“Star Wars: The High Republic Convergence built up a lot in the beginning and deflated in the middle. But overall, I really enjoyed the denouement and falling action as it felt different than other Star Wars stories,” says Max Nocerino
Phase 2 of Star Wars: The High Republic delivers the first adult novel on November 22, 2022. It is written by a newcomer to the series Zoraida Cordova, and I have to say, she is quite a talented writer. As I was reading I really fell into a state of flow and could not put the book down.
The story we get is one briefly alluded to in Quest for the Hidden City. The twin worlds of Eiram and E’ronoh are locked in a forever war and the story begins with a ceasefire. E’ronoh is a desert world suffering from planetwide droughts. And captain Xiri A’lbaran is leading Phyle Squadron to escort a relief ship filled with ice from the Republic. Things go awry, and Xiri finds herself crashing into the enemy world and is saved from drowning by Phan-Tu Zenn.
He is the prince of Eiram and in addition to being in the military. Xiri is the crown princess of E’ronoh. This chance meeting sparks a potential way to end this ridiculous war once and for all. And they make plans to have a summit, moderated by the Jedi and one of the dual Supreme Chancellors of this era. Always two there usually aren’t and the Chancellor onworld is a Quarren with a big personality. One who often splits from his reigning co-Chancellor to wander the Outer Rim. He is a bit annoying but he means well and that’s what you like to see in a politician.
When I first opened the book I was astounded that how in a technologically advanced society with fusion power, FTL, and desalination some people on various planets, live like paupers. Water is scarce on E’ronoh as is food. And you get a really medieval feel from how these people act and live as well. The main Jedi character is a departure from the usual apprentice or senior Jedi story. Gella is a Jedi Knight, smack in the middle of her “education” and doubts herself heavily. She was re-assigned to this mission after a tragedy on Orvax, and it’s very sad to see that she knows she doesn’t have a special gift like psychometry or healing. Her former master described her talent as being curious and I can’t help but feel that that is what I would be like if I were a Jedi.
I am always curious about the greater world and my place in it. So I feel a strong connection to Gella Nattai. Xiri is a tough cookie. Trained as a warrior, she is nothing like the sweet and sensitive Phan-Tu who later forms a bond with the other young main characters.
I have to say. Phan-Tu is one of the nicest most ethical characters that I read in Star Wars in quite some time. He is a strong contrast to the 4th young person on this “team”- Axel Greylark. Axel is a spoiled, troublemaking 30-something son of the second Supreme Chancellor. Seriously. He makes Han look like a gentleman. He likes to gamble. Likes to drink, and appreciates the finer things in life. He is also highly obnoxious, and his morals are certainly brought into question many times. He, however, does manage to form a connection with these characters and I admire how Cordova wrote the character progression so well.
Much like in feudal Europe, the only way to bring peace to both worlds is if Phan-Tu and Xiri marry. The decision is so quick and half-baked that both monarchs are not pleased with it. And can you blame them? Xiri’s father is warlike and angry with the loss of his son and wife and Phant-Tu’s mother doesn’t trust anything the other monarch says. The Summit would have been a colossal failure if it wasn’t for the marriage solution. And after they finalize plans, the two Monarchs to embark on a tour of E’ronoh to administer aid.
CITIZENS OF E’RONOH
The citizens of E’ronoh are not happy with the marriage decision either. And much like how there is unrest in America, the Sons of E’ronoh form and become quite a menace to the heirs. Xiri has to literally fight for her honor in one of the towns they visit. And while I admit that trekking across a desert and visiting towns isn’t the most exciting story. Cordova writes so well so it makes up for the lack of events.
The Path of the Open Hand rears its ugly head on this world, and Cordova delivers a connection and betrayal I honestly never saw coming. The most fascinating character was Axel and his growth throughout the story was very relatable. After his father died, he acquired a therapy droid and blames the Jedi and his mother for his loss. Axel is really screwed up and when he reveals what happened to his father, I can’t help but draw parallels to the Martez’s sister. They lost their parents and the Jedi (Luminara Unduli in that case) have hollow words of religion to “comfort” the agonizing loss.
THE JEDI WAY
Sometimes being a Jedi isn’t very comfortable for other sentients who experience feelings of loss. And it reinforces how The High Republic Jedi of Phase 1 are very flawed and hypocritical. I LOVED Cordova’s reference to Melida/Daan as it is a planet from Legends that premiered in the Jedi Apprentice children’s novels from over two decades ago. Melida/Daan (while not a double world) was locked in a conflict for decades and couldn’t even pick a name for their world! The Melidaans and the Daans are like the E’ronoh and the Eriam. Even having trouble naming the moon that they both share. I love little nods to Legends and re-canonization and Cordova definitely is a Jedi Apprentice fan, as Axel’s “title” of Coruscant Prince echoes something said sarcastically to Obi-Wan when he was on another mission in that series.
The book built up a lot in the beginning and deflated a bit in the middle. But overall, I really enjoyed the denouement and falling action as it felt different than other Star Wars stories. I honestly don’t ever recall Jedi defending a royal wedding and I don’t think you will either. I also was completely taken aback by the betrayal from a character you never would have guessed would stray so far. And as a reader, I owe my joy to Cordova for writing it. Phase 2 is off to a pretty decent start, and I look forward to seeing how the Hand of the Open Path degenerates into the Nihil.
The Force is with Zoraida Cordova. This The High Republic adventure gets 7.4 out of 10 Death Stars.
Star Wars: The High Republic Convergence is published by Penguin Random House and hits bookshelves on November 22.
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!