The High Republic era of Star Wars has proven to be an exciting mix of high-stakes storytelling, expanding Jedi mythology, and clever foreshadowing of the conflict that will define the Skywalker Saga 200 years later. While introducing us to a galaxy in which the Jedi are numerous and the Republic is powerful, authors Charles Soule, Justina Ireland, Cavan Scott, Claudia Gray, and Daniel Jose Older have created an intense conflict that demonstrates the endless possibilities of the Star Wars galaxy.
In the second wave of stories from The High Republic, the Nihil and the Drengir are growing threats against the Republic with the Nihil dealing a crushing blow against the Republic and the Jedi Order in Cavan Scott’s The Rising Storm. On the young adult side of the second wave is Justina Ireland’s Out of the Shadows, a story that takes place after the events of The Rising Storm.
What is Out of the Shadows about?
In Out of the Shadows, a pilot named Sylvestri Yarrow is trying to keep her family’s cargo business afloat after her mother’s death, a but a run-in with the Nihil forces her to travel to Coruscant for help where she’s caught up in a dispute between two powerful families over a patch of space in the frontier. Also caught up in the dispute is young Jedi Master Vernestra Rwoh and her Padawan Imri along with Padawan Reath Silas and his master Cohmac.
Out of the Shadows excerpt
StarWars.com published an excerpt of the novel that features a dueling match between Vernestra and Reath in a training room on Starlight Beacon. In the scene, Reath is having trouble sleeping, prompting him to take a walk through the corridors of Starlight, where he comes upon Vernestra, who is also struggling to sleep. She invites him to spar with her, and the two go into a practice room where they practice fighting with practice sabers. Reath reflects on how long they’ve known each other. They’re the same age, but Vernestra has far surpassed any other Padawan her age, passing her trials and becoming the youngest Jedi Master at sixteen years old. Reath admires her but feels like he’s a long way from reaching her prowess.
It becomes clear that Vernestra is a master at lightsaber technique, and Reath is forced to concede defeat. But Vernestra isn’t cocky and is instead encouraging to him, telling him he could have won if he had been more on the offensive than defensive.
“I get it, the Order wants us to defend life,” she says. “But I think sometimes we can best defend life by going on the offensive.”
Reath realizes that she’s talking about more than dueling, and the two discuss their worries about the Jedi and their hesitancy to deal with the Nihil in an offensive, rather than defensive, manner. Vernestra expresses her concerns that maybe she doesn’t know what the Force wants from her from the Jedi in general.
After their sparring match, Reath reflects on Vernestra’s concerns and his own concerns about how entangled the Jedi is becoming with the Republic. “Some Jedi were concerned that their focus was at risk of turning from research and education and the workings of the Force to war and politics,” he thinks.
This thought demonstrates one of the strengths of The High Republic stories. We all know the Jedi will fall 200 years later as a result of being so entangled with the politics and military efforts of the Republic that they don’t see that it’s all just a plot to destroy them. Even in The High Republic, many Jedi have concerns about a growing immersion with the pursuits of the Republic could cause.
Additionally, this excerpt is a thought-provoking exploration of the toll being a teen Jedi can have on a person. Vernestra is a complex character, the youngest Jedi in the Order who wrestles with some of the potential errors of the Jedi Order, much like Anakin Skywalker will wrestle with them 200 years later. Reath is young and full of some of the same concerns but nervous about questioning anything. Although the excerpt itself doesn’t touch on it, the pre-release of the novel reveals that Reath has a crush on Vernestra, and one of the most interesting aspects of the stories in The High Republic is the exploration of the no attachment rule and exactly what that means. I look forward to seeing what the authors of The High Republic do with this.
StarWars.com also spoke with Out of the Shadows author Justina Ireland about the book. Commenting on the struggles Vernestra and Reath face, Ireland said, “They’re still teenagers and still Jedi, but they aren’t soulless lightsaber-wielding machines. The tragedy in the galaxy has impacted them, and they’ve seen a lot. That would make anyone question their faith and how they use it to improve the world around them, and the Jedi are no different.”
Out of the Shadows releases July 27 wherever books are sold.