Star Wars: The High Republic – Defy The Storm | Review

The first Young Adult novel for Star Wars: The High Republic Phase III, Defy the Storm, brings together familiar/favorite faces for a thrilling new adventure.

Star Wars: The High Republic: Defy the Storm
Written By: Tessa Gratton and Justina Ireland
Published By: Disney Lucasfilm Press
Release Date: March 5, 2024
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The High Republic continues to chug along and the latest release marks our first YA novel in this Phase. Considering the YA novels in the previous phases were among some of the best (and my personal favorites), I was pretty excited to dive into this one. Even better, we get to see some characters we haven’t in a while.

Thankfully, Tessa Gratton and Justina Ireