Star Wars fans are about to meet a brand new era.
Earlier this evening, Lucasfilm finally pulled the curtains back on its long-awaited Project Luminous: it will be a major cross-medium publishing project called The High Republic, set two centuries before The Phantom Menace.
The project will include 3 books and 2 comic series, written by authors Claudia Gray, Justina Ireland, Daniel José Older, Cavan Scott, and Charles Soule. The project is designed to keep fans engaged with Star Wars after the latest sequel trilogy, much as the publishing projects after the original and prequel trilogies did in the 1990s and 2000s.
The bigger story is that the Republic is at its height, and that it’s in the midst of a peaceful era, which is disrupted by a major threat at its borders — called “The Great Disaster.” The series will center on a core group of Jedi Knights — likened to the Texas Rangers and Knights of the Round Table, as they face off against a new threat.
That threat is a group known as the Nhil (pronounced Nile), who are described as Mad Max-like “space vikings.” The project had a couple of big inspirations: Obi-Wan Kenobi’s line in A New Hope, “For over a thousand generations, the Jedi Knights were the guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic,” and a prompt from LFL President Kathleen Kennedy: “what would scare a Jedi?”
The first novel that will kick off the series Soule’s Light of the Jedi, written by Soule, and will be available on August 25th — just a couple of days before this year’s Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim, California.
After that, we’ll get A Test of Courage by Justina Ireland, a Middle Grade novel which will hit stores on September 8th:
When a transport ship is abruptly kicked out of hyperspace as part of a galaxy-wide disaster, newly-minted teen Jedi Vernestra Rwoh, a young Padawan, an audacious tech-kid, and the son of an ambassador are stranded on a jungle moon where they must work together to survive both the dangerous terrain and a hidden danger lurking in the shadows….
And on October 13th, Claudia Gray will publish her YA novel, Into the Dark:
Padawan Reath Silas is being sent from the cosmopolitan galactic capital of Coruscant to the undeveloped frontier—and he couldn’t be less happy about it. He’d rather stay at the Jedi Temple, studying the archives. But when the ship he’s traveling on is knocked out of hyperspace in a galactic-wide disaster, Reath finds himself at the center of the action. The Jedi and their traveling companions find refuge on what appears to be an abandoned space station. But then strange things start happening, leading the Jedi to investigate the truth behind the mysterious station, a truth that could end in tragedy….
On the comics front, Cavan Scott will write The High Republic, a new, ongoing series from Marvel Comics, while Daniel Jose Older will write The High Republic Adventures, which will come from IDW, which will be about some of the younger characters in the series.
Sharp-eyed readers might have already picked up on some references to the era in a couple of recently-published works, such as Dooku: Jedi Lost (written by Cavan Scott), and The Rise of Kylo Ren (written by Charles Soule)
Lucasfilm first announced the project in April 2019 at Star Wars Celebration, and revealed that it would be a crossover project at last year’s New York Comic Con. The series is already joining a packed year for Star Wars novels: The Rise of Skywalker novelization (written by Rae Carson) is out on March 17th, Queen’s Peril (E.K. Johnson) is out on June 2nd, Alphabet Squadron: Shadow Fall (Alexander Freed) is out on June 23rd, Poe Dameron: Free Fall (Alex Sequra) is out on August 4th, and the first installment of Timothy Zahn’s new Thrawn trilogy, Chaos Rising, hits stores on October 6th.
The project is a “massive, interconnected story” and was originally pitched in 2014. The authors went to Skywalker Ranch to discuss what they wanted to see in the franchise that was missing, and throughout the development process, they generated concept art for the various characters and environments, opting for a different look and feel for both the Jedi Knights and their adversaries. The project will also include a number of other publishers, such as DK, Abrams, Insight, and Viz.
This sort of overarching project is a return to form for Lucasfilm and Del Rey, which ran a number of similar projects in the 1990s and 2000s, such as Michael A. Stackpole and Aaron Allston’s X-Wing Series (a project that included comic books, novels, and video games), The New Jedi Order (a massive, 19-book series), the Clone Wars Multimedia Project (books, comics, video games, and a television series), and Legacy of the Force (A nine-book series written by Karen Traviss, Aaron Allston, and Troy Denning). These major publishing projects made for interesting reads, as Lucasfilm worked closely with writers and editors to develop franchise-shifting projects under the now decanonized Expanded Universe.
How will The High Republic stack up against those predecessors? We’ll find out starting in August.