Opinions // JUNE 28, 2021
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On the Comlink is a feature in which StarWars.com writers hop on a call (virtual or old fashioned) and discuss a specific?Star Wars?topic. In this installment to celebrate the release of even more books from Star Wars: The High Republic, Emily Shkoukani, Kelly Knox, Amy Richau, Megan Crouse, and James Floyd talk about how the new characters and fresh take on the Jedi Order in its prime has shifted the way they look at the galaxy far, far away.
Emily Shkoukani: Good to see you all. I don’t think I’ve actually met all of you before, but I’ve probably seen you on Twitter so it’s great to put faces to names. The topic for today’s conversation is, “Has The High Republic changed how you see the Star Wars galaxy?” So let’s go ahead and Kelly, do you want to kick it off.
Kelly Knox: Of course! I mean, the quick and easy answer is yes, of course, it’s altered how I see the galaxy. I like to think when a lot of people saw A New Hope for the first time — I think the quote that gets tossed around is that it was a very lived-in, used galaxy — and we really never knew who was doing all the things in the galaxy. Now, with The High Republic, we see who those people are and I think that’s part of why I enjoy it so much. Also, I have a new appreciation for hyperspace, and hyperspace lanes, and how those came to be. I will never not think of it when I see a ship jump to hyperspace again.
Emily Shkoukani: For sure. James, how about you?
James Floyd: Yeah, I think it’s definitely changed how I see Star Wars, mainly because we have the sense that the Republic was around for generations and it seemed very, very stable — that chancellors come and go, the Jedi do their thing, but here we have not just one crisis, but two different crises happening. And things are tough, the Jedi are getting pulled in directions that they aren’t quite ready to go [in]. They’re trying with Starlight Beacon, but the Republic is not as robust as we thought it was, they’re still growing and they’re still having growing pains and there’s still people out there that are not part of the Republic. It kind of shattered my illusion of the Republic being this nice, long-lasting, stable government.
Emily Shkoukani: Yeah, totally. Amy, any thoughts?
Amy Richau: Yeah, I was impressed by how vast the narrative is and I really love seeing so many different kinds of Jedi in so many different stages of their journey. Seeing someone who feels like they’re losing their connection to the Force, like Orla deciding to be a Wayseeker. I think that she’s probably my favorite character because I’m just really intrigued by where that storyline will go. And I agree, I never really thought about hyperspace very much. Now I think about it all the time, and I’m like, “Well, of course, it’s like before they had Wi-Fi!” It’s like they have dial up. Everything is just much more challenging. So I find that very fascinating, too, because hyperspace travel is something I completely took for granted for, you know, my entire life, as long as I’ve been watching Star Wars.
Megan Crouse: Thinking of hyperspace as the faster-than-light travel version of dial up is very funny and very frightening, so thank you for that. And to continue to bounce off of what Amy said, for me, I would say it’s not so much a change as an addition in terms of the development and the purpose of the Jedi. We see a lot of Jedi with different abilities and different specialties. They seem far more open to different ways of looking at the Force than the ones we have in the prequels. And in particular, I think of Avar feeling the Force through music. I think of Elzar feeling it through kind of experimentation and tinkering and trying to play with it as if it’s a machine almost. And there’s a part in Light of the Jedi where Jora Malli is listening to the Council and she’s saying that there are so many ways to interpret the will of the Force. The Council is always asking, what does it mean to take direction from the Force or to listen to it? And Jora finds that a little impatient because she believes that basically anything that a Jedi feels is connected to the light side is the right thing to do. But for me, I felt that that was a really good illustration of how in this period, the Jedi have a lot of room for competing philosophies and schools like very specific heresies and dogmas within the Order that has maybe been, like, funneled a little bit by the time of the prequels.
