• Arezou Amin

Five things we learned at the Star Wars: The High Republic panel on Jan 4

The long-anticipated Star Wars: The High Republic publishing initiative premieres tomorrow, and today, fans were treated to an hour-long panel in celebration of the milestone event. Hosted by Kristen Baver, and featuring Michael Siglain, the creative director of Lucasfilm publishing, as well as all-star authors Charles Soule, Justina Ireland, Cavan Scott, Daniel José Older and Claudia Gray, the panel dove into all things High Republic, from sneak peeks at storylines and characters, to a look at what's coming up in the future.

I highly encourage you to watch the whole panel, but I've rounded up my 5 favourite moments in no particular order here.

1. You don't have to read it in any particular order

While we've heard some form of this floating around since The High Republic was announced, Michael Siglain confirmed today that there is no official starting point for the books. Whichever book you choose to start with, you will be getting a complete story. The purpose of this initiative is, after all, to give everyone something to enjoy, from the fans who obsessively read every book and comic, to those new to the world of Star Wars publishing, and everyone in between.

However, Siglain did also add that if you want to read all the books and comics, and not just pick and choose, then the recommended reading order is release order, beginning with Light of the Jedi as that one sets up the large galaxy-wide conflict that the main characters have to contend with. This isn't prescriptive by any means though.

2. Good things come in threes

Is that really a thing people say? I don't know for sure, but what I DO know is that it certainly holds true for The High Republic. Towards the end of the panel, it was announced that the publishing initiative would be rolling out in 3 phases, with Phase I beginning tomorrow and continuing all the way into 2022.

The phases are respectively titled:

Phase I: Light of the Jedi

Phase II: Quest of the Jedi

Phase III: Trials of the Jedi

3. New stories. So many new stories

By far the most exciting part of the panel (in my opinion) happened right in the middle - hence why I'm placing this in the middle of the list. It's like poetry, it rhymes.

Yoda tells us "Always in motion, the future is", and that was very true today when the panel revealed details on the next wave of High Republic stories heading our way in Phase I.

First, they announced the return of serialized fiction to Star Wars Insider. Charles Soule will be writing one series, called "Starlight" that focuses on the Jedi, while Justina Ireland and Cavan Scott will be writing "Stories of Starlight", focusing on those who work alongside the Jedi on the space station known as "Starlight Beacon."

Then came the book announcements.

  • Rising Storm by Cavan Scott, is the next Del Rey novel, and will focus on Stellan Gios

  • Monster of Temple Peak, also by Cavan Scott, will be the first graphic novel of the High Republic era

  • Out of Shadows by Justina Ireland is a YA novel focusing on Jedi Knight Vernestra Rwoh, Padawan Reath Silas and Avon Starros, bringing the characters over from their Middle Grade debut

  • The Edge of Balance by Justina Ireland and Shima Shinya is the first in a High Republic manga series, and marks the first time we are getting a Star Wars manga that doesn't have a prose novel counterpart.

  • Race to Crashpoint Tower by Daniel José Older is a Middle Grade novel

that we don't know a ton about yet, except that its going to be a lot of fun.

  • Finally, Claudia Gray confirmed she is working on something new, but couldn't give any more detail than that. Way to keep us in suspense, Claudia!

4. A multi-media expansion

Though the primary focus right now is on books, that doesn't mean we won't see the High Republic era popping up in other ways too!

We've already seen it make an appearance in the ILMxLAB game Tales from the Galaxy's Edge, but in exciting news for players of Star Wars: Sqadrons, as on tomorrow, EA is pushing an update where you will be able to add High Republic era lightsabers to your cockpit!

Additionally, Star Wars' YouTube channel will be premiering a new bimonthly series called Star Wars: The High Republic Show. Hosted by Krystina Arielle, the show will feature deep dives and sneak peeks into all things High Republic on a regular basis.

5. Everyone has a favorite character - even the authors

Let's end this on a fun note. Even though asking authors to choose a favorite character is a little like asking someone to choose a favorite child, the writers of The High Republic were given that challenge today.

Charles Soule chose Marchian Ro, a leader of the new baddies known as The Nihil. According to Soule, Marchian Ro is different from the other villains we've seen in Star Wars before, but he still feels he can go toe to toe with the best of them.

Claudia Gray was torn between two characters, Geode, the navigator and Leox Gyasi, the pilot. She compared Leox to Matthew McConaughey in space, while staying fairly tight-lipped about Geode, but given that she mentioned both of them a few times, it's clear how attached she is.

Daniel José Older picked padawan Lula Talisola. He said that while some characters appear fully formed, Lula was one that developed as he wrote her, and now she's his favorite.

Cavan Scott went with Jedi Master Sskeer, a Trandoshan with a complex inner life who is both a father figure and a best friend to his padawan Keeve Trennis.

Justina Ireland was the only author not to name her favourite. She explained that her

favourites usually change based on what she's writing at the moment, and her current top pick is one we haven't met yet.

If that doesn't make you hyped for The High Republic, then I don't know what will.

Did you watch the panel today? Have you got your books preordered already? Are you as excited for this new phase of storytelling as we are? Let us know on Twitter at @BTBDNet to continue this Star Wars conversation.

Star Wars: The High Republic launches January 5th.

About Arezou

Arezou is a writer and a longtime Star Wars fan. She loves reading all the canon material she can get her hands on and has a particular affinity for the "Freaky Force Stuff". She is a fanfic reader, a Funko pop collector, and a prequel kid through and through.

When she isn't writing for Beyond the Blast Doors, she can be found professing her love for Rey, Ben Solo and Obi Wan Kenobi (for different reasons) on Twitter or on her website. She also hopes to tell stories in the GFFA in an official capacity some day.

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