The books that compose the first phase of Star Wars: The High Republic are set to introduce readers to the deep, rich histories that defined the Jedi Order long before the events of The Phantom Menace. They’ll also provide more information about the interstellar wars that have defined the galaxy for countless generations. Because the books focus on the Jedi at the height of their power, though, they’ll give some much-needed texture and detail to Star Wars’ canonical past that’s been otherwise left largely unexplored.
Because The High Republic begins with a cataclysmic event that profoundly disrupts a previously established era of peace throughout the galaxy, the Jedi are at the height of their power when we meet them rather than being a scattered, all-but-destroyed organization. Their strength comes not just from their connection to the Force, but from the numbers of their ranks, and because there are so many active Jedi out and about maintaining order and the like, there’s more of an opportunity for people to focus on long-lost forms of Jedi artistry and craftsmanship when it comes to the fancy lightsabers they wield.
Take, for example, the lightsaber wielded by Stellan Gios (and introduced in Insight Editions’ upcoming The Lightsaber Collection compendium). Since the character is a Jedi Master introduced in The High Republic, Disney Publishing’s creative director Michael Siglain wanted him to have a weapon that reflected the times in which the books take place. The High Republic’s Jedi, Siglain explained to StarWars.com, are almost like Star Wars’ answer to the Knights of the Round Table, something that led to The High Republic’s creative minds toying with the idea of designing their answer to Excalibur-like blades.
In the case of Gios’ lightsaber, this meant taking inspiration from traditional swords with cross guards similar to the weapon Kylo Ren wielded, and developing a more elegant application of the style befitting a powerful and respected Jedi. Working with artist Grant Griffin, Disney Publishing’s illustration manager Jeff R. Thomas set out to design a lightsaber for Gios that evoked a very specific sort of high-class aesthetic, while also providing him with the sort of defensive capabilities he would need as a legendary warrior.
“I started sketching and came up with a silhouette I really liked, but the practicality of holstering/sheathing it nagged at me until I had the idea that the crossguard didn’t have to be stationary,” Thomas explained. “Perhaps it could activate or deactivate with the saber. So after some more sketches and some back and forth with Lucasfilm, it was decided that the crossguard would activate as opposed to always being open, which would give the saber the slimmer silhouette while holstered and would lend itself to some great visuals when activating.”
The ornamentation of Gios’ lightsaber is precise and detailed to a degree that makes the weapon look more like a piece of expensive art rather than something meant to slice through enemies or deflect shots from blasters. You get the sense that while this sort of blade might be considered gauche or even silly by Star Wars’ modern-day standards, during the High Republic, this sort of thing likely stuck fear into the hearts of those who saw it. Again, this lightsaber wasn’t slapped together from scrap metal and whatever stray kyber crystals the Jedi could find; this thing was lovingly constructed to be a beautiful statement piece as well as warning that Gios didn’t want any smoke from people foolish enough to challenge him in battle.
Lovely as the crossguard of Gios’ lightsaber is, one can’t help but wonder just what other sorts of long-lost weaponry The High Republic’s Jedi might carry with them beyond your traditional swords and staffs—because this is Star Wars where quite literally anything is possible. We’re still a few months out from The High Republic’s proper launch in 2021, but when The Lightsaber Collection hits stores on October 20, we might just get a chance to see what other nifty gadgets the space wizard knights are hiding up the sleeves of their flowing robes.
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