Emily Shkoukani: Yeah, I agree. We’re getting that, like, transition of when people start having different perspectives of the Jedi and how they function. But yeah, you bring up a really good point and that’s one of the things that I wanted to talk about: the differences that we’re seeing between the Jedi of the High Republic versus the prequels. Because those are our two only bases that we have of how the Jedi Order function right now — it’s the High Republic as we’re seeing it in their golden age and in the prequels, where they’re arguably a little questionable in their actions. [Laughs]
Megan Crouse: [Laughs] Yes. So exactly as you said, the Jedi of the prequel era are falling and fallen and part of that is because of Palpatine, and part of that might be due to an institutional problem. And so when I think of the Jedi of the prequels now, I think of that arc in The Clone Wars with Trace and Rafa Martez. After crashing through their apartment, the Jedi there kind of said like, “Thoughts and prayers to you,” and then left them homeless. So I think the Jedi then were not as focused on individual people, whereas in the High Republic we see this all over the place with the emergence as we see Jedi trying to rescue individuals. Another place I think is a direct contrast to the prequels in this way is Lula and Zeen in [IDW Publishing’s comic] The High Republic Adventures, where Lula brings Zeen back to the Jedi temple with her instead of leaving her behind. And this is a little different because she’s Force sensitive, but it shows this care that Lula has for individual people that I think is a good contrast there.
James Floyd: One of the things we see there that is so different about the Jedi is that the Jedi Masters are debating the future for Zeen and one of them just says, “Hey, ask Zeen what she wants to do.” And then that just seems very not the Jedi of the prequel era, and then afterwards it’s like, “Ask the other kids because they’re all her friends.” So it’s very refreshing to see that and it’s a big change.
Kelly Knox: There seems to be a lot more warmth to the Jedi of this era. Master Yoda shows up at the door with pastries, which is just so incredibly cute because you probably would never have seen that in the prequel era. We know how he is with food in The Empire Strikes Back. I love the warmth that they show there. They joke. Estala Maru on the Starlight Beacon, he’s sarcastic. They have so much more room to be themselves in this era that it makes it feel very different from the more emotionless Jedi of the prequels.
Amy Richau: I love that you have a Jedi, Reath, who like, the last thing he wants to do is be in a lightsaber battle. Basically, he just wants to be in the library. I used to be a film archivist and so I’m like, “Oh yeah, that’s me.” Like, if I was a Jedi, I think I would be Jocasta Nu. Hopefully a little bit nicer. Maybe not so cranky. But that’s who I would be. So it was great to see that and I look forward to meeting more Jedi librarians and archivists and, you know, I love all the artifacts, like the talk of the hidden artifacts. Every time the word artifact comes up in a Star Wars story I’m like, “Excuse me, what was that? Tell me more!”
Emily Shkoukani: That brings up another question. What were your expectations before you started reading The High Republic? What were your expectations of the Jedi or anything else that comes up? Like, obviously, the Jedi are the prominent focus of The High Republic. This is them in their glory days. Were your expectations, I guess, fulfilled with what we see in The High Republic, or were they completely different?
Amy Richau: I think I expected it to be more like the Jedi against something else, like immediately, because I think I’m so used to like, there has to be some sort of huge battle right away. And obviously there’s the Nihil, that are like the threat that’s kind of coming, but it’s more of a slow creeping threat than something already established. And it’s not like, “Oh, the Sith are back.” And so I think that that’s what I was kind of assuming at the very, very beginning.
I was wanting to love it as a Star Wars fan. Like, I go in wanting and expecting to love it, but I really loved it even more than I thought. And I think it’s just because of how it’s all of these huge cinematic moments, like in Light of the Jedi with the horses, and the racing and escape, you know, like chasing after the family. You have all these epic moments and space battles that I can see in my head that come to life. But then there are also these quiet moments, especially with the kids who are just like…they’re having tiny Jedi angst. And you just feel so bad! That’s so relatable. Even though they’re in this fantasy, space-opera world, what they are feeling…I get it. So I think it’s a really interesting balance of huge, epic stuff and really small, meaningful moments.
Emily Shkoukani: Yeah, I agree. Like for me, when we were first discussing these ideas, of course, everyone was always like, all right, get out all the lightsabers. Let’s show off all the battle tactics that they have. But this is the Jedi at their height so we have to step back and think, do they go for their lightsaber immediately if they’re the peacekeepers? Like, we have to really think about what that means. And while lightsabers are frickin’ cool, what do you use them for in a time of peace? Now reading the books, it’s such a peaceful and wholesome time — of course there’s obviously conflict going on — but you can kind of see the reminiscence of even like, the politics of the prequels happening in the High Republic. It’s been really cool to see it come to life.
