Star Wars: The High Republic – Midnight Horizon Review: Action And Moral Quandaries Abound

There will be spoilers in this review.

Last month, we got a look at "Star Wars: The High Republic – The Fallen Star," which moved this new era of "Star Wars" stories into a new chain of dark, dramatic events. 

For those who haven't kept caught up on "The High Republic," it's a new era of "Star Wars" that launched in 2020. Set a couple of hundred years prior to the events of "The Phantom Menace," it gives us a view of the "Star Wars" universe at the height of the Jedi. The Jedi set their sights on protecting even more of the galaxy and launch a new station, the Starlight Beacon, as a base to help the worlds of the Outer Rim. Unfortunately, an evil pirating concern known as the Nihil, who operate in the Outer Rim, do not like the added scrutiny of such a close Jedi presence. This essentially descends into war between the Jedi and the Nihil. In the first phase, the Nihil were discovered after accidentally causing a threatening calamity when they broke up a spaceship in hyperspace that rained its debris across a hundred worlds. 

In response, the Jedi retaliated. But the war escalated. The Nihil fought back, publicly attacking the Republic Fair on a campaign of terror to show that the Jedi and Republic were unwelcome in their part of the galaxy.

Daniel Jose Older's new book "Star Wars: The High Republic – Midnight Horizon" happens in parallel with the events of "The Fallen Star," but on the other side of the galaxy. "The Fallen Star" documents the Nihil's attack on the Starlight Beacon, which is the primary Jedi outpost in the Outer Rim. Naturally, the Nihil despise it and plot to destroy it. During the events of "The Fallen Star," they succeed, but one of the intricate parts of the plan takes place on Corellia, where the Nihil are seen and Jedi are dispatched to deal with the threat. The cast of "Midnight Horizon" includes Masters Cohmac Vitas and Kantam Sy and Padawans Reath Silas and Ram Jomaram. Each of them have featured in previous storytelling in "The High Republic" so they should be familiar to most readers who pick this book up. This cadre of Jedi are sent to Corellia and uncover a plot that places the Nihil in the highest echelons of the Corellian government, who are using the Nihil as a way to close off Corellia to outsiders. A new character, Crash, runs a diplomatic protection business on Corellia and her clients may well be the problem. Teaming up with the Jedi, Crash helps uncover the plot and everyone pays a high price in a final climactic battle to keep the Nihil from finishing off Starlight Beacon completely.

Daniel Jose Older has written an eminently readable book in "Midnight Horizon," keeping the story turning, page after page after page. Although this book is billed as Young Adult and does, indeed, feature not one but two love stories, both are queer love stories and both are just delightful to read (even if there is a lot of heart-rending separation between people in love). Older's sense of pacing is a masterclass and he is able to juggle a number of different POV characters and flashbacks deftly, never once losing the reader or making one wonder why we're seeing something. This is consequential "Star Wars" storytelling.


The book contains many revelations that "Star Wars" fans will want to know about going forward, and will especially want to know about as we head into "The Acolyte," the new Disney+ show currently in development that is set during this era. That show promises to delve into the Dark Side of the Force, and there is something dark at work in "Midnight Horizon."

As we learned in "The Fallen Star," there is something (we don't know what yet) that is consuming Jedi with fear and dread. It hampers their ability to use the Force, and when a Jedi gets too close to this creature, it is able to turn them into a husk of dust and ash, draining the life force out of them. What are these creatures? No one knows, but this book shows us the first sign the Jedi are going to figure it out. 

These discoveries are made by none other than Master Yoda, who makes an appearance in the book, both in flashback and in the flesh. He disappears for a time, leaving everyone to wonder where he went, and when he returns, it's to reveal that he thinks he knows what is consuming the Jedi. Unfortunately, it may be a while before we get more concrete answers.

Older's iteration of Yoda is definitely younger and more spry, showing us more of the younger self we glimpsed in "Attack of the Clones," but he is not short on the wisdom we have come to know and love. "Very like the wind our feelings are," he tells his Padawan, Kantam Sy, a non-binary student who is unsure about their ascension to the rank of Knight.

Sy, for their part, understands his meaning: "The wind touches us. We experience it. It is real. But it passes. So, too, do our feelings."

But Yoda continues, "But sometimes there is a hurricane. The winds are so strong, they lift us. Carried away, we can be. Everything we know and trust, gone, hm? Then easy it becomes to give into anger, aggression, hm? Fear?"

