Star Wars is a love story. From Anakin and Padmé in the shadows of the Senate to Han and Leia under the jubilant skies of Endor, the saga has always paired the victories and losses of Galactic war alongside the highs and lows of passionate romance.
Fans of The High Republic era have been treated to a number of memorable romances in novels and comics over the last year, but those plots have generally taken a backseat to the overall conflict between the Jedi and their vicious enemies.
Enter Zoraida Córdova.
A seasoned romance author with a previously praised entry in a galaxy far, far away (Galaxy’s Edge:A Crash of Fate), the stage was set for Córdova to introduce an era-defining love story within the main adult novel in the first wave of the second phase. And while Convergence certainly succeeds in presenting one of the most unique yet satisfying love stories the High Republic has ever seen, it also presents readers with a story of the politics of war, the loyalty of legacy, and the true cost of lasting peace.
Convergence brings High Republic fans back to the fabled worlds of Eiram and E’ronoh. First introduced in flashbacks during Claudia Gray’s Into the Dark, these sister worlds have been thrust into a “Forever War” for generations. The citizens of the desert planet of E’ronoh have despised their brethren surrounded by the oceans of Eiram for years, and the two civilizations can’t agree on anything – not even the name of the moon nestled between their planets.
Their only common ground is their mutual dedication to the other’s destruction.
The Monarch and Queen of each world are advised by their respective councils, but the real hope for each world lies in their heirs: Xiri A’lbaran of E’ronoh and Phan-tu of Eiram. When the Chancellors of the Republic send an envoy of Jedi to call the two planets together for a peace summit, the two heirs discover a path forward for both of their worlds to live in harmony and prosperity, but a handful of zealots and a familiar adversary would rather see both worlds burn. Add in a roguish prince from Coruscant with a secret mission of his own, and therein lies the intriguing tale of the High Republic’s latest novel.
On the surface, the plot of Convergence is fairly straightforward. War, Jedi, and romance are nothing new to Star Wars readers, but Córdova sets Convergence apart by using each segment of the book to influence the others. The politics are intertwined within the love story, and the magic of the romance affects the political map in equal measure. By combining these tones amidst the unfiltered brutality of a warscape, Córdova creates a backdrop that is almost more similar in tone and feel to a world defining novel like Dune than that of a classic Star Wars space opera.
That is not to say that this book isn’t wholly Star Wars. Much to the contrary, this book is Star Wars through and through, but it reinforces the idea that Phase II of The High Republic isn’t solely driven by the Jedi. At this point in the Galactic timeline, the Jedi are undoubtedly present, but rather than the primary leaders of conflict and resolution, they observe and oftentimes intrude on interplanetary conflicts. Witnessing the Jedi Knight at the center of this whole story, Gella Nattai, deal with this particular role is fascinating throughout – especially when her purpose as a Jedi is so fundamentally questioned by her rakish foil, Axel Greylark.
While Axel’s many contributions will be detailed later on, the political and romantic tension between Greylark and Nattai is another tantalizing driving force within the book. Through the nature of their forced alliance and burgeoning “relationship,” Gella has to come to terms with the place Jedi have come to occupy in the citizens of the galaxy, and with every new interaction with Axel, the heirs, and the citizens of their respective worlds, her role as a future Force user becomes clearer and clearer.
The revelations and consequences of Convergence’s plot may not be the most surprising in the history of Star Wars, but simplicity and clarity is rarely a bad thing. By exploring complexity within the character relationships alongside unflinchingly realistic depictions of wartime sacrifices, Zoraida Córdova crafts a narrative that places the importance of love and connection right alongside that of duty and loyalty to one’s cause and one’s people to create a story unlike any we’ve seen in The High Republic thus far.
What. A. Cast.
Phase I of The High Republic shined so brilliantly largely due to the memorable nature of the characters it introduced. Characters like Bell Zettifar, Avar Kriss, and Marchion Ro wowed readers with their instantaneous magnetism - so much so that Youtini even featured a “March Madness”-esque bracket challenge to determine our community’s favorite! (congrats Bell).