James Floyd: I was honestly not excited when they announced The High Republic. I think I’ve been through other multimedia series type things before. Shadows of the Empire, way back in the ‘90s, New Jedi Order. They also tried the Dawn of the Jedi series that was a novel and some comics and that didn’t quite take off. But then I got the books. The first High Republic book I actually read was The Great Jedi Rescue and then I started reading A Test of Courage and realized, “Wow, they’re referencing something from this book!” The Legacy Run incident. And then I read Light of the Jedi and I’m like, “Oh, this book is also The Great Jedi Rescue,” but a lot longer, which really thrilled my daughter that we’re basically reading the same book for the first part. And I was just completely 100 percent on-board, and super excited after I read the first batch of books. There are some really, really neat things. And the way that is weaving in and out and certainly having all of these great writers working together to make it weave in and out really well, really shows. So, yeah, I pretty much did a full 180. And I like it.
Emily Shkoukani: That’s awesome.
Kelly Knox: I remember as soon as I heard High Republic, it made me think Old Republic. So I started picturing Knights of the Old Republic and Star Wars: The Old Republic. I think I had imagined, like a group of six Jedi going around the galaxy, kind of tight and focused on maybe just a few, and then they get this, the entire High Republic, basically to get all these wonderful Jedi, but still also have room, like Amy was saying, for personal moments and personal reflections on what it was like to be a Jedi at that time. It’s such a nice surprise.
Star Wars: The High Republic poster art.
Megan Crouse: I was also not expecting there to be so many characters. I knew that part of the appeal of this era was that the Jedi Order is so thriving and so big, and so there are temples on all these different planets. There’s even…oh wait, that’s not out yet. Uh, never mind. Spoilers! So the thing that I like about that is it was a little overwhelming at first and it may even still be a little bit overwhelming just to have so many characters. But what that is really good for is the fantasy. Like, who would I be as a Jedi? What would it be like for me to live here? And that is still one of the most powerful things in Star Wars to me, is that aspirational moment of, “What if this was a world I could step into?” And I think High Republic definitely evokes that.
Emily Shkoukani: Yeah, I completely agree. I also want to talk about the villains of The High Republic because they’re so different from the typical villains that we see in Star Wars. Obviously, the trilogy deals with like, regimes and tyranny and they’re these fully structured villainous movements. But in The High Republic, it’s just like a band of marauders, and for some reason, they’re causing all this havoc. I’m always caught off guard by what the Nihil are capable of. And we also have the Drengir which are a whole other type of villainous entities. So I’m definitely curious to hear your thoughts on the villains.
Megan Crouse: I think the Drengir are great. I think weird plant people that just want to eat humans is very scary and very weird. I look forward to seeing where else they go. The stuff in the comics where Sskeer kind of gets possessed by them was frightening.
James Floyd: Definitely.
Megan Crouse: I think we haven’t yet seen the true extent of their weirdness yet.
Kelly Knox: I remember before the books came out, Cavan Scott was hinting that he was a horror fan and that that kind of played into the way he was writing for The High Republic. And I remember thinking at the time, like, “Yeah right, this is Star Wars, it won’t be scary.” But the Drengir are scary. [Laughs]
Megan Crouse: Yeah, they freaked me out.
Emily Shkoukani: I call Cavan Scott our resident scary storyteller of Star Wars, because he always comes up with the most frightening things. [Laughs] Yeah. Not to, I guess, spoil anything. I’m not going to spoil anything. But The Rising Storm is a little spooky. [Laughs]
Amy Richau: You know, I was surprised. When I read Claudia Gray’s book, that was the first time I had seen the Drengir and I thought they were like, super creepy. But then visually seeing them in the comics really made me think about scenes from that book, too. Give me the Nihil before the Drengir. [Laughs]
Megan Crouse: Yeah.
Amy Richau: Because the Nihil I feel like maybe I could strike a deal with them or something. I like how you don’t really know how to feel. And you can tell from social media that fans, you know, some fans have kind of embraced the Nihil? They really want to know what the backstory is. “Who are you? Why are you like this? Why have you done that?” It’s not like they’re just like some big bad, like, “I’m all dressed in black and I’ve got a cape and I’m obviously evil.” I’m interested to see where that story goes and if I’ll feel a little bit more sympathetic to them as it goes along.
