In the first novel of The High Republic Phase 2, all eyes in the galaxy are on two warring planets, their betrothed heirs, and the Republic and Jedi characters dropped into the middle of the historic conflict to help broker peace. Star Wars: Convergence by Zoraida Córdova is a riveting story of hope-filled star-crossed lovers and the high cost of both war and peace.
Set 150 before the events of Phase 1, this phase of storytelling is more than three centuries before the saga of the Skywalkers. As such, the majority of the characters are unfamiliar, giving the authors the space to flex their creative skills in fleshing out the Star Wars timeline without having to worry too much about interfering with the established stories of the prequels, original trilogy, and sequel era.
Phase 1 of The High Republic tackled the Great Hyperspace Disaster, the terrorist on the Republic Fair, and the destruction of Starlight Beacon. Essentially, the first phase was all about the Jedi and the Republic vs. the ruthless Nihil space pirates.
Convergence is the third book released from Phase 2, which is shaping up to be a bit of an origin story for the Nihil and their big baddie Marchion Ro. The young adult novel Path of Deceit gave us a deep dive into the Force cult the Path of the Open Hand, and Quest for the Hidden City was a lore-filled and horror-tinged standalone middle-grade book that added so much depth to this era of exploration.
The locales of note (so far) in Phase 2 include Dalna, Jedha, Eiram, and E’ronoh. The last two are where Convergence largely occurs — twin planets orbiting the same moon that couldn’t be more different. Eiram and E’ronoh have been locked in a Forever War for generations, and no one seems to remember why the war started in the first place.
The heirs of these two planets — Xiri Albaran from E’ronoh and Phan-tu Zenn from Eiram — become the star-crossed center of historic efforts at peace between the worlds. Their betrothal and subsequent barge tour around the planets become the glue holding together the shaky ceasefire.
Along the way, they face death and attempted assassinations from differing parties — some vehemently against brokering peace with the other planet and others with more mysterious and nefarious purposes.
One of those groups with a heavy hand in mucking up the already chaotic war between Eiram and E’ronoh is the Path of the Open Hand. This group of Force fanatics was introduced in Path of Deceit by Tessa Gratton and Justina Ireland. Essentially, the Path believes the Force should be free — no one should use it, or else the galaxy becomes unbalanced.
Needless to say, followers of the Path aren’t fans of the Jedi. Leading the Path is a mysterious figure called the Mother, who we learned in Path of Deceit isn’t just spreading the word of her religion but using her influence and power for more nefarious reasons.
As this is a Star Wars story, accompanying these heirs are our main characters, Jedi Knight Gella Nattai and Axel Greylark, the son of one of the Republic’s chancellors.
At first, there’s no love lost between these two — and between Axel and pretty much every other person he encounters. Gella is steadfast and dedicated to the Jedi Order and the Force, even as she’s struggling to understand her place in the galaxy — as a Jedi Master eventually or possibly something else like a wayseeker.
Axel, on the other hand, is a gambling playboy with mommy issues. He embodies all the best tropes of a morally gray, not-quite villain. Behind all his arrogance and ego is a deep pain he constantly tries to mask. Throw in some animosity, forced proximity, and maybe a dash of enemies to…something more, and you’ve got an excellent, classic Star Wars romance.
At its core, Convergence is a character-driven story. What it does well is dropping right into the action from the first page as well as telling a romantic, hope-filled war story with a poignant focus on a small number of characters.
One of the criticisms leveled at some of the books of Phase 1, especially the adult novels, was their bevy of different characters and POVs. While Light of the Jedi was a thrilling introduction to this era, its POV bouncing at times made for a bit of a disjointed and overwhelming read.
Convergence remedies this by having only four characters share the POV and leaning more on the locations of scenes rather than whose eyes we’re experiencing the story through.
The evolving relationships between these core four main characters are also a bright spot. Even in the midst of war and peace talks, Xiri and Phan-tu still have quiet moments that showcase their growing intimacy and trust in one another. Their selfless and future-looking love story is beautiful and one I hope we get more of in future Phase 2 books.
Then there’s the flirty animosity and banter between Gella and Axel. It is textbook “these two are going to fall in love,” but their journey from distaste to…something more still feels fresh and comedic.
Where Convergence falls a bit flat, however, is in its pacing. Though broken up into parts, these titled chunks don’t feel necessary and are sometimes distracting when the pacing is actually steady.
Like many other Star Wars books, Convergence does fall victim to the sagging middle phenomenon of storytelling. The first and the last thirds of the book are both action-packed and focused on character introduction and development. And while there are moments in the middle third that kept me engaged and turning pages, most of the standout scenes and lines came at the beginning or at the climactic end.
Though not a short novel, Convergence also could have used a few dozen more pages to give us even more of that delicious character development.
Overall, Convergence is a solid addition to The High Republic era of storytelling and sets up some captivating plot lines to be explored in future books. It embodies the dark, ominous tone of The High Republic while still giving its characters — and its readers — peace and light to hope for.
Star Wars: The High Republic: Convergence is available now.