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'Star Wars' author George Mann on his High Republic debut, 'Andor,' and Jedi who use shields

There’s a new Jedi on the scene, and she plays by her own rules!

By Brian Silliman
The High Republic: Quest for the Hidden City

There’s a new Jedi on the scene, and she plays by her own rules! One of the chief joys of the Star Wars: The High Republic initiative is meeting all manner of Jedi characters who are quite different from the Jedi that fans meet in the movies and shows. Phase 2 of the project, one which weaves together books, comics, and audio dramas, has recently begun. In true Star Wars style, it has shifted time periods. Phase 1 took place long before the Skywalker Saga; Phase 2 happens even earlier.

Project head Michael Siglain looked to expand the roster of “Project Luminous” authors for Phase 2, and George Mann was a natural addition. An accomplished author in his own right, his work for Star Wars already included the story collections Star Wars: Myths & Fables, Star Wars: Dark Legends, and together with High Republic author Cavan Scott (he knows what he did), Star Wars Life Day Treasury. The second book in Phase 2 is Mann’s first full High Republic adventure, called The High Republic: Quest for the Hidden City.

A new Jedi, Silandra Sho, features heavily in the new book. When it comes to being a peacekeeper and not a soldier, Silandra is a Jedi who truly walks the talk. SYFY WIRE caught up with Mann towards the end of New York Comic Con 2022 to talk about Silandra, the new book, The High Republic, and more. For light and life!

The High Republic: Quest for the Hidden City

You’ve been with writing Star Wars for a little while, but how did you come to join the High Republic team?

It was fairly early on in the Star Wars writing process because I'd done Myths & Fables, and we got talking about Dark Legends, doing the spooky stories. And it was around the time that the guys were first firming up what was going to happen in Phase 1. The architects and Mike [Siglain], were like, "It would be really cool if we put the Drengir in one of the spooky stories." In Dark Legends, which is the one that ended up in the special edition for Target. And so at that point Mike sent me the information about the Drengir and The High Republic, and I was like, "Wow." It felt like very honored to be given that opportunity to even just have a small part of it and write that story. And it was actually really cool because we put it out there in the world before the actual main High Republic launched. It was seeded out there.

On the back of that, basically, I think it was more like Mike always had an eye to Phase 2 and wanting to bring in some more writers… I think I was well placed… we’d done the Stellan Gios story in the Life Day Treasury. So at that point I was kind of soft joined the team… that was the way in.

Is Quest for the Hidden City the first full book that you worked on for the High Republic, or did it happen in the middle of doing other things for the initiative?

It was my first project for Phase 2, and the first full length novel for Phase 2 of The High Republic in general. That was cool to be able to get my teeth into something a bit meatier. And with the book coming at near the start of the phase, introducing the concepts… Jedi and the exploration of the frontier, I've got to really embrace that and create new characters, which will go on to hopefully become staples of Phase 2 and beyond.

All of the authors in the High Republic have characters they’ve created who are their babies. Have you able to create one for yourself?

Yeah, absolutely. For me that's the pairing of Silandra Sho and her Padawan, Rooper Nitani, who are the main focus of the Pathfinder team in Quest for the Hidden City. And what's cool about Silandra is she has a slightly different take on Jedi philosophy. She's still obviously very much a core Jedi, but she's taken to heart that kind of idea to protect and to be a shield for people who can't protect themselves. She carries a shield as a symbol of that, and her kind of motto is she would always rather be the shield than the sword. So she does use the lightsaber, because she's a Jedi, but she has a shield. Where possible, she'll use the shield and we get to do some cool stuff. She uses the force to throw it around.

Captain America style?

No, it's a bit different. I saw her as more of a knight, like a medieval knight with a sword and shield, a lightsaber and shield. And she doesn't throw it like a disc, she force pushes it… or she'll have it circling around her when she's fighting.

That's really what Jedi should be, right? If they're “keepers of the peace, not soldiers?”

Exactly that.

They should all have shields…

Well, I think what I was playing with is the idea that all the Jedi are shields, they're the shield of the people of the Republic and beyond. And really I wanted to look at how Silandra, as a character… what differentiated her was the take that she had on that concept. That’s how literally she takes it, really.

George Mann

Are you a lifelong Star Wars fan?

All my life. All my life, yeah. I think my first Star Wars experience was at four years old, my granddad took me to see The Empire Strikes Back and I got obsessed with R2-D2, as everyone does. Action figures, sticker books, the full shebang. I've been a lifelong fan, and that's so cool about being a part of creating a new era in Star Wars. I feel like I'm giving something back to something I've loved on my life.

What's your go-to Star Wars movie or show if you're going to watch one to just decompress?

I'll give you two answers to that because if I'm going to watch one to decompress I'd probably go Solo, actually, I feel that's an underrated movie. There's a load of humor, there's great action adventure in it. Bit of poignancy as well. That's probably my go-to if I'm going to relax. But actually probably my favorite, I mean, I would've said The Empire Strikes Back for a long time and it’s still is right up there, but actually I really love Rogue One. I really love that it's a different take on a war film, and that's so cool about the new Andor series as well. It's a very different tone… what Star Wars allows us to do is it's a whole universe, hundreds of different ways of telling stories. And I really like it when we get those different viewpoints, different stories, different characters, different ways of interacting with the universe. I think that's what Rogue One offers.

In terms of the changing viewpoints of both Rogue One and Andor, it's something that's already present in a lot of The High Republic. Is that something that fans can look forward to in Phase 2?

I think so, yeah. I mean without giving away too much, one of the projects I've been working on is the Battle of Jedha, an audio drama that's kind of a linchpin moment in the phase. It's not the same perspective as Rogue One, but it's a different look at how wars happen in Star Wars.

There are some classic characters still in the mix, even in Phase 2, even though we’re further back in the timeline. Have you gotten to write any of them? Are there any that you were particularly excited about?

I'm excited to see them in the work of others, let's put it that way.

Do you condone the actions of Elzar Mann?

No comment.

Does Cavan Scott "know what he did?"

No comment.

Star Wars: The High Republic: Quest for the Hidden City hits the shelves both physically and digitally today, Nov. 1. Star Wars: Myths & Fables, Star Wars: Dark Legends, and Star Wars Life Day Treasury: Holiday Stories from a Galaxy Far, Far Away are all available now.

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