Colleen’s Book Corner: High Republic: A Test of Courage
Author: Justina Ireland
Published January 2021
Set c. 232 BBY
A Tale Within a Tale
A companion piece to Soule’s Light of the Jedi, Justina Ireland’s book was fated to receive less attention. It’s a junior reader novel, okay for ages 8 and up, so it wasn’t going to get as much fanfare. Which is too bad! The book itself is lovely, with some color illustration page-spreads throughout. It’s not difficult to read at all, but it’s still pretty dark. The themes explored include dealing with loss, the weight of responsibility, surviving inner darkness, and how to work as a team. Also dropped in casually: droid rights and the possible first inventor of the Death Star’s kyber crystal laser technology. I don’t know if younger kids would pick up on that last bit, but I’m now very concerned.
Who Are These Kids?
The four main characters are well-realized and unique, and I enjoyed getting viewpoints from them. The main character is Vernestra Rwoh, a Mirialan Jedi (like Luminara Unduli from Clone Wars) who passed her trials at 15! Now 16, she’s in charge of senator’s daughter Avon Starros, a precocious girl, and they’re on their way to the dedication of Starlight Beacon. The beacon is one of Chancellor Soh’s Great Works: a space station, relay point, and Jedi temple in the Outer Rim. Also aboard the ship heading to Starlight are ambassador’s son Honesty Weft and Jedi Padawan Imri Cantaros, two young men with particular skillsets. I’m very interested in Imri, because his Jedi specialty is enhanced empathy, which is a rare trait among the Jedi. Will he share traits with Jacen Solo or Ezra Bridger? Hard to say, but I’m watching his journey closely.
Pirates Are Still Here
The main villains are two Nihil pirates who sabotage the Steady Wing, the luxury liner our main cast is aboard. While scary enough for a younger reader book, they’re the least of our heroes’ worries. I would have liked to spend a little more time with these two, see some more facets of Nihil life.
Final Thoughts: 8/10
The plot moved along nicely, and I enjoyed the characters. Droid J-6 is worth watching to see how her personality develops, and my favorite easter eggs were name drops for the Nightsisters of Dathomir and the Sith Wars. I wonder how much we’re going to get about those wars...