James Floyd: Yeah, definitely. You know, I started off, “Oh, wow, the Nihil are really cool bad guys.” And then all of a sudden it’s like, “Oh, crap.” We also have the man-eating plants. And in Into the Dark when they set them up fighting each other, I’m like, “This is crazy. I’m really glad I’m not on that station.” So having these two, very different bad guy forces, it’s going to be an interesting kind of push and pull, I think, that we’re going to see across the galaxy. And the Nihil are a very different type of bad guy for the Republic. They’re pirates. They’re terrorists. They don’t necessarily want to rule, they just simply want to run over and grab as much as they can. And we haven’t even seen their big plan yet. What is Marchion Ro really up to? We don’t know, but he’s got a giant metal spider.
Emily Shkoukani: [Laughs] I think when I first saw that in The High Republic Adventures comic, I was like, “What am I looking at right now? What is this giant arachnid doing?” [Laughs] But yeah, I totally agree. And also, can I just say that the way that the Drengir speak is absolutely terrifying. The way that they’re just so straight up like, “Meat.”
Kelly Knox: “Meat.” [Laughs]
Emily Shkoukani: Like, no. No, thank you. I would imagine that I would rather face a Nihil.
James Floyd: They’re kind of like zombie trees.
Emily Shkoukani: Yeah, absolutely.
Kelly Knox: But they make you a zombie tree. [Laughs]
Emily Shkoukani: Yeah. I’m definitely curious about all the capabilities of the Drengir because yeah, as we said Sskeer was possessed by them. They’re consuming people. But like, to what end? You know, like, do they have a plan? Is it just total domination? And the same for the Nihil, you know, it’s just like, what do these things want and what is going to happen to everyone?
James Floyd: I’m never looking at broccoli the same way again. [Everyone laughs.]
Megan Crouse: They seem capable of this kind of intentional cruelty when they kidnapped…I don’t remember Reath’s friend’s name…
James Floyd: Dez.
Megan Crouse: When they kidnapped Dez, they were keeping him as a hostage, essentially. And they have forethought. They’re not just hungry all the time, but they’re also hungry all the time. And the combination of those things is interesting.
Emily Shkoukani: Yeah, absolutely. And so going back to the Nihil real quick, the interesting thing that we’ve all noted already is their ability to use hyperspace in a very terrifying way. Like you guys have mentioned, I also did not consider the dangers of hyperspace. I knew, there have always been quotes in Star Wars of like, “Oh, you might scatter yourself across a couple systems if you do that wrong.” But it’s like, all right, but we haven’t seen that happen. And now we have seen it happen. And, you know, I used to think hyperspace was this really magical place and it looked fun. And when you go to Galaxy’s Edge and you get to pull the lever on the Millennium Falcon and you get to have that whole surreal experience, it’s like, super magical. And now I’m like, “Well, I guess there are dangers to it. And I didn’t consider this.” [Laughs]
Kelly Knox: [Laughs] That’s another one of the things I think that’s so fun about The High Republic. So often with Star Wars we know what’s going to happen. And right now, we know Yoda is going to make it, but otherwise, who knows what’ll happen in hyperspace or with the Drengir, and the Nihil. I love it.
Megan Crouse: Another way that it kind of changed the way that I look at Star Wars is visually. There’s such a strong visual identity for the characters and the costumes in The High Republic, and it’s all these golds and whites and silvers. And this made me think about how the original trilogy, of course, had that really distinct visual look of just like dust and rust and everything is janky. And then you get the prequels, which is shiny and golden. But the shiny goldenness seems a lot more gilded in relation to The High Republic. That’s really when there was a sort of solidity behind it, and by the time of the prequels, that solidity is a facade. I really like the visual development. And Star Wars always has good visual storytelling, so that just continued here, and with so much art and so much like, concepting used in this, I guess, multimedia project.
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James Floyd: I think with the visuals, tacking onto what Megan said, is looking at the Jedi and just seeing how visually different they all are. They’re not kind of all the same with the same haircut. They have hair and tentacles and everything that represent a lot of different faces on Earth, essentially, but also different faces in the Star Wars galaxy. And I think that’s really refreshing that the Jedi don’t all get stamped into the same mold, that everybody is a Jedi and they pick their own way of what they want to look like. And yes, they have the robes and the really cool golden white robes, but when they’re out and about they’re being the Jedi in the way they can, and looking the way that they want to.
