon the fair bring new heroes to the fore. Jedi Padawans stand tall, Jedi Masters prove their worth and the civilians themselves show resistance to the attacking raiders. All the while, treachery has been planned. Plans begin to reveal themselves and the long-term goal of Marchion begins to bear fruit.
If you’re going into the book thinking it will be all sweetness and light, forget it. It is much darker than before. This book and the continuing story are incredible. It is a novel that grabs the reader from the start and refuses to let go. The story is breathtaking, massive in scope, and with characters to match. Although I did miss Avar Kriss from time to time, other characters are given their time in the spotlight. And the book does something else. It makes you FEEL for these characters. It makes you want to somehow help them out. You find yourself starting to fall in love with them. And you end up hoping that your favorite will survive. No spoilers but a few characters don’t make it to the final sentence.
Cavan Scott knows exactly what he’s writing about. The scope of what he creates here cannot be underestimated. The threads he creates here HAVE to continue to play out in the book that follows this one. His story is engrossing, thrilling, and makes the reader think. What would their position be on subjects mentioned in the book? How would they react if they found themselves in any one of the situations that occur on the pages? And therein lies the beauty of the book. New heroes rise, old foes reappear, and there are at least two twists that the reader won’t see coming.
The Rising Storm left me breathless when I finished it. The events played through my mind long after the cover was closed. Of course, threads that will tie into ‘The Phantom Menace’ are lain down here, as with the first book. But what Scott has created makes you not miss the characters that are more familiar to us. Yes, Yoda does get a few mentions. But he doesn’t appear and that is to the advantage of the book, focussing on these new characters instead. The story is all-encompassing and I found myself hard-pressed to put it down. I had to find out what happened next in the story. What would become of these new characters by the climax? To put it mildly, I was hooked.
The Rising Storm fits superbly into the ‘Star Wars’ universe. Its rich narrative and engrossing characters and situations will bring joy to all fans of the saga. The investment the reader will put into what Cavan Scott has masterfully created here cannot be understated. You don’t want it to end. But by the time the reader closes the book after reading it, they will have been blown away. Drawn back into a saga that should, by rights, continue for many years to come. The chills that they will feel by reading the final few pages will linger. We now must wait to discover what happens next. But until that time, Cavan Scott’s exemplary novel will live long in the memory. And for that alone, it is a complete triumph.
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Carl Roberts is the News Editor of The Future of the Force. Aside from being our horror genre aficionado, he is also passionate about Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and the Indiana Jones movies. Follow him on Twitter where he uses the force frequently!