Star Wars: Light of the Jedi
Written by Charles Soule
Published by Del Rey
January 5, 2021
Hardback, 400 pages

Light of the Jedi is now out. I’m not impressed.

It’s the first book in the “High Republic” cross-platform publishing initiative, and as such it has the responsibility of setting up a lot of what comes after. So you would think that Soule would start the book with something engaging.

He doesn’t.

The first eight chapters were made available online to generate interest, which is a hint that maybe they really want you to read it, please? But it’s not interesting. The overall narrative spends way too much time on things that don’t matter and not enough time on the things that do. The first chapter gives us a ship’s captain touring her vessel with numerous mentions that “all is well” throughout the ship, which is telegraphing that all will not be well by the end of the first chapter. 

And then we have the overall disaster that sets up this entire narrative, and I never get any sense of doom, no real feeling that anyone is in jeopardy, mainly because no one in the story acts like they’re in any real danger. The characters aren’t doing anything yet. There’s a lot of standing around talking about what’s happening, but there’s no action other than what the Jedi are doing. And ever then, there’s no real sense of danger. I mean, come on, there are unidentified objects flying into a populated star system at near-lightspeed. Somebody should be sweating a little…

Several times I found myself asking how we got from plot point to plot point without the necessary action that should go between them. A couple of times characters suddenly have information that they didn’t have moments before, and there’s nothing to indicate just how they got this data — a comm signal? Telepathy? Carrier convor?

Now, there’s a very real possibility this story starts to pick up the pace and get interesting later, but after the first eight chapters where I’m not caring about anyone or anything happening, it doesn’t really matter. There’s a lot of “tell” and not enough “show” — and a lot of tell doesn’t even have anything to do with the action going on at the moment. A lot of character backstory infodumps in the middle of what should be harrowing excitement. The solar system is facing imminent doom! And Soule spends his time weaving in material that could be revealed gradually — and in dialogue — instead of dropping the whole thing in the midst of “oh yeah, we’re saving a civilization, I guess”… 

Overall, it’s just boring. And not worth the time or the money.

Jason P. Hunt

Jason P. Hunt (founder/EIC) is the author of the sci-fi novella "The Hero At the End Of His Rope". His short film "Species Felis Dominarus" was a finalist in the Sci Fi Channel's 2007 Exposure competition.

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