Emily Shkoukani: Totally. They have their nice white, pristine dress robes and then they also have their field robes, which is really cool. I don’t know, it just really shows the time that they’re living in, that they have the time to change their clothes. [Laughs]
Amy Richau: All of the concept art has been such a lifesaver for me because I’m really bad at remembering character names and I’m really bad at remembering which character is in which story. So, you know, a whole bunch of people have made charts and StarWars.com has made some charts. And I really love that because sometimes, if you ask me about Vern, I think of the picture of her. And that has been really helpful to kind of follow along. And I think it’ll be more fun when you see different characters in different stories. I’m much more of a visual person so I am extremely thankful that all of that concept art and all the art in general has been getting out there, and that characters who are in the books are popping up in the comics. To me that is really kind of key to me latching on to the characters. Because it is easy to get lost. I mean, if someone gave me a High Republic quiz today, I’d fail it. Like, I need to reread everything a few more times. But I really hope that all of the art, they keep on pumping out all of that art, because I think it’s been…
Emily Shkoukani: Just take a note and let publishing know to keep releasing things. [Laughs]
Amy Richau: Amy is begging you, please keep up with the concept art.
Megan Crouse: When I was a kid, I was really into The New Jedi Order, so I always loved finding art and there was so little of it. There are a couple of illustrated guides that were comics that came out later, but that was like after the series was over or nearly over. So I always treasure the art that I found. And now with High Republic, there’s just so much, and I hope that people who are teens now are having as much fun with that as I would have when I was a kid.
Emily Shkoukani: Totally. And as we’re talking about the Jedi and their appearances, obviously cosplay is a huge part of Star Wars fandom, and with Star Wars Celebration happening next year, are there any cosplays of The High Republic that you’re like really looking forward to? Have you thought about this? Because I’ve been thinking about it. [Laughs]
Kelly Knox: This is a great question. [Laughs]
Megan Crouse: I have not thought about this, but I immediately just pictured someone wearing a ghillie suit to be a Drengir. [Everyone laughs.]
Emily Shkoukani: There needs to be like a running of the [Willrow] Hoods, but it’s the Drengir this time.
Megan Crouse: Oh no! [Laughs]
Kelly Knox: How many Geode costumes? [Everyone laughs.]
James Floyd: Just walk around and just put a giant rock in different places.
Emily Shkoukani: Yes…
James Floyd: I’d love to see a Sskeer costume. Especially a Sskeer with his Drengir arm.
Emily Shkoukani: Totally. That would be that would be an awesome thing to see. I really want to see someone do like, a Lina Soh with her targons.
James Floyd: Cats!
Emily Shkoukani: I don’t even know how to pronounce it. But yeah, with her pet cats. If somebody could pull that off, I would love to see it.
Amy Richau: That would be amazing.
Kelly Knox: I do want to see Burryaga, but just because he’s my favorite. It’s a selfish one. [Laughs]
James Floyd: Seeing a massive Buckets of Blood would be also kind of funny. He’s so big. “What? No, I’m a healer!” [Everyone laughs.]
Megan Crouse: Daniel José Older would love that.
Emily Shkoukani: Or like, a meta version of it, of someone just literally carrying buckets of blood, fantastic. [Everyone laughs.]
Megan Crouse: That one seems easier. All these others seem like we’re pitching the most difficult cosplays that someone could do. That one seems much more doable.
Emily Shkoukani: But I have faith in the Star Wars fandom to pull off some pretty wild stuff.
Megan Crouse: A lot of people like to do original characters, right? And with the new designs for the robes, if you have Jedi robes that look like that, people are going to know what era you’re from immediately, which is pretty cool how recognizable that is, even if the face isn’t as recognizable.
Emily Shkoukani: Yeah, totally. I think that’s definitely going to come as a plus for cosplay is that, yeah, they’re going to be so recognizable in those pristine robes.
James Floyd: I see Kelly going through The Great Jedi Rescue and something that I noticed at the end in the last picture when they’re at the dedication of Starlight Beacon, there’s all these different characters. And my daughter pointed out, “Hey, where is Loden?” And at first I was like, “Oh, he’s probably just off screen,” basically. And then I read Light of the Jedi and I’m like, “Oh, there’s a reason he’s not in that picture.” But it speaks to the continuity. They’re working really hard. And then you also notice that Sskeer’s arm is not shown in there. It’s because of that attention to detail that even a kid’s book fits in perfectly with everything.