Phase II has begun introducing another stable roster of future stars, but Córdova’s squad within the pages of Convergence easily introduces the best we’ve seen thus far. Led by the most charismatic quartet imaginable, the characters of Convergence spend the book’s journey forging individual paths that occasionally intersect in service of their own destinies.
Can Gella be a Jedi when the Order has brought pain to those she cares about?
Can Xiri make a sacrifice for peace even though it may betray the ideals she has held for her whole life?
Can Phan-tu ascend to his rightful place as leader despite his humble beginnings?
Can Axel possibly look outside himself long enough to let anyone else in?
Surrounded by the vast political and societal consequences the Forever War presents, these characters navigate these questions amongst so many others to become the best versions of themselves they can possibly be…at least in most cases.
Different readers will undoubtedly find themselves attached to different members of the main adventuring party, and that’s because Zoraida Córdova has succeeded in the Herculean effort of properly serving every member of her ensemble. The reader’s eye consistently transfers between the various protagonists, but there is never a lull in tempo or enjoyment during these shifts.
Within the same book, you can witness Xiri accept her role as a leader of her people and a fearsome defender of the skies of E’ronoh, but you can also witness her effort to accept a future with a man she hardly knows. Phan-tu’s modesty and fear of his own abilities falls away as he steps into his role as protector of his friends and an equal partner for a woman he could not think to love.
And Axel and Gella…while you may think you’ve seen this story before, it plays out quite differently than past stories would suggest.
Much of the Star Wars Canon is marked by stories focused on character trajectories over complicated plots, and Convergence carries that flag forward to the ending of the first Wave of the second Phase (that never stops being just a bit confusing). Although some of the motivations found within their respective journeys are a bit weaker than others, the main crew creates a sturdy foundation on which the rest of the book is built.
That foundation, however, would surely crumble without the fascinating side characters to properly fill it in. While the numerous names that litter the pages are far too many to adequately list, it is enough to know that the citizens of Eiram, E’ronoh, and the galaxy at large create a community that is interesting, purposeful, and will surely be a treat the next time their names appear in a High Republic project.
And yes, we mean you, Chancellor Greylark.
One of the most wonderful things about Star Wars literature is the potential for expansive worldbuilding. Every new planet, species, and Force ability shoot a little tingle down the spine and remind you of the first time you saw the snowy fields of Hoth flash across the screen.
However, the ability to harness that magic in a way the evokes a sense of wonder and purpose within the proper narrative arc is extremely difficult, and yet that is exactly what Convergence presents with the presentation of Eiram and E’ronoh. While these two worlds were discussed briefly as mentioned before, Convergence gives them a chance to breathe their history into the pages.
Introducing the political history of an interplanetary conflict generations in the making could very well be the work of an arduous historian more interested in dusky tomes than vibrant storytelling, but Zoraida Córdova is no such author. Instead of shoving the geography, culture, and climate of her worlds within the first three chapters, the history of these civilizations act as another character alongside the main ensemble as they explore the territories in full.
The people of these planets do not have conversations in the guise of inorganic exposition machines. Instead, the details of the planets and the battles feature as naturally in the flow of conversation as Old Ben’s mention of The Clone Wars back in 1977. Eiram and E’ronoh are not simply planets, they are homes. Their citizens are fighting not for dust and water but for history and belonging, and it is through their inability to discover their vast similarities that their struggles begin and end.
As we learn more and more about this war through the lives of both sides, it becomes evident that Córdova is using Gella and the Jedi as the eye of the reader to understand what’s truly at stake. Rather than the Jedi being called in on one side or the other, as is more common in Star Wars literature of the past, the Order continuously acts as an impartial observer, and through that construct, we are able to witness these planets through the most objective lens imaginable.
Finally, Convergence does a wonderful job further expanding the emerging villains of the Phase with the Path of the Open Hand. While readers will undoubtedly have a better understanding of the group’s members and philosophy if Path of Deceit was read previously, the handling of the Path’s motives and actions in this book are clear and concise enough to paint an accurate picture of the organization without prior knowledge. Their methods are devious, their power is evident, and although they may not be as loud as their future descendants in Phase I, Convergence leaves no doubt that their presence is one to be considerably feared.
