Star Wars: The High Republic: Mission To Disaster Ends Phase One

This will contain spoilers for "Star Wars: The High Republic: Mission to Disaster."

"Mission to Disaster" by Justina Ireland is the latest book installment of the High Republic Era of "Star Wars." For those who don't know about this era of "Star Wars," it's set a couple hundred years before the events of "The Phantom Menace." This shows the Jedi in their prime, stretching their influence to the far reaches of the galaxy in a way that blends crusading knights with classic Western frontier motifs. 

This middle-grade book is a quick read, but is worth your time if you want a complete picture of the era and if you want to follow one of the best characters in this time period, the Miralian Jedi Knight Vernestra Rwoh. Vernestra is one of the youngest Jedi ever knighted at 15. This book catches her a few years later than that, working to uncover the villainous Nihil wherever they hide. This book is set prior to the events of "The Fallen Star" and if it had come out in print prior to that book, at least one reveal would have made a lot more sense. As it is, "Mission to Disaster" centers on Vernestra and her Padawan Imri Cantos responding to a distress call on a distant planet. The Nihil have been abducting kids to replenish their ranks, including one Avon Starros. The chase leads them to the planet Dalna where the Nihil are plotting a disaster of planetary proportions if they're discovered. The Jedi will need to overcome the mistrust of the locals, rescue everyone they can, and fight the Nihil all at once.

The mistrust of the locals on the planet Dalna comes from some dark chapter of their past with the Jedi. With Phase Two of "The High Republic" slipping further into the past, it would make sense that Dalna could be important in that previous storytelling and this might be hinting at something to come.

Sensing the future

Vernestra Rwoh has a unique gift among Jedi. She can sense the future. It's a dangerous skill to have and it can lead Jedi astray, and I find it really interesting to see Vernestra grapple with it. As she struggles with what these visions she sees means, and what directions her attachments pull her, she is left to wonder what the right course of action will be. Throughout the entire High Republic era, we've seen many unique gifts of each individual Jedi. Vernestra's Padawan can sense and influence emotions of those around him. Vern herself can see the future. It shows us that the Force manifests differently in different Jedi and how rare some of these abilities can be.

During the prequel era, we take for granted that Anakin and Palpatine can do it, and these books re-contextualize that. Perhaps Anakin, as the chosen one, is far more rare and special than we'd even realized, especially in his abilities. But Vernestra serves as a brilliant counterpoint to Anakin's struggles. Everything in "Star Wars" is connected and adds shades of gray to the other stories, and over the course of this initiative, I think Vernestra will have a lot to add to Anakin's story.

The Halcyon

The most exciting tie to other "Star Wars" storytelling is the prominent placement of the Purgill-class ship Halcyon. This is the ship that guests can visit at Disney World's Galactic Starcruiser, much earlier in its days. By the time you board the ship at Disney World, it will have been in service for 275 years, which means that it's still fairly new in this part of the timeline. The Halcyon answers a distress call and leads the effort to tow the Jedi space-fortress known as the Starlight Beacon to Dalna in order to help rescue the inhabitants of the planet as it turns to ash and lava.

It adds another touchstone of history to the ship that you can go experience any time you can put the money together and shows a long history of the crew of the ship doing the right thing in the face of adversity.

The verdict

Justina Ireland's take on Vernestra Rwoh is one of the most satisfying to read in the entire High Republic era. There's something utterly fascinating about a Jedi passing the Trials so young that they're really still a child, still learning to be an adult. Pairing her with a padawan that is only a couple of years her junior makes her partnership with Imri Cantos so compelling to watch. It's very much a situation where master learns as much from the apprentice as the other way around and it makes for great reading. The story itself is incredibly readable. Ireland's prose pulls you through quickly that you want to read as fast as you can, but it never once feels like a middle-grade book. Since it never talks down to the audience, it never feels like you're reading anything but a shorter book, rather than one for middle-graders.

Seeing as how the book is set before the last two major High Republic books, it would have been nice to read it sooner, but there's nothing really lost by reading it out of order.

The High Republic continues to impress, even as it marches on. 

This book release ends Phase One of the storytelling. Now, we move onto the past and Phase Two.

"Star Wars: The High Republic – Mission to Disaster" is available now at bookstores everywhere.