Hello, everyone! I feel like it has been forever since I’ve talked about Star Wars or The High Republic, but that ends today. 🙂 I finally finished reading Cataclysm by Lydia Kang, which is the follow-up adult novel to last year’s Convergence by Zoraida Cordova. Based on everything set up in this phase of The High Republic so far and the title of this novel, I expected to be blown away by a heart-pounding climax filled with action, clandestine schemes, and shocking demises. Did this book deliver? Read on to find out!
After the thrilling events of The High Republic: Convergence, the Jedi race to confront the Path of the Open Hand and end the Forever War.
After five years of conflict, the planets Eiram and E’ronoh are on the cusp of real peace. But when news breaks of a disaster at the treaty signing on Jedha, violence reignites on the beleaguered worlds. Together, the royal heirs of both planets—Phan-tu Zenn and Xiri A’lbaran—working alongside the Jedi, have uncovered evidence that the conflict is being orchestrated by outside forces, and all signs point to the mysterious Path of the Open Hand, whom the Jedi also suspect of causing the disaster on Jedha.
With time—and answers—in short supply, the Jedi must divide their focus between helping quell the renewed violence on Eiram and E’ronoh and investigating the Path. Among them is Gella Nattai, who turns to the one person she believes can unravel the mystery but the last person she wants to trust: Axel Greylark. The chancellor’s son, imprisoned for his crimes, has always sought to unburden himself of the weight of his family name. Will he reconcile with the Jedi and aid in their quest for justice and peace, or embrace the Path’s promise of true freedom?
As all roads lead to Dalna, Gella and her allies prepare to take on a foe unlike any they’ve ever faced. And it will take all of their trust in the Force, and in one another, to survive.
I have really enjoyed this phase of the High Republic storytelling, and this book was no exception. I think it may actually be my new favorite book from this era of Star Wars. It had so many great characters and a ton of pulse-pounding action. The vibes of the story actually reminded me quite a bit of The Rising Storm, another of my favorites. So, if you liked that phase one novel, you’ll likely enjoy this one too.
The stories of this phase have been building up to a large confrontation with the Path of the Open Hand, and I’ve been looking forward to learning more about their long-term goals and how they plan to achieve them. There was definitely a confrontation. lol. The back half of the book was a huge battle. The author did a fantastic job of describing the conflict and making it immersive despite having so many POVs to juggle. I also really loved the intrigue and buildup to the battle, maybe even more than the battle itself. That’s one of the things I’ve loved about the Path as a villain. They are secretive and feel like they are constantly in the background pulling the strings when you least expect it. The open warfare was new for them, and while I enjoyed the carnage, I think I preferred the group as a shadowy puppeteer than the arbiters of brute force seen in this book.
There were so many great characters, both returning and new, in this book. Phan-tu and Xiri were back, and I enjoyed seeing their marriage hit its stride despite the speed bumps caused by the unraveling of the peace negotiations. I wish there had been a bit more of them in the book, especially toward the end. The conclusion of the Eiram and E’ronoh conflict got swept aside off page because of everything going on with the battle at Dalna. I understand the decision was probably made for pacing reasons, but it still felt a bit cheap considering this entire phase pretty much revolved around the conflict between the two planets.
Gella and Axel were back, as well. I enjoyed their relationship in Convergence. Gella wanted so badly to trust Axel again despite everything he did. She believed he could be redeemed even though good judgment probably would have deemed otherwise. Axel was still his usual self, a privileged twat you hate to love. lol. He was also conflicted, though. I think deep down he always wanted to do the right thing, but that desire was constantly at war with his selfish nature and his resentment over the death of his father and his mother always prioritizing the galaxy over him. Speaking of his mother, Kyong was one of the breakout stars of this book. She had to come to terms with her failings as a mother and leader and make some really hard choices with huge ramifications.
There were so many other POVs in this book. I’d be here all day if I wrote about each of them. There were plenty of Jedi viewpoints, and I loved getting to see a certain little green someone in action. The youngling of the crew was actually super endearing, as well, and they made a cute duo. A new Path member was introduced. I thought he was a bit one-dimensional and too single-minded in his ambitions, especially when compared to the overarching sinister nature of the Path. I was disappointed that the Mother wasn’t in this story more, and I think using her as the main villain POV would have made more sense. I don’t feel like I learned much about the Path or its long term plan that I didn’t already know. It still feels like there is a lot of story to tell with only one YA book left to go.
Overall, the plot was interesting and exciting with so many gut-wrenching moments. I even shed a tear a few times. The High Republic authors have definitely not shied away from killing off important characters. So, make sure to have the tissues handy if you’re a crier. The story had some head-scratching decisions too, though. For example, why send a message to the prison in the first place if the chancellors didn’t agree to a change in accommodations? Also, what ended up happening with the levelers? They all seemed to magically disappear underground for no particular reason. Maybe there will be some answers to that in the last book. Despite my few qualms with it, I had a great time reading this story, and I’m sure other fans of the High Republic era will too. Therefore, I rate the book 4.5 out of 5 stars.