Book Brew: ‘Star Wars: The High Republic: Path of Deceit’ Review
After a few month hiatus, Phase II of Star Wars: The High Republic is finally here and fans are so excited to dive back into this incredible story and era. So what exactly is Phase II about and what is Path of Deceit about? Those questions and many more will be answered soon enough dear reader, but until then buckle up!
Phase II of The High Republic is set around 150 years before The Great Disaster that kicked off Phase I. This means that we are 350 years before the events of The Phantom Menace. Once again we see the Republic and the Jedi at the height of their ideals and power. The Republic is starting to expand and explore the Outer Rim of the galaxy by sending out Pathfinder teams. These teams consist of Hyperspace Prospectors, Jedi, Medic’s and Comms Specialists. Their mission: to explore the Outer Rim, provide Republic outreach, set up Jedi Outposts, chart Hyperspace routes and establish a long range galaxy wide communications network. This era will become known as The Age of Exploration. While this is going on, the planets of Eiram and E’ronoh are in a massive conflict called The Forever War. But that’s not all that’s going on, There is something happening on the planet Dalna that will lead to certain events down the road. This is just the basic premise of what Phase II is about!
So what is Path of Deceit about? After a powerful Force artifact is stolen Jedi Master Zallah Macri and her Padawan Kevmo Zink start an investigation that leads them to the planet Dalna (a very important location from Phase I) and The Path of the Open Hand. The Path of the Open hand is a cult that worships the Force. They believe that the Force should be free and no one should be able to wield it and they also believe that not only does the Force guide everyone but it will also provide for everyone. When we meet The Path, we meet Marda Ro (Yes, that Ro family!) who is a disciple of the Path and spends most of her time doing local outreach and tending to the younglings of the Path. We are also introduced to Marda’s sister Yana who is a member of the Children. The Children are the inner circle of the Path and they do the dirty work of The Mother and The Herald (the leaders of The Path) such as “liberating” certain artifacts. All of this leads to Marda and Kevmo meeting which leads to an immediate attraction between the both of them. Marda feels that she can convince Kevmo to stop using the Force and join the Path and Kevmo must learn a hard lesson about attachments and the Jedi code. All of this boils down to an emotional climax that will change them all. I won’t say anymore as I do not want to spoil the events of the book.
I have to say that I absolutely LOVED Path of Deceit! Writers Justina Ireland and Tessa Gratton deliver a more personal and character driven story about love, faith, loss and loyalty. This is a young adult novel but it certainly doesn’t read like one. Ireland and Gratton do an incredible job of not only world building but also making this an accessible jumping on point for readers that are new to The High Republic. They start to show us the state of the galaxy and how things can affect the everyday folk. Not only do they do an impressive job of showcasing the state of things BUT they also create brand new philosophies and religions involving the Force. I for one found the teachings of The Path of the Open Hand intriguing. It’s interesting to see a group of people that believe that the use of the Force can cause harm to others. The Path feels that if one uses the Force, it takes the Force away from a situation that the Force could have brought to an end. Another interesting thing about the exploration of Cults, religion and the Force is the introduction of The Convocation. The Convocation is a council of elders that are made up of representatives from different religions that worship and use the Force. They are located on the planet Jedha and they are headquartered in the Holy City (the city from Rogue One). I found their premise fascinating and I am looking forward to learning more about them as well. It was just a really cool thing to start building on. If you are wondering if the book has action, yes it does BUT it takes a back seat to the character development and world building. I found that the minimum use of action set pieces to be a breath of fresh air, this is a mystery story that is also a story of romance so it doesn’t need that much action. Also it goes to show you how good Justina Ireland and Tessa Gratton are at their craft and I hope to see many more collaborations between the two of these fantastic writers.
My only issue with this book is that it does take a bit to get going but when it does about 1/4 of the way through, hold on tight because it’s a ride. The first few chapters are there to world build and to help us get attached to these characters and while I felt that it worked perfectly, others will probably not see it that way. Other readers will see that this is a young adult novel and decide not to read it because they feel that it is beneath them, it isn’t but I can see why people wouldn’t want to read this book. I think the biggest issue is that a few news sites and critics are calling the upcoming adult novel Convergence the start of Phase II and it isn’t. The official start to Phase II is this novel.
As I said before, I LOVED this book! Justina and Tessa take us on a journey that not only builds to what has come before but starts to cement its legacy as one of the BEST High Republic stories to date. There hasn’t been a day since I finished this book that I haven’t thought about it or talked to my fellow High Republic fans about it. It will stay with you for a long time and I think that is fantastic.
I give Path of Deceit 4.5 Yellow Lightsabers out of 5!