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A dark force is rising, and the Jedi of Star Wars: The High Republic may be helpless to stop it. Phase 1 of the interconnected storytelling enterprise concluded with the release of two Marvel titles on March 2nd; Phase 2 will then send us back into the past. The hurts of Phase 1 will certainly stay with us.
In a little over a year, the “luminous” writing team of Claudia Gray, Cavan Scott, Justina Ireland, Daniel José Older, and Charles Soule have made us seriously care about Star Wars characters that we’d never heard of before. Some of these writers then started to kill them off, and it was shocking to us how emotionally invested we already were.
The Jedi in particular had a rough time of things in Phase 1, and some deaths hurt more than others. As bleak and tasteless as this is, it’s time to rank 5 of the biggest Jedi deaths that took place in Phase 1 of the Star Wars: The High Republic.
***WARNING: There are massive spoilers ahead for all of Phase 1 of Star Wars: The High Republic, the books Light of the Jedi, The Rising Storm, and The Fallen Star in particular. If you haven’t read these books yet and do not wish to be spoiled, then turn away now.***
5. Jora Malli
Charles Soule started the death machine going when he killed off Jedi Master Jora Malli in the first High Republic novel, Light of the Jedi. The brilliant Togruta Jedi was blown away during a space battle with the Nihil.
We had only just met her in this book, so it didn’t hurt all that much. She was wise, she was formidable, and she was respected by her peers. That’s all we knew really, until Claudia Gray flashed back to some of Reath Silas’ training under her in the book Into the Dark.
She was a brilliant mentor, asking both Reath (and the reader) why no Jedi ever crosses the Kyber Arch alone. This hurt because her death left such a void; her voice of wisdom was sorely missed in every story moving forward. The other Jedi had trouble getting past it.
Her death was not in vain; the Togruta species entertaining the notion of joining the Republic at all was partially thanks to her. Reath Silas would not be as strong as he is without her early teachings. Her sacrifice was important, and it happened in the same book where we first met her. Things would get so much worse.
4. Nib Assek
A casualty of Claudia Gray’s The Fallen Star, Jedi Master Nib Assek is a victim of the Levelers, or the “Nameless.” This horrifying new villain is the High Republic’s answer to Timothy Zahn’s ysalamiri of old, except the Nameless do so much more than block the Force. They torture it, they manipulate a Jedi’s feel for it, they create fear and confusion, and then they turn you into a dead dusty husk.
Marchion Ro’s plan to set them loose on Starlight Beacon is pivotal to the Beacon going down; the Jedi would have found a way to avert the crisis had they not been dealing with these incoming horrors. Assek’s death happens when they still don’t know exactly what is going on, and it comes out of nowhere.
We didn’t come to learn a ton about this character, but we loved what we were given. She was a fantastic master to Wookiee padawan Burryaga, she was quick-witted, she was selfless, and she took no kriff. She was always willing to dash into the fray to help others. She was never afraid.
She was never afraid until the Nameless, that is. To see a Jedi of her standing go down in fear and darkness was awful. More than that, we felt for Burryaga. Her death made us hurt for him more than anything else.
3. Orla Jareni
The hits kept coming in The Fallen Star, as the Jedi Wayseeker Orla Jareni (first introduced in Into the Dark before appearing in the Marvel comics run) also became a victim of the Nameless. It hurt to lose Master Assek, but the death of Jareni made it clear as Kyber crystal that this book was going to be a lethal read.
We loved her in all of her appearances, and not just because she used a double-bladed white lightsaber that could fold in half. She was smart, she was kind, and she had larger questions about the universe that many other Jedi did not. As a Wayseeker, she aimed to go out and investigate things on her own accord.
Her scenes in The Fallen Star itself made us love her even more, with her re-training of Elzar Mann being at the forefront. She had a unique way of looking to the force, and Elzar needed her to guide him out of the darkness he’d fallen into.
When the brilliant, force-blessed Orla fell and died as a husk thanks to the Nameless, it hurt. It hurt something fierce.
Like Jora Malli, hers was a voice that the Jedi needed to have. Like Nib Assek, she had someone depending on her tutelage. Unlike Malli, she didn’t go down in battle. She went down like Assek; broken and fearful.
