The Rising Storm review: An emotional page-turner from beginning to end

THE HIGH REPUBLIC: THE RISING STORM cover art. Photo: Del Rey Books.
THE HIGH REPUBLIC: THE RISING STORM cover art. Photo: Del Rey Books. /

Light of the Jedi, the first novel to take place in The High Republic era of Star Wars by Charles Soule, told a story of a galaxy full of Jedi facing a threat very different than the one that would occur some 200 years later when a Sith Lord named Palpatine would deceive the galaxy, eradicate the Jedi, and name himself Emperor. The Nihil aren’t Force users. They’re marauders, fueled by hatred and greed, and somehow united by a mysterious mastermind who at first seems unassuming and fragile, Marchion Ro. But the Nihil are as terrifying as any Sith, and the stakes of this era are as intense as at any other time in the Star Wars timeline.

With The Rising Storm, Cavan Scott picks up the aftermath of Light of the Jedi, and while the stakes of the first novel were high with a galaxy-threatening disaster being averted by the Jedi, The Rising Storm — because it takes place in a time that the Republic should be at peace, believing the Nihil threat isn’t as serious as it really is — feels like a jolt. Even the first half of the novel is a slow-burning build-up to something almost unexpected if it weren’t for the point-of-view chapters from members of the Nihil themselves.

The story centers around the Republic Fair, Chancellor Lina Soh’s grand symbol of the unity the Republic seeks to provide to the galaxy. Citizens of systems throughout the galaxy flock to the planet of Valo to celebrate, along with a number of Jedi, with Jedi Council member Stellan Gios and Elzar Mann driving a large portion of the story. Master Gios wasn’t a large player in Light of the Jedi, but his increased presence in this story gives us an enlightening perspective on the Jedi Council during The High Republic, as well as a look into the character of a man who already demonstrates the complicated line the Jedi have to walk between being keepers of the peace in the galaxy and political figureheads. It’s interesting that the chapters that focus on Gios’ perspective show us a man filled with compassion and humility, yet from the outside, these aren’t always the qualities that shine through.

Elzar Mann, whose story ended in Light of the Jedi with a terrifying vision of all the Jedi being massacred, is a truly complicated character. Throughout Light of the Jedi, readers get a sense of Mann’s clear attraction to fellow Jedi Master Avar Kriss, an attraction that isn’t necessarily clarified as one-sided, but Kriss is duty-bound to the Jedi Order’s warning against personal attachments, whereas Mann is more reckless and daring when it comes to the rules of the Jedi. Mann’s story is perhaps the most fun to watch in The Rising Storm because he’s the most realistic of the Jedi in his struggles, and he’s the character that so far most foreshadows the struggles Anakin Skywalker will one day face with being a Jedi.

And then there is, easily, the most interesting character to be introduced into this story and possibly into Star Wars as a whole: Ty Yorrick, lightsaber for hire. She’s a Tholothian mercenary who clearly trained as a Jedi at some point in her life but left the Order for reasons she feels are justified and uses her skills and connection to the Force to fight monsters for payment. Yorrick attends the Republic Fair as a bodyguard to a woman with an invention that could disrupt the entire galaxy and is soon caught up in the Jedi’s fight for light and life, despite her reluctance to be connected to the Order she once abandoned.

The mystery that is Marchion Ro is further expanded upon, as well as his teetering level of control over the Nihil, both from his perspective and the perspectives of characters around him. Pan Eyta and Lourna Dee are still Tempest Runners, joined by a new character named Zeetar. And with each of them, Ro is terrifying and calculating and not to be misjudged.

With further storylines focused on Jedi Padawan Bell Zettifar coping with the loss of his master Loden Greatstorm, a Republic reporter named Rhil Dairos tracking coverage of the Republic Fair, an interesting storyline involving the Togruta people (Ahsoka Tano, for example, is a Togruta), and so much more, The Rising Storm is the best kind of Star Wars book. Emotional. Rising stakes from beginning to end. Foreshadowing the Skywalker saga. Deepening the Jedi mythology. A classic page-turner.

I’ve read nearly every Star Wars novel that has ever been written, but stories from The High Republic era just hit differently, and The Rising Storm is a perfect example. I can’t wait to see more of what comes next in this era of Star Wars storytelling.

Related Story. 8 Star Wars animated characters who need novels. light

The Rising Storm releases June 29.