Star Wars: The High Republic – The Fallen Star (book review)

Don’t get too attached!

Just a warning. This is a tragedy. It’s a well-written, well-told tragedy, but a tragedy nonetheless. No one walks away unscathed. If you were crest-fallen at the end of Empire Strikes Back it will seem like a fairy tale in comparison. And yet, it was a fitting end to this first trilogy in The High Republic series. Author Claudia Gray writes a complex, engaging, and “human” story filled with emotion, intrigue, suspense, and action all rolled into one. Definitely one of her best books yet! (My favorite continues to be Bloodline but this is so well done in a different way).

Bonus poster inside the exclusive B&N edition of the book

The Nihil grow more and more ominous. Well, Marchion Ro does at least. Ro is that quintessential charismatic leader whose twisted quest for power and dominance has effectively stifled the Jedi. He is smart, calculating, patient, and diabolical, and he studies his allies and his opponents well, knowing how to manipulate a situation to his maximum benefit. We see that most clearly in this third book in the trilogy. The Nihil have become instruments for Ro’s ambitions and while they believe they are important to him, they are just tools to achieve his goals of conquest.

The Jedi are fallible. Gray writes them as people with extraordinary connections to the Force, but with their own personalities and foibles. These weaknesses are what Ro exploits so expertly. But the Jedi aren’t dumb. They don’t make stupid mistakes as is often the formula in these types of books. The Jedi are incredibly resourceful. Ro just anticipates their blind spots and capitalizes on it. The book is very smartly written and has you wondering from beginning to end how it will end up. I can almost assure you, beyond the obvious you likely won’t guess all the twists and turns you’ll encounter along the way.

Starlight Beacon before its collapse (art for the Target exclusive cover)

It is called The Fallen Star so it should be obvious from the get go that Starlight Beacon, the apex of Republic achievement, will collapse. But what happens in the course of that collapse is what makes this race against the clock so intriguing. Like a giant escape room drama in space with monsters and sabateurs. Probably as close to a horror novel as you’ll get in the Star Wars universe. This book is far more focused than The Rising Storm and rounds out the trilogy nicely. It becomes obvious that books were meant to focus on the trilogy of Jedi at the heart of these stories – Avar Kriss, Elzar Mann, and Stellan Gios. And although each is mentioned in every book, Avar is the focus in Light of the Jedi, Elzar in The Rising Storm, so naturally this one focused on Stellan Gios. Again, don’t get too attached.

Cover image for the book

The audiobook is well done as always. Marc Thompson continues as the story’s narrator which makes for a consistency between books and characters since he did the first two. Thompson excels at doing multiple voices and adds a rich tone for each character bringing more enjoyment to the novel. The sound effects and background music are both done to compliment the story and add another layer of sophistication. His pacing is excellent, but as you can imagine since it is unabridged, the entire story is over 13 hours long! More than worth it.

Now the only thing left to wonder is where the Star Wars story trust is about to take the story in the next trilogy of books! I guess we’ll have to wait to find out.

Title: Star Wars: The Fallen Star
Author: Claudia Gray / Audiobook read by Marc Thompson
Cost: $28.99 hardcover ($20.31 on Amazon) / $14.99 audiobook on iTunes
Age: 12 and up
Publisher: Del Rey
Genre: Star Wars, Science Fiction

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