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Phase II of ‘Star Wars: The High Republic’ contains compelling new villains

When Phase I of Star Wars: The High Republic concluded in early 2022, the story ended on some major cliffhangers. Things were looking bleak for many of the characters and several characters readers had come to love unfortunately met their demise.

The natural next step would have been to pick up where the story left off. However, the architects of The High Republic made a bold move: instead of telling stories of what came next, they decided to go back in time and tell stories of events in The High Republic’s past that directly connected to the events of Phase I.

Phase II of The High Republic takes place 150 years before Phase I. In the overall story of Star Wars, this places these events around 350 years before Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, the first film in the Skywalker Saga.

One of the most unique parts of Phase II is the villains introduced in the story. Phase II follows the Jedi investigating a group that calls themselves The Path of the Open Hand. The Path, led by a character known as The Mother, believes strongly in simply letting the Force be and letting it exercise its will. Thus, the Path strongly objects to anyone, including the Jedi, using the Force for any means, believing it to be a perversion of the Force.

As the story advances through the seven books of Phase II, it becomes clear the Path sees the Jedi as their enemy. However, the Path adamantly refuses to use The Force in any way. Instead, they discover beasts known as Levelers, which somehow affect a Force user’s ability to use the Force, and can even “feed” on a Force user.

Through Phase II, I was reminded of a villain from Star Wars Legends who would have gotten along with The Path and believed in their views, though would likely be more extreme than even The Mother. I’m talking of Kreia, also known as Darth Traya, from Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords. During the climax of that game, it is revealed that Kreia has come to hate the Force and seeks to cause the death of it. While Kreia’s views of The Force were ultimately more extreme than the Path’s, it’s easy to compare the two favorably and The Mother certainly has a Kreia vibe about her.

The Path of the Open Hand ranks among the most unique villains in the Star Wars saga. Unlike the Sith, they don’t use the Force. In fact, it may be safe to say members of the Path fear the Force and what it can do. Their hatred of the Jedi, misguided though it may be, is evident throughout Phase II, and only gets more intense over time.

The seven books of Phase II in chronological order, as dictated by starwars.com, is as follows:

  1. Quest for the Hidden City, written by George Mann
  2. Convergence, written by Zoraida Cordova
  3. Path of Deceit, written by Justina Ireland and Tessa Gratton
  4. The Battle of Jedha (audiobook), written by George Mann
  5. Quest for Planet X, written by Tessa Gratton
  6. Cataclysm, written by Lydia Kang
  7. Path of Vengeance, written by Cavan Scott

Phase III is currently being published, with three books out so far. This story takes place about a year after Phase I and will conclude in 2025. Meanwhile, the next new Star Wars series, The Acolyte, takes place near the end of The High Republic era and will debut on Disney+ on June 4.


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