Lucasfilm is set to explore a brand new piece of the Star Wars saga. The recently announced Star Wars: The High Republic is a multi-pronged publishing initiative that will shed light on the galaxy 200 years before the events of the prequel trilogy. In the process, readers will learn about a dark event known as the Great Disaster and see the Jedi confront an enemy called the Nihil.
What is the High Republic, and how exactly does it fit into the ever-growing Star Wars mythos? Read on to learn more about this new saga. The topics covered in this article include:
- What Is the High Republic?
- What Do We Know About the High Republic Era?
- High Republic: Every Story Revealed
- The Heroes of the High Republic
- Yoda and the Sith in the High Republic
- Will There Be a High Republic Movie?
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What Is the High Republic?
For the vast majority of the known Star Wars timeline, the galaxy is governed by the Galactic Republic. As we saw in the Star Wars prequels, the Republic is ruled by a Galactic Senate featuring representatives from hundreds of worlds and presided over by a duly elected Chancellor. The Jedi Knights were charged with maintaining peace and order in the Republic, right up until they were wiped out at the end of the Clone Wars and the Republic transformed into Palpatine’s Empire. And when the Empire was defeated, Princess Leia and her allies spearheaded the New Republic modeled on the original (now referred to as the Old Republic).
So what exactly is the High Republic? This isn’t a separate government, but rather a term used to refer to a specific golden age in Old Republic history. The distant past of the Star Wars timeline is dominated by destructive conflicts between the Jedi and enemies like the Sith and the Mandalorians. But the High Republic is a period marked by relative peace and prosperity. In this era, the Jedi believe they’ve finally vanquished the Sith and brought order to a chaotic galaxy. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other challenges and new enemies waiting to be revealed.
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What Do We Know About the High Republic Era?
The High Republic reveal is interesting given how little we actually know about this piece of the Star Wars puzzle. The current, Disney-approved Star Wars timeline features very few stories set before the time of the prequel movies. And even the classic, non-canon Legends universe rarely ventured into this territory. Many Legends stories look back thousands, not hundreds, of years in the past, detailing the many wars between the Jedi and Sith, as seen in comics like Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi and the Knights of the Old Republic video games.
The movies even seem to contradict each other in terms of how long ago the Republic was established. In the original Star Wars, Obi-Wan Kenobi tells Luke, “For over a thousand generations, the Jedi Knights were guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic.” However, in Episode II Palpatine vows, “I will not let this Republic that has stood for a thousand years be split in two!” [Arrested Development voice: “He did.”]
The Legends universe explains this apparent discrepancy through an event known as the Ruusan Reformation. After the end of a conflict known as The New Sith Wars, where the power-hungry Darth Bane orchestrated the deaths of most of the galaxy’s Jedi Knights and Sith Lords, the Republic was dramatically reshaped to become more like the governing body seen in the prequel movies. The Galactic Republic may be roughly 25,000 years old, but the peaceful, democratic Republic Palpatine referred to only truly existed in those final thousand years. That era is now known as the High Republic, with the term first uttered by Lor San Tekka in Star Wars: The Rise of Kylo Ren #2.
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Exactly how much of this backstory remains in effect in the Disney timeline is unclear. Lucasfilm has yet to firmly establish whether stories like Knights of the Old Republic and the Darth Bane novels still have a place in the new timeline. However, Star Wars: The Clone Wars officially inducted Darth Bane into the Star Wars canon, while Revan is mentioned in the Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Visual Dictionary. Meanwhile, new rumors of a Knights of the Old Republic remake suggest Disney is interested in keeping that fan-favorite story in place. This all suggests the broad strokes of Old Republic history remain.
Whatever the case, the main thing we know about the High Republic era is that it’s a time when the Jedi are flourishing and believe their Sith enemies have been defeated. While this era always seemed to be uneventful, the novels and comics that comprise the High Republic storyline will reveal this was anything but the case. As Lucasfilm publishing creative director Michael Siglain teased, “Star Wars: The High Republic features the Jedi as we’ve always wanted to see them — as true guardians of peace and justice. This is a hopeful, optimistic time, when the Jedi and the Galactic Republic are at their height. But of course, into this glorious new era something wicked this way comes.”
High Republic: Every Story Revealed
As we mentioned, the High Republic is more than just one story; it’s a larger initiative uniting many of Lucasfilm’s new comic book and novel releases in 2020 and beyond. The story of the High Republic will be told in multiple publishing phases, with the first phase being dubbed “Light of the Jedi.” That also happens to be the name of writer Charles Soule’s novel, which officially kicks off High Republic when it launches on August 25, 2020.
