The Eye of Darkness by George Mann wastes no time in kicking off Phase III of The High Republic. Taking place a year after the events of The Fallen Star, the novel explores how the galaxy, the Republic, and the Jedi have been impacted by the destruction of Starlight Beacon.
Matters are made worse by the Occlusion Zone, a large portion of the Outer Rim that is controlled by the villainous Nihil through devices called stormseeds. Those inside the Occlusion Zone are cut off from the rest of the galaxy, and those outside of it are unable to get in.
Through points of view inside and outside the Occlusion Zone, the novel shows how the Jedi and the Republic navigate this galaxy-altering problem, along with how the Nihil exploit it. Progress is made, but there are still plenty of problems to solve, with The Eye of Darkness serving as only the beginning of the third and final phase of stories in The High Republic publishing initiative.
These are 5 burning questions that remain by the end of novel.
Warning: There are spoilers ahead for The Eye of Darkness.
1. How will the Occlusion Zone be taken down?
When Jedi Avar Kriss escapes the Occlusion Zone with an EX droid memory core that contains routes from a Nihil Path drive, the Jedi and the Republic finally get a win and have tangible hope for the future.
With Avar being stuck in the Occlusion Zone for over a year, and the many efforts of the Republic and the Jedi to acquire a Path drive, this is a pivotal turning point, especially after the Nihil expanded the Occlusion Zone and cut off even more planets and sectors from the rest of the galaxy. Now the Jedi and the Republic have the information they need to get in and out of the Occlusion Zone, and plenty of firsthand testimony of what is actually happening there.
Avar’s return and the information in the droid’s memory core are the beginning of taking down the Occlusion Zone, but it will be intriguing to see how long the Nihil can keep it standing in Phase III, and what they will do when it is inevitably taken down.
2. Is Porter Engle alive?
In order to help Avar escape the Occlusion Zone, Jedi Porter Engle chooses to stay behind and confront General Viess, the Nihil’s Minister of Protection. The entire novel builds toward this confrontation between Porter and Viess, a hero and villain who have history together and unfinished business.
This confrontation seems like a classic case of an older hero sacrificing a chance at freedom and survival in order to keep the villain occupied and save the day. Viess is unable to stop Avar due to Porter’s actions, but his fate after the intense duel with Viess is left ambiguous.
This is hardly the first time that The High Republic has left the fate of a fan-favorite character unclear at the end of a novel. The Fallen Star did this by not answering whether the Wookiee Jedi Burryaga survived the chaos and destruction of Starlight Beacon. This cliffhanger was not resolved until the Tales of Light and Life short story anthology. If Burryaga survived his cliffhanger, hopefully Porter will survive his cliffhanger as well.
3. What will General Viess do after failing Marchion Ro?
When General Viess fails to capture Avar Kriss and Porter Engle on Hetzal, Marchion Ro gives her one final chance to apprehend the Jedi. Despite her best efforts, she fails again, with Avar even escaping the Occlusion Zone.
The end of the novel confirms that Viess does not return to the Nihil headquarters on Hetzal, and she has no reason to as she will only be killed or severely punished for her failure.
This raises the question of what Viess will do next since she cannot simply continue her life with the Nihil, yet she also has no love for the Jedi or the Republic. Viess could become an important wild card in the ongoing conflict between the Republic and the Nihil.
4. Will many of the Nihil choose Ghirra Starros over Marchion Ro?
As cunning as Marchion Ro has been, he is losing favor among many members of the Nihil. Ghirra Starros, the former Republic senator and now the Nihil’s Minister of Information, is aware of these divisions, and knows that the current system is ultimately untenable.
Another member of the Nihil confirms this to Ghirra as well, sharing that many of them agree with her instead of Marchion. Some of Ghirra’s moves to attain more power in The Eye of Darkness backfire, but she is still more of a threat than Marchion realizes.
It will be interesting to see if a significant portion of the Nihil choose Ghirra over Marchion and how that will affect the Nihil. Such a division could weaken the Nihil and thereby help the Republic and the Jedi in their fight against them, but it could also cause Marchion to become even more unpredictable and brutal.
5. How can the Nameless be defeated?
The Nameless continue to be a major threat and a formidable weapon against the Jedi. One year after the destruction of Starlight Beacon, Marchion Ro uses the Nameless to kill Jedi Grandmaster Pra-Tre Veter and broadcasts his death across the galaxy. Boolan, the Nihil’s Minister of Advancement, has also been conducting twisted experiments on the Nameless and their effect on captive Jedi.
Jedi Reath Silas and Emerick Caphtor are researching to learn more about the Nameless. Yoda is working with Azlin Rell, a former Jedi who turned to the dark side after encountering the Nameless around 150 years earlier, to also better understand the Nameless.
The Jedi need to unlock these secrets in order to understand and hopefully defeat these creatures under the control of the Nihil. What the Jedi learn may take them to Planet X, the home planet of the Nameless, but the full answer to defeating them remains a mystery.