While Star Wars: The High Republic Midnight Horizon is not essential reading, I have to say it was well worth a read!
Star Wars: The High Republic Midnight Horizon came out on February 1, 2022. It is written by Daniel Jose Older, and I had some trepidations about it as I was never a huge fan of Older’s writing style and considered him the weakest of The High Republic initiative writers. Nevertheless, I also was somewhat critical of his colleague Claudia Gray. Yet her latest book The Fallen Star turned out to be spectacular. So I felt I could also give Older the benefit of the doubt. What he presented was an incredibly mixed bag of a book that shined in some areas but fell flat in drips and drabs.
A CERTAIN POINT OF VIEW
It began in media res, which I felt was a good sign. And it came from an alien’s point of view which I always find interesting. It was a new type of alien and they regarded humans as reckless. Humans are the majority race in Star Wars and seeing views of them from other species is always extra fun. Especially since diversity is important in any galaxy.
Padawan Ram Jomaran is back, and he confides in his master that despite all that happened on Valo, he strangely feels absolutely nothing. Not sadness. Not fear. Nor happiness. This is quite different than other Jedi perspectives of The High Republic because many of them struggle with anger, sorrow, and fear during this trying time. Is emptiness a really good sign or a really bad sign? Feeling nothing makes me automatically think of psychopathy which would be a path to the dark side. Yet Ram is one of the sweetest kids in the galaxy, so Older gave us something quite perplexing to chew on early on, which is good.
Strangely, Ram also seems to have invented the slang word ‘wizard’. Huh? He was the one that made it nearly 300 years before Mando uncharacteristically used it when completing a run on his new starfighter. Wow. Wizard for sure. Older’s book also introduces a brand-new element to Star Wars, as the non-Jedi main characters are beings who work in a company that provides bodyguard services to various clients on Corellia. They are based in Coronet City (which is like the Star Wars version of NYC) and are led by Crash; a spunky female with a good heart and a strong bond with her employees.
She ends up losing an employee who is a member of these creepy underground worm aliens. And unless she can find his murderer, his mother will devour crash. She has 3 days, which is crazy and paints a sense of urgency. Crash kind of reminds me of Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean. She knows she has a deadly deadline, yet continues with business as usual, putting it to the back of her mind. I admire her courage.
I could never live with such a horrible deadline. Crash also has an interesting dynamic with the Jedi padawans, Ram and Reath Silas, the bookish nerd from Out of the Shadows who is very similar to me. He is awkward and just would prefer to study. He quickly becomes friends with Ram, and Ram displays a lot of signs of autism. I truly believe that Ram may be the first (or second) unconfirmed autistic character in Star Wars. He is awkward and doesn’t really understand humor and likes to give hugs. Usually, autistic people don’t like to be touched. But I stand by my theory.
The novel has a lot of silly dialogue. But Older, thankfully, did not annoy me with his insistence of writing out alien language gibberish. He focused on the story and despite Crash speaking like an Earthling, I wasn’t annoyed with the dialogue.
As usual, Yoda is only mentioned and not seen. And while I thought this was cool, I am getting tired of it because he really is overly hyped. He appears in flashbacks to Kantam Sy’s youth (Kantam Sy being one of the main Jedi in this novel) when he was training to be a Jedi. And his advice to him about experiencing feelings was brilliant and something he should have remembered to tell Anakin Skywalker a few centuries later. Feelings are like the wind. They hit us but pass. Sometimes it is a hurricane, but it too will pass. I do agree with this wise assessment of feelings, as many times during the week I feel different things ebb and flow constantly.
THE NIHIL THREAT
The Nihil seem to have infiltrated Corellia, a Core World and far from their usual turf. And the Jedi need to figure out who is in bed with them in the powerful echelons of the government. I found myself speeding through some boring parts, just to get to the Nihil. But thankfully I was rewarded with an interesting sequence. The Jedi in this novel feel the darkness of the Leveler and the danger of Starlight Station, a galaxy away. But they cannot abandon Corellia because many more people will likely die if not protected. The climax of the story was brilliant. And it filled out the importance of Crash and the Jedi’s mission as their success and failure would determine how much more trouble Starlight Beacon would be in.
The big reveal was a little surprising, but in hindsight, predictable. It also seemed to be a bit of a stretch but that’s Star Wars for you. My favorite part of the novel was the mission objective at the end, coupled with Yoda’s wisdom on attachment and emotions. The Prequels often failed to show Yoda’s brain and this book has remedied that a bit for me. The second big reveal at the end was also a shock, but since it was so close to the end, and without preamble, I feel that Jose partially failed in that respect. Sure, he built it up with flashbacks, yet I feel that it was too quick and didn’t flow well.
This is quite a strange book. It has TONS of brilliant stuff but also tons of tedious non-Star Wars-y poodoo. Most of the poodoo was the stuff intermediate between the meat of the story. And I have to accept that when you eat a sandwich, there is a lot of bread aside from the cold cuts. While Star Wars: The High Republic Midnight Horizon, is not essential reading, I have to say all in all; it was worth it. I award it an A and I still don’t know if that is the right mark.
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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!