The High Republic was a daring venture for Lucasfilm, expanding the Star Wars canon backward two hundred years before the prequel trilogy. And it has proven to be a welcome exploration by fans of a different time in the history of the Republic and the Jedi, introducing a host of new characters that both reflect the stories we’ve already seen in the Star Wars universe and add much that is new and exciting.
Justina Ireland is one of five authors who have been shaping the story world of The High Republic, and in the middle grade novel A Test of Courage, she introduced a trio of characters: Vernestra Rwoh, the youngest Jedi Knight in a generation at 15 years old, Padawan Imri Cantaros, who would eventually become apprenticed to Vernestra after the death of his master, and Avon Starros, the pre-teen daughter of a powerful Republic family.
With the third wave of The High Republic set to release in early 2022, Nerdist recently published an excerpt of the first chapter of Mission to Disaster, Ireland’s upcoming middle grade novel that picks up Avon Starros’s story. In this excerpt, Avon is a little older and a little more focused on the future. When we last saw her, Avon was a handful for Vernestra Rwoh to watch out for. Now, she’s a budding scientist, studying under Professor Glenna Kip in a lab on Port Haileap.
Their research focus? Kyber crystals. We all know they’re used to power the Jedi’s lightsabers, but what else could they be used for? That’s the question that has been burning through Avon’s mind ever since she stole the broken lightsaber of Imri Cantaros. Could they be used to power entire planets?
Avon is poised to perform an experiment that will give her some long-awaited answers about Kyber crystals, but, unfortunately, she doesn’t get the chance because the Nihil show up. Which is unexpected because she thought the Jedi had driven the Nihil threat from the galaxy. After the Nihil kidnap Avon, it looks as though Vernestra and Imri will be called upon to find their friend as Avon struggles to survive among the Nihil.
One of the fun aspects about The High Republic era is the way it explores origins of some of the ideas we’re already familiar with in the Star Wars universe. Things like the Bacta, which is commonly used to aid injuries, but in The High Republic, it’s a new concept.
The opening scene of Mission to Disaster asks the question, “What else can Kyber do?” And of course, we already know. It can be used to power a weapon so deadly, it can destroy an entire planet. More than two hundred years before the Death Star, the concept of a planet-killing weapon powered by Kyber crystals isn’t even a consideration. It gives this opening scene a sense of foreboding. The study of Kyber is inevitable, as are the discoveries that will be made about it, and although this is a middle grade novel, The High Republic hasn’t shied away from exploring some deeply unsettling concepts.
What will Avon discover during her time with the Nihil? Will Vernestra and Imri find her before it’s too late? Will Avon be able to continue her study of Kyber crystals? We’ll have to wait until Mission to Disaster releases on February 1, 2022. Until then, check out the excerpt on Nerdist.