Thursday, March 25, 2021

#IReadsYou Book Review: STAR WARS: THE HIGH REPUBLIC: A Test of Courage

DISNEY/Lucasfilm Press

[This review was originally posted on Patreon, and visit the "Star Wars Central" review page here.]

AUTHOR: Justina Ireland
ILLUSTRATOR: Petur Antonsson
COVER: Petur Antonsson
ISBN: 978-136805730-1; hardcover-reinforced binding (January 5, 2021)
256pp, B&W, $14.99 U.S., $19.99 CAN

Ages 8-12

Star Wars: The High Republic: A Test of Courage is a 2021 Star Wars novel from author Justina Ireland. Star Wars: The High Republic is an all-new storytelling initiative set in the world of Star Wars that will be targeted at multiple age groups of readers.  A Test of Courage focuses on a new Jedi Knight whose first assignment finds her and a small group of survivors shipwrecked on a strange moon.

Star Wars: The High Republic's saga takes place 200 years prior to the events depicted in the film, Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999), in an all-new time period.  The High Republic is set in an era when both the Galactic Republic and the Jedi Order are at the height of their power, serving and protecting the galaxy.  This is a hopeful and optimistic time, and the Republic and the Jedi are noble and respected.

Star Wars: The High Republic: A Test of Courage introduces Vernestra “Vern” Rwoh, a newly-minted Jedi Knight.  At the age of sixteen, she is one of the youngest ever, and she may be the first Padawan to pass her Jedi trials on her first attempt, as she did at the age of fifteen.  However, her first real mission for the Jedi Council, her first tasking as a Jedi Knight, feels an awful lot like babysitting.

Vernestra is at Port Haileap, where she has been charged with supervising 12-year-old aspiring inventor, Avon Starros.  The powerful Senator Ghirra Starros is also Avon's mother, and she sent her daughter to Haileap, which to Avon feels like a banishment.  Soon, Rwoh, Avon, and J-6 (Avon's droid) will leave Haileap on the “Steady Wing,” a cruiser headed to the dedication of a wondrous new space station called Starlight Beacon.

Soon into their journey, bombs go off aboard the cruiser. While the adult Jedi, Master Douglas, tries to save the ship, Vernestra, Avon, and J-6 join Imri Cantaros, Douglas's 14-year-old Padawan, and Honesty Weft, an ambassador’s son, and make it to a maintenance shuttle.  They escape the Steady Wing, but communications are out and supplies are low in the shuttle. They decide to land on a nearby moon, Wevo, which offers shelter but not much more.  And unbeknownst to Vernestra and company, danger lurks in the forest; the Steady Wing's saboteurs are also on the moon; and the darkness calls to some of them....

THE LOWDOWN:  Star Wars: The High Republic: A Test of Courage is one of the three novels that are part of Star Wars: The High Republic.  I have already read Star Wars: The High Republic: Light of the Jedi, the “adult readers” novel of the three.  As much as I enjoyed Light of the Jedi, I find myself utterly thrilled by Star Wars: The High Republic: A Test of Courage.

The main reason for that is that I think that author Justina Ireland focuses more on character development and on the personalities of the characters.  Ireland uses her characters' thoughts and internal dialogue to reveal their inner turmoil.  For instance, readers know how much his home planet of Dalna and its culture mean to Honesty Weft and how that brings him into conflict with others and especially with himself.  Ireland makes us feel Honesty's grief and guilt, which makes his heroic arc engage the readers.

Ireland makes the readers feel the doubts and struggles of the Jedi, especially in the case of Imri Cantaros, although even the Jedi prodigy, Vernestra, still questions her own methods and the decisions she makes.  Ireland also makes young Avon Starros the kind of curious and inventive explorer of science and tech that could star in her own science fiction series.  I hope to see all these characters again.

I am decades older than A Test of Courage's target age group, but I had a blast reading it.  Once I got into it, I could not stop.  I wish I had Star Wars: The High Republic: A Test of Courage to read when I was a teen reader, but I can enjoy it now.  Author Justina Ireland has written a Star Wars novel that captures all that is the light that draws fans to the many worlds of Star Wars.  I hope to read more High Republic stories written by Ireland.

I READS YOU RECOMMENDS:  Young Star Wars fans will want to read Star Wars: The High Republic: A Test of Courage.

10 out of 10

[This book contains a 12-page preview of the upcoming novel, Star Wars: The High Republic: Race to Crashpoint Tower by Daniel José Older.]

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

The text is copyright © 2021 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.


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