Book Review – Star Wars: The High Republic: The Fallen Star

Hello, everyone! Today I’m reviewing the most recent Star Wars release in the High Republic multimedia project, The Fallen Star by Claudia Gray. I was so excited for this one because I’ve loved most of Gray’s previous Star Wars work. What did I think of this one? Read on to find out!

In this gripping sequel to Star Wars: The Rising Storm, the light of the Jedi faces its darkest hour.

Time and again, the vicious raiders known as the Nihil have sought to bring the golden age of the High Republic to a fiery end. Time and again, the High Republic has emerged battered and weary, but victorious thank to its Jedi protectors-and there is no monument to their cause grander than the Starlight Beacon.

Hanging like a jewel in the Outer Rim, the Beacon embodies the High Republic at the apex of its aspirations: a hub of culture and knowledge, a bright torch against the darkness of the unknown, and an extended hand of welcome to the furthest reaches of the galaxy. As survivors and refugees flee the Nihil’s attacks, the Beacon and its crew stand ready to shelter and heal.

The grateful Knights and Padawans of the Jedi Order stationed there finally have a chance to recover-from the pain of their injuries and the grief of their losses. But the storm they thought had passed still rages; they are simply caught in its eye. Marchion Ro, the true mastermind of the Nihil, is preparing his most daring attack yet-one designed to snuff out the light of the Jedi.

This book was a bit of a let down. The writing, plot, pacing, and characterizations were all sub par in comparison to previous entries of the High Republic. The writing felt choppy and lacked the level of description I’ve come to expect from the adult Star Wars books. The little description available was often done via content provided in parentheses (like this), which got annoying really quickly and was often unnecessary. The pace went from slow to frantic and then never really let up until the end. I’m sure that was probably intentional to convey the stress and panic of the situation on the space station, but it also made everything feel a bit jumpy and kept important points of the story from eliciting their full impact because the characters were constantly off to the next problem.

The plot felt incredibly small in scope and had some plot holes large enough to fly a space cruiser through them. Light of the Jedi and The Rising Storm both felt like they were connected to the larger Star Wars galaxy in meaningful ways. This story did not. It felt largely isolated, which was a disappointment after The Rising Storm introduced some interesting politics that I was hoping to get more of here. I’m sure the feeling of isolation was probably purposeful since one of the major things the plot hinges on is the Starlight Beacon being cut off from everyone else. It just made the story feel small even though it attempted to claim to be a disaster of galaxy-wide proportions. This book didn’t really give anything in the way of answers to the series’ mysteries either, which was somewhat frustrating since this was promoted as an epic finale of the first wave of stories. I was expecting at least something to be resolved, but I didn’t get that sense at all here.

The characters, with the exception of Bell, felt super flat to me. This was a very plot-driven story, and the characters definitely suffered because of it. There was such promise at the beginning. I loved the brief exploration of Bell’s grief and guilt and Elzar’s struggle with the dark side in the first few chapters. Then the plot on the station started, and the characters just became avatars for whatever the story needed them to be. There was the potential for this to be a moving story about coping with fear and grief, but that potential was completely squandered. The one bright spot was the connection between Bell and Burryaga. Their friendship felt organic and heartfelt, and I enjoyed seeing it grow. There were also many moments that had a huge emotional impact, but that impact was largely due to the character-building work of previous books rather than this one.

Overall, I was frustrated by this book. I had such high expectations and was let down immensely. In my opinion, this is the worst of Claudia Gray’s Star Wars books. I still love the characters, though. So, I can’t rate this book too badly even if the story left a lot to be desired. Therefore, I rate this book 3 out of 5 stars.

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