Emily Shkoukani: Yeah, yeah. That’s the really cool thing about The High Republic, and when we were originally talking about how it was going to function, it took everyone like a million years to comprehend how it was supposed to work because it was like, yeah, you can pick up any type of a book that you like, whether it’s a comic book or an adult novel or a YA, and you’re still going to get the full story of The High Republic. You don’t have to read every single one. Of course, there are completionists who love to read everything and we will. So it does function that way where like, what happens in the Light of the Jedi is taken into account in The Great Jedi Rescue. And so I even think that that’s another way where The High Republic is changing my perspective on how Star Wars functions and how interconnected it can be in such a huge program like this.
Kelly Knox: I remember I read Light of the Jedi first, and then I started A Test of Courage and I saw a name I recognized and I said, “Wait a second.” So I went and ran back to Light of the Jedi and flipped through the pages and I was like, “They were in this! And now they’re here.” And then I saw them in the comic book. And it completely changes everything how connected they are.
Megan Crouse: I think, don’t quote me on this, but I think I recall hearing about how George Lucas was inspired by Saturday morning serials that as a kid, you don’t necessarily see every single one of them because you’re a kid and you get that feeling [that]?Flash Gordon or whatever, has this enormous universe behind it. You never see it but you kind of know it’s out there. And he wanted to replicate that feeling. And that’s happened throughout Star Wars with the original trilogy, with The Clone Wars, with series like this. And for me, my equivalent for that is when you would find a Star Wars book in a bookstore, no context, no marketing, just like it’s there. You don’t know what else it’s connected to, but that is such a magical feeling to me when I was younger. And if this kind of makes that feeling come to life for other people, then I think as a story it has succeeded.
Emily Shkoukani: Yeah, I completely agree.
Amy Richau: Well, I love what James was saying about how his daughter was so excited to be reading the same story that he was, and I think that that’s what’s great about the characters popping up in different middle grade and YA and adult books. Like to me, they’re all the same. I don’t understand why an adult would shy away from middle grade books. I know it happens, but like, to me…It’s still a great story. Like, you know, it’s Star Wars. We’re all 12-year-olds. Like, who cares, you know? But I think that it’s fun that, you know, multigenerational Star Wars fans in multigenerational homes will be able to meet different characters in different ways and see them at different times in their life. I think that’s really fun.
Emily Shkoukani: Yeah, it definitely makes The High Republic very special to be able to connect with other people that are maybe in a different age group or a different generation, but still experiencing The High Republic the same. This leads to another question that I had, which was, have you caught any connectivity that’s happening elsewhere in the Star Wars galaxy with The High Republic? I know we’ve placed some Easter eggs around in the Doctor Aphra comics and stuff. Have you noticed or caught any of those things?
Kelly Knox: The San Tekka family in the Light of the Jedi — that was a nice surprise. But maybe not the most obvious Easter egg, unless you remember Lor San Tekka from The Force Awakens.
James Floyd: Yeah. And then Avon Starros and her mom being a senator. And it’s like, wow, Sana is a descendant of this and, you know, there’s a whole family history here, and it’s really cool.
Emily Shkoukani: Yeah, absolutely.
Amy Richau: And I like how in the most recent Thrawn trilogy, there’s a lot of talk about hyperspace there, too. Like everything is hyperspace all of a sudden. And seeing how different people in different areas of the universe are dealing with the problem of traveling safely or hiding there…It’s interesting to be reading stuff about that same topic in two very different timelines and different storylines.
Emily Shkoukani: Totally.
Kelly Knox: What else have we missed?
James Floyd: Yeah, what’s from Doctor Aphra?
Emily Shkoukani: So in Doctor Aphra, the most recent comics, they have a whole issue or a whole arc about the Nihil’s hyperspace tech. And then there’s also…that might be a spoiler. [Laughs] We might have to cut this. [Laughs] But there’s also the first arc of the most recent Aphra comic is about High Republic, there’s High Republic stuff all over that. It’s like, oh, like this is a High Republic ship and stuff like that. So keep a lookout. [Laughs]
Emily Shkoukani: Any favorites of The High Republic, let’s shoot ’em off. I think my favorite is Light of the Jedi for right now. But we’ll see how that changes when wave 2 comes out. [Laughs] Favorites, let’s hear ’em.