Mastering the tone of a wartime romance is a task not easily accomplished, but Córdova handles this challenge with style and grace throughout the pages of Convergence. What could have been a slog through exposition and forced plot direction instead reveals itself as a naturally flowing story between intriguing characters on fascinating new worlds.
Córdova’s prose maintains a simple, effective style readers may remember and love from her previous work on A Crash of Fate, and as the story progresses, moments of reflection and reverence (particularly through the lens of Xiri’s experience) often require the reader to take a moment and bask in its wonder.
The book is also filled with a number of memorable refrains that create a sort of linguistic history to pair with that of the competing words. Although these phrases and descriptors are unique to Convergence’s storyline, the familiarity that Córdova brings to ideas like being born of thylefire or titles like The Prince of Coruscant make them feel as though they’ve existed in the Star Wars Canon for years.
Most authors both in and outside of a galaxy far, far away often set their talents within the realm of the intimate or the epic. Some books thrive around the firelight during conversations of inner turmoil while others come alive through the blood and glory of the battlefield. While Convergence may not present a body count as high as its High Republic contemporaries, Córdova’s writing excels in both of these arenas quite effortlessly.
Simply put, Zoraida Córdova crafts a story that is profound in ideology without sacrificing the enjoyment or momentum of the action, and while this may only be her second full length novel in the Star Wars galaxy, it surely must not be her last.
There is a somewhat indescribable joy in watching those close to you fall in love. The tepid nature of the first meeting. The bumps and stumbles along the way. The reconciliations, the heartbreaks, the triumphs, and the eventual acceptance that you have indeed found your person, and they are going to stick with you no matter what.
While all of the relationships in Convergence don’t end quite as neatly as that, Córdova harnesses the excitement of the growth of a loving bond to the fullest extent as the story goes on. Not only do we witness burgeoning romance between some of the main players in the cast, but we also get to witness the attempted reconciliation of the love lost between Eiram and E’ronoh, as well as between the Jedi and the galaxy at large.
All of these ebbs and flows create an environment throughout Convergence that is consistently volatile and makes for incredibly entertaining scenes of revelation and accusation that provide some of the most electric moments the initiative has seen thus far.
However. There are also space battles.
While Convergence isn’t as action-packed as other titles and the beginning of the novel may start a bit slow for some readers, the sporadic scenes of violence are written exquisitely by Córdova. A healthy mixture of battle in the sky and in the sands create an ever changing battlefield that keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout each conflict, and the intentional focus on the strength of each army and warrior during each battle adds a supremely cinematic quality to the exchange.
At its finale, without spoiling too many details, Convergence supplies one of the most thrilling (and thematically relevant) battles The High Republic has ever seen. Each character is allowed their moment to shine when the stakes are at their highest, and the heart pounding conclusion of each thread Córdova has painstakingly woven throughout the book is immensely satisfying.
Whether you’re compelled by witnessing the birth of a new relationship or by the heat of a lightsaber’s blade as it knocks back a blaster bolt, there’s more than enough entertainment value in Convergence’s pages to keep the chapters flying by.
War is fought for so many reasons, but they all find their basis in love. Love of country. Love of power. Love of people. These forces could not be more opposed in their ideals, and yet they often find themselves interlinked so tightly that it is sometimes impossible to see where one ends and one begins.
Convergence presents a story of the power of love overcoming the overwhelming sensation of war, and in doing so, Zoraida Córdova introduces a wealth of exciting new characters into the world of The High Republic while expanding its mythology even further to continue the initiative that readers have loved ever since it began almost two years ago. Whether it’s the unyielding spirit of Xiri, the unfaltering compassion of Phan-tu, the incurable curiosity of Gella, or the unconquerable mischievousness of Axel, there is something in this book for every single reader to latch onto, and we can’t wait to see where they go next.
Convergence is available now wherever books are sold as well as in audiobook form on Audible where it is narrated by fan favorite Marc Thompson.