From there, Lucasfilm has revealed two more novels – Claudia Gray’s YA-focused The High Republic: Into the Dark and Justina Ireland’s junior novel The High Republic: A Test of Courage – as well as an unnamed Marvel Comics series from writer Cavan Scott and IDW Publishing’s The High Republic Adventures by writer Daniel José Older.
These various projects don’t necessarily all tell one chronological story. The goal is more to give different creators the opportunity to tell stories within this new status quo and enjoy a level of freedom not really seen in the books and comics more closely intertwined with the Star Wars movies. The emphasis on phases implies there will be a definite sense of progression over time, but we don’t get the impression readers need to read every single High Republic book to get a complete story, especially given that the books target different age groups.
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The Heroes of the High Republic
While there’s no one central protagonist a la Luke Skywalker, Lucasfilm is teasing a “core group of heroes that will expand” over the course of High Republic. That cast will include an appropriately Star Wars-y mix of Jedi, smugglers, bounty hunters and droids. Even as the Republic itself prospers, these stories will explore the many outlying systems not under Republic protection, with some Jedi characters described as “Texas Rangers” tasked with patrolling lawless regions.
These early books focus mainly on a new cast of Jedi Knights like Wookiee hero Burryaga Agaburry and human Avar Kris. Marvel’s unnamed series will focus on a newly promoted Jedi sent to a remote space station when the Great Disaster unfolds. These Jedi are being compared to the Knights of Camelot, with several even wielding lightsabers with broadsword-esque hilts. The Camelot comparison may also imply these Jedi will meet a tragic end, just as King Arthur and his utopian realm were undone in the end.
Yoda and the Sith in the High Republic
Lucasfilm hasn’t yet revealed whether any familiar Star Wars characters might appear in these stories. Obviously, the setting prevents much overlap with the movies, though we have to imagine the long-lived Jedi Master Yoda will have some part to play. We’ll probably see a younger, more spry Yoda guiding the Jedi through the fallout of the Great Disaster. It’s worth remembering that The High Republic was initially code-named Project Luminous, a title inspired by one of Yoda’s most iconic lines in The Empire Strikes Back.
Given the long lifespan of Yoda’s species, it’s possible fellow Jedi Master Yaddle will also appear in some of these stories. The same goes for Jabba the Hutt.
In general, it doesn’t appear as though the Sith will play a major role in the High Republic, even though we know Darth Bane’s successors are in hiding and planning their slowly gestating revenge. It wouldn’t make sense to bring the Sith out of hiding when the Jedi still believe them to be extinct leading up to The Phantom Menace. Still, it’s possible the Sith could turn out to have a secret hand in the Great Disaster, with the High Republic potentially canonizing Legends characters like Darth Tenebrous or shedding light on Palpatine’s mysterious master Darth Plagueis.
At the very least, we wouldn’t be surprised to see Soule include his creation Lord Momin in some of his High Republic stories. Previously featured in several of Soule’s Star Wars comics, Momin is an artistically inclined Sith Lord who managed to imprint his consciousness in his helmet and achieve a measure of immortality. His debut may have been an early tease for High Republic.
Will There Be a High Republic Movie?
So far, Lucasfilm has revealed several comics and novels forming the early backbone of High Republic. Will this story eventually expand to other media? Might we see a High Republic-themed movie or Disney+ series?
The answer appears to be no. When High Republic was announced, Lucasfilm clarified this story “will not overlap any of the filmed features or series currently planned for production, giving creators and partners a vast amount of room to tell Star Wars stories with new adventures and original characters.”
The goal with this initiative is specifically to give authors and comic creators a freedom not found on more traditional Star Wars projects. To date, most books and comics published in the Disney era have been closely connected to the movies and tasked with filling in blanks rather than exploring vast, unexplored stretches of the Star Wars timeline. The High Republic initiative gives writers a blank canvas on which to paint without fear of clashing with upcoming movies and TV projects. It’s one of several areas in which Lucasfilm is expanding beyond the scope of the Skywalker Saga, along with the rumored Knights of the Old Republic-inspired movie, Rian Johnson’s planned Star Wars trilogy and the ongoing saga of The Mandalorian.
Given how closely intertwined the Star Wars universe has become, it’s possible we’ll see the characters and events of The High Republic referenced in future movies and TV projects. But if you want to experience this saga firsthand, you’ll need to crack open a book.
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