In the age of the Star Wars: The High Republic, the galaxy far, far away is in a healthier place than it is when the Skywalker Saga begins hundreds of years later — but that doesn't mean that it is free of troubles! The valiant Jedi do what they can to protect the Republic, and Chancellor Lina Soh continues her "Great Works" which inspire, broaden the reach of the Republic itself, and upset various antagonists. It's a lot to keep track of, so let SYFY WIRE be your own personal Jedi librarian.
As Chancellor Lina Soh often says, "We are all the republic." In the first wave of books and comics published in this initiative, readers got to know how the Jedi and the Republic operated before things went all cockeye corrupted. The "Project Luminous" writers Claudia Gray, Charles Soule, Justina Ireland, Cavan Scott, and Daniel José Older wove an exciting array of tales that introduced us to some serious non-Sith threats. Marchion Ro and the Nihil are no joke, and neither are the carnivorous dark side meat-loving plant monsters, the Drengir.
Both of these villainous groups will remain at large as Wave 2 of Phase 1 begins on June 29, 2021. According to Older, the initiative will contain three phases (Light of the Jedi, Quest of the Jedi, and Trials of the Jedi), but each phase will have multiple waves. As we're about to embark on only the second wave of Phase 1, we've barely just begun.
The authors gave us darkness as well as light to meet it. That light came in the form of a horde of new Jedi characters (plus one famous Jedi who we already knew quite well), and they will all have their stories continue in the next wave. Who are they, where are they, and what's their deal? Let's run through all of the major Jedi players to make full-sabacc sure that we're all ready for more light and life when the new stories arrive. No Jedi crosses the Kyber Arch alone.
***WARNING: From this point forward, there will be spoilers for the Star Wars: The High Republic books Light of the Jedi, A Test of Courage, Into the Dark, as well as the Marvel comic Star Wars: The High Republic and the IDW comic Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures.***
Everything began with Light of the Jedi by Charles Soule, and that's where we got to know most of the major players for the first time. Many of them will be crucial moving forward.
Avar Kriss (Human) is arguably the most important Jedi in this era. She feels the force as a song, and she uses her incredible connection to both the force and the Jedi to incredible effect when she works to overcome the Legacy Run disaster, the incident that kicks off the book. Jedi Master Jora Malli (Togruta) had been meant to act as the Marshal of Starlight Beacon, the first major Republic presence in the outer rim (a giant space station/Jedi outpost/diplomatic hub/shopping mall), and the first of Lina Soh's Great Works. After Malli's death during a battle with the Nihil, the Jedi Council gave the position to Avar.
Elzar Mann (Human) is her best friend, best ally, and... more. He's deeply in love with her. The Jedi tradition of not allowing themselves to have romantic connections is still present in this era (causing more problems than it solves), but Elzar makes it clear at the end of Light of the Jedi that he's got it bad for Avar. They're not padawans anymore, he says as much, and though she gets swept up for a moment (she definitely feels the same way), she doesn't give in. Not yet.
After this moment with his one true love (come on, she is, they're meant to be, trouble ahead, don't care), Elzar has a horrifying force vision of destruction and devastation. He doesn't understand it. He's already prone to rule-bending and/or breaking, so when you toss in a force vision and a doomed romance you can bet big that he will play a major role moving forward.
Jedi Master Stellan Gios (Human) became close with both Avar and Elzar during their apprentice days, and he often serves as the voice of reason between the two of them. Such moments probably come when Avar and Elzar bicker with each other, that bickering caused by the simmering undeniable love that they have for each other. Gios gets a front-row seat for those moments. He is strong, capable, trusted, and is responsible for training a truly gifted padawan who we'll get to shortly.
Bell Zettifar (Human) begins the book as a padawan, but he quickly proves that he's ready to become a full Jedi Knight. He is talented and loyal, but he's also one of the only Jedi we know who has a pet. Ember, a charhound (space dog), attaches herself to him and doesn't ever leave his side.
He needs that love, because his master Loden Greatstorm (Twi'lek) is presumed dead thanks to the Nihil. He intended for Bell to advance in rank, but Bell refuses to do so until Loden can be there to see it himself. This is a futile endeavor because everyone believes that Loden is dead — except he isn't. He's a captive of the Nihil, and Bell is the only one who holds out hope that Loden is still alive.
Because he refuses to advance in rank, Bell is now being trained by Jedi Master Indeera Stokes, a brilliant Tholothian. Bell also worked with the Wookiee padawan Burryaga Agabury and his master Nib Assek (Human) during the Legacy Run disaster, and they were all impressed with each other. Everyone already loves Burryaga (he's a Wookiee padawan, figure it out), although his presence has been small thus far. We expect that to change.
