I URGE anyone interested in The High Republic, to check this book out. It is so enjoyable and I had difficulty putting it down.
Out of the Shadows by Justina Ireland is a YA novel. And honestly, reading it, proves to me that Justina is the best writer in The High Republic initiative. The prologue alone had me hooked. And her writing skills are just excellent. She could hold her own with heavy hitters from the old Star Wars Legends including Matthew Stover, Timothy Zahn, Drew Karpashyn, and James Luceno.
Star Wars: The High Republic | By Justina Ireland
This novel takes place AFTER The High Republic fair on Valo. Yet I read this book BEFORE I read that story, and I can’t tell if that was a good thing or a bad thing. Yet, I see that my understanding of the character of Vernestra Rwoh was enhanced by all of these stories and she plays a big role in Out of the Shadows. Also, Out of the Shadows seems slightly isolated from The Rising Storm for some reason. And I honestly think it doesn’t matter which of them you read first.
Some very important plot points from The Rising Storm, do not come up in Out of the Shadows, and I will not spoil that. We deal with the aftermath of the Nihil attack in this book. And we are building heavily on the relationships that Claudia Gray set up in Into the Dark, as Vernestra is the center of physical attraction for the Jedi Reath Silas. Justina writes it so fluidly, and it isn’t a surprise that an 18-year-old male is interested in girls. Even the Jedi have desires. Yet, unlike Into the Dark and The Rising Storm, this book doesn’t really talk about sex or show sex. Everything is only implied. And while one character does kiss another romantically, it’s a lot timider than the others. And that is something I approve of. Sex doesn’t belong in Star Wars.
Out of the Shadows is cut up into different perspectives. And the most interesting character, believe it or not, was a new one, called Sylvestri Yarrow. She has recently lost her mother and struggles to make ends meet as a pilot in the galaxy. Her story is very real for someone in this Post-COVID society looking for a job, and Justina connects very well with her readers. I like Sylvestri’s personality. She has a cynical outlook on life, a dry sense of humor, and very good instincts.
She wants to take her situation to the Republic and wants them to investigate the star system where the Nihil took her ship. Her ship was crud. But it was the only home she loved, and she finds getting her situation heard, is typical of politics. Lots of red tapes, and another great parallel to the real world. Sylvestri notes that they either ignore her or transfer her report to someone else due to laziness. Yet, there is one man who doesn’t ignore her and seeks her out. His name is Xylan Graf. And he is a slimy and hard-to-read, rich individual who is investigating the science behind the hyperspace anomalies encountered during the Great Disaster.
WEALTH AND POWER
Sylvestri never fully trusts him, and I didn’t either as I read, and I felt that his wealth made him very petty and high unrelatable. He throws money around like water, and we don’t ever see his true intentions or what he is affiliated with, until the end. That gives the whole novel a sense of mystery, and the foil between Sylvestri and him is truly marvelous to read. Sylvestri is still grieving for her lost mother, and her feelings are very raw and lucid to the reader.
I get why Sylvestri is angry. She came from nothing and had to work so hard to make ends meet. While her benefactor Xylan Graf was just handed everything. Yet, sometimes you need to make a deal with the devil to get things done. And she promises to help Xylan uncover the mystery of the hyperspace events in exchange for being paid handsomely.
She has to lie and say that the Nihil do not have gravity well technology, so Xylan’s famous family can have that sector of space all to themselves to conduct experiments. Sylvestri struggles with the morality of this decision, but NEEDS the money, as she is floundering without her mother and crew. Politics are showcased at their very worst, and you can’t help but feel Sylvestri’s frustration.
THE SCIENCE OF HYPERSPACE
The book also goes a little into the science of hyperspace which I LOVED. And it seems that the nature of hyperspace is still a mystery to both Jedi and scientists in 231 BBY. The Jedi and astrophysicists both have their own theories, and it’s very titillating to see religion and science go head to head. Imri, the padawan from A Test of Courage also appears in the story, and he struggles to deal with his empathic abilities.
Vernestra also plays a very important role (as his master), and we also have our first appearance of Ghirra Starros, Avon’s mother and the senator to whom Sylvestri has to lie to. While I found Avon to be annoying, she at least has a heart. Her mother is a real nasty piece of work and has duplicitous intentions for the future. Avon Starros for those who didn’t read A Test of Courage is a young budding scientist with an inability to connect to others.
Also, we have quite a nice little treat in the book, as Jedi Master Yaddle makes an appearance. Many fans feel The Mandalorian snubbed her, and I am glad Justinia did not forget her. She speaks Basic without the famous “Yoda accent” that many members of her species have. And I find this to be an interesting departure from the tradition set by Yoda and Legends Yaddle.
This book has a somewhat shocking ending, but for some reason, I had a hunch on it happening. You will have to see for yourself as you read the book. I will, however, say that while Star Wars has always focused on father and son; MOM is the word for this book and you will see what I am saying when it is over. There is tons of female empowerment in this novel. And once again, differing sexuality is something that nobody in the Star Wars galaxy bats an eye on. I URGE anyone interested in The High Republic, to check this book out. It is so enjoyable and I had difficulty putting it down.
Star Wars: The High Republic – Out Of The Shadows by Justine Ireland is published by Disney Books and is available to buy now!
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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!