What happens when the Jedi Order is not enough?
After the disaster on Hetzal Prime, the Republic is in recovery. The successful construction of Starlight Beacon is a highlight to Chancellor Lena Soh’s tenure as leader of the Republic and the upcoming Republic Fair on Valo looks like another feather in her cap as she is about to make the frontier expo a must-see attraction in the Outer Rim. Relations with the Togruta are moving forward and the future of the Republic looks bright indeed. But not if Marchion Ro and the rest of the Nihil have anything to say about it.
The Rising Storm is as ominous as it sounds. As you’d expect from the middle book in a trilogy it expands on the characters of the first novel while setting up the conflict for the third. Needless to say, we are left hanging. The Rising Storm is a roller coaster of action and adventure and once it gets going it thunders its way to the end! Cavan Scott does a masterful job of weaving together the complex characters of Jedi, Republic and Nihil into a story that captures the imagination in vivid and exciting ways. The Jedi have survived yet another devastating Nihil attack, but at what cost?
Bottom line: this is a fantastic Star Wars novel. After Charles Soule’s groundbreaking Light of the Jedi the bar was set pretty high. Generally, a trilogy is written by the same author so switching authors for each book seemed a risky way to go, no matter how talented the author is. Flow, story, and style could all be radically affected, but in this sequel the story seamlessly shifted between authors while still being distinct.
The critiques I have of the series are minor compared to the level of joy I had while reading it, but there are a couple. One, unlike any of the Star Wars trilogy movies it’s hard to tell whose story this is. Jedi Padawan Bell Zettifar plays a big role in both books but still feels more like a supporting character. Chancellor Lina Soh is also featured in both books, but she feels much more like Mon Mothma – an important character relegated to the background. The series could be about Jedi Masters Elzar Mann, Stellan Gios, and Avar Kriss who seem to be the Jedi equivalent of Han, Luke, and Leia, but while Mann and Gios are a major focus in The Rising Storm, Kriss is basically absent while the opposite is true in Light of the Jedi. Still the story is so engaging and the overall tale of triumph and tragedy so compelling it almost doesn’t matter.
The other critique ties into this one. There are so many interconnected stories in this new initiative that characters you’ve never or rarely heard of pop in out of nowhere, but they obviously have some sort of history. It feels like you’re missing huge parts of the story even though they are only mentioned in passing. Obviously something is going on with Avar Kriss and the Hutts and the Drengir, but if you only read the main books in the series, you have no idea where that story thread comes from since it is featured in the comic books and in A Test of Courage and Into the Dark. Padawan Ram Jomaram pops up in the story, and obviously is connected to the events at the Republic Fair, but unless you read the middle grade novel Race to Crashpoint Tower you would have no idea what that is. Is it possible to enjoy the main trilogy of novels without reading the other books? Most definitely, but the reader does have a sense of missing out that could be discouraging. Is there such a thing as too much continuity?
One aspect that does bind the two books together is Marc Thompson’s reading of it. Thompson returns as the audiobook narrator of The Rising Storm as he did for Light of the Jedi and again does a masterful job especially considering not only the wide range of characters but having to bring life to so many different species. It’s mind boggling how many characters he has to juggle and yet he makes each character distinct through voice and manner. While reading the book has nuances of its own that is best served by your own imagination, I loved listening to Thompson’s rendition and found it to be not only enjoyable but together with the sound effects, music, and Thompson’s voice it is something incredible.
The Rising Storm is a valiant sequel to Light of the Jedi and is an exciting addition to the Star Wars universe. Can’t wait for the final novel in this trilogy to come out! But if this is just the first trilogy of The High Republic, my mind is reeling as to where this story is going. One thing is for certain, I want to be along for the ride.
- Thanks to Del Rey / Penguin Random House for the review copy!
Title: Star Wars: The Rising Storm
Author: Cavan Scott / Audiobook read by Marc Thompson
Cost: $28.99 ($18.10 on Amazon) / $25 audiobook ($7.95 on Audible by Amazon)
Age: 12 and up
Publisher: Del Rey
Genre: Star Wars, Science Fiction