Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Lucasfilm Reveals The First Stories In New "The High Republic" Publishing Campaign

By: Dominic Jones

After months of anticipation, Lucasfilm has finally revealed the details about the new publishing campaign, The High Republic, during a presentation in Los Angeles tonight.  Lucasfilm representatives explained that what they had been calling "Project Luminous", is a new series of books and comics that are set in two hundred years before the events of the nine film Skywalker Saga in an era known as "the High Republic". The stories will be told across multiple publishers and target age ranges.

The new stories will feature new Jedi, who are described as being akin to the Arthurian knights of the roundtable (multiple reports from the event use the phrase "Jedi Knights of the Round Table").  The Republic is also in an expansion mode, however the edges of the Republic are akin to the Wild West.  Meanwhile the villains will be a new faction known as "the Nihil", who have been compared to the Vikings.  They were developed after the question was asked, "what scares the Jedi?"  The inciting incident for the stories is an event known as "the great disaster."

A video outlining The High Republic was released on the official Star Wars YouTube channel, which you can check out below,

The Books:

The first book in the series will be Star Wars: The Light of the Jedi, by Charles Soule, which will be released on August 25th.  The novel will feature a Wookiee Jedi, who has a very strong in the Force, and a woman who hears the Force like a song.  The novel is Soule's first in the Star Wars universe, though he has written several comic book series for Marvel and Lucasfilm, including The Rise of Kylo Ren, Darth Vader, and Poe Dameron.

The second book is a middle grade novel by Justina Ireland, titled A Test Of Courage.  The novel will feature a sixteen year old Jedi Knight as its protaganist. It will be Ireland's third Star Wars novel (after Lando's Luck and Rise of the Resistance), though she said at the event that the book will be more serious that her previous Star Wars work. The book will be released on September 8th.

Next to be revealed was a comic book series, titled The High Republic, published by Marvel and written by Cavan Scott.  The series will be set on Starlight Station, which is located on the edge of the Republic's expansion efforts and is said to be a beacon of hope to all.  Scott has previously written comics for IDW's Star Wars Adventures line, as well as the series of young adult novels Star Wars: Wild Space, and the audio drama, Dooku: Jedi Lost.  No word yet on release date.

Also coming soon is Into the Dark, a young adult novel by Claudia Gray.  The novel will star a Jedi padawan who, according to Nerdist's Amy Ratcliffe, is "the kind of Padawan who would prefer to read about adventures. But now he’s leaving Coruscant and going to the frontier of the galaxy." This will be Gray's fifth book in the Star Wars galaxy, having previously written the YA novels Lost Stars and Leia: Princess of Alderaan, as well as the adult novels Bloodline and Master and ApprenticeThe book will be released on October 13th.

And finally, IDW comics will be publishing a series called The High Republic Adventures.  The series will be written by Daniel Jose Older and will feature younger characters who learn all about the Jedi and the villainous Nhil.  This will be Older's second major Star Wars project, having previously written the Solo: Star Wars Story tie-in novel, Last Shot.  No word yet on release date.

These five stories consist of "phase one" of the High Republic story.  More stories set in this era will be announced in the future and more publishers are being brought on board.  In addition to Del Rey, Marvel, Disney-Lucasfilm Press, and IDW, future stories will be published by Titan, Viz, Abrams, DK, Insight Editions, and B&M.

The concept for The High Republic was first pitched by in 2014.  Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy gave the series the green light, and encouraged the publishing divisions to be bold in their story telling. The story for the series was developed by authors Claudia Grey, Daniel Jose Older, Justina Ireland, Charles Soule, and Cavan Scott and Lucasfilm executives over several days at Skywalker Ranch in 2018.

The design of The High Republic was developed by Star Wars concept art legend Iain McCaig and comic book artist Phil Noto.  The amount of work that went into the design of the series was comprable to that which would have been done on a feature film. You can see some of the designs that were featured at the presentation in the tweets below,

The authors were on hand at the event and took part in a Q&A, moderated by Star Wars Resistance and Saturday Night Live star Bobby Moynihan, where they revealed the above details about their books.
The announcement of The High Republic is an exciting one, it will be very interesting to see where Star Wars novels can go now that they are not incumbered by (much) previously established canon or the need to tie-in with a film.  There have been lots of rumors about other projects being set in the era of The High Republic, inclduing video games and films, but for the foreseeable future it seems this era will just be the playground of the publishing division.  And that's probably for the best (for now).

(For a complete break down of those film and video game rumors, however, check out this episode of The SWU Podcast at the 2:02:45 mark). 

The film side of Star Wars clearly needs to some time to reset after the conclusion of the Skywalker saga (not to mention the cancellation of future A Star Wars Story films after Solo and the departure of Game of Throne showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss).  And the TV side is going through some growing pains as well with the Obi-Wan Kenobi and Cassian Andor Disney+ series'.  The publihsing arm of Star Wars is fairly robust, having been active at more-or-less the same level for decades, so it seems more than capable of keeping hard-core fans entertained while general audiences are given a short break from Star Wars films.

And they couldn't have picked a better team of authors to kick things off.  Soule, Gray, Older, Ireland, and Scott have all proved themselves capable of telling entertaining Star Wars stories in the past.  They've also said they were in constant communication with each other ever since that Skywalker Ranch story conference in 2018.  Hopefully this will ensure that the stories feel connected in a way that previous Star Wars publishing efforts in the "Legends" era (stories told prior to Disney's purchase of Lucasfilm) didn't always have.

With all the anticipation that was built up since the first tease of "Project Luminous" at Star Wars Celebration Chicago in April 2019, expectations are sky high for The High Republic.  And, from everything we saw tonight, the team behind it looked poised to meet that challenge head-on.

Follow The Star Wars Underworld on Twitter @TheSWU for more updates about this story and other breaking Star Wars news.


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