Kelly Knox: I already said Burryaga. And Into the Dark was my favorite book so far.
Megan Crouse: Yeah, I think Into the Dark was so entertaining and so fun, that was probably the book that I would recommend people to start with right now if they wanted to. But I also really like that epilogue in Light of the Jedi with Avar and Elzar because I think they’re cute and I want them to dance together. [Everyone laughs.]
James Floyd: I thought Into the Dark was really cool. There’s lots of stuff afoot and there’s a lot of scariness going around. You’re on a space station in the dark and all sorts of creepy things are lurking. Light of the Jedi was also a lot of fun and seeing the Nihil coming together, and then when they decide to fight dirty at the, I think Kur Nebula is like, “Whoa, this is crazy.” And that betrayal, as well. So it was something that I hadn’t seen before and I thought it was pretty cool.
Amy Richau: Yeah, I think Light of the Jedi overall is my favorite of the stories. I always like the first book I read [in a series]. It’s hard to top that. But I do think Orla — I mentioned her before — I think that she might be… She’s the one I kind of got my eye on. Like, I’m curious what’s going to happen.
Emily Shkoukani: Yeah, because she’s a Jedi Wayseeker and we don’t often see delineations between the types of Jedi that exist. People can have their own thing that they do. But we don’t really have schools of Jedi, you know? But this is the first time where we’re really saying like, “All right, she’s a Wayseeker. She is a little different from the rest.” And also, if you’ve seen art of her, she looks super rad. [Laughs]
Megan Crouse: Yeah. She’s so cool. And I think that goes to what we were talking about before with how the Jedi in this era are a little more comfortable with people finding their own way in the Force without…you can be any kind of a Jedi, and that’s accepted in a way that we don’t see it being in the prequels.
James Floyd: I look at Reath and Dez and think that, you know, I wish I could be Dez, but I’m probably just Reath. But, you know, I’m okay with that. [Laughs] And I want to go on adventures with Geode. Like, what does he do when he goes to clubs?
Megan Crouse: [Laughs] He rocks, obviously. [Everyone laughs.]
Emily Shkoukani: All right. It’s over. Oh, man. Yeah. Now, I’m trying to think of my favorite characters so far. I feel like I have a soft spot for Vern and I think she’s awesome. And I love her relationship with Imri. I think that it’s such a good relationship that they have. And I don’t know. I love Imri, too. I think I relate to him a lot because, like, I know how emotionally unstable I am as a person. [Laughs] So someone who is emotionally unstable as a Jedi is like super reassuring because like I don’t know, I’ve heard stories from other employees at Lucasfilm, where they’d get notes from little fans of Star Wars being like, “Can I be a Jedi? I was mad one time.” And it’s like, yes! You can be a Jedi and still have feelings!
Megan Crouse: Aww!
James Floyd: In this era, the Jedi are allowed to have feelings. They’re allowed to have attachments. And we see that. We see them happy and we see them having fun and we see them sad and angry and mournful. And that’s kind of really cool because, again, it lets us be Jedi.
Emily Shkoukani: Yeah, totally. And going back to, like, the relationship between Zeen and oh my God, what is her name?
Megan Crouse: Lula?
Emily Shkoukani: Yeah, like Lula is encouraging her to have the feelings that she’s having and that was so nice to see — that it wasn’t like, “Oh, suck it up!” Or like, “Oh, ignore those…,” not that any Jedi would ever say that but anyways. [Everyone laughs.]
James Floyd: Yoda would say that.
Megan Crouse: Lula also, she doubts herself sometimes, and I think we’re seeing a lot more of that in Star Wars in the last five years throughout Star Wars, but already in The High Republic, Imri and Lula are both kind of anxiety-fueled people, which is something that I can identify with sometimes. And I appreciate that! As you said, it makes it feel more like it’s a place that could be welcoming to me or could be a place that I could kind of inhabit.
Emily Shkoukani: Yeah, it’s not always like, “Straight to the dark side for you,” you know?
Megan Crouse: Yeah.
Emily Shkoukani: There’s space for feelings and then there’s space for coping with those feelings. And it’s nice to see that being represented in this era.
Megan Crouse: I’m so worried about Imri. I want the spoilers on what happens to him.
Emily Shkoukani: I will keep those locked away. [Everyone laughs.]
