The journey to a galaxy far far away — and now long, long ago — continues!
The latest installment in the Star Wars: The High Republic initiative comes from bestselling author Daniel José Older (Star Wars: The Last Shot), who continues his time in the Star Wars universe with a new middle-grade novel titled Race to Crashpoint Tower. And SYFY WIRE has your exclusive preview below.
The book follows the story of a Jedi Padawan named Ram Jomaram, as the Republic Fair is set to begin on the planet Valo. However, before the massive festival can take place, Ram discovers that someone has knocked out Valo's communications tower on Crashpoint Peak, which can only mean one thing: that the Fair and Valo itself are in danger.
Luckily, the young Valon and his droid V-18 won't be on their own as they attempt to take on the dreaded Nihil at Crashpoint Tower so they can send a call for help to the Republic. As the exclusive excerpt below reveals, Ram will get help from some new friends and familiar faces.
"Race to Crashpoint Tower throws us headlong into the Jedi's deadly conflict with the Nihil, and here we see Padawan Lula Talisola right in the thick of things, as she and Vernestra come up on an attack in progress," Older tells SYFY WIRE, explaining how the young human Padawan — who also appears in the Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures comic series he's currently writing — ties into this particular novel, along with Vernestra, the Mirialan Jedi Knight who has been featured in various other media. "Lula has seen her share of fighting before this, but it's immediately clear the assault on Valo is a whole other level, and something very destructive is going on. Amidst all the shootouts and chases, Lula and the other young people are desperately trying to keep up with a galaxy that seems to be changing before their very eyes."
Below, check out the cover, illustrated by Petur Antonsson, and read the exclusive excerpt from Race to Crashpoint Tower, which comes out June 29.
"We'll let Starlight know what the situation is once we know what we're dealing with," Vernestra said. With a blip and a rattle, they jolted out of hyperspace, the whole ship jiggling and creaking, and zoomed closer to the green-blue planet below.
Lula had to breathe through a wave of nausea as the stars shifted and slowed around them. "Ay, ay, ay, ay," she moaned with the starboard engine's grunts. "Whew!"
As soon as everything came to a gradual rest, lights erupted across Lula's target screen.
"There is an attack!" Vernestra yelped, tilting them forward. "And it's already begun! Alert Starlight!"
Up ahead, hundreds of ion trails roared to life as Nihil fighters streamed in reckless, chaotic swooping dives toward Lonisa City. Down below, blaster ﬁre ripped across building tops, ﬂoating pavilions, and crowded streets, and bursts of smoke plumed into the sky.
Only static came over the comms when Lula tried to raise Starlight. "Comms aren't working!" She tried the Hopper and got the same result. "And I don't see any Republic ships. Is it possible they don't—"
"No time to work out why. Do your best to get a dis-tress signal to Starlight," Vernestra said. "We're going in."
Lula tried, but the system kept sending back an automated message in a language she didn't know. "I thought that Padawan said he'd fixed the comms tower. It doesn't seem like — whoa!" She almost choked on her own tongue as Vernestra hit the boosters, rocketing them toward the swarm.
"All weapons live!" Vernestra yelled. "We need to punch a hole in this pack to throw off their attack pattern!"
Lula opened her mouth to object, or plead for a moment to catch her breath, but they didn't have that luxury. Innocent people were being massacred on Valo, casualties piling up with every passing second. And already they were roaring up behind the attacking horde.
"Fire!" Vernestra called, her face scrunched with concentration.
Lula brought the control grips to rest on the two crafts closest to them, then pulled both triggers. Blaster ﬁre splattered out from the turrets in an angry blitz of light, shredding the hyperdrive of one ship and lancing through the rear cannons of the other.
Vernestra dipped the Varonchagger slightly to one side, clipping two smaller crafts with its bulky wingspan. They spun into a cluster of three more ships, and the lot of them burst into ﬂames, spiraling out of the sky.
But the other Nihil had realized there was an attack from their rear, and several swung their ships out of formation, whipping upward and back around with laser cannons blazing.
"Hold on!" Vernestra hit the thrusters hard and spun skyward, past the attacking raiders, then cut off all the thrusters. The Varonchagger, convulsing angrily with one hit after another, sank suddenly.
Lula met the goggled stare of a Nihil raider in a single-pilot craft bearing down on them, the swirl of space behind him. He lurched forward, blasting his wing cannons. She swung the turrets in a diagonal swath across the sky and released a barrage of laser blasts that carved through four Nihil ships. Then she concentrated both cannons on the approaching raider. Smoke and flames burst from his cockpit first; seconds later his whole ship disappeared in a fiery explosion that sent shards cracking against their front viewports.
