Star Wars: Into the Dark by Claudia Gray is the second major book in the High Republic era. It follows Charles Soule’s Light of the Jedi but is more of a spinoff sequel that includes several characters and events seen in Soule’s novel.
Into the Dark is a quintessential Gray Star Wars story — full of charming, relatable characters who have their emotions and strengths put to the test against seemingly impossible odds.
Below is a detailed summary of what happens in the novel.
The book opens on Coruscant with padawan Reath Silas and Master Jora Malli tracking down and capturing a group trying to steal construction supplies. After, Jora drops the news that she and Reath are leaving for a new mission on the Starlight Beacon in the Outer Rim frontier. Reath is distraught by this news, as he would rather stay in the big city and keep spending his time in the Jedi Archives.
His master says he needs to find balance in himself — not just continue to do what he wants to do. Jora also poses the question, “Why can no Jedi cross the Kyber Arch alone?”
Weeks later, Jora has left but Reath stayed behind to finish a class. He barely makes it to the docking bay in time after his farewell party. Unfortunately, the ship meant to transport him broke down so he’s awaiting a new ship. That’s when he meets Jora’s first padawan, Dez Rydan — the polar opposite of Reath due to his sense of adventure and travel.
Joining the two on their trip is Orla Jareni, who recently announced her intentions of becoming a Wayseeker (a Jedi who operates independently of the Council) and Master Cohmac Vitas, a famous Jedi scholar. Orla and Cohmac previously worked together as padawans and share past trauma that is revealed through flashbacks throughout the book.
Their replacement ship is the Vessel, crewed by the eccentric Captain Leox Gyasi, the young and impressionable Copilot Affie Hollow and the navigator Geode — a Vintian, essentially a large sentient rock. Once the Jedi get situated onboard and they jump into hyperspace, Affie and Leox talk about their curiosity about the Jedi. Elsewhere on the ship, Orla and Cohmac bring up unpleasant memories from their shared past in a flashback to the deadly Eiram-E’ronaoh crisis.
The calm is short-lived as hyperspace starts to get turbulent and the Vessel’s passengers notice inexplicable debris shooting around hyperspace. Affie, horrified, says the debris looks like pieces of the Legacy Run (see Light of the Jedi), which is also a Byne Guild ship.
Leox finds the quickest way out of hyperspace, which turns out to be in the middle of nowhere space, and Affie wonders why the ship had these coordinates already in place. Once in real space, they soon find out that hyperspace routes are shut down across the galaxy. They’re stuck.
Reath and the Vessel crew find out there are 11 other ships in the area that had to jump out of hyperspace. One ship sent a distress signal and tells the Vessel crew that it’s just a young girl Nan and her elderly guardian. Leox then discovers an old space station in the vicinity, saying they all need to seek refuge immediately because the system’s dying star is about to flare.
As they and the other ships approach the station, Reath quickly deduces the structure was built by the ancient Amaxines. When they board, they find the station overrun with plants and 8-T gardening droids. The Jedi also find several eerie statues that give off strong feelings of the dark side.
Reath and Nan form a sort of friendship as she is very curious about the Jedi. Affie also explores the station and finds a storage area covered in handwritten symbols on the walls. She’s alarmed when she sees the logo of the Byne Guild. Elsewhere, Orla and Cohmac are pulled into a dark Force vision by the statues and believe the objects are idols sending a warning.
Later Orla and Cohmac are pulled back into another Force vision while talking about the parallels of their current predicament and the Eiram-E’ronaoh crisis 25 years earlier. Reath is pulled into a vision, too, and sees a forest and someone with a blue lightsaber trying to kill him. The Jedi decide to investigate the lower levels of the station to find out what the idols are, what they could be protecting or hiding and who created them.
Affie joins the Jedi is exploring, but splits off and finds more symbols written by previous travelers. She’s shocked to find a symbol to the Kestrel’s Drive, the ship flown by her biological parents, who died when she was very young.
Reath and Dez are together searching the station and find a large circular door. When Dez gets close to the door, it flips around and spins him to the other side. Reath then sees the room vibrating and Dez shouting before being blinded by light. When he opens his eyes, Dez is gone but Reath sees helix rings — power sources used for hyperspace travel and able to create deadly energy surges. Reath believes Dez has been disintegrated.
