High Republic recap: 6 things before reading The Eye of Darkness

Star Wars: The High Republic: Eye of the Storm #2 by Charles Soule and artist Guillermo Sanna. Cover by Ryan Brown. Courtesy of StarWars.com.
Star Wars: The High Republic: Eye of the Storm #2 by Charles Soule and artist Guillermo Sanna. Cover by Ryan Brown. Courtesy of StarWars.com. /

The Eye of Darkness by George Mann is the first novel in Phase III of the Star Wars: The High Republic publishing initiative. The upcoming book will be released on November 14, 2023. The story begins a year after the culminating events of Phase I (Phase II took place 150 years earlier in the High Republic timeline).

Given the vast number of novels and comics in Phases I and II, it can be difficult to keep up with the High Republic’s extensive and deeply interconnected storytelling that began with Charles Soule’s novel Light of the Jedi in January 2021. To prepare for The Eye of Darkness, let’s recap some of the most important events to remember from previous stories.

1. The Nihil unleashed the Nameless on the Jedi

By releasing the Nameless, the Nihil proved to be far more formidable than the Jedi and the Republic could have ever imagined. Also known as Eaters of the Force, the Nameless are terrifying creatures that consume Force users with their worst fears and hallucinations, significantly interfering with one’s connection to the Force. The mere presence of the Nameless can kill Force users, turning them into lifeless husks.

The Nihil’s leader, Marchion Ro, can control the Nameless through an ancient rod. Under Marchion Ro’s control, a Nameless called the Leveler was unleashed and was used to kill Jedi Master Loden Greatstorm. Unfortunately, Loden is far from the last Jedi killed by the Nameless.

Beginning in Path of Deceit by Justina Ireland and Tessa Gratton, Phase II revealed the origins of the Nameless through the story of Marchion Ro’s ancestor, Marda Ro, and a cult known as the Path of the Open Hand. The Jedi first came into contact with the Nameless during Phase II, with numerous Jedi dying or becoming overwhelmed by the Nameless’ power.

Another aspect of the Nameless’ origin that may come into play again is the planet where they are from, which is called Planet X. This is the planet where Radicaz “Sunshine” Dobbs found the first Nameless. He later returned with Marda Ro and several others to retrieve more of the creatures for the Path of the Open Hand and their leader, who was known as the Mother.  Marchion Ro went to Planet X many years later to gather more Nameless for his war against the Jedi and the Republic.

2. The Nihil destroyed Starlight Beacon

Through a plan that heavily relied on using the Nameless, the Nihil destroyed the space station known as Starlight Beacon. Starlight Beacon was a symbol of the Jedi and the Republic’s outreach and expansion into the Outer Rim, along with the many practical purposes that the station served.

Thanks to schematics of Starlight Beacon provided by Republic Senator Ghirra Starros, three Nihil saboteurs were able to infiltrate and sabotage Starlight Beacon and unleash seven Nameless creatures into the space station. With the Jedi overwhelmed or killed by the Nameless, the Nihil carried out their plan, which led to Starlight Beacon snapping in half.

After the top half was destroyed, Jedi Master Stellan Gios made the ultimate sacrifice by staying aboard the bottom half after all survivors evacuated and ensured it crashed into the oceans of the planet Eiram instead of destroying the city below.

The destruction of Starlight Beacon was a sign of the Nihil’s strength and the vulnerability of the Jedi and the Republic.

3. Marchion Ro revealed himself as the Eye of the Nihil

The Jedi and the Republic knew the Nihil were a threat since Light of the Jedi, but it wasn’t until the end of The Fallen Star by Claudia Gray that they learned the identity of the Nihil’s leader, known as the Eye of the Nihil. For a while, the Tempest Runner, Lourna Dee, was believed to be the Eye.

After the destruction of Starlight Beacon, Marchion Ro stepped out of the shadows and revealed to the Jedi, the Republic, and the entire galaxy that he was the Eye of the Nihil. He took credit not only for the fall of Starlight Beacon but for the Great Hyperspace Disaster and the attack at the Republic Fair on Valo. He also declared, “This galaxy is mine.”

Marchion Ro has willingly lost the benefits of anonymity, but his reveal shows that he is more emboldened than ever before and is unafraid to take the Jedi and the Republic head-on.

4. The Jedi have returned to Coruscant and enacted the Guardian Protocols

With many Jedi falling to the Nameless, a threat they don’t fully understand or know how to counter, all Jedi were told to return to Coruscant. Between the Nameless and the end of Starlight Beacon, the Jedi Order needs to regroup and adapt so they can better understand the threat of the Nameless and better protect the galaxy from the Nihil.

The Jedi’s regrouping begins in Shadows of Starlight 1 by Charles Soule as they enact the Guardian Protocols, a temporary set of rules for the Jedi to follow during the current crisis. The Guardian Protocols include accelerating combat training for Jedi younglings and allowing Padawans of any age to undergo their trials and become Jedi Knights.

The Jedi are not Republic soldiers, and they are not officially at war with the Nihil, but the Guardian Protocols are a step toward the Jedi becoming the Republic’s soldiers hundreds of years later during the Clone Wars.

5. The Nihil have sealed off part of the Outer Rim through a Stormwall

The Nihil put a barrier around much of the Outer Rim. This barrier is called a Stormwall, and its surrounding area is called the Occlusion Zone. The Stormwall comprises stormseeds, which destroy any ships attempting to travel into the Occlusion Zone, even when ships travel through hyperspace.

This means that the Jedi who returned to Coruscant are now unable to enter the Occlusion Zone. Republic forces already tried to enter the Occlusion Zone and were destroyed by the Stormwall. This also means that Jedi who are still inside the Occlusion Zone cannot escape it.

6. Elzar Mann wrestles with his guilt

While this recap has primarily focused on galaxy-wide events and less so on individual characters, Jedi Knight Elzar Mann is a particularly important character to revisit before The Eye of Darkness. Elzar mistakenly believed that the scientist Chancey Yarrow was one of the Nihil saboteurs responsible for destroying Starlight Beacon, which led to him killing her.

What Elzar realized too late was that she was no longer working with the Nihil. She wasn’t one of the saboteurs and was actually trying to repair Starlight Beacon’s positional thrusters, meaning that Elzar killed the last person who might’ve been able to save the station.

The first Eye of Darkness excerpt is from Elzar’s point of view as he wrestles with the guilt of killing Chancey. He feels partly responsible for Starlight Beacon’s destruction and the death of Stellan Gios, as both tragedies might’ve been avoided if Chancey had lived and been able to fix the thrusters.

The excerpt also explores Elzar’s frustration regarding Jedi Knight Avar Kriss being trapped behind the Stormwall, but he is determined to find a way to her.

Elzar was one of the most prominent and well-developed characters in the adult novels The Rising Storm by Cavan Scott and The Fallen Star, which seems to continue to be the case in The Eye of Darkness.