‘Light of the Jedi’ kicks ass
In this house, we stan Porter Engle
It’s a Sunday night and I just finished Light of the Jedi, the Star Wars novel that kicks off the new High Republic era. Charles Soule has long been a great asset to the Marvel Comics corner of Star Wars; I heard mixed things about his Poe Dameron series going in, but it hooked me immediately. And, looking back, that was one of the coolest bits of storytelling to come out of the sequel-trilogy timeline.
Already an accomplished novelist, as well, Soule brings all his skills to the table here (plus a lot of help from a phenomenal group of collaborators). With a movie’s worth of plot, memorable characters, epic scope, and a deft understanding of what makes Jedi interesting, Light of the Jedi boldly establishes a new age in the galaxy far, far away.
Star Wars arrived in the 1970s, but it’s really a product of the ’60s; Lucasfilm resides in San Francisco, heart of the counterculture movement, to this day. Soule leans into that pretty hard, using ideas and imagery evocative of Kubrick’s 2001, Frank Herbert’s Dune, the Vietnam War—not to mention a ton of explicit drug use, intense violence, and even some sex talk.
It’s reminiscent of the better pre-Disney “Legends” (Expanded Universe) novels. Think Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor, Darth Bane: Path of Destruction, and so on. Marchion Ro and the Nihil—a kind of interstellar Hell’s Angels, you could call them—are as horrifying as Star Wars villains get, and I can’t wait to see what they get up to next. The Jedi, too: Avar, Burryaga, Loden, Porter Engle. I love these guys.
Soule’s book feels like an alchemy of Ralph McQuarrie’s early concept paintings, ’60s pop culture, and all those fantastic space-pirate designs left over from preproduction on The Force Awakens. If you’re a fan of the films, I can’t recommend it enough.