Ever since Charles Soule’s excellent novelkicked off epic new saga The High Republic in December, I’ve been a bit unsure exactly where the main story would take place. The Jedi-centric stories take place across a range of books and comics, so any of them could’ve conceivably picked up the plot threads Soule left dangling.
Turns outis where it’s at. His engaging novel, which comes out Tuesday, is a direct sequel to Light of the Jedi — it follows the Force-wielding heroes and scary space pirates the Nihil more than two centuries before .
In this era, the Galactic Republic is expanding into the frontier regions of the Outer Rim and the ambitious Chancellor Lina Soh is celebrating by holding a Republic Fair to highlight all the new possibilities it brings. With Jedi attending as ambassadors, Soh promises it’ll be a safe, fun time for all citizens. However, Nihil boss Marchion Ro has a dastardly plan to prove her wrong.
The first half of the novel’s 427 pages establish the Fair and its cast of Jedi and other Republic types, with occasional jumps to Ro and his Nihil goons. Scott effortlessly infuses each character with plenty of nuance in their early appearances, giving you a nice grounding for the rest of the story.
All of the Jedi feel flawed and human, so they’re relatable and memorable. We also spend time with ex-Jedi apprentice Ty Yorrick, who left the Order to become a mercenary. She’s a fascinating character, feeling much like a Star Wars version of The Witcher’s Geralt of Rivia.
Beyond the Force-wielders, Scott introduces a large cast of politicians and others at the Fair. Aside from the charismatic (and seemingly benevolent) Chancellor Soh, these are the novel’s weakest characters — we don’t spend enough time with them, so they feel flat compared to the complex Jedi and it can be confusing when we jump to one of their perspectives.
By contrast, the Nihil are utterly intriguing due the dynamic between Marchion Ro and his lieutenants. As Ro works toward his own secret agenda, they’re constantly plotting against each other — like a less refined version of the Sith — and it creates a delicious sense of danger in all their scenes. They all feel developed and distinct too, so you won’t feel disoriented when hopping between them.
It builds to an ambitious attack on the Fair, which takes up much of the latter half of the story. It’s near-constant action, and Scott’s spectacular writing makes all the peril feel suitably captivating and cinematic. There’s a sense that anyone could die at any moment as the Nihil massacre Republic citizens and ruin the Jedi’s image as protectors. The author wisely resists killing off characters for shock value; the Jedi remain believably effective in the face of overwhelming odds.
Through all this, Scott hints at Ro’s grander plans and gives us a taste of upcoming High Republic stories (which will be divided into three phases over the coming years). He also deftly alludes to cool stories happening elsewhere — Daniel Jose Older’s junior novel also comes out Tuesday and Justina Ireland’s young adult book lands July 27 — but never at the expense of his own narrative.
Despite a few underdeveloped characters, The Rising Storm evolves into a gripping thrill-ride that’ll make you love its Jedi heroes, fascinated with its despicable villains and leave you emotionally exhausted in the best way possible.