We continue the journeys of Jedi Padawan Bell Zettifar, Ember the charhound, Bell’s new master, Indeera Stokes, and the leadership of the Nihil, including Marchion Ro and Lourna Dee. Cavan Scott adds rich details to Jedi Elzar Mann, Jedi Master Stellan Gios, and brings OrbaLin, a Jedi Archivist from The High Republic comic, to a place of prominence. Overall, this book is a fun and engaging entry in The High Republic.
I both read and listened to this book, at least for the first half. As expected, Marc Thompson did an amazing job with his narration, distinct character voices, reading speed, and intonation. The production value, as always, was excellent.
The only reason I stopped listening to the audio for the second half was that my reading was outpacing the narration, despite having it set at 1.75x speed. I am certain I will go back and listen to the book again in its entirety and at a more leisurely pace, as I have with several other Star Wars titles.
The Rising Storm is evenly split between the lead up to the Republic Fair on Valo, and the events of the fair itself. The book starts somewhat slowly with the clear foreshadowing of doom in the prologue, builds to a breathtaking speed by the halfway mark, and comes to a crushing end that evokes that of The Empire Strikes Back.
Thematically, one of the most enjoyable parts of The High Republic has been how the Jedi treat each other, their connection with the Force, and themselves. I have spoken at length about how Jedi are treated and behave, culminating in the Fall of the Jedi era.
Cavan Scott continues the great work of Claudia Gray and Justina Ireland in their wave one books, Into the Dark and A Test of Courage, respectively, in showing the compassion these Jedi have for each other, their fellow Republic citizens, and for themselves. These Jedi understand and embrace having emotional responses but are also very clear that they do their best to find balance. Bell, in particular, struggles with balance in The Rising Storm, as is shown in this conversation between him and Indeera about his lost master, Loden Greystorm:
“‘He would also remind you how a Jedi faces the death of those they love,’ she continued, and Bell’s smile immediately dropped away. ‘Because Jedi can love, Bell. We’re not droids, nor should we ever be. We are creatures rich in the Force, with everything it brings. Joy, affection, and yes, grief. Experiencing such emotions is part of life. It is light” (Scott, 2021, p. 20).
Bell is self-aware, embracing the fact that he will always be learning and working to find and keep that balance. I was particularly struck by the fact that emotions are continually acknowledged by both Master and Padawan, and later in the book by another Jedi and a Master.
These expressions of feeling are met with understanding, compassion, and hope for better and more balanced Jedi in the future. Additionally, these Jedi consistently make mistakes and work to get better and be better, together, unified for the greatest good. No one is infallible and also, no one is unredeemable.
The message of the Jedi being full of compassion is huge, and Cavan Scott makes great use of the theme throughout the book.
The Nihil were somewhat of a surprise in this book. Not in their appearance or activities, but in their relationships. There is so much conflict among them, when they seemed to have a very unified group in Light of the Jedi. I found this somewhat disappointing, however it did propel both the narrative and Marchion Ro’s journey forward in a major way.
I am very interested to listen to Cavan Scott’s upcoming audio drama, Tempest Runner, about Lourna Dee. I am curious as to her path forward in the narrative, and I think it will be a fantastic story.
All in all, The Rising Storm is an excellent book, and one that I highly recommend. I cannot wait to read Justina Ireland’s young adult entry to The High Republic era, Out of the Shadows, which releases at the end of July, to see where we go next in The High Republic.
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