Star Wars: The High Republic – The Rising Storm Continues a Great Story (Book Review)

The second wave of The High Republic kicks off with Cavan Scott’s The Rising Storm, and keeps the good times rolling.

If you hadn’t noticed, we here on Cinelinx (well, at least Steve and I) are somewhat enamored with The High Republic. The first wave of books opened the door to an incredible starting point for new stories, characters, and ideas about the galaxy far, far away. As such, my anticipation for the second wave—all part of a larger Phase 1—has been at an all time high.

The Rising Storm
Written By: Cavan Scott
Release Date: June 29, 2021
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Light of the Jedi definitely stood out in the first wave of novels and is one of my favorite Star Wars novels, period. So you can imagine The Rising Storm had a great deal of hype to live up to. Thankfully Cavan Scott was more than up to the task and delivered a follow-up novel that expands on the characters we fell in love with, while giving a thrilling new adventure.

I will be avoiding spoilers in this review (don’t worry, I’ve got a big ‘ol spoiler breakdown coming later) so you’ll be safe to read on.

Moving Forward

Rising Storm takes place roughly a year or so after the main events of Light of the Jedi (and the first wave in general). The emergences from the Hyperspace Disaster have ceased and many in the Republic feel the Nihil threat has mostly been dealt with. While the monstrous creatures known as the Drengir (mostly being dealt with in the comics) are still threats to be reckoned with, they’re largely contained to the Outer Rim territories.

Eager to put the problems behind and unite all the worlds together, Chancellor Lina Soh is moving forward with the next of her Great Works: the Republic Fair. It’s part an effort to show the strength of the Republic and their ability to stay strong no matter what, while also serving as an opportunity to woo new allies into the fold.

It’s an opportunity to remind the galaxy their faith in the Republic isn’t mistaken. Of course, the Jedi have been tasked with ensuring the safety at the Fair, which is taking place on the backwater world of Valo.

The Republic Fair presents an opportunity for the Nihil as well, who’ve been consolidating their power under the guidance of Marchion Ro. His plan to utterly destroy the Jedi (for reasons we still don’t know), sees him venture out to an ancient place for his people to acquire a weapon to help bring his goals to fruition.

Meanwhile, Tempest Runners Lourna Dee, Pan Eyta, and Zeetar (who was recently elevated after Kassav was sacrificed to the Republic in the previous novel) are chafing under Ro’s rule. Having been used to doing whatever they wanted, the sudden change in hierarchy feels like the opposite of what the Nihil has always stood for. They’re ready for action and tired of Marchion’s constant planning.

Turns out, Marchion Ro is ready to give his Tempests exactly what they want, while also striking what could be a crippling blow to the Republic. An all out assault on the Republic Fair would not only sate the bloodlust of the Nihil, but would send an undeniable message that no one is safe and the Jedi cannot protect them.

As Jedi from across the galaxy work together to make the Fair as safe as possible, nothing can prepare them for the new threats they face and the true fury of the Nihil unleashed. As they endeavor to protect lives, the Jedi will ultimately have to confront the reality of dealing with the Nihil in a way that doesn’t violate their adherence to the Force.

Again, I’m sticking away from spoilers in this review, so that’s about as much story detail as I’m willing to get into. Suffice it to say, the Republic Fair doesn’t go exactly as planned and leads to a whole lot of amazing action, character moments, and a chilling look at what the future holds.

Strength of Characters

It’s a slower burn kind of story, especially in comparison with the breakneck pacing of Light of the Jedi. That’s not a bad thing, however, and the overall story feels a bit tighter in it’s character focus which gave me the chance to get invested in these characters on an even deeper level. Light of the Jedi threw a bunch of new people at us at once (and still managed to make them all seem awesome/likable), but Rising Storm allows us the opportunity to really get to know them, learn a bit more of their motivations and past, as the story weaves itself along.

In many ways, it’s the focus on the characters that feels like Rising Storm‘s greatest asset. Though it doesn’t feature quite the same large cast as the previous novel, there are quite a few characters to keep up with. Elzar Mann and Stellan Gios mostly serve as the primary characters, though we get plenty of time with Padawan Bell Zettifar and his amazing charhound, Ember.

On top of them, we are also introduced to a brand new character, Ty Yorrick. This is someone I’ve been waiting to show up in a story since first seeing her on the cover of The Rising Storm, and learning about her upcoming comic series/graphic novel (Monster of Temple Peak). She’s a “saber for hire” who mostly deals in tracking down/handling monsters, but she takes on all sorts of mercenary work when necessary.

It’s one such job that finds her in the midst of trouble on Valo during the Republic Fair. She’s not exactly a Jedi, but it’s clear she has a history with the Order and isn’t eager to be along on any adventures with them. Like it or not, however, she’s thrust into the action and turned out to be one of the highlights of the book.

I was thrilled to see this novel continue in the same way as the other books, in that plenty of time is given to the villains of the story as well. We get to see quite a bit more of Marchion Ro’s plans come into play. While we still don’t know EVERYTHING and there are still some mysteries to uncover, it’s nice to be given more information that helps piece the bigger story together. That and these villains are just damn cool and as fun to read about as the Jedi.

As has been the case with most of The High Republic so far, the strength of The Rising Storm is in the characters. I think what impressed me most upon picking this up is how much it felt like meeting up with old friends. Considering the series started just this year, it’s crazy how attached I’ve already become to them all, almost as much as I look forward to keeping up with characters from the films.

Impressive Action

While the story itself is a slower burn, when the action comes into play it’s ridiculously good. Cavan Scott does an incredible job of painting a picture of the action taking place and cementing in your mind all the elements coming into play.

The attack on Valo is a massive battle on multiple fronts that consist of a bunch of characters. Even as the novel jumps around between all these aspects, you’re never left confused and are able to follow everything easily. Even better, it doesn’t rely on over-complicated exposition to make this happen. This makes the read quick and easy, pulling you along through the battles at a breakneck pace.

I loved it. It felt like I was reading the same type of massive Star Wars action we’re used to seeing on the big screen. It’s an impressive feat, and the amount of character/story work put into the novel early on gives the action a sense of genuine threat and menace that kept me emotionally invested in the outcomes. There’s a substance behind everything that takes the action to another level.

The Rising Storm manages to take an impressive start to a new era and keep the good times rolling. Not only does it work as a standalone story (though I do highly encourage you to check out the other books in this wave), but it moves the larger story being told in some interesting ways.

Ultimately, I closed the book eager for more and anxious to see where things go from here. Perhaps even more so than when I finished Light of the Jedi. Definitely don’t miss out on this novel.

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Editor-in-Chief: Writer and cartoonist who went to college for post-production, he now applies his love of drawing, movie analysis, filmmaking, video games, and martial arts into writing.