aunching an initiative is hard.
Maintaining momentum is even harder.
Six months ago, Charles Soule’s Light of the Jedi, Justina Ireland’s A Test of Courage, and Claudia Gray’s Into the Dark launched us into the glory of The High Republic. What began as the most ambitious undertaking in the history of Canon storytelling became a New York Times bestselling phenomenon.
Almost instantaneously, the Star Wars community embraced the heroism of Jedi like Avar Kriss and the nefarious brutality of the Nihil, and after the first wave of books washed over us, the story continued in the monthly comic offerings of Marvel’s The High Republic and IDW’s The High Republic Adventures.
But we wanted more...as we always do. So here we are. Wave 2. Book 1.
The pressure to succeed may be even higher than before, and Cavan Scott’s The Rising Storm shoulders the burden of either continuing The High Republic’s success or torpedoing the initiative into the ground.
Now it’s no secret that we at Youtini are huge fans of Cavan the man as well as Cavan the writer, so we have to admit...it feels pretty good when a person you adore writes one of the best Star Wars books to come out in years.
The Rising Storm brilliantly grasps the baton from Light of the Jedi and carries The High Republic into its next chapter through a combination of complex character evolution, blockbuster action sequences, and the darkest turns the era has ever seen.
Part of the immense success of Light of the Jedi was Charles Soule’s decision to establish the era of The High Republic by incorporating a number of different plot lines. This tactic created a vastly entertaining main narrative while simultaneously introducing us to the factions, traditions, and rules of this new world.
With The Rising Storm, Scott continues the tradition of weaving together multiple High Republic plotlines, but for the most part, the action and intrigue surround a singular event: The Republic Fair on Valo.
After the Republic’s uniting effort to push back the Nihil following The Great Disaster, the galaxy as a whole is feeling pretty solid. The Jedi are busy fighting back the Drengir (see The High Republic comic for more on this), the politicians are discussing the need for a defense force, and Chancellor Lina Soh is focused on the Fair, her next great work.
Employing the fair as a touchstone is a brilliant device by Scott, because it allows those of us who have never lived in a galaxy far, far away to immediately grasp a tangible concept. Even if we weren't alive during world fairs of years past, we can still understand the context in which they existed, and a shred of familiarity does a wonderful amount of heavy lifting in accessing this new chapter of The High Republic saga.
Within that familiarity, however, lies an adventure that mixes epic action, psychological trauma, and Cavan’s clear penchant for horror. It’s no spoiler that things at the Republic Fair don’t exactly go to plan, and the way in which the book transitions from a sociopolitical exploration to a spacefaring fantasy epic is nothing short of brilliant.
Make no mistake, the Jedi are heroes, and Storm reminds us every step of the way that they have exactly the skills necessary to save the citizens of the galaxy from whatever threats they may encounter. This focus on the meaning of heroism first featured in Light of the Jedi, and every action set piece in Storm reinforces that notion tenfold.
Nonetheless, The Rising Storm is not merely made up of epic Jedi badassery (though that does play a rather large role). It also features the continued infighting of Marchion Ro’s Nihil forces, the moral dilemmas surrounding love, death, and sacrifice within the Jedi Order, and just how many ways there are to attain power in a time that has the audacity to call itself peaceful.
While vast, epic stories featuring a majority of the characters in the era may threaten to get a bit overburdening as we enter further into the Phases of The High Republic, the overarching story of The Rising Storm creates a wonderfully paced plotline that expands the universe, deepens the protagonists, and leaves you aghast for hours after finishing.
Scott’s mastery of lore within The Rising Storm is exceeded only by his excellent evolution of characters old and new. While The Rising Storm could definitely benefit from a Dramatis Personae like the recent Thrawn Ascendancy trilogy, Scott successfully creates yet another cast worthy of mention and honor in the archives.
Chief among the standout characters of The Rising Storm is Jedi Master Stellan Gios. As he quite literally stands in the center of the main cover art, it is no surprise that a majority of the story revolves around his choices, discoveries, and actions. Despite making little to no appearance in previous High Republic material, Stellan establishes himself as a cornerstone of the Order going forward by absolutely slaying this book.
He emblefies everything we were told the Jedi stood for in the Prequel Era: kindness, compassion, and an unwavering faith in the power of the Light. This devout nature occasionally makes him the butt of a few jokes from characters like Elzar Mann (another bona fide all-star within these pages), but seeing a devout Jedi absent of elitism while still containing flaws and doubts is refreshing to say the least.
Alongside Stellan in his exploits on Valo is the reverse side of his coin, Elzar Mann. Recently made Master and Marshall of Valo, Mann spends The Rising Storm questioning this new mantle of responsibility as well as his place within the crashing ocean of the Force. Mann’s vision from Light of the Jedi’s epilogue continues to plague him, and in an effort to stave off the future he fears, he takes part in some of the most heroic events of the book...and some of the darkest.
Additional highlights include the continued expansion of Bell Zettifar’s role within the Jedi Order (alongside Ember, the goodest girl of all), Marchion Ro’s continued descent in depravity and destruction, and the introduction of fearsome monster hunter, Ty Yorrick.
While the decision to focus on characters less-featured in previous High Republic stories could have backfired with fans too eager to return to their favorites, it instead broadens the scope of the era in a way that introduces a host of new favorites to a community more than excited to meet them.
Not only does Cavan Scott continue The High Republic’s broad strokes of originality present in the first wave, he also integrates a myriad of brand new concepts all his own.
A new planet. A galactic fair. A former Jedi who hunts monsters. There’s practically a new idea on every page.
But The Rising Storm’s obvious care for the entirety of the Star Wars universe allows all of the new elements to shine as part of the larger galaxy If you know anything about Scott’s process, he loves combing through reference books, Legends novels, and any other type of Star Wars media for inspiration, and the threads of past creators are expertly woven into the events on Valo and beyond.
Beyond the main planet, however, lies an additional layer of originality as Scott further broadens the sociopolitical realm of the High Republic era. Galactic relations with the Togrutans are established alongside the political maneuverings of the Senate, and the dark, deceptive past of Marchion Ro even sheds a layer of mystery. All of these building blocks carefully placed throughout the narrative action allow the High Republic to further cement itself as a fully realized era of Star Wars.
While The Rising Storm may not be as technically original as its predecessor (that held the job of creating the entire universe from the bottom up), it echoes a similar structure as Timothy Zahn’s recent Thrawn Ascendancy novels. Chaos Rising lined up the pins, and Greater Good was free to knock them down and continue the game; the same is true of Light and Storm.
Cavan Scott can write one hell of a Star Wars book.
After his monumental success with a number of previous Star Wars projects including the lauded High Republic comic from Marvel, Scott’s transfer to a full length novel in a galaxy far, far away seemed like a no-brainer. After all, he’s previously written hundreds of thousands of words in a number of universes over the years.
However, there’s still something special about the first full Star Wars novel. There’s an added pressure, a different style of creation...and he absolutely crushed it.
Perhaps the most noticeable writing element is the fact that there are seventy-six chapters. As opposed to other authors who prefer longer chapter lengths, Scott decides to separate Storm into a rather large number of relatively bite size chunks, and our team couldn’t appreciate it more.
Because of the shorter nature of the chapters, Scott is able to transfer locations on the fly without sacrificing momentum. And if you’re staying up at night reading, it’s very easy to read just one more chapter...or seven. We won’t judge.
Beyond the technical makeup of the book, however, lies Scott’s mastery of the Star Wars language. This should come as no surprise as the man has been laying the foundation of The High Republic since its inception and continues to voice many of the characters found within Storm in the monthly Marvel comic, but it remains astoundingly impressive nonetheless.
With such a sprawling cast of characters, many authors might fall into the trap of writing indistinguishable character voices, but Scott avoids such pitfalls by maintaining unique, recognizable traits throughout each character’s journey. Favorites from Light of the Jedi and other High Republic entries feel as warm and welcoming as putting on an old sweater, but that sweater may fit just a bit differently after the trauma through which Scott puts them.
Which leads to one final writing accolade of The Rising Storm...Cavan Scott is not one to pull a punch. The potential fallout from the events of this novel are massive, and although the broad strokes were likely influenced by the full Luminous team, Scott’s willingness to put beloved characters through the proverbial meat grinder is simultaneously admirable and terrifying.
If you weren’t sure about Scott’s eternal love for the horror genre, The Rising Storm should assuage any doubts.
While fans have been vocal fanatics of Scott’s Star Wars comics since his first panel, Storm ensures that their praises will only grow after experiencing his work in this new medium.
WHAT. A. RIDE.
For a book that begins with an easy pace of building character relationships and introducing new settings and circumstances, The Rising Storm quickly transitions to delivering one of the most immensely energetic and kinetic Star Wars books we’ve seen in quite a while.
Even if Scott’s writing style wasn’t as geared toward continuous reading by nature of the abbreviated chapter lengths, Storm would still check all the boxes of a literal page-turner.
The events are grandiose. The heroes are glorious. The villains are diabolical. The consequences are dire. And like Light of the Jedi before it, there is a moment of such immense epicness that I cheered in an empty apartment sitting in an armchair.
If you know you know, and please let’s talk about it.
Now there is absolutely value in diving into the psychological depths of characters from time to time, and Star Wars does that better than most. But there is also an undeniable thrill in basking in the sheer entertainment value this galaxy can produce.
This is a universe full of good and evil, magic and wonder, and SPACESHIPS, and The Rising Storm uses every single weapon in the considerable Star Wars arsenal to propel the reader into devouring each moment until the remarkably powerful ending.
Multiple team members voiced the unintentionally late nights that occurred while soaking up the latter moments of The Rising Storm, and whenever a new Star Wars book can make you look at your morning alarm with disgust, you know you’ve got a hit.
At the time of this review, The Rising Storm is clocking in with one of the highest entertainment ratings in the history of Youtini. It deserves every single point.
The start of a new relationship is always exciting. You learn new routines. New quirks. What’s their favorite food? How do they take their coffee? Do they understand the complexities of a universal Force as an ocean or a song?
You know. The usual things.
And that’s exactly what we found with Light of the Jedi. Charles Soule began this new relationship between The High Republic and the community at large with New York Times bestselling success, and the pressure couldn’t have been higher for Cavan Scott to let that relationship blossom with The Rising Storm.
And blossom it did. This relationship is strong. The High Republic is here to stay.