Hello, everyone! Today I’m reviewing Star Wars: The High Republic: Convergence by Zoraida Cordova. I’ve enjoyed the other phase two High Republic books (YA & MG) so far, and I was eagerly anticipating jumping into this first adult book of the new phase.
The next adventure in the High Republic begins expanding the new era of Star Wars, with a story set generations before Light of the Jedi.
It is an age of exploration. Jedi travel the galaxy, expanding their understanding of the Force and all the worlds and beings connected by it. Meanwhile, the Republic, led by its two chancellors, works to unite worlds in an ever-growing community among near and distant stars.
On the close orbiting planets of Eiram and E’ronoh, the growing pains of a galaxy with limited resources but unlimited ambition are felt keenly. Their hatred for each other has fueled half a decade of escalating conflict and now threatens to consume surrounding systems. The last hope for peace emerges when heirs from the two planets’ royal families plan to marry.
Before lasting peace can be established, an assassination attempt targeting the couple tilts Eiram and E’ronoh back into all-out war. To save both worlds, Jedi Knight Gella Nattai volunteers to uncover the culprit, while Chancellor Kyong appoints her son, Axel Greylark, to represent the Republic’s interests in the investigation.
But Axel’s deep distrust of the Jedi sparks against Gella’s faith in the Force. She’s never met such a puffed-up, privileged party boy, and he’s never met a more self-serious, relentless do-gooder. The more they work to untangle the shadowy web of the investigation, the more complicated the conspiracy appears to be. With accusations flying and potential enemies in every shadow, the pair will have to work together to have any hope of bringing the truth to light and saving both worlds.
I’m really enjoying this phase of The High Republic storytelling so far. All three of the books I’ve read have been excellent, and I’m going to dare to say that I like this phase more than I did the first one when it was at the same point in its release schedule. The first phase was explosive, chaotic, and intense, which was an exciting way to start the journey into this new time period. However, some of the entries lacked the depth and character growth I typically like to see, especially in the very first wave when everything was focused so heavily on the hyperspace crisis. In contrast, this phase, and this book, felt more intimate and subtle in its storytelling. It still had exciting action and fascinating set pieces, but the pace was less frenetic with stories containing a good balance of character and plot-driven elements.
The difference between the two phases is starkest when considering the villains. The Nihil from phase one were pugnacious, rough, and rabble-rousing. I never really cared much for the space pirate angle, but I liked that Marchion was using them as a means to end to get what he wanted. Personally, I prefer a more insidious villain that pulls the strings from behind the scenes, which is probably why Marchion was my favorite part of the Nihil. The Path of the Open Hand was exactly that type of villain. They were barely even present in this story, but the effects of their meddling had galactic consequences. Honestly, if I hadn’t read Path of Deceit, I’m not sure I would have completely understood the full impact of their influence or the menace behind it because there was so little of them in this book. I’m still uncertain if that’s a strength or weakness of the story, but I enjoyed the task of putting the pieces together from what I knew about the group from the YA book.
One of the other things I loved about this phase so far was its exploration of fascinating themes and its spotlight on examining philosophies of the Force. This book did both of those things brilliantly. I enjoyed getting to see the Force through Gella’s eyes and following her journey to discover what the Force means for her and her place within the Jedi. I also really liked how the central conflicts explored how seemingly good acts could be driven by misguided or deceitful intentions to have bad ends. For example, the expansion of the Republic was a major driving force in this book. The Republic viewed its expansion as bringing help to outlying systems, but the native people didn’t necessarily want it. If we take things to their logical conclusion by taking into account the things that happen in the movies, the Republic’s expansion ultimately becomes the vehicle for the abuses of the Empire. I think it raises the fascinating question of whether imperialism can ever truly be net good or do the negatives always outweigh the potential short-term gain that could come from being brought under someone else’s umbrella for the sake of aid or some other incentive. I also think it is an interesting thought exercise because the Jedi and the Republic clearly believe they bring help and have good intentions, but they ultimately end up paving the way for countless people to be oppressed and abused. The philosophy of the Path of the Open Hand also raises the ethical considerations of interference vs. non-interference while adeptly hiding behind the guise of an innocent religion to accomplish nefarious goals. So, in addition to all the action, political conspiracies, and cool Jedi stuff, this book explored some thought-provoking ideas that stuck with me long after finishing the book.
I liked all of the characters in this book, but I’m only going to spend time on a couple of them. Gella and Axel were the stars of this book for me. They played off each other so well. The rich and famous party boy versus the serious Jedi haunted by her past. I enjoyed seeing how they pulled each other to grow in interesting ways. There were some pretty big character twists that I should have seen coming but didn’t. I enjoyed where they took the story, but I wish the reveal had been a bit earlier. I think it would have made the character growth even more impactful if the audience was cued into the true nature of the characters, but it was fine the way it happened, as well.
Ultimately, this was one of my favorite Star Wars books this year. It had a great story with plenty of action and twists, as well as the exploration of some thought-provoking themes. I’m also a sucker for political intrigue, and this book had no scarcity of galactic and planet-level politics. Personally, I’d read Path of Deceit before this book, but it also works fine as an entry point to this phase of the High Republic. All in all, I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars.