By Klaudia Amenábar
It’s an amazing time to be a Star Wars fan – we went from barely any content for decades to a new show every few months, and books and comics churned out constantly. But from the most deep cut to the newest fan, it’s now become overwhelming. Some people aren’t interested in the current projects coming out and want something new. Some want better representation from Star Wars. Some just want to go deeper before the next show comes out, and some have fallen out of love with Star Wars after the poorly planned sequel era didn’t live up to expectations. I have great news – you ALL will love the High Republic.
The High Republic (or Project Luminous as it was codenamed in its development), is Lucasfilm’s expansion of the period a few hundred years before the films we know and love. It is meant to answer a very important question: what were the legendary Jedi like in their golden age? How did they, and the Republic, get to the mess we see in the prequels (and then beyond)? How did the rest of the galaxy feel about them?
The High Republic, as of right now, only includes books and comics, (and one story in a VR game), but will also include a video game, the Acolyte Disney+ show, and more. Unfortunately, this lack of on-screen content has meant many people haven’t heard of it. I could go on about how the lack of access to books and comics only compounds this issue, but let’s get straight to the point: the High Republic contains the best storytelling Star Wars has put out in a long time. It’s meticulously planned, thoughtful space opera, that holds its own for even the most traditional fantasy and sci-fi readers, whether they are fans of the old Legends content or not. It’s not just an advertisement for the rest of Star Wars, but a refreshing change from endless tie-in media, the Skywalker Saga, and the lack of planning of the sequel era, while still maintaining the magic and ideals that make a story Star Wars. And now is the perfect time to dive in! Phase I is finished and Phase II has just begun!
So have I piqued your interest yet? Or does it still sound daunting? Well, have no fear: your High Republic reading guide is here.
First, let me get some quick questions out of the way:
- Is this canon? Yes! This is new content created by Disney to specifically fit with the canon. If you look closely you’ll see many connections with BOTH canon and Legends.
- Does this negate the Legends I know and love (like the Old Republic)? No! It actually brings a lot of it into canon! The Old Republic still occurs thousands of years in the past, and fits quite well. Frankly, they should have pitched this to Old Republic fans more!
- What are all these phases and waves I’ve heard about? THR launched Phase I at the beginning of 2021. Just like the movies’ three trilogy eras, THR is being told in three phases. (The waves are like each movie in the trilogy with a major event the books/comics surround).
- Phase I: Light of the Jedi (200 years before the Phantom Menace)
- Phase II: Quest of the Jedi (150 years before Phase I)
- Phase III: Trials of the Jedi (TBA)
- Do I have to read all of it to understand it? This is one of the biggest questions I often hear. And my answer for THR is different than most Star Wars books — yes. Most SW books/comics tie in to other stories, especially movies and shows, and can live on their own. THR is building this era as a patchwork quilt of stories from the ground up, not just to supplement a “main” storyline. Some might say the adult novels are like the “movies,” but characters in them originate in the YA books or the comics, and storylines intersect, so it’s not the same. THR is not like the rest of Star Wars, and truly operates more like a traditional book or comic series. The problem is that it is across several series (and publishers), and accessibility is not great. But I can’t stress enough how much people shouldn’t skip the YA and middle grade novels, and the comics. Not only will you miss out on some of the best characters, but you’ll definitely feel like you’re missing some pieces of the puzzle
- Note: The only thing you can probably skip are the “young reader” books, which are picture books retelling the adult novels for kids. But….they are very cute and you get to see some characters who have not been illustrated before!
- Also, they released short stories for each phase in the Star Wars Insider magazine. If you have access to issues through your library, it’s a great way to read them, otherwise you can read the Phase I stories compiled in Starlight Stories.
- How can I read this much without breaking my wallet? For the books, I can’t recommend the Libby library app enough (and/or Hoopla if your library uses it, it has a good comics selection). For comics, Comixology or Kindle Unlimited depending on your location will probably be your best bet, because the High Republic spans several comics publishers as well. (For Phase I: Marvel, IDW, and Viz, for Phase II: Marvel, Dark Horse, and Viz). Also, I cannot recommend the audiobooks enough – most audiobooks are just narration, but Star Wars audiobooks are always a FULL cinematic experience with music, effects, and more. And of course, your local comic book shop should become your best friend for this, too!
Ok, library propaganda done, your favorite local comic book shop or digital comics publisher handy, a fun little phone game to play if you’re listening to the audiobooks, and the Wookieepedia High Republic release list bookmarked, we’re ready to go. This is all in relative chronological order, since many comics and books sometimes occur at the same time, and ordered by what makes the most sense narratively. For the comics, I’ve linked to their Wookieepedia pages so you can keep track of the issues and how they are collected into trade paperbacks.
