Title: Star Wars The High Republic: A Test of Courage
Author: Justina Ireland
Publisher: Disney Lucasfilm Press
Age Range: Middle Grade
Release Date: January 5th, 2021
With The Mandalorian over, are you looking to fill the Star Wars-shaped hole in your heart? Look no furthers than the brand-new High Republic book series. While each story is connected in their own way, each book will focus on an individual story. Set during the height of the Jedi, these stories take place way before even the prequel films. A Test of Courage, a novel for young readers, is one of the first of the series.
Despite being for young readers, A Test of Courage deals with some heavy subject matter:
Vernestra Rwoh is a new Jedi Knight at age sixteen, but her first real assignment feels an awful lot like babysitting. She’s been charged with supervising twelve-year old aspiring inventor Avon Starros on a cruiser headed to the dedication of a wondrous new space station called Starlight Beacon.
But soon into their journey, bombs go off aboard the cruiser. While the adult Jedi try to save the ship, Vernestra, Avon, Avon’s droid J-6, a Jedi Padawan, and an ambassador’s son make it to an escape shuttle, but communications are out and supplies are low. They decide to land on a nearby moon, which offers shelter but not much more. And unbeknownst to them, danger lurks in the forest?
If you’re looking for a quick read, A Test of Courage is just the thing for you. On top of being quick, it was fun to begin exploring a time in Star Wars lore and history outside of the films and television series. This (very briefly) goes more in-depth with some of the stories surrounding the Jedi and the Sith, and I can’t wait to see what else the series has in store for fans.
Unfortunately, it’s difficult to really get into A Test of Courage at first. The novel switches in and out of about five different perspectives, and there doesn’t seem to be an anchor character to help feel grounded in the story. That being said, the personalities aren’t strong enough either to really feel like separate perspectives, so it almost starts t0 feel muddy. In all these shifting perspectives, it tends to lose the plot as well.
If you’re looking for an action-packed tale, A Test of Courage might not be for you. There are definitely some action-focused scenes, but this novel feels more introspective. A majority of the book deals more with how the characters are feeling, things about their lives before the crash and their connection to the Force. These parts are written well, but I never felt any closer to the characters after learning this information. After all the introspection, they still felt more static.
All in all, Star Wars The High Republic: A Test of Courage does what it sets out to do. Young readers may find this totally delightful, but adults looking to dive into The High Republic series could probably give A Test of Courage a pass.
Star Wars The High Republic: A Test of Courage will be available, physically and digitally, on January 5th, 2021. Its release is accompanied by The High Republic: The Light of the Jedi, the first official novel in the series, and the next novel, Into the Dark written by Claudia Gray, is set to release on February 2nd, 2021.
Verdict: Star Wars The High Republic: A Test of Courage ultimately does what it needs to do. It is an easy introduction into new period of Star Wars lore and history, but it seems to lack the excitement and magic of traditional Star Wars tales. Constantly switching perspectives make it difficult to fully get into the story, despite the book feeling more introspective overall. While a straightforward story at heart, it’s a quick read with some interesting bits of lore hidden inside.