Disaster strikes in first chapter of Star Wars: The High Republic, Light of the Jedi


Lucasfilm is readying a whole new line of Star Wars books and comics, called The High Republic. Unfortunately, the coronavirus pushed the release date from August of this year to January 5, 2021, but it’s still coming. Set 200 years before the events of Star Wars: Episode I, The High Republic will explore a time when a full-strength Jedi Order acted as guardians of peace and justice throughout the galaxy.

We’ll get two books on January 5: children’s book A Test of Courage by Justina Ireland, and the more adult novel Light of the Jedi by Charles Soule. Today, Soule’s publisher released the first chapter from Light of the Jedi, and it is a doozy. “This excerpt is our first look at the moment that changes The High Republic forever,” he told IGN. “The destruction of the Legacy Run is the catalyst for a galaxy-wide disaster. Fragments of the destroyed cargo vessel begin flying out of hyperspace at super-accelerated speeds, meaning that deadly missiles of debris can appear anywhere at any time, from the Outer Rim to the Core. In this moment of crisis, the Republic turns to the guardians of peace and justice—the Jedi.”

Soule is no stranger to that galaxy far, far away. He’s written several Star Wars comics, including the Lando and Obi-Wan and Anakin limited series. He also wrote Star Wars: Poe Dameron, Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith and Star Wars: The Rise of Kylo Ren. Dude’s got the Star Wars cred.

“The opening beats of Light of the Jedi depict an epic disaster, and a heroic, thrilling response by both the Republic and the Jedi to save lives and end the crisis,” Soule continued. “It’s just the beginning, though. The Legacy Run disaster kicks off a much larger story; it really is just one piece of a much bigger saga.”

The prologue has some terrific worldbuilding, introducing Chancellor Lina Soh and her mission to expand the Republic’s protection from the core to the largely unexplored Outer Rim.

Photo: Star Wars: The High Republic: Light of the Jedi – Book Cover.. Image Courtesy Disney Publishing Worldwide

Chapter one kicks off aboard the Legacy Run, a large ship traveling the hyperspace lanes to the Outer Rim. We’re introduced to Captain Hedda Casset, a tough-as-nails former pilot in the Malastare-Sullust Joint Task Force. She’s an experienced, respected and instantly likable character, and you just know it’s going to sting when she inevitably dies by the end of the chapter.

Captain Casset spends most of the chapter inspecting her ship with a rigid eye. She stops and talks to a group of children traveling to the Outer Rim with their parents, who are looking for work. Have a sample:

"KTANG. KTANG. KTANG. KTANG.An alarm, loud and insistent. The bridge lighting flipped into its emergency configuration—bathing everything in red. Through the front port, the swirls of hyperspace looked off, somehow. Maybe it was the emergency lighting, but they had a…reddish tinge. It looked…sickly.Hedda felt her pulse quicken. Her mind snapped into combat mode without thinking.“Report!” she barked out, her eyes whipping along her own set of screens to find the source of the alarm.“Alarm generated by the navicomp, captain,” called out her navigator, Cadet Kalwar, a young Quermian. “There’s something in the hyperlane. Dead ahead. Big. Impact in ten seconds.”The cadet’s voice held steady, and Hedda was proud of him. He probably wasn’t that much older than Serj.She knew this situation was impossible. The lanes were selected because they were free of potential debris, their clarity calculated down to a meter of resolution. Any granules missed would be detected and evaded by the shipboard navidroids making adjustments along the vector. Lightspeed collisions along established lanes were mathematical absurdities.She also knew that even though it was impossible, it was happening, and that ten seconds was no time at all at speeds like the Legacy Run was traveling.You can’t trust hyperspace, she thought.Hedda Casset tapped two buttons on her command console.“Brace yourselves,” she said, her voice calm. “I’m taking control.”Two piloting sticks snapped up out from the armrests of her captain’s chair, and Hedda grasped them, one in each hand.She spared herself the time for one breath, and then she flew.The Legacy Run was not an Incom Z-24 Buzzbug, or even one of the new Republic Longbeams. It was a sixty-year-old freighter at the end of—if not beyond—its operational lifespan, loaded to capacity, with engines designed for slow, gradual acceleration and deceleration, and docking with spaceports and orbital loading facilities. It maneuvered like a moon.The Legacy Run was no warship. Not even close. But Hedda flew it like one.She saw the obstacle in their path with her fighter pilot’s eye and instincts, saw it advancing at incredible velocity, large enough that both her ship and whatever it was would be disintegrated into atoms, dust drifting forever through the hyperlanes. There was no time to avoid it. The ship could not make the turn. There was no room, and there was no time.But Captain Hedda Casset was at the helm, and she would not fail her ship.The tiniest tweak of the left control stick, and a larger rotation of the right, and the Legacy Run moved. More than it wanted to, but not less than she believed it could, and the huge freighter slipped past the obstacle in their path, the thing shooting past their hull so close Hedda was sure she felt its passing ruffle her hair despite the many layers of metal and shielding between them.But they were alive. No impact. The ship was alive.Turbulence, and Hedda fought it, feeling her way through the jagged bumps and ripples, closing her eyes, not needing to see to fly. The ship groaned, its frame complaining.“You can do it, old gal,” she said, out loud. “We’re a couple of cranky old ladies and that’s for sure, but we’ve both got a lot of life to live. I’ve taken damn good care of you, and you know it. I won’t let you down if you won’t let me down.”Hedda did not fail her ship.It failed her.The groan of overstressed metal became a scream. The vibrations of the ship’s passage through space took on a new timbre Hedda had felt too many times before. It was the feeling of a ship that had moved beyond its limits, whether from taking too much damage in a firefight or, as here, just being asked to perform a maneuver that was more than it could give.The Legacy Run was tearing itself apart. It had seconds to live, at most.Hedda opened her eyes. She released the control sticks and tapped out commands on her console, activating the bulkhead shielding that separated each cargo module in the instance of a disaster, thinking that perhaps it might give some of the people aboard a chance. She thought about Serj and his friends, playing in the common area, and how emergency doors had just slammed down at the entrance to each passenger module, possibly trapping them in a zone that was shortly about to become vacuum. She hoped the children had gone to their families when the alarms sounded.She didn’t know.She just didn’t know.Hedda locked eyes with her first officer, who was staring at her, knowing what was about to happen. He saluted.“Captain,” Lieutenant Bowman said, “it’s been an—”The bridge ripped open.Hedda Casset died, not knowing if she had saved anyone at all."

Wow, consider me hooked. You can preorder Light of the Jedi on Amazon now.

dark. Next. WiC Watches—Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian

To stay up to date on everything fantasy, science fiction, and WiC, follow our all-encompassing Facebook page and sign up for our exclusive newsletter.

Get HBO, Starz, Showtime and MORE for FREE with a no-risk, 7-day free trial of Amazon Channels