Vernestra "Vern" Rwoh (Mirialan) was introduced by Justina Ireland in A Test of Courage, and she's also shown up briefly in the Marvel Star Wars: The High Republic comic series. She is the aforementioned student Stellan Gios trained, and she became a Jedi Knight at the age of fifteen. It wasn't the first time that someone so young had attained the rank, but it was the first time in a long time. Other padawans took notice.
She is wise and powerful in the force, but who are we kidding, one of the coolest things about her is that she can turn her purple lightsaber into a lightwhip. She designed this modification herself, and she didn't tell Gios about it. At the book's end, she takes on the troubled Imri Cantatos (Human) as a padawan after his master is killed. Imri needs her guidance, because he is tempted by the dark side and likes the force choke just a little too much.
Padawan Reath Silas (Human) may not have gotten what he wanted in Claudia Gray's Into the Dark, but he definitely got what he needed. Silas prefers studying in the Jedi Archives to dueling practice (which is rare), and he had no wish to go with his master, Jora Malli, to Starlight Beacon. The Legacy Run disaster happened while he was en route to meet her there, and adventure ensued.
By the end of Gray's book, Reath learns one of the most important lessons that any Jedi can learn. He used to be about "me" but he now realizes that it's about "us." He takes the death of Master Jora Malli hard when he learns of it — we already knew from Light of the Jedi that she was toast, but Gray twists that laserwhip tighter by giving us a few scenes of the charming Malli and Silas dynamic early on. In the end he figures out the answer to a question that she asks him: why does no Jedi ever cross the Kyber Arch alone? It's because the arch itself is made up of the crystals from dead Jedi of the past. If you cross the arch, you cross thanks to every Jedi who has come before you.
Reath still loves research and he definitely loves anything with the word "archive" on it, but he has also shown bravery, force mastery, and a good deal of lightsaber technique. He becomes padawan to another archive enthusiast, Cohmac Vitus (Human) at the end of the book. Silas (and probably Vitus) will definitely return, Silas at least is set to share the page with Vernestra Rwoh, and we're chuffed to see the two of them work together.
Other Jedi who make big impressions in this book include Dez Rydan (Human) and Orla Jareni (Umbaran). Dez, a Jedi Knight who also trained under Jora Malli, goes through hell with the Drengir and barely makes it out of this book with his sanity. He's currently attempting to regain his connection to the force, so we may not see him again in this wave. Jareni chose to be a wayseeker, which is a Jedi who operates outside of the council and goes out into the galaxy to make their own fun. They're pretty much what Qui-Gon Jinn was before he got the shaft.
She heads out into the unknown in her new ship at the end of this book, so we don't know when she'll return, presumably with her folding double-bladed white lightsaber in hand. It's likely that Dez and Orla will at the very least get referenced.
We first met him in Light of the Jedi, but Jedi Master Sskeer (Trandoshan) rules the first set of issues of Marvel's Star Wars: The High Republic (Cavan Scott, Ario Anindito). In the novel, he loses his arm during a huge battle with the Nihil. Trandoshan arms grow back, but that's not what's troubling him in the comic. For lack of a better way to put it, he goes berserk and ends up growing a plant arm, one infused with dark side Drengir energy.
Having to help him through this is his padawan Keeve Trennis (Human), who we see promoted to the rank of Jedi Knight by Avar Kriss. She's still loyal to her old master, and both she and Avar will do anything to help him.
There will be more Sskeer drama to come before Wave 2 hits, so at present, we don't know where he'll show up next. His story may continue only in this comic, but if he survives the next issue he could show up in a book with Trennis by his side.
Over on the IDW side of things, Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures (Daniel José Older, Harvey Tolibao) tells a different story, one that weaves in what the Jedi Master Yoda is doing when he's not popping up in the other books.
Yoda is by far the most familiar Jedi to us in this time period, and he sits on the Jedi Council when he feels like it. He prefers to train younglings and padawans aboard a ship called the Star Hopper, so he's usually off doing that. When he wants to go to a meeting? His substitute gets out of his chair. He's not the grandmaster yet, but every Jedi who speaks of him does so with awe and reverence. The council lets him do whatever the kriff he wants, as they should. A legend he is. He usually has the Chagrian Jedi Master Torban Buck by his side. His nickname, we're not kidding, is Buckets of Blood. You do you, Torban.
Both comic titles will continue in Wave 2, but even more hot canon will be revealed on June 29 when The Rising Storm by Cavan Scott kicks everything back into hyperspace. Race to Crashpoint Tower (Daniel José Older) will also come out on that day, followed by Out of the Shadows (Justina Ireland) on July 27.
Will the Jedi prevail over the Nihil and the Drengir? Will Reath Silas work well with Vernestra Rwoh? Will Bell Zettifar find his wayward master and finally chop that braid? Will Avar Kriss and Elzar Mann give in to their feelings? We may find out. For light and life, we are all the Republic. Let Jedi marry.