Later, as the Jedi reel from the loss of Dez, they learn that hyperspace travel has reopened. In another flashback, Cohmac the padawan is fighting giant snakes and trying to find the kidnapped hostages while grappling with the death of his master Simmix.
The Jedi decide to bring the idols back with them to the Temple. Onboard the Vessel, Reath writes up a report on his experiences at the Amaxine Station for Master Jora. But the trip back to Coruscant isn’t without even more deadly adventure, as the Jedi and Vessel crew become key players in the rescue of passengers on the Journeyman ship, including a baby Wookie.
Once the Jedi get back to the Temple, the idols are carefully transferred to a protective antigravity floater and guided through closed-off streets. The idols are taken to the Shrine in the Depths, an ancient Sith shrine built upon a vergeance in the Force where light and dark meet.
In the Shrine in the Depths, Orla and the other Jedi masters “strip the dark energy from the idols in that safe, sacred space, where it could sink into the vergeance, dissipate into the cosmic Force, and again be made whole.”
Elsewhere, Reath takes the baby Wookie he rescued to the spacedock infirmary to reunite her with her parents. There, he sees the space covered with the wounded from the Journeyman explosion. He also asks a droid for an update on Master Jora Malli, who had responded to the hyperspace disaster. The droid responds that she was killed in the battle against the Nihil space pirates, who we learned caused the disaster in Light of the Jedi.
In such a short amount of time, Reath has lost Dez and his master. In his grief, he ventures to the Kyber Arch and successfully climbs it alone. A combination of grief, confusion and frustration makes him feel “farther from the Force than before.”
Elsewhere on Coruscant, Affie is still digging into the history of the Byne Guild and why the symbols she saw at the Amaxine Station are connected to the guild’s leader and her foster mom, Scover Byne. Through her time spent hanging out with Scover and asking her questions about the Amaxine Station (and breaking into Scover’s protected datapad), Affie learns the Byne Guild uses indentured servants to take on dangerous missions. That’s why Affie recognized the guild symbols on the Amaxine Station guild traders used the station and its powerful helix rings to try to boost their ships.
And, Affie learns that’s how her parents died — they were indentured to Scover and tried to boost their ship’s travel power using the unpredictable helix rings.
In a briefing at the Temple with Master Adampo, Reath is told of the dangers of the Nihil space pirates and shown holos of their ships and masks. Seeing the patchwork ships and the style of the Nihil armor, Reath is horrified when he realizes why Nan and her guardian were so curious and friendly toward the Jedi on the station.
"Their vagueness about where they came from. The violent deaths of Nan’s parents. The carbon scoring on the plates of their ship. The blue streaks in Nan’s hair.He whispered, “They’re Nihil.”"
In the Shrine in the Depths, the Jedi complete the purification ritual on the idols. They quickly realize that the ritual didn’t work because no Dark Side energy was trapped within the statues. Cohmac and Orla realize that the statues weren’t holding the Dark Side within them, “they were holding the dark side on the Amaxine station — keeping it imprisoned there, attempting to warn us of it.”
Orla, Cohmac and Reath decide to return to the Amaxine Station — Orla and Cohmac to return the idols and Reath to confront Nan and her guardian. The Jedi Council deny their requests to return, but Cohmac slyly tells Reath that they did not expressly forbid the trip. And, they hire the Vessel crew to take them back.
When they arrive at the station, they find a full Storm of Nihil warships on the other side, so they have to maneuver the Vessel to sneak aboard. They all split up again — Reath heads to the lower tunnels to look for Nan, Orla and Cohmac take the idols and Affie heads back to the areas with the guild symbols.
At the same circular door where Dez was lost, Reath carefully inspects the inside of the tunnel, but the hatch slams shut and seals him inside. He senses the vibrations and sees the bright light, and then the “unmistakable electric blue of hyperspace.” It’s a single-person hyperspace pod. His hyperspace journey doesn’t take long. When he lands, he inspects the pod and station on the unknown planet. He then realizes the ancient Amaxines used them to quickly travel back and forth from the station.
