ans of The High Republic are nothing if not passionate.
This past weekend, readers, creators, and cosplayers alike flooded into the ExCeL Centre in London for Star Wars Celebration where thousands of fans got to witness the reveal of the titles and creative teams for Phase III of the initiative. The new books and familiar faces were met with fervor and generosity by those who have followed the stories of the Jedi, the Nihil, and the Path of the Open Hand for the last few years, and choruses of For Light and Life and Ride the Storm echoed throughout the convention halls.
But then it was time to go home.
Back to work.
Back to school.
Back to life.
But more importantly…back to the story.
Amidst the wonderful chaos Star Wars Celebration, Tessa Gratton’s Star Wars middle grade debut Quest for Planet X was released, and it continues the tradition of truly exceptional adventure stories that have encompassed this faction of The High Republic.
Following directly in the footsteps of George Mann’s Quest for the Hidden Planet, Planet X continues the story of Padawan Rooper Nitani and her friend Dass Leffbruk as they navigate their personal paths toward Knighthood and navigational excellence, respectively, as The Path of the Open Hand continues to spread havoc throughout the galaxy.
As the duo struggle with following their respective callings, they’re caught up in a legendary hyperspace race where they are enlisted by the mischievous Sky Graf in an attempt to elevate the status of both Graf’s infamous family name as well as their personal status within their family’s hierarchy. The result of this most unlikely team-up is a book that continues The High Republic’s middle grade trajectory of thrilling adventure novels, but Gratton also crafts some of the most meaningful character evolutions this medium has seen thus far.
While the ideal and perhaps intended audience for this book sways younger than your typical Star Wars reader, the stakes presented to the young protagonists are no less meaningful than those suffered by protagonist’s of Lydia Kang’s Cataclysm (which we would recommend reading BEFORE Quest for Planet X as to avoid all possible spoilers for the Phase’s main events). Issues of familial obligation and galactic duty are tackled deftly with grace and tact by Gratton through the eyes of each kid.
Though they may be young, these are kids who have seen more than their fair share of the sorrow the galaxy has to offer.
That being said, there is no shortage of fun and frivolity scattered through the pages of this book, and rather than infantilizing the humor in an attempt to satisfy younger readers, Gratton ensures that the comedy remains honest and extraordinarily relatable for anyone who has ever met adolescents in crisis. The jokes land just as solidly as the impeccable action scenes (including a particularly epic moment near the end that necessitated an illustration by the astonishing Petur Antonsson), and the result is a fun, bite-sized adventure that can easily be devoured in a few dedicated sittings thanks to Gratton’s masterful use of pace and tension.
Additionally, Sky Graf represents the largest part seen yet for a non-binary character in Star Wars. Sky’s pronouns are immediately established, never questioned, and the casual acceptance of their identity by all characters, friend or foe, is important on a level that cannot be overstated. The representation of the LGBTQ+ community in Star Wars has grown steadily each year, and there are undoubtedly kids and adults that will see themselves represented through Sky’s journey in a way that they had never experienced before.
Near the end of each Wave and Phase in The High Republic’s story, the question of importance looms large. Do I have to read every book? Will I miss out on main story elements if I skip this one? And although that answer may be different for everyone, here are a few basics to assist a decision that may be influenced by time, finances, interest, and anything else you can imagine.
While readers may be able to follow the main story of The High Republic without the specific additions provided by Quest for Planet X, skipping this book will rob you of some of the most well developed and exciting characters Phase II has to offer. Gratton’s work solidifies the Quest duology as some of the finest technical work that The High Republic has seen thus far, and with the assurance that characters like Rooper and Silandra Sho are set to return in future projects…these are certainly not entries to be missed.
Quest for Planet X is available now wherever books are sold, or on Audible where it is read by Amber Lee Connors.