Today we got a treat, as the first chapter of Charles Soule’s Light of the Jedi was released, via IGN!
The book marks the very beginning of the massive Star Wars publishing initiative exploring the High Republic. It’s very much anticipated, but the release of the book was pushed back to January 5, 2021, as the launch of the High Republic era was delayed due to the fallout from the global pandemic. But even though we’ll have to wait a bit longer to read the whole book, it’s really cool to get to read the first chapter – and I’m already hooked!
Obviously, if you want to go in without any spoilers, don’t read this first chapter, because it thrusts you right into the moment that Soule says changes the High Republic forever. But if you’re like me and want to read it, head here.
There’s an incredible amount of worldbuilding going on in this chapter, which is really exciting to me, because it’s a reminder that we’re traveling to a brand new era of Star Wars storytelling never before explored, so there’s a ton of potential here. We read of Chancellor Soh, of the plans to expand into the dangerous Outer Rim, of the Malastare-Sullust Joint Task Force, different ship classes, and more. We are also told, importantly, that the Jedi are serving the people of the galaxy and maintaining peace. “Few can stand against the Knights of the Jedi Order,” Soule writes. “But there are always those who will try….”
The focus of the first chapter, though, is on Captain Hedda Casset. We read of her history, but when this book begins we find her transporting more than 9,000 people to the Outer Rim, where danger awaited them – but so did the hopes and dreams of making a new life. She spends time making the rounds in her ship and talking with some kids, but when she arrives back on the bridge, it’s not long before alarms sound. The hyperspace lanes looked “sickly” and red, and an object stood in the hyperspace lane ten seconds ahead – an impossibility, Casset knew, but one that had happened. She takes control of the large ship and maneuvers it around the object, but it’s too late: the ship began to tear apart, and Casset’s last action was to seal off the different sections of the ship, hoping to save some people as the bridge ripped open, killing her and the others on it.
And that’s the first chapter.
That’s a pretty dark section for an excerpt, but it certainly does its job. It begins establishing and building this brand new era, while also thrusting us right into the midst of a crisis that will shape and kick into motion much of what comes next. IGN has a brief interview with Charles Soule about this chapter, and here’s what he had to say:
“This excerpt is our first look at the moment that changes The High Republic forever,” Soule told IGN. “The destruction of the Legacy Run is the catalyst for a galaxy-wide disaster. Fragments of the destroyed cargo vessel begin flying out of hyperspace at super-accelerated speeds, meaning that deadly missiles of debris can appear anywhere at any time, from the Outer Rim to the Core. In this moment of crisis, the Republic turns to the guardians of peace and justice—the Jedi.”
Soule continued, “The opening beats of Light of the Jedi depict an epic disaster, and a heroic, thrilling response by both the Republic and the Jedi to save lives and end the crisis. It’s just the beginning, though. The Legacy Run disaster kicks off a much larger story; it really is just one piece of a much bigger saga.”
There’s still a lot we don’t know about what’s happening here, and that makes me even more excited for this book’s release in January. But from what we can tell, there’s a major crisis that causes this ship to be destroyed in hyperspace – and according to Soule, it sends debris flying all over the galaxy. In light of this disaster, the Jedi Knights rise to respond and protect the Republic.
Probably the big mystery with this chapter is what exactly happened with the hyperspace lane. We’re told that it’s a frequently traveled lane, but also that this travel to the Outer Rim isn’t exactly ‘safe’. Without knowing much more, I’d guess that the Nihil are behind it, since part of what we do know is that they are able to use hyperspace in a very dangerous way. I’d guess that they are the ones behind this object being in the hyperspace lane, and behind the “sickly” looking hyperspace lane. Additionally, though, it also seems like this crisis doesn’t just befall Captain Casset and the Legacy Run, but ships across the galaxy, since the descriptions for other books also describe ships being pulled out of hyperspace in a galaxy-wide disaster. That can help explain why debris would be sent across the whole galaxy, since it’s more than just one ship that encounters this fate.
This is what kick-starts the High Republic era, and as Soule said, it’s the moment that changes the Republic forever. I can’t help but wonder if that will include both the Republic and the Jedi, starting them down the path toward where we find them 200 years later, in The Phantom Menace.