The High Republic is a major publishing initiative for the Star Wars universe that expands the galaxy 200 years before any of the movies. Having begun in January of 2021, the initiative has been going strong for a little over a year now. We have been told that The High Republic will be broken up into three phases, with the first phase, The Light of the Jedi, being broken down into three different waves, each wave spearheaded by an adult novel that carries the story forward through time.
The final wave of Phase 1 began in January of 2022, with the release of The Fallen Star by Claudia Gray. Having written many novels within the Star Wars universe before including Lost Stars, Bloodline, Master and Apprentice, Leia: Princess of Alderaan, and The High Republic‘s Into the Dark, Claudia Gray is far from a newcomer to that galaxy far, far away.
The Fallen Star continues the narrative set up in Wave 1’s Light of the Jedi, and continued in Wave 2’s The Rising Storm. Gray also manages to tie into not only these adult novels but the other young adult novels, specifically her own Into the Dark from Wave 1. With the conclusion of Wave 3, Phase 1 marks the end of the forward progression through time until Phase 3 begins sometime in the future. This is because Phase 2, the next phase starting this fall, jumps us further back in time 150 years before the events of Phase 1 equaling about 350 years before the movies.
I will try and tread lightly about plot points, but be warned some spoilers do come up ahead.
Beginning with the dedication of Starlight Beacon in Wave 1, the station had become an icon of this phase of stories, many centering around or on the beacon itself. So it seems fitting that The Fallen Star not-so-subtly presages the destruction of the station itself. Although this may be considered a spoiler, both the name “Fallen Star” and the images on the cover of the book showing a broken or burning space station pretty clearly foretell where this story is going even before we get into the text of the narrative.
That is the crux of the story. Readers know it’s coming even before starting the story, however the characters don’t, creating a suspenseful situation for everyone involved. The Jedi know something is wrong but can’t quite place their fingers on the problem and all the while we see as the Nihil slowly engage their plans, not all of which we are privy to. This is easily the most horror-like addition to The High Republic and one that I would place firmly into the “Thriller” camp.
Eventually the station does get blown up, as we expected would happen. But that only happens one third of the way through the book. The destruction of the station is deliberately slow and methodical and adds to the horrors being enacted on the Jedi within the station. The destruction is then stretched out over the following two thirds of the story, creating a race against time that everyone on board is grappling with. On top of all of that, the Jedi are having to deal with an unknown threat, the same threat that took out Loden Greatstorm at the end of The Rising Storm. And this time, the threat isn’t content with only taking out one Jedi.
The previous two adult The High Republic novels has some issues for me in regards to the number of characters that were thrown at us, the readers, while trying to follow the plot along. In this instance, the number of characters, although still fairly high, is much more manageable. And most of the characters we follow along with are characters that we are well acquainted with from previous stories including Bell Zettifar, Burryaga, Elzar Mann, Stellan Gios, Orla Jareni, and the crew of The Vessel, including the greatest character ever, Geode. There are also several notable new characters introduced here that definitely leave a mark in the story.
The Fallen Star is easily the most impactful story to date in The High Republic, resulting in the deaths of many characters throughout the story, leaving the reader to worry over everyone because clearly no one is safe. It is also masterfully written, with every seemingly random occurrence having significant hinting and lead up to the event so that everything that was hinted at in early chapters was eventually paid off. Claudia Gray has always been able to deliver some of the best Star Wars stories to date and The Fallen Star is no exception.
Continuing his reading of The High Republic adult novels, Marc Thompson delivers another stellar performance in the audiobook version, seamlessly flowing between characters throughout the narrative so that the listener is never questioning who is saying what or what is happening. The production is subtle enough not to be overbearing but present enough to enrich the audio experience. I have rarely not recommended a Marc Thompson audiobook and this is no exception.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. The flow of the story has been shaken up from the first two adult novels into a much slower and methodical pace, instead of the breakneck pace that the previous two often employed. And for this story, it works fantastically. It is definitely an intense read that results in the reader not able to put the book down. And in the end, we are rewarded with not only an enjoyable book but an impactful story that will have far ranging repercussions in future stories.
Join the AIPT Patreon
Want to take our relationship to the next level? Become a patron today to gain access to exclusive perks, such as:
- ❌ Remove all ads on the website
- 💬 Join our Discord community, where we chat about the latest news and releases from everything we cover on AIPT
- 📗 Access to our monthly book club
- 📦 Get a physical trade paperback shipped to you every month
- 💥 And more!