Book Review | Star Wars: The High Republic – The Battle of Jedha
The Battle of Jedha is a Star Wars: The High Republic that keeps you guessing to the very end. Kudos to the extremely talented George Mann
The Battle of Jedha was a The High Republic audiobook that was first released in January of 2023. Now, on February 14th, 2023, the script book has been released. The book reads like that of a play. And for those of you unfamiliar with this method of reading; it doesn’t take much getting used to. The script book looks large but the writing style makes it move much faster than a standard novel.
THE BATTLE OF…
The Battle of Jedha is written by the extremely talented George Mann, who is best known in Star Wars lit for writing the Myths and Fables and Life Day Treasury books, telling tales that are considered Legends themselves within the canon Star Wars universe. It’s very unusual to have a Star Wars novel called “The Battle of So and So.” In all my years of reading Star Wars novels, I cannot recall a time when the book title was the name of a battle. Not even a Clone Wars book! This is what caught my eye and piqued my interest. Especially since The High Republic era is NOT an era of war. Because the first large-scale war in Star Wars contemporary history does not break out until The Clone Wars.
Jedha is also the Star Wars version of Mecca, the holy land, and the thought that war would arrive on these hallowed grounds is quite alarming. Mann employs a technique early on that I particularly enjoy. The narrator counts down the hours to the outbreak of the fighting and it’s only 72 hours! Rarely do Star Wars fans get a sense of how long the adventure lasts (looking at the Revenge of the Sith) and Mann successfully builds up suspense for this novel’s climax.
The story picks off right where Convergence left off. Gella Nattai is still reeling from the betrayal of the co-chancellor’s chaotic son Axel Greylark and is not on Jedha at all for the duration of this story. She is finding her purpose as a Wayseeker (aka Jedi vagabond) and only speaks via hologram to the Jedi Creighton Sun and Aida Forte who are overseeing the peace treaty signing of Eiram and E’ronoh.
THE OUTBREAK OF WAR
The twin worlds had been warring for 5 years and it is interesting to note how the characters regard 5 years as substantial. Most wars on Earth are often within that period. And it hints at the unprecedented level of peace the galaxy usually has in this era. Jedha has been chosen as the place for the peace treaty signing. And the only reason this is working is that the heirs of both worlds are to be married (see my Convergence review for more detail). There is a lot of tension rising in the air because of how shaky the foundation for the treaty signing is and Creighton Sun (a Jedi) is unusually pessimistic about the successful outcome of this event.
Aida Forte remains conversely optimistic and tries to convince Creighton several times that all will be well. The treaty is being mediated by a non-Republic individual to ensure that there is no bias or conflicting interests. The mediator is a San Tekka, a member of one of the most influential hyperspace prospecting families in the galaxy. He seems like a reasonable fellow and the Church of the Force has appointed Keth Cerapath as Morton San Tekka’s assistant leading up to the event.
Keth is a character who stars in each of the Star Wars Enlightenment stories in Star Wars Insider (running concurrently with this novel). And I must say that he is one of my favorite characters in the novel. He is a young human male who lives a boring life working for the Church of the Force. He craves adventure and wants to make an impact on the galaxy with perhaps his own tales to tell at his favorite haunt, the Enlightenment tap bar. In the shadows, the evil Mother from the Path of the Open Hand is on Jedha as well, with the Leveler and Marda Ro at her side. It’s very hard to discern the Mother’s plan during the novel which I very much love.
The Leveler is her personal “pet” at this point. And her crafty mind is very much aware of the Herald’s hatred of her from the end of the Path of Deceit novel. The Mother is very “Palpatinian” in her quest to further the Path of the Open Hand’s goals and it is very unclear throughout the novel what she truly wants. Marda Ro has also returned and is one of the Mother’s pawns, serving as their group’s guide and securing a seat for the Path of the Open Hand in the religious Convocation on Jedha.
The Path hates the Jedi because they believe the Force should be “free”. They regard anyone who bends the Force to their will as evil and abusers of the mystical energy field. So they very much hate the Jedi. Ever since Marda was smitten with the Jedi Kevmo in Path of Deceit and his untimely death (by the Leveler), Marda has become a complete religious zealot and will do anything the insidious Mother wants. She does not play a huge role in this novel but her destiny is certainly headed for a massive showdown with the Jedi Order.
Journeying to Jedha on a pilgrimage is Jedi Master Silandra Sho who we were introduced to in the young children’s reader Quest for the Hidden City (see my review for that). Silandra is quite awesome (even among Jedi standards) as she wields a “light shield” as well as a lightsaber. She is essentially the Star Wars version of Captain America! Silandra is paired in an excellent character foil with Keth as they investigate all those who plot to derail the peace treaty and re-ignite the war between the two planets.
Both Eiram and E’ronoh are very much not ready to throw down their arms. And the situation is as fragile as a Fabergé egg perched on top of a glass pin! Also, one of the funniest unique features of the novel is Keth’s personal droid P-3. P-3 has been “re-built” from scrap. And due to a limited vocabulator “lexicon”; he can only speak in religious epithets that only vaguely translate to the situation at hand. I found this very amusing throughout the novel and can only imagine how exasperating it is for Keth and the others. However, P-3 is a loyal and useful ally and is not to be underestimated.
I really enjoyed this story as it always kept me guessing at the end. You really don’t know what the Mother’s full plan is. I very much LOVE the tension between the two planets as peace isn’t a popular option among them. Especially considering all the lives lost in the deadly war. The Jedi are typically not allowed to participate in a war. And try their best to resolve all the problems that the peace treaty faces. I almost like that they are almost portrayed as “powerless” to stop the violent attacks plaguing the treaty. And it highlights how the Jedi are not as infallible as fans are led to believe. Sure they can perform superhuman feats of strength and resilience, but in actuality, they are just as helpless as the regular characters in their ability to control fate.
The only thing about this novel that confused me is whether or not the Mother was actually in danger towards the end. I have to assume she was just acting when she shared her views on religion with Silandra. But the novel is a little unclear. Once again though, this novel echoes the real-world problem of fanatical religion. And how it ultimately leads to hatred and violence. Having religious faith is NOT something to be ashamed of. But when it spills over to fighting over whose interpretation is “correct”, it always leads to innumerable problems. The Path of the Open Hand is just that fanatical angry interpretation. And with the Leveler on their side, the Jedi have a lot of work to do.
An excellent, excellent read. A+ all the way
Star Wars: The High Republic: The Battle of Jedha, an audiobook original is available to order 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!