Kelly Knox: I think that they show it a lot actually, in the High Republic now that you mention it. I know Keeve when she’s doing her trials in the Marvel series, she has the same kind of doubts. And Bell, he’s also unable to do the super moves right away. I love seeing those sides of the Jedi. They might be the guardians of peace and justice, but they’re also people. They can be scared and they can fight through it. And that’s part of what makes them so brave. Yeah, it’s a fantastic part of the High Republic.
Amy Richau: And when I think to Sskeer hiding from everyone that he was losing his connection with the Force. You would think that he’s a Jedi Master. He’s perfect. He knows better. You know that you’re not supposed to hide a secret like that, it would be better to share it. But like, I mean, he’s obviously not human, but that’s a very human thing. If you have a vulnerability, you don’t want to let someone down, you don’t want to admit that you’re weak in some way. You would hide it. And so I thought that was a really nice turn that took me by surprise when that came up in a really, really great way.
Emily Shkoukani: We’ve talked about all the differences between The High Republic and the other eras of Star Wars, what are our expectations for this second wave? What are we most excited or looking forward to? I know people are interested in Imri’s story, seeing where he goes, which also I agree. I think for me, the character that I’m most interested to see what happens to is Greatstorm. He’s been taken by the Nihil. What’s going to happen to him? So, yeah, for me, that’s the story. I’m looking forward to seeing how that resolves and also what’s going to happen to Bell? Obviously, he has a new master and it seems like everyone else has accepted that Loden is gone. But he doesn’t seem like he’s accepted it and he doesn’t…it seems like for Bell he’s not ready to move on unless he has his original master to, I guess, kind of grant him that permission to become a knight.
Kelly Knox: I agree on Bell, that’s number one for me, too.
James Floyd: I’m excited to learn more about Affie and her future. She made a big change in her life and now she’s on her own. Well, not really, on her own. She’s got Leox and Geode. But I’m ready to see more of her adventures. And it’s really cool that we were all just talking about Jedi so far, but it’s like we have a lot of non-Jedi characters that are really cool and get their big hero moments like Keven Tarr from Light of the Jedi…I always just view him as this kid that manages to put it all together and he saves the day with this giant array of navicomputers.
Emily Shkoukani: He’s definitely like the unsung hero of Light of the Jedi. He does so much for the whole disaster in the Emergences and whatnot. I completely agree with you there, and there are a lot of other characters that aren’t just Jedi that are doing very heroic things. And that’s also super cool to see because that’s also so inherently Star Wars. Like Han Solo isn’t a Jedi, but he’s awesome! He’ll save you! [Laughs]
Amy Richau: And I can’t remember the name of Charles Soule’s short story that was in Insider, but the couple that weren’t Jedi, but they were just working on the Starlight Beacon and then they clearly ended up getting carried off on adventure. I thought that was kind of really a fun thing. And I’m kind of curious if we’re going to see a lot more of them. Really, I’m just really looking forward to getting to know a lot of these characters better. And I don’t know if this is public, but I was looking on the back of Out of the Shadows — it talks about two families warring over a piece of the galaxy. And I’m like, “Oh, two warring families! Sold.” [Everyone laughs.]
I have no idea who they are or anything like that, but that totally was very intriguing to me.
Megan Crouse: I like that so many people are invested in Bell and Loden. It’s been fun to kind of geek out with other people and they seem like they’re really getting to the heart of what works about this story. I’m also interested to see where Elzar is going, because he does not seem to be having a good time in that preview that was posted on StarWars.com. He seems to be having a little bit of a crisis and trying to jump into the sea, which…don’t we all have those days sometimes? [Everyone laughs.]
Emily Shkoukani: I mean, even where we left him in Light of the Jedi, he has this crippling vision. And it’s like, “All right, what did you see? Please let us all know so we can prepare.”
Megan Crouse: [Laughs] And the Force is being so cryptic and so hard to get to. And I’m just really intrigued by where that’s going.
Emily Shkoukani: Totally.
Kelly Knox: I’m also looking forward to characters who haven’t met each other yet when they finally get to start crossing paths. Like Amy was just saying, on the back Out of the Shadows I saw that Vernestra and Reath are going on an adventure together it seems. I can’t wait to see those two together!
Emily Shkoukani: Yeah, it’s always fun to see like when those crosses happen.
This discussion has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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