The book paints a picture of Yoda who has spent hundreds of years trying to keep Padawans from going to the dark side or leaving the Jedi order. And until Dooku, it seems as though he has been able to succeed admirably. But the choices presented to these characters, especially Jedi struggling with whether or not they should stay in or leave the Order, put a pulse deep in the book.

The book also tackles PTSD triggers, and does so through the lens of the peace-loving Jedi. This is the first generation of Jedi in ages who are being asked to cross a line they thought they would never have to cross before. They have seen death and destruction and are grappling with that and doing their best not to allow those triggers to push them to the Dark Side. It's something that would be important to remember as one looks forward to the era of the fall of the Jedi. We watch these Jedi make their justifications for murder and this slippery slope makes a clear line to their destruction hundreds of years later.

And Now a Brief Section About The Bodyguard

One of the major side stories that help drive the plot of this book is a bodyguard named Crash. Crash runs a protection service and grapples with politicians and singers and has to be sure not to get too involved. Naturally there are moments of interest and love between her and a client and intrigue and deceit with others. Older did his research well and dove into this world and helped build a look into something we haven't seen a lot of in "Star Wars."

That's not to say the function of bodyguarding hasn't influenced "Star Wars" before. In fact, it was Lawrence Kasdan's spec script for the film "The Bodyguard" that got him the job of writing "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and then "The Empire Strikes Back." I even wrote about that at length for Kasdan has even inserted themes from that story "Star Wars" elsewhere. And although some of this has been visited elsewhere in Legends (particularly the 2011 book "Shadow Games," which casts Dash Rendar as Kevin Costner's character protecting an intergalactic pop star), this is the first time it feels like it's been fleshed out in the new canon.

Deeper Connections

This book naturally ties into every past iteration of storytelling "The High Republic" has had to offer. Older has managed to create a space where it might be easy to jump into this book if this was the only one you were reading, but if you're not reading his IDW comics or keeping up on the other events of "The High Republic," the context of why everything in this book is so important and dire might be lost. But it ties with so many other eras of "Star Wars" as well.

The Halcyon, an MPO-1400 Purgill class star cruiser and the ship that fans will be able to board personally when voyages start next month at Disney World's Galactic Star Cruiser hotel, features prominently as the ship that towed the Starlight Beacon into place and gets referenced heavily in this book.

There are also references to how much more widespread the Jedi were in this era. At this point, there is a Jedi Temple in Coronet City on Corellia, and there had been one on Maz Kanata's home of Takodana. It makes the events in "The Mandalorian" that took place on Tython feel a little more grounded in reality, too.

"Attack of the Clones" is referenced obliquely again when Kantam Sy is able to use the force much like Obi-Wan Kenobi to get a ne'r-do-well to go home and rethink their life. There are moments of holovid dance numbers that evoke the more absurd parts of the "Star Wars Holiday Special" and even the 2D animated "The Clone Wars" series is referenced word for word as one of the Jedi Padawans finally becomes a Jedi Knight.

A character that I was surprised to see in the book was Lady Proxima, from "Solo: A Star Wars Story." With the book set on Corellia, it was no surprise we see some ties to that film, but this was more direct than I had expected. She plays a minor role and is part of a larger family of Grindalids, long before her time running the White Worms. She also appears as an unlikely ally of the heroes, which is an interesting choice.

Even the old Brian Daley Han Solo novels are referenced in this book, proving that the stage Han Solo set with Corellia has been deeply embedded into this "Star Wars" planet.

The Verdict

More than anything, Older is able to take modern, relevant problems and dress them up just right for "Star Wars." One of the things I love most about this book is that it explores the notion that staying neutral for any misguided sense of honor or duty is something that inherently aids the oppressor. It does not matter what your honor and duty might be — the right thing to do is the right thing to do, and you have to seize those moments.

But the book isn't just a vehicle for the struggles of the Jedi justifying their violence, or people picking sides. It's a rollicking adventure story that has some outright badass stuff in it. The cover and the title alone evoke a feeling I can barely describe other than cool. And that's what this book is. It exudes it.

If you're not reading "The High Republic," you're missing out on some top notch "Star Wars." And I guarantee when "The Acolyte" starts, you'll wish you were caught up.

"Star Wars: The High Republic – Midnight Horizon" is available now wherever books are sold.