Star Wars: The High Republic may barely be a year old now, but already its golden age is crumbling apart, setting the stage for the long decline of the Jedi and Republic we eventually see the tail end of in the prequel trilogy. Get a look at what horrors the Jedi will face in the latest novel, The Fallen Star, in this exclusive preview from io9!
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“Anyone’s who’s had a look at the cover art for The Fallen Star knows—the crises our Jedi face in this book are serious. Deadly serious. I’m not going to lie: there will be casualties,” Claudia Gray, one of the main team of writers behind The High Republic and the author of this latest pivotal chapter, told io9 over email. “This is the part where I should say that I regret causing readers pain, but let’s face it... I LOVE it. Not because I’m a sadist, but because every writer hopes that readers will be deeply involved with their characters, and because these are the events The High Republic has been leading up to for a while, and the stakes have to be that high.”
The Fallen Star begins the third phase of The High Republic’s debut chapter, preparing the forces of the Republic and the Jedi Order—uneasily thrust out of their role of explorers into military leaders, even hundreds of years before the Clone War that would lay them low—for battle against the sinister pirates of the Nihil. Emboldened by their attacks on the Republic’s diplomatic, celebratory fair during the events of The Rising Storm, the Nihil are backed by a deadly new weapon uncovered by their leader, Marchion Ro—one that has the horrifying ability to wrest the Force itself from a Jedi.
“For a while now, Marchion Ro’s secret weapon has been emerging, bit by bit, from the shadows (both literally and figuratively)—and that process takes a major step forward in The Fallen Star,” Gray teased. “What is it that can separate a Jedi from the Force? The Jedi have no idea—and no way to fight it.”
Get a taste of the terror that awaits the Jedi—and one master in particular, Indeera Stokes—in an excerpt from The Fallen Star below, making its debut on io9!
Indeera Stokes moved forward through relatively empty, quiet corridors. This level was largely used for storage, and she felt a moment’s dismay that they hadn’t been able to set up some temporary quarters down here for the refugees aboard. So much room, and the docking bay was becoming so crowded—
—but those people had their ships, which for the most part they wished to remain near. And while some of these compartments were empty, others were stocked with valuable components that couldn’t simply be left available to all and sundry.
You’re distracting yourself, she realized. You’re musing and mulling instead of opening yourself to the Force. That’s not going to help.
Do your work.
Indeera took a deep breath and reached out with her feelings. What she found was—
The Force was not speaking to her here. There was the faintest . . . call it a whisper . . . proof that she hadn’t lost her mind, that the Force continued ever on, as it must. But for the first time since she was a youngling, Indeera had trouble connecting herself to the Force.
The sheer wrongness of it made her stumble. Indeera stopped and put one hand to her head. She had to concentrate. Why couldn’t she think? She should’ve eaten, earlier—it was hard to shake the thought that she was hungry—
Her comlink buzzed. Indeera took it up. “Stokes here—”
“Help me.” The sheer terror in Regald Coll’s voice sent chills along Indeera’s skin. “Please—please—help me!”
Indeera pivoted on her heel and ran back the way she’d come, intent on tracking Regald down. What was happening to him? She was suddenly, sharply afraid for him, more afraid than she’d ever been even for her own life. Her boots pounded against the floor as she turned this way, then that, seeking the path she’d seen Regald take earlier. This seemed to be the right direction . . .
Her steps slowed. Indeera swayed as she went, until finally she stumbled and had to catch herself against the nearest wall. She couldn’t see Regald, though she knew he could only be a few meters ahead of her. Why was it so dark here?
The lights were on, but it was as though—as though she couldn’t take in the light—
Indeera’s eyes opened wider as the floor began to melt. As the walls shifted color and shape. She knew she was hallucinating, but knowing did no good; reality was nowhere to be found. This phantasmagoria surrounded her, entrapped her, took away everything that was true and good.
The floor slapped her across her cheek, kicked her shoulder, shoved her hip. Indeera pawed feebly at her side for her lightsaber, but she couldn’t close her hand around it, and what good would it do besides? There was no enemy to fight. There was no place to stand.
There was no Force to guide her. It was gone, gone, gone forever, and she had not known it was possible to feel so frightened, so alone.
Tears welled in Indeera’s eyes, blurring everything around her until she could see no more.
Star Wars: The High Republic: The Fallen Star releases on January 4.
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