2. Loden Greatstorm
Cavan Scott knows what he did. Twi’lek Jedi Master Greatstorm, beloved by all of his peers (and his padawan, Bell Zettifar), was captured by the Nihil in Light of the Jedi. The Jedi at large believed him dead, but not Bell. His padawan wouldn’t accept that Loden Greatstorm could be dead, and he’s right. Greatstorm wasn’t dead, he was being tortured by the Nihil.
The torture of Master Greatstorm (which included his lekku being cut off) went on behind the action in Cavan Scott’s The Rising Storm. Worry not! The loyal Bell Zettifar and a swarm of Republic forces found where he was being held. They came to his aid just as Loden has gained the upper hand.
Marchion Ro then unleashed the Leveler (Nameless) for the first time in the ensuing battle, and we saw why Ro was so excited about having these awful things on his side. They reduce Greatstorm to dust, and the hopes of a helpless Bell were dashed for good.
This death Hurts with a capital “H” because Scott really makes you think that Greatstorm is going to be rescued. He’s had an entire book of torture, but you’re not gonna get him! He’s got Bell, he’s got a swarm of Jedi, he’s gonna be fine! He’ll be back, and you’ll be sorry!
Not to be. If Scott (and the writing team) were looking for the perfect way to illustrate the real threat of the Levelers/Nameless, then this was one hell of a way to do it. We had hope for an entire book, but then those hopes turned to dust along with Loden.
The death lingers in everyone’s mind, and not just because of how it happened. Bell has yet to get over it, and one of the worst aspects of it is that the slimy Marchion Ro took possession of Greatstorm’s lightsaber. Seeing this awful punk using it makes us sick and all of the pain comes right back.
1. Stellan Gios
The perfect Jedi. The literal poster boy for the Order. The example of everything a Jedi should be. Stellan Gios, member of the Jedi Council, is a man who went by the company line no matter what.
He also took on way too much. He was on the council, he assumed command of Starlight Beacon, he promised to help his best friend Elzar Mann with his Dark Side issues, and the list went on. Stellan had the weight of the galaxy on his back, and The Fallen Star almost broke him in half.
He was so used to following rules and dogma that he wondered who he even was anymore, and all of these feelings were mixed with the darkness that came to Starlight courtesy of the Nameless. Stellan furiously tried to hold everything together, but he had to step back a little and allow others to help. He’s not broken in the book, he never breaks… but he comes close.
We’d never identified with him like this before, and we really wanted him to survive. We thought that he would, until he delved into the heart of the crashing Starlight Beacon to try and stabilize it. Elzar joins him to help, and… he ruined any chance that Stellan may have had to prevent catastrophe.
Alone, Stellan used every last bit of strength he has to ensure that the crashing station will not endanger the planet it’s crashing on. If he could save twelve additional lives, he was going to do it. This meant that the had to personally stay on the crashing station. He crashed with it.
The book’s title took a double meaning. Elzar referred to Stellan as a polestar earlier in the book. He’s a media “star” as well, often being featured on Republic posters. Starlight Beacon fell, and the perfect Jedi star fell to his death inside of it. His song in the Force ended.
This one hurt the most, and that’s surprising because we didn’t think anything would be worse than Loden Greatstorm. It hurts, yet it is also oddly perfect. Stellan had been struggling with his identity for the entire book, mostly what he is (or would be) without the Jedi Order. He had a final breakthrough mid-sacrifice. He said, “I know who I am,” and who is that? A selfless person who is doing what he can to help, no matter the personal cost. That’s who Stellan is, and who he always was. It got lost in the rules and the politics, but his ending returned him to that place.
As the final chapters of the book played out, this death started to feel inevitable. It hurt when it finally happened, but there was far more to it than that. The final words of Stellan Gios haunted us for days, and they still do. It’s one of the most powerful moments in any Star Wars anything, and it was all based on a character that we’d known for only a year.
Phase 2 of The High Republic cannot possibly come soon enough. Also, in case you’re wondering why Burryaga is not on this list: Like Bell Zettifar, we refuse to believe that Burryaga is gone. There’s hurt, and then there’s hurt. That Wookiee ain't dead.