“For over a thousand generations, the Jedi Knights were the guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic. Before the dark times, before the Empire.”
Obi-Wan Kenobi said that to Luke Skywalker in the first Star Wars all the way back in 1977. In the 40-plus years since then, we’ve seen lots of the second part of the quote, but not much of the first. That all changes this August when Star Wars: The High Republic begins.
Star Wars: The High Republic, which previously was referred to by its codename “Project Luminous,” is a brand new publishing initiative that gives Star Wars its blankest slate since George Lucas first created the saga. Set 200 years before the events of The Phantom Menace, the idea was driven by two things. First is Obi-Wan’s quote: What were those thousands of generations of Star Wars that the ageing Jedi was talking about in A New Hope really like? The second was a simple, yet terrifying question: What scares the Jedi? Those two questions began to form a story that multiple authors will tackle in various mediums, telling different stories, all of which are connected and will paint a picture of a whole new era in Star Wars.
Here’s an announcement trailer with many more details.
At an event in Los Angeles Monday night, Disney and Lucasfilm announced that Star Wars: The High Republic will start with five different books as part of phase one (which yes, means more phases are coming). They are:
Star Wars: The High Republic: Light of the Jedi by Charles Soule
Star Wars: The High Republic: Into the Dark by Claudia Grey
Star Wars: The High Republic: A Test of Courage by Justina Ireland
Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures by Daniel José Older
Star Wars: The High Republic by Cavan Scott
If you’re a fan of Star Wars books or comics, none of those names will be new to you. Each has done incredible Star Wars work in books and comics over the past few years—but now, they’re coming together like a Star Wars Voltron, each telling their own stories, with characters that will cross over and help inform the other tales. Here are the book covers:
Image: All Images, Lucasfilm
In canon, the High Republic era kicks off with an event called the Great Disaster. It’s a cataclysmic event, almost a Star Wars 9/11 that forces a universe at peace to band together in a way it never has before. At the centre of it are the Nihil, who are the bad guys of the era (you can see them on the cover of Scott’s The High Republic comic). They look a little punk rock and a little Mad Max, but that’s on purpose. Apparently, those gas masks serve a purpose as they can reportedly use hyperspace in a way that we’ve never seen before.
“That was always the idea with everything in The High Republic,” Soule said at the event Monday. “New, new, new. What have we not seen in Star Wars but it still feels like Star Wars?”
All of this started in November 2014 when James Waugh, VP of Franchise Content & Strategy at Lucasfilm, began to pitch a shared universe of books. Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy also urged him to “be bold” with the publishing and try new things. So, with the end of the Skywalker Saga in sight, everything began to click.
They invited several authors, as well as the Lucasfilm Story Group, to two retreats at Skywalker Ranch, where the group held massive brainstorm sessions to crack everything about the High Republic. Eventually, just like the studio would with a movie, concept artists were hired to begin to figure out the looks of the era. The Jedi would wear slightly more regal, Renaissance-inspired garb. The villains would be basically the opposite of the Stormtroopers of the Empire. And on and on.
Soule’s book, Light of the Jedi, will be released first, on August 25, and will basically be the main entry point. It’ll set up everything fans need to know about the era, while also telling its own story, which so happens to include a Wookiee Jedi. That’ll be followed by Ireland’s book, A Test of Courage, on September 8; it stars a 16-year-old Jedi Knight, the youngest Jedi Knight ever. Then is Grey’s book, Into the Dark, out October 13; it’s about a Jedi and a Padawan during the Great Disaster and how they interact with the regular people of the era. (One of her characters is heavily influenced by Matthew McConaughey.) Then there are the two ongoing comic book series, by Older and Scott, which will tie into all of it.
Here’s the full concept art we cropped above.
And this is just the beginning. While phase one of The High Republic, called “Light of the Jedi,” begins on August 25, phase two is already in the works with multiple new publishing partners beyond the ones in phase one. We don’t know what the next era of Star Wars movies will hold, but the books are going back in time, and we’re absolutely pumped.