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Star Wars: The High Republic: The Rising Storm Book Review

“Star Wars: The High Republic: The Rising Storm” is filled with characters and action, but is a little too busy for its own good.

Written by Cavan Scott, “Star Wars: The High Republic: The Rising Storm” starts off just as the grand Republic Fair is about to take place on the planet Valo. Before that takes place, however, there are a few key events that take place with Nihil leader Marchion Ro seeking a weapon known as The Great Leveler and a Nihil attack on a shipyard. Despite the shipyard attack, there seems to be little concern about the security for the Fair. Of course, chaos breaks loose once the Fair is attacked by the Nihil.

The story itself is a massive ensemble piece that jumps around from character to character. Readers can expect arcs from Chancellor Lina Soh and her son Kip, Jedi Elzar Mann who struggles with romantic feelings, darkness, and visions, Padawan Bell Zettifar (and his Charhound Ember) who lost his presumed dead Master Loden, new Jedi Council member Stellan Gios, a force sensitive mercenary named Ty Yorrick who does a job for Mantessa (an inventor working on a secret weapon), a reporter named Rhil, Nihil (namely Marchion Ro, Pan and Lourna), Senator Toom who wants a Defense Force Program, and Jedi archivist OrbaLin.

As you can tell from the above list of characters, “The Rising Storm” is a sprawling ensemble character piece that revolves around a giant disaster. In fact, much of the book feels like a disaster movie ala “The Towering Inferno.” The book starts out much more character centric and, to me, this was the best part of the novel. The rest of the book is primarily a series of Nihil attacks and overlong disaster set pieces involving crumbling structures, zoo animals getting loose ala “Jurassic Park,” characters evading death and heroism. It all feels better suited for a movie or series since it’s such a visual story. On top of that, I felt the Fair attack was handled better in the companion YA novel “Star Wars: The High Republic: Race To Crashpoint Tower.” Sometimes less is more. Still, it’s nice to see a writer tackle another genre in the Star Wars universe.

Outside of the main disaster, the book is packed with subplots involving the Drengir threat, politics, strategy, unity, and defense failings. I appreciated these subplots as they not only provided world building but also gave more context as to what the galaxy is like at this point in time. With that said, there’s no denying that it’s all very busy. The story jumps around a ton which may put off some readers. I didn’t mind the structure too much but keeping track of the characters sometimes feels like it requires a spreadsheet.

The book’s biggest flaw is the attack on the shipyard/”The Innovator” that takes place prior to the attack on the Republic Fair. This felt like a very problematic story element. For one, I don’t buy that the Fair would go on after that right away especially after one Jedi (won’t say who) had a vision of something bad taking place on Valo. Had this attack never taken place, it would have been far more dramatic and believable when the Fair was attacked out of the blue. Yes, the shipyard attack created drama within the Nihil ranks and the political fight for the Defense Force Program initiative, but it felt like a really forced story element that did not need to be there. It just made everyone seem stupid and arrogant even if that was partially intentional.

Overall Thoughts: While flawed, “Star Wars: The High Republic: The Rising Storm” has no shortage of action or characters. With this particular novel, the story advances quite a bit which will make readers hungry for the next High Republic book.

July 7, 2021 - Posted by | Book review | , , ,

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