The man was dead, Lula realized, blinking. She'd killed him. She'd been in battle before, had taken other lives, but it never got easier.
"No time for that," Vernestra said, sliding her hand over Lula's. "Not right now. After the battle, we must process, heal, rebuild. Right now we have to give our time only to making sure we get out of this alive."
Lula nodded. Already, more Nihil ships zoomed toward them, and Vernestra was angling the Varonchagger to meet them head-on. "You're not scared?" Lula asked.
"Oh, I'm terrified," Vernestra said with a nervous little laugh. "But this is what I mean. . . ." She swung the ship suddenly sideways, then sent them in a spiral over a forested expanse outside the city—leading the raiders away from the populated areas, Lula realized. "Balance. If we're not scared at all"—she grimaced as laser ﬁre rattled across their rear and starboard shields—"we can't be courageous, right? And we might make mistakes in our arrogance. But if we're overcome by terror, we'll be useless, too."
"I guess," Lula sighed. She switched to the side cannons, bringing up a static-laced image on her screen and swinging the sights into place on the swarming attackers. "I mean, I'm trying." She let loose another barrage of ﬁre, but the Nihil seemed inﬁnite—four spun out of the sky in flames, and seven more took their place.
Vernestra swung them back around over a gorgeous lake that Lula thought would be a very peaceful sight in other circumstances. Fighters and puffs of smoke ﬁlled the sky over Lonisa City. From down below, thick green-yellow clouds of that nasty chemical gas the Nihil used rose over the buildings at various points around the city. An urgent alarm rang out.
"Shields are about to—" Lula started, but another burst of ﬁre shook the Varonchagger, and more beeps erupted.
"I know," Vernestra said through gritted teeth.
A group of Jedi Vectors screamed up from the rooftops, the ﬁrst sign of a counterattack. They must've been on the planet before the attack began. Lula exhaled, then squeezed the triggers on the rear cannons and shook her head. "There's too many!"
"I'm bringing us down," Vernestra said.
"Something like that."
The sun-sparkled waves seemed to roar up to meet them. Ahead, a sandy embankment led up to a boardwalk, where riotous crowds ran every which way.
"Hold tight!" Vernestra yelled.
The Nihil who had been pursuing them must've realized they had bigger problems to deal with — they shrieked off overhead toward the air fights erupting with the Vectors. The Varonchagger skimmed the top of the lake, then bounced once, and again. Vernestra swung them into a hard turn, sending out a massive wave of water and sand. Finally, they slammed to a teeth-chattering stop along the embankment.
"Another one!" Vernestra was already out of her seat and heading for the exit. "Shipmaster Nubarron's never gonna forgive me for this!"
Lula hurried after her. "Wait! What do we do?"
A purple glow lit the dim interior of the Varonchagger as the crisp sizzling growl of a lightsaber sounded. Lula's wide eyes tracked a long, slender stream of pure power as it bristled and slid through the air around them. It was a lightsaber, but now it was also a whip. "I've never seen anything like it," she whispered.
"Don't tell anyone, okay?" Vernestra allowed herself a slight smile. "You have yours?"
"Of course, but—"
"It looked like that Padawan who sent the message was getting arrested, so he'll probably still be in the local lockup. It should be one of the domed buildings in the center of town, Government District. Break him out and ﬁnd out what else he knows."
"I'm going to ﬁnd the elder Jedi and make sure the Chancellor is safe. The comms might be down, but it could just be interference from everything going on. If not, you'll need that kid to help you get them back up. Got it?"
Lula blinked, then steeled herself. Somewhere out there, Zeen and Master Sy were probably having a similar conversation. They were in danger, all of them, and the knowledge of that rippled through her with a shudder. But she had to stay focused. She had to do whatever she could to get everyone to safety. She nodded once as the blue light of her own saber blended with the purple glow of Vernestra's. "Let's go."
Race to Crashpoint Tower speeds into bookstores June 29. You can preorder copies here.
Daniel José Older isn't the only author bringing the tales of the High Republic to life as part of Lucasfilm's ambitious publishing plans. Joining him are Claudia Gray (Leia, Princess of Alderaan), Justina Ireland (The High Republic: A Test of Courage), Charles Soule (The High Republic: Light of the Jedi), and Cavan Scott (Star Wars: The High Republic).