Review: Tales of Enlightenment brings closure to Phase II of The High Republic

Tales of Enlightenment by George Mann is a delightful short story collection in the High Republic's growing narrative.

The High Republic media initiative from Star Wars. Image credit:
The High Republic media initiative from Star Wars. Image credit: /

The High Republic: Tales of Enlightenment by George Mann is a new collection featuring six original short stories that take place at Enlightenment, a tap bar on the moon of Jedha, during Phase II of The High Republic publishing initiative. Five of these stories were published in previous issues of the Star Wars Insider magazine while the sixth story, "Missing Pieces," is exclusive to this collection.

Following these interconnected short stories, Tales of Enlightenment includes interviews from Mann and fellow authors Zoraida Córdova, Tessa Gratton, and Lydia Kang, all of whom joined The High Republic for Phase II. They share behind-the-scenes insights into their various Phase II novels, short stories, and comics and shed light on their deeply collaborative writing process. Tales of Enlightenment also features stunning artwork and concludes with a chronological reader's guide to the ever-expanding High Republic timeline.

While Enlightenment, its owner Kradon, and several of the bar's beloved patrons appear in Mann's audio drama The Battle of Jedha or Cavan Scott's The High Republic comics, the short stories in Tales of Enlightenment make the setting feel truly special. As life changes on Jedha and throughout the galaxy, Enlightenment remains a constant, a safe haven, and a place that feels like home for travelers passing through and for regular customers.

The stories take place before, during, and after the Battle of Jedha, showing how Enlightenment and its cast of characters are affected by this conflict and the larger story of Phase II. Enlightenment regulars Keth Cerepath, Piralli, and Moona are these stories' point of view characters.

Keth was the more prominent and developed character in The Battle of Jedha, while his friends Piralli and Moona acted as a support system for him. Tales of Enlightenment gives Piralli and Moona more of a chance to shine and take center stage as they undergo their own satisfying character arcs.

Mann's writing has a comforting quality that brings Enlightenment to life and helps the reader understand why it is a comforting and welcoming place for all walks of life. When Enlightenment and those inside are threatened, the stakes feel like they matter because the reader is invested in the setting and the characters who frequent it.

The magic of Enlightenment is also that it provides a new perspective on members of different groups. Members of the Path of the Open Hand, the Brotherhood of the Ninth Door, the Jedi, and soldiers from the warring planets of Eiram and E'ronoh all step into the bar throughout these stories. Enlightenment's environment gives these characters a chance to take a breath, find common ground, and show that they are more than the beliefs of their respective groups.

With Phase III already underway, Tales of Enlightenment provides a sense of closure for Phase II. It revisits key events through new points of view and gives a satisfying conclusion and a promising future for numerous characters introduced in the middle chapter of The High Republic.

This is particularly true in the final story, "Missing Pieces," in which two fan-favorite Phase II characters make surprise appearances at Enlightenment, tying all the short stories together. With Phase III taking place 150 years after Phase II, this may be the last time that readers get to see many of these Phase II characters.

As opposed to a short story anthology where the stories are only loosely connected, Tales of Enlightenment's installments closely build off each other, creating narrative momentum that leads to "Missing Pieces," which serves as a perfect end for this collection and for all of Phase II, along with the fascinating author interviews that follow.

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