Reath then encounters the Drengir, carnivorous sentient plants deeply connected to the dark side. The book describes them as “like swamp matter compressed together, plated with bark, then studded with thorns.” The group of seven Drengir tells Reath that the Amaxines built the hyperspace relay in an attempt to take over their planet but the Drengir “defeated and devoured them.”
"“We made their station our own. From there we planned to wreak havoc on many worlds. But then our people fell silent. None of them returned in either glory or defeat,” one of the Drengir said."
Reath realizes that all of the plant life he saw on the Amaxine Station were the other Drengir, made dormant by the ancient idols. He then realizes the other “meat” the Drengir were talking about on the planet is actually Dez. The Drengir had caged Dez and poisoned him repeatedly to try and get information out of him. The deadly plants then inject Dez with a dizzying amount of adrenaline and force him to fight Reath to be freed.
Back on the station, Orla and Cohmac deal with their own Drengir — set free after the Jedi took the idols. However, they learn it wasn’t the Amaxine warriors who used the idols to trap the Drengir on the station, it was the Sith.
"“A shiver crawled up Cohmac’s back as he realized that the Drengir must have fought, and been captured by, the ancient Sith. If the Drengir were deep enough in the dark side to have presented a challenge to the Sith themselves…”"
Orla and Cohmac struggle to fight off the Drengir, as they’re nearly impossible to kill even with a lightsaber. They end up devising a plan to sick the gardening 8-T droids on them, which gives them just enough time to call on the Force and put the idols back in place, trapping the Drengir again.
Back on the Drengir’s planet, Reath duels with Dez, who’s barely lucid. Reath manages to disarm Dez and convince the drugged man that he’s a friend. They both manage to get back into a hyperspace pod and head back to the station. The Drengir on the planet follow them in another pod, but Reath uses his knowledge of the helix rings and his power in the Force to trap and disintegrate the homicidal plants before they can make it out of the pod.
With the two sets of Drengir taken care of, the Jedi and Vessel crew are home free, right? Well, it wouldn’t be a true High Republic book without a fight with the Nihil, including Nan and her guardian. And because the Jedi and Vessel crew are greatly outnumbered by the Nihil force, they deem it necessary to release the Drengir again so the evil sentient plants can fight the space pirates. And, to keep the station out of the hands of both the Drengir and the Nihil, Reath coordinates the hyperspace pods to launch into the middle of dead space.
Though the Drengir and Nihil are preoccupied with one another, the Vessel crew realizes the ship is literally tied onto the station with Drengir vines. Reath, still on the station launching the pods, figures out the answer to why no Jedi can cross the Kyber Arch alone.
"“Reath had to save his friends if he could. Even if the cost was his own life.”"
Clinging to a service ladder, Reath opens a giant airlock on the station, causing explosive energy to pull the Nihil and Drengir out into open space. In the moments he believes he’s going to die by being sucked out into space, he hits Geode, and the airlock slides close.
When the Vessel gets back to Coruscant, the Jedi and crew all go their separate ways — sort of. Affie uses her discoveries to report to the Republic government about the Byne Guild’s use of illegal indentured servitude. Her foster mother Scover Byne was quickly arrested. Dez, whose connection to the Force was broken by the Drengir’s torture, chooses to take the Barash Vow and spend years in deep meditation.
Orla officially becomes a Wayseeker and buys a ship of her own, calling it the Lightseeker. Geode helped her pick it out. Reath, a padawan without a teacher, asks Cohmac if he would take him on as an apprentice. Cohmac accepts.
"“I still have much to learn, and there is no better way to learn than to teach. You will be my first Padawan, Reath, and perhaps my greatest instructor in the Force.”"
The book ends with the Starlight Beacon finally coming online and a celebration featuring Jedi from both Into the Dark and Light of the Jedi. The opening of the Starlight Beacon opens the Outer Rim to become part of the Republic and acts as a safe waystation between the Core Worlds and the frontier.
Elsewhere in the galaxy, Nan kneels before the leader, the Eye, of the Nihil — Marchion Ro, whose story we get in Light of the Jedi. She tells him that the Jedi killed her guardian and so many other members of the Nihil. She also tells him of her fear of the Jedi and the power they wield.
"“You are wise to fear the Jedi and the Republic. But they should fear us in return. For the Nihil will be the destruction of the Jedi.”"