For Light and Life! We are all the Republic!
On Thursday afternoon at Star Wars Celebration, the authors and executives behind the massive The High Republic publishing initiative took to the stage to reflect on phase one of the project as well as look forward to phase two, subtitled “Quest of the Jedi,” which begins this fall.
The whole panel was a ton of fun, and it’s abundantly clear just how much everyone involved enjoys it and is excited about the story they’re telling. And while there’s a lot we could talk about from the review of phase one and talk about how they brought it to life, what was especially intriguing was the look at where they’re going – complete with plenty of new information and reveals. So I wanted to recap what we learned about the future of the High Republic, which has been a huge hit so far and promises to continue to be so well into the future.
1. The release of the three phases of the High Republic is modeled after the Star Wars film trilogies
There are three phases to the High Republic: the first (which we just recently completed) is called “Light of the Jedi,” the second (which debuts later this year) is called “Quest of the Jedi,” and the third is called “Trials of the Jedi.” But while we knew all of that when the whole project launched, it was a surprise when earlier this year we learned that phase two will actually take place 150 years before phase one! In the Celebration panel, Lucasfilm publishing executive Michael Siglain shared that this means that even readers who haven’t followed phase one can jump into phase two and start there – something that will surely help it remain easily accessible to any fan who wants to be a part of it. And Siglain noted that this is just like how the Star Wars film trilogies are structured: the original trilogy came out first, then the prequel trilogy took you back in time to see how we got there, and then we wrapped up by seeing the resolution in the future. That’s the pattern The High Republic is following as well.
2. New characters revealed!
One of the really cool things about The High Republic is that Lucasfilm has created concept artwork to go along with it, allowing us to actually see what these characters and places look like (so much so that part of the panel was devoted to talking about the upcoming book The Art of Star Wars: The High Republic by Kristin Baver). So in the panel today we got new artwork for several characters from the era, most of whom are brand new and we’ll be introduced to in phase two.
The authors discussed each one of these characters and teased some things about them, but one that I really want to point out here is the image of Chancellors Grelark and Mollo. Charles Soule explained how at this point in the Republic there are two chancellors, but since this is a golden era they work really well together and aren’t at odds. Chancellor Greylark is human, hailing from the core worlds, but is primarily focused on expanding into the outer reaches. Chancellor Mollo is Quarren, hailing from a world on the reaches, but is primarily focused on aiding the core worlds. It’s an interesting dynamic, and one that I’m really interested to explore. Not to mention that Mollo will be the first non-human Chancellor of the Republic that has been made canon, which is cool too.
With all of this, then, the goal of the authors was to try to figure out how the Republic would be similar yet different 150 years before the stories they’ve already been telling, and this is just one example of how that will play out. But one comment that did stand out to me was made by Claudia Gray, talking about a different character, when almost off-hand she mentioned that things haven’t changed much in 10,000 years of the Republic – and I know I’m probably reading too much into this, but I wonder if that could be a hint that aspects of the Old Republic are going to be made canon and/or further explored. But like I said, I’m likely making too big of a deal about a minor side comment; I just found it interesting.
3. The Nameless finally revealed!
The last reveal in the whole panel was from Michael Siglain, who showed fans concept artwork of the Nameless and the Great Leveler! They posed one of the most dangerous threats to the Jedi in all of phase one, able to sever one’s connection to the Force, strike fear into Jedi, and kill them. Part of their danger was the mystery behind them, such that at the very end of phase one we see the Grand Masters of the Jedi Order recalling all Jedi across the galaxy back to Coruscant due to the unknown threat. And while we slowly began learning more and more about them as the stories went on, we’ve never actually seen them – until now! And I mean, looking at them, it’s clear you don’t want to encounter one!
4. New projects announced!
To further prep us for phase two, several new projects were announced, with plenty of cover art accompanying it all! That includes thirteen different projects that were touched on at some point today, which is pretty staggering! Those projects are:
Books: Path of Deceit (Justina Ireland and Tessa Gratton), Convergence (Zoraida Cordova), Quest for the Hidden City (George Mann), Cataclysm (Lydia Kang), Quest for Planet X (Tessa Gratton), and Path of Vengeance (Cavan Scott).
Comics: The High Republic (Cavan Scott), Star Wars Adventures: The Nameless Terror (George Mann), and a miniseries about Porter Engle titled The Blade (Charles Soule)
Audiobook Original: The Battle of Jedha (George Mann)
Others: Starlight Stories (a collection of the High Republic short stories by the various authors) and Chronicles of the Jedi: An Illustrated Guide to the Galaxy’s Golden Age (Cole Horton)
That’s a ton of stories to look forward to, and it all begins when Path of Deceit kicks off phase two this fall – a novel Michael Siglain called one of the best they’ve ever published.
5. Jedha will play a significant role
If you’re like me, one of those titles stood out from among the rest in terms of catching your attention: there’s an audio original coming called The Battle of Jedha! The planet first appeared in Rogue One as a world with a special connection to the Force and a place with a rich religious history for the Jedi and others, so it makes sense that it will be showing up centuries earlier in these stories. And it sounds like Jedha might have a significant role to play in phase two as well, as not only is this audiobook coming but so too will The High Republic comic feature Jedha, as Cavan Scott mentioned that the two Jedi seen on the cover are stationed on the planet. I’m really excited to see Jedha show up again!
6. The High Republic is branching out beyond publishing!
Near the end of the panel, host Krystina Arielle asked if we might see the High Republic move beyond just publishing and ILMxLAB, and Lucasfilm publishing executive James Waugh replied:
“I think absolutely. We are seeing it grow every day, and I think that’s the thing that’s always been so exciting about this, is to really launch something in Publishing and then create a space that could kind of go on for decades. Like I said before, there’s video games in development, as we know, Leslye Headland is currently in development on a live-action High Republic show called The Acolyte. She’s an incredible talent and I’m excited for you all to see what she’s been doing. And, there are other things. And one day I’ll bee able to talk a little more about that. But we’re super excited about where the High Republic is going. It’s a bright future ahead, until Cavan [Scott] kills everybody.”
That’s pretty significant, even without having any big reveals. He mentioned video games – plural – which is interesting, since we only know of one game currently (Eclipse), and it’s possible that’s all he’s referring to, but perhaps more are currently in the works! And then he mentioned The Acolyte, which wasn’t a part at all of the Lucasfilm Studio Showcase earlier in the day but will be coming at some point down the road. It’s a live-action series that is set 100 years before The Phantom Menace and sounds like it will explore how the Sith could lurk underground for so long. And then most interesting of all, Waugh said there’s more coming that he can’t talk about yet. Might that involve other films or shows (maybe even the mysterious Tales of the Jedi, which will be revealed on Saturday)? Whatever it is, this is the strongest evidence yet that the High Republic is going to be much larger than just a publishing project (not that there’s anything wrong with that!), which is really awesome!