Star Wars: The High Republic returns next week with the release of George Mann’s novel The Eye of Darkness, officially kicking off Phase 3 of The High Republic saga, “Trials of the Jedi.” Since Star Wars: The High Republic Phase 2, “Quest of the Jedi,” jumped backward in time to show events that happened before Phase 1, “Light of the Jedi,” Star Wars: The High Republic fans will be catching up with some of their Phase 1 favorites for the first time in a year or more. Lucasfilm Publishing revealed fresh artwork from MinJi Yoon and Ario Anindito that shows how popular characters have changed in the year that has passed since the fall of Starlight Beacon in The Fallen Star. That includes Jedi Master Avar Kriss, the “Blade of Bardotta” Porter Engle, young Jedi Vernestra Rwoh (who is set to appear in Disney+’s The Acolyte), and the Eye of the Nihil, Marchion Ro.
“Our story picks up one year after the fall of Starlight Beacon, and the characters — and their appearances — have to reflect that,” Michael Siglain, creative director at Lucasfilm Publishing, tells StarWars.com. “The Chancellor’s shining symbol of hope has been destroyed. The Jedi have lost and the Nihil have won. Our heroes are dealing with fear and trauma, and are struggling to find a way to bring back light and hope.”
Here’s the official synopsis for The Eye of Darkness: “One year after the tragic events of The Fallen Star, the Jedi fight to break the Nihil’s control over the galaxy. The galaxy is divided. Following the shocking destruction of Starlight Beacon, the Nihil have established an impenetrable barrier called the Stormwall around part of the Outer Rim, where Marchion Ro rules and his followers wreak havoc at his every whim. Jedi trapped behind enemy lines, including Avar Kriss, must fight to help the worlds being pillaged by the Nihil while staying one step ahead of the marauders and their Nameless terrors.
“Outside the Nihil’s so-called Occlusion Zone, Elzar Mann, Bell Zettifar, and the other Jedi work alongside the Republic to reach the worlds that have been cut off from the rest of the galaxy. But every attempt to breach the Stormwall has failed, and even communication across the barrier is impossible. The failures and losses weigh heavily upon both Elzar and Bell as they search desperately for a solution.
“But even if the Republic and Jedi forces manage to breach the Stormwall, how can the Jedi fight back against the Nameless creatures that prey on the Jedi’s connection to the Force? And what other horrors does Marchion Ro have in store? As desperation for both the Jedi and the Republic grows, any hope of reuniting the galaxy could be all but extinguished.”
Check out the new artwork for characters in Star Wars: The High Republic Phase 3, set opposite their Phase 1 designs, below. The Eye of Darkness goes on sale on November 14th.
Avar Kriss was once the face of the Jedi Order throughout the galaxy. Now she’s doing everything she can to hide herself as she operates within the Occlusion Zone and tries to reckon with her failure as the marshal of Starlight Beacon and the loss of her friend and fellow Jedi, Stellan Gios.
“When we meet Avar at the beginning of Phase III, she’s operating alone and undercover in the Occlusion Zone,” says Mann. “She’s struggling with guilt over what happened to Starlight Beacon, blaming herself for Stellan’s death, and ultimately, trying to make amends.”
Porter Engle is stuck in the Nihil’s Occlusion Zone as Phase 3 begins. Rather than resorting to the more violent ways of his youth that earned him the name “The Blade of Bardotta,” he’s taking a more subtle approach to fighting the Nihil.
“Porter is also stuck inside the Occlusion Zone when Phase III begins, but he’s taking a slightly different approach to Avar,” Mann says. “He’s traveling from place-to-place, seeking bits of old technology that he’s figured might be able to help him breach the Stormwall. He’s determined, but also hopeful.”
Bell Zettifar and Ember
Bell Zettifar still has his charhound, Ember, at his side in Phase 3 of The High Republic. After losing his master, Loden Greatstorm, to the Nihil and experiencing the traumatic fall of Starlight Beacon, Bell is ready to take the fight to the enemy.
“Bell is furious with the Nihil, and a little with himself, too,” says Mann. “He’s counting the Jedi’s failures as his own. He’s spending more and more time out on the edge of the Occlusion Zone, patrolling for Nihil raiders. And he’s set his sights on one Nihil in particular, named Melis Shryke, who typifies everything about the Nihil that he wants to stop.”
Burryaga lives! Fans worried that the Wookie Jedi Padawan may have died with Starlight Beacon, but his friend, Bell Zettifar, rescued him. Now he’s a Jedi Knight.
“After being trapped beneath Eiram’s ocean, Burry is just glad to be alive and able to be amongst his friends, making a difference,” Mann says. Yoon adds, “He is older and a little thinner than last time we saw him, and is now fully equipped to be out in the field.”
Vernestra Rwoh is no longer the untested Padawan she was in Phase 1. She’s taken significant steps toward becoming the adult Jedi she’ll be in The Acolyte streaming series.
“Vern is more mature. She’s no longer the young Jedi Padawan that we knew,” Anindito says. To reflect that evolution, the artist incorporated elements to give her a more rugged look. “When we see her, we know she is now capable of holding her ground on her own. She’s basically a badass, now more than she ever was.”
Ghirra Starros was once a senator in the Galactic Republic. Now, she publicly aligned with the Nihil. However, she still seeks to bring order to the chaos that has erupted in the year since Starlight’s fall.
“Ghirra knows that for the Nihil to survive, they have to become something different,” Mann says. “They have to stabilize and organize and become more like a government, overseeing the worlds now under their jurisdiction.”
Marchion Ro has grown more arrogant in the year since his successful sabotage of Starlight Beacon. However, while Anindito says Marchion “feels like a king,” Mann hints that his head might be heavy wearing that crown.
“Marchion Ro is in a difficult spot,” Mann says. “He’s got everything he wanted. And it feels hollow. The crown is resting very uneasily on his head, and that makes him a very dangerous person to be around.”