Book Review – Path of Vengeance

Hello, everyone! Today I’m reviewing Path of Vengeance by Cavan Scott, which is the final book in phase two of Star Wars: The High Republic. I’m a huge fan of this series and have been wanting to get to this book since it first came out back in May. If you haven’t yet, be sure to check out my thoughts on the first book, Path of Deceit, as well.

This enthralling follow up to Path of Deceit finds cousins Marda and Yana Ro bound by blood but driven apart by faith.

Marda and Yana belong to the Path of the Open Hand, a group led by a charismatic woman called the Mother, which believes the Force must not be used by anyone. While Marda joins a perilous expedition to Planet X in search of more mysterious creatures to use against the Jedi, Yana finds herself forming an unexpected alliance with the father of her dead lover in attempt to wrest the Path from the Mother’s control. These two young women will face a crossroads, forced to choose not only their own fates, but that of the galaxy itself.

I have been loving all of the media for The High Republic, and Path of Vengeance was no exception. This book worked great as both the conclusion of the YA duology and the second phase as a whole. It had great characters, tense pacing, and breath-taking locales. The story had some seriously heavy lifting to do to wrap up all the major plot points in a satisfying way, and it accomplished that task while also leaving me wanting more.

I’m a huge fan of Scott’s work. His phase one book was one of my favorites, and I always enjoy his comics, as well. So, I was certain I’d love Path of Vengeance, too, especially since it brought the focus back on the Path of the Open Hand. As predicted, this story was brought to life beautifully by Scott’s vivid prose and his ability to use characters to create an experience of immense emotional depth. If I’ve learned anything from reading the books of The High Republic, it is that no one is too important to die. Scott utilized the tension in this book well and kept me hooked even though I already knew how the overall conflict would end.

The highlight of Path of Vengeance for me was the characters. I liked Marda and Yana in Path of Deceit, and they were excellent avatars for exploring different reactions to participation in a cult. Whereas Marda got totally drunk on the Kool-Aid, Yana was largely using the group as a means to her own ends. The gap between them widens significantly in this story because of Marda’s intense radicalization. Also, the use of the “ghosts” to illustrate the darker parts of their psyches was an excellent decision, and it made me so sad remembering poor Kevmo. The new Jedi, Matty, was also a great addition, and it’s always fun to have comic characters cross over to the books.

The world-building in Path of Vengeance was also really good. Planet X was such a fascinating place to visit, and the descriptions left me wanting to know even more about the planet. It’s just such an odd place, and I wonder how the ecosystem evolved to spawn creatures like the Leveler. The book also spent some time on Jedha, which provided a little more background on the convocation and the Jedi’s role there. Dalna was also a prime location, and the story filled in quite a few of the gaps about what the Path of the Open Hand was up to there before and during the final battle.

My main complaint about Path of Vengeance has less to do with the book and more to do with the overall storytelling of this phase. So many of the stories in phase two directly overlap and center the same events from different perspectives. I’m not really a huge fan of that style. It left Cataclysm feeling like parts were missing and made this book feel like a catch all afterthought at times. This story once again covered the battles of Jedha and Dalna, and I just found myself annoyed at rehashing things while also being happy to finally have the full story. I just prefer to have connected stories that don’t overlap the same events so much.

Perhaps my biggest letdown in Path of Vengeance was the Mother. The reveal of her motivation was honestly so dumb. She went through all that trouble co-opting an entire cult for that reason. Seriously. I guess it does reinforce how ridiculously selfish she was, but I really thought she’d have a more profound reason than what was given.

Overall, Path of Vengeance was a solid conclusion to phase two of The High Republic. It did a great job of filling in the gaps and bringing the major character beats to an emotionally satisfying resolution. It left me wondering how the Path morphed into the Nihil, though, but I hope more of those gaps will be resolved by the storytelling of phase three. I rate this book 4.25 out of 5 stars.

Have you read Path of Vengeance? If so, let me know your thoughts down in the comments!

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