The era of The High Republic is here and Charles Soule talks with Polygon about the opening salvo in phase 1 of the series, Light of the Jedi.

POLYGON: So much has been said about the world-building initiative and the Luminous team’s efforts to prequelize the known Star Wars universe. But how did you figure out where to start? How did you wind up with Light of the Jedi?

CS: The thing to remember about Light of the Jedi, just as a project, is that it had to serve a lot of different roles within the initiative. It’s really the first big introduction to the era, and so the book needed to be needed to give readers a survey of what the world looked like during the High Republic. And Star Wars is not just Jedi, right? There’s a whole governmental system, there are good guys, there are bad guys, there are planets, there are races, there are vehicles, there are creatures, there are all kinds of things. This book didn’t have to introduce all of them, but it needed to give readers a sense of what those things generally speaking felt like. It also needed to bring a lot of brand new characters on the scene that readers had never met before. Yoda obviously is referenced, but this book takes place 200 years before the Phantom Menace, so it’s really an all new cast.

And then the third thing that it needed to do was be really good Star Wars, this sort of indefinable Star Wars field that we all know when we see it or read it or experience it. For me, starting the book with a huge action sequence that takes up a whole third of the book, it’s 100 pages long, during the sequence called the Great Disaster, when something really bad happens to a planet or system and the outer rim enabled me to do all of those things in that one sequence. Because when you have a disaster that’s happening, and a lot of people are being affected by it, and a lot of people are responding to it, you get to see a lot of character building through that event. You also get to see how both the Republic government, through its Chancellor Lena, whatever little military it has, and the Jedi, respond to a disaster that’s potentially going to kill billions of people. It gets a lot of storytelling work done in a relatively short amount of time. The way Avar Kriss responds to being asked to help solve the Great Disaster illuminates her, the Jedi Order, and the Republic. And it’s also exciting and cool at the same time. So that’s just one character. And I did that with about, I don’t know, 15 or 20, during the Great Disaster sequence, but by the end of it, you have a really good sense of, of all of those things I mentioned. And then there’s still two thirds of the book left to go so.

I wanted to develop that sequence of people realizing [the disaster] is happening to show how people start to get hurt, people start to die, things start to blow up. Every chapter has a ticking clock counting down, literally. When it opens there’s three hours to impact and then it goes down, down, down. I wanted it to always feel like you’re reading the same story of the start of this disaster to the end of the disaster, even though you’re seeing it by cutting through many, many different points of view. That was extremely challenging to construct, but I took inspiration from the way most Star Wars movies seem to end, which is intercutting, between massive cool action sequences to develop that kind of final punch, where all these themes of the story are coming together at once and delivering this really, really, you know, breathless sequence. And instead of doing it at the end of the book, I did it at the beginning, although I kind of do it at the end again, too.

Star Wars: Light of the Jedi (The High Republic) (Star Wars: The High Republic)
  • Hardcover Book
  • Soule, Charles (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 400 Pages - 01/05/2021 (Publication Date) - Del Rey (Publisher)