Review: The Battle of Jedha audio original and script book are better together

Star Wars: The High Republic. Image courtesy
Star Wars: The High Republic. Image courtesy /

On their own, The Battle of Jedha audio original and script book tell the same Star Wars story in different — but still engaging — formats. But together, they provide a truly immersive and thrilling tale of warring worlds, clashing religious sects, mysterious forces manipulating in the shadows, and a group of Jedi caught in the crossfire.

The audio original of The Battle of Jedha by George Mann was released in early January. The story is both a sequel of sorts to Convergence by Zoraida Cordova and a major turning point for the stories and characters of The High Republic phase two.

In my review of the audio original, I described The Battle of Jedha as “an action-packed, sometimes shocking tale about attempts at peace and coexistence going terribly wrong.” The script book, which arrives on Feb. 14, confirms and expands upon those sentiments.

To understand the players and motives in this story, there is some prerequisite reading — the young adult entry into phase two, Path of Deceit, and the adult novel Convergence. The core characters of The Battle of Jedha are introduced in both of the aforementioned books, and reading them is essential to keeping up with what’s going on in this new book.

Star Wars: The High Republic. Image courtesy
Star Wars: The High Republic. Image courtesy /

The Battle of Jedha is, well, about a battle on the holy Pilgrim Moon (first seen in Rogue One). But it’s also about the tragic consequences of war and being so consumed by vengeance that you fall prey to sinister forces wishing to use you only as a means to their own end.

In this story, those forces are the members of the Path of the Open Hand, a Force cult divided between spiritual true believers and steadfast followers of The Mother, the group’s leader. Throughout phase two so far, the Path and The Mother have had their hands in nearly every conflict. And in The Battle of Jedha, they’re the ones pulling the strings to incite riots, cause chaos, and reignite the war between Eiram and E’ronoh.

The two planets were the stars of Convergence, in which their heirs grew from enemies to lovers through a betrothal and marriage in hopes of well-earned peace. Jedha becomes the site of the formal peace treaty signing. But because of the Path’s machinations via Tilson Graf and the Brothers of the Ninth Door (a dark side sect), peace is off the table and both planets unleash their forces on Jedha.

The once-peaceful, holy city turns into a terrifying, chaotic scene of all-out war with innocent civilians caught between blaster fire and the small contingent of Jedi desperately trying to stop the fighting on both sides.

The audio original excels with superb production quality and voice cast — a standard for all Star Wars audio dramas. But the script book streamlines the characters and scenes into a much easier to follow along format. Where the audio original certainly entertained me, listening to it along with Mann’s penned script was far more engrossing and made me connect more with the characters.

This is the case for many visual learners like myself. Audiobooks are great formats for reading, but audio originals like The Battle of Jedha are largely dialogue and produced sound effects. There are no descriptive, scene-setting paragraphs — it’s up to the listener and the skills of the producers to craft scenes through sound.

The script book, however, includes detailed scene and act introductions and character names, making it much easier to keep track of where we are and who we’re listening to. Reading the script of what you’re hearing is a fascinating way to fully immerse yourself in a story and the author’s dramatic intent.

With The Battle of Jedha, the Jedi hit a new low in their efforts to foster peace while remaining neutral servants to the light. They’ve been knocked down, but they’re not yet out. The conflict on Jedha may be over, but all roads are leading back to Dalna, the home planet of the Path of the Open Hand.

The Path and The Mother have a secret weapon they plan to fully unleash against the Jedi — the Leveler, which we first saw in The High Republic phase one. Why exactly The Mother hates the Jedi so much remains to be seen, but The Battle of Jedha sets up plenty of heartbreak and tragedy to come in the rest of phase two.

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Star Wars: The High Republic: The Battle of Jedha audio original and script book are available now.