PHASE I: LIGHT OF THE JEDI
1. Light of the Jedi by Charles Soule
This adult novel is the intro to it all! There’s a lot to learn about this era, and many characters to meet, but you’ll feel the magic straight away and remember why you love Star Wars. Some people consider this one of their favorite Star Wars books of all time. I love it because it introduced me to my bestie and icon, Bell Zettifar. This one especially works well as an audiobook because I think it has more of a script feel for an epic film, and it’ll help you not sweat learning so many new characters’ names.
2. Into the Dark by Claudia Gray
This YA novel begins slightly before LOTJ and then takes place concurrently. (You’ll start to notice lots of things in THR occurring concurrently). Bookworm and Jedi padawan Reath Silas is reluctantly sent to the frontier because his master took a post on the new frontier station, Starlight Beacon. On the way he meets a Jedi scholar he admires, Cohmac Vitus, the mysterious Jedi Wayseeker, Orla Jareni, and the crew of the Vessel: our first of TWO canonically asexual High Republic characters, Leox Gyasi, a hippie who talks like Matthew McConaughey; a literal sentient rock named Geode; and Affie Hollow, the savvy teen co-pilot with a sad past.
3. A Test of Courage by Justina Ireland
This middle grade novel gets…pretty dark for a middle grade novel. It’s also one of my favorites in THR, and absolutely not to be slept on, especially if you like Star Wars comics (and because of its connections to Phase II on Dalna). Here we’re introduced to the SECOND canonical High Republic asexual character, Vernestra Rwoh, a teen Jedi prodigy (with a cool secret lightsaber whip!), on her first mission as a Jedi Knight. She is sent to escort the young scientific genius Avon Starros, ancestor of current Star Wars comics favorite Sana Starros, and daughter of an important Republic Senator. She must team up with padawan Imri Cantaros and the Dalnan ambassador’s son, Honesty Weft, as they pick up the pieces of their lives after disaster strikes.
4. The High Republic (2021) Issues #1-7, written by Cavan Scott
This is the main Marvel High Republic comics run, and runs parallel to the books with stories that intersect. It focuses mainly on Jedi Knight Keeve Trennis, her former master Sskeer, and Jedi Master Avar Kriss as they battle the monstrous Drengir, while the rest of the galaxy deals with the Nihil pirates. Reading this is great because you get to see what all the people mentioned in LOTJ look like!
5. The High Republic Adventures (2021) Issues #1-5, written by Daniel José Older
This is the second running THR comic series, but published by IDW for Phase I. It follows the Jedi padawans of the Starhopper being mentored by Master Yoda and Master Torban Buck: Lula Talisola, Farzala Tarabal, and Qort. On a mission to a planet with a cult that doesn’t like Force users, they meet a secretly Force sensitive girl named Zeen Mrala and her best friend Krix Kamerat, whose choices, once her secret is revealed, take them onto separate paths. It’s also where we eventually meet Kantam Sy, my personal favorite Jedi, and one of the first human non-binary characters in Star Wars! It connects very closely to Midnight Horizon, a later YA novel I consider to be my favorite.
- The High Republic Adventures: Monster of Temple Peak, written by Cavan Scott
This IDW comic mini series tells the backstory of Ty Yorrick, monster hunter and former Jedi. She’s one of my favorite Star Wars characters, and her introduction gives a lot of detail to what it’s like to be a Jedi in this era.
2. The Rising Storm by Cavan Scott
If you’ve gotten this far, you’ve realized the High Republic is a nonstop train of crazy. These Jedi are TIRED. Well it’s about to get a lot worse for them. Also Elzar Mann…..very sexy. And Ty is here!
3. Race to Crashpoint Tower by Daniel José Older
This is the middle grade novel of this wave, and occurs concurrently with the Rising Storm, showing the attack on the Republic Fair from the point of view of Ram Jomaram, a provincial Jedi padawan who gets wrapped up in all this mess. Ram is canonically SO cool that he invented the phrase “that’s so wizard” in universe, which is used for hundreds of years after (like in the Phantom Menace).
4. The High Republic Adventures Free Comic Book Day 2021, written by Daniel José Older
This Free Comic Book Day comic connects directly with the events (and characters) of Race to Crashpoint Tower, and should really be called “Ram Jomaram’s no good very bad day.”
5. Tempest Runner by Cavan Scott
This is the first audio drama of THR! Star Wars has a few of these, actually. If you’re not already listening to the books as audiobooks, you should try it, but definitely do it for this one. You can get the script to read along if you need it as well. Tempest Runner focuses on what’s next for Lourna Dee, the Tempest Runner gone rogue. And it also has a lot of interesting exploration about the prison industrial complex in Star Wars. Truly a favorite!
6. Edge of Balance Volume 1 by Justina Ireland and Shima Shinya
This is the THR manga! Meet another teen Jedi girlboss, Lily Tora-Asi, her Wookiee Jedi master Arkoff, her padawan, Keerin Fionn, and manga-ified Stellan Gios. Banchii is a quiet, galactic frontier Jedi outpost that gets pulled into the wider Nihil conspiracy in menacing ways. You’ll get a wonderful look at what the Jedi were like when they lived out in communities in the galaxy.
7. Out of the Shadows by Justina Ireland
This is the YA novel of this phase, and also one of the gayest entries in THR. Let’s go lesbians, LET’S GO! This has everything – friends to lovers to exes to lovers, evil scientist moms who inadvertently create technology the Empire will use hundreds of years later, Cohmac Vitus admiring men, a rich playboy, Reath Silas’ continuing failures with girls, Vernestra Rwoh being a girlboss once again, and so much more.
8. The High Republic (2021) Issues #8-12, written by Cavan Scott
While ALL that other stuff was going on, what have Keeve, Avar and Sskeer been up to fighting the Drengir? By the LIGHT there is a lot going on here. Just trust the process!
9. The High Republic Adventures (2021) Issues #6-11, written by Daniel José Older
Yes, and while all that was happening, the padawans of the Starhopper are still having quite a wild time too! This series is also a very good and gay time. Lula and Zeen hive, we rise!
10. Trail of Shadows Issues #1-3, written by Daniel José Older
Ever wondered what a Star Wars murder mystery noir would be like? Wonder no more. The mystery of the Nameless is on, and Jedi Master Emerick Caphtor and his private detective friend Sian Holt are on the case in this Marvel mini series! (With an adorable droid to help).
11. The High Republic Adventures Annual 2021
This is an IDW anthology of one-shots from each of the High Republic authors, dealing with everyone from Jedi to Geode!
1. Mission to Disaster by Justina Ireland
This is the middle grade novel of the wave, and starts out with a bang. Poor Vern and Imri are once again in the thick of it and on their own as things get even more tense with the Nihil and the Drengir elsewhere. I love everything Justina does, this one is another banger, especially for our beloved Avon Starros – we love a girl in STEM!
2. High Republic Adventures: Galactic Bake-Off Spectacular, written by Daniel José Older and Vita Ayala
I love Kantam Sy, and I love small breaths of domesticity in Star Wars, so I am biased to love this one. This one also answers the question of what happens to older Jedi as they age.
3. High Republic Adventures (2021) Issue #12 (link)
4. The High Republic (2021) Issues #12 & 13 (link)
5. The Fallen Star by Claudia Gray
You’re gonna need a box of tissues for this one. I’m afraid not everybody is making it out of this alive.
6. The High Republic (2021) Issues #14 & 15
Wondered what was going on in the top half of Starlight Beacon during The Fallen Star? Here it is!
7. Midnight Horizon by Daniel José Older
This is my favorite THR novel, and one of my favorite Star Wars novels overall. It occurs concurrently with The Fallen Star, and shows what the padawans from the High Republic Adventures and other YA and middle grade novels were up to while Starlight Beacon fell. It is also the #1 gayest piece of THR, and will be the definitive text to make you love Kantam and Cohmac. It has a scene with Kantam and Yoda, Kantam’s master, that made me weep the first time I read it.
8. The High Republic Adventures (2021) Issue #13 (link)
9. Trail of Shadows Issues #4 & 5 (link)
10. Edge of Balance Volume 2
The Banchii mystery continues, and just like the rest of this wave, with devastating results.
11. Eye of the Storm by Charles Soule
What the hell is wrong with this Marchion guy? Why does he hate the Jedi so much? Finally, some of your questions will be answered in this Marvel mini series! (Note: if you are reading the comics in trade paperbacks, the issues of this mini series are collected in the final High Republic (2021) TPB, Vol. 3: Jedi’s End.)
PHASE II: QUEST OF THE JEDI
(Comic releases for Wave 1, and titles for Wave 2 and Wave 3, are still being announced, and with publishing delays, publication dates/reading order may still be in flux. Keep an eye on Wookieepedia’s official list for updates!)
1. Path of Deceit by Justina Ireland and Tessa Gratton
Phase II starts out with a dark YA mystery on the galactic frontier, 150 years before Phase I, with a mysterious Force cult, two Evereni with Marchion’s last name, Ro, and a Jedi Master and her padawan, on Dalna, a planet we’ve seen quite a lot of in Phase I. It’s a slow build that, by the end, will make so many things set up in Phase I start to make sense, your jaw will drop.
2. The High Republic (2022) Issue #1, written by Cavan Scott
This is the start of Marvel’s main THR comic run for Phase II, where Jedi Vildar Mac arrives in the holy capital city of Jedha (the moon that they tested the Death Star on first in Rogue One). Together with padawan Matthea Cathley, he sets out to investigate a familiar nameless terror….
3. Quest for the Hidden City by George Mann
This is the first middle grade novel of Phase II, which explores the relationship between Jedi and non-Jedi in the era of hyperspace prospecting. The Republic has created Pathfinder teams made of Jedi and non-Jedi to explore the Outer Rim and Wild Space, learn about new cultures, provide aid, and establish relationships with the Republic. It’s an idealistic mission, but in this novel, it has a very dark twist, as Jedi Master Silandra Sho and her padawan, Rooper Nitani, investigate a Pathfinder team that has gone missing.
4. The High Republic (2022) Issue #2, written by Cavan Scott (link)
5. Convergence by Zoraida Córdova
This is the first adult novel of Phase II, which tells the story how the Republic tried to end the devastating “forever” war between Eiram and E’ronoh, a historical event first mentioned in Phase I, as it wreaks havoc on the entire galaxy. Jedi Knight Gella Nattai and Axel Greylark, son of one of the Republic’s co-chancellors, must deal with their clashing personalities as they work with the opposing planets’ prince and princess to unravel a conspiracy at the heart of the conflict.
6. The High Republic Adventures (2022) Issue #1, written by Daniel José Older (link)
The High Republic Adventures ongoing comic continues into Phase II with a different publisher, Dark Horse, this time focusing on Sav Malagán, the savvy Kyuzo Jedi Master that the Phase I Starhopper padawans met on Takodana. Here we meet her in her own padawan days, exploring how she met our beloved Maz Kanata as she questions her path as a Jedi.
7. The High Republic (2022) Issue #3, written by Cavan Scott (link)
8. The Blade Issue #1, written by Charles Soule
This is the first issue of the Marvel comic mini series telling the backstory of Phase I favorite Porter Engle, and how he got the ominous name of the “Blade of Bardotta.”
9. The High Republic Adventures (2022) Issue #2, written by Daniel José Older (link)
10. The High Republic Adventures: The Nameless Terror Issue #1, written by George Mann
This is the start of a Dark Horse comic mini series also on the infamous planet of Dalna, and an attack by a familiar nameless creature…
11. The Battle of Jedha by George Mann
This is the audio drama of Phase II, and the direct sequel to Convergence, where Jedi Master Creighton Sun and Jedi Knight Aida Forte arrive on Jedha to formally end the forever war between Eiram and E’ronoh, but not everyone is happy with the Jedi’s involvement. The printed script for this will release a bit later than the audio production, so keep that in mind if you plan to wait.
12. The High Republic (2022) Issue #4, written by Cavan Scott (link)
13. The Blade Issue #2, written by Charles Soule (link)
14. The High Republic Adventures: Quest of the Jedi, written by Claudia Gray
This is a Dark Horse comic one-shot about a pair of Jedi arriving on a planet seeking ancient artifacts of the Force, and the mystery they find there.
15. The Blade Issue #3, written by Charles Soule (link)
(Note that release dates for these titles are all still in flux, as are titles yet to be announced, but this is what we know is coming as of right now.)
- Cataclysm by Lydia Kang
This is the second adult novel of Phase II, and opens the second wave.
2. Quest for Planet X by Tessa Gratton
This is the second middle grade novel of Phase II.
3. Path of Vengeance by Cavan Scott
This is the second YA novel of Phase II.
4. Edge of Balance: Precedent by Daniel José Older and Tomio Ogata
The High Republic manga continues with this prequel volume for Phase II, centering on Lily Tora-Asi’s wookiee master, Arkoff, in his younger years, as he joins his own former master in the fight against the Path of the Open Hand.
Thanks for trusting me on your High Republic journey, whether you’re new to Star Wars books and comics, or a veteran. I hope you have just as much of a good time as I have. Once you’re caught up, you should subscribe to my Star Wars podcast, RuPalp’s Podrace, where we are huge High Republic fans. We were fortunate enough to interview Daniel José Older about Midnight Horizon after its release, and once you’ve finished Phase I, you should check out our Phase I wrap-up episode as well! (We also post about the latest High Republic memes on our Twitter). And as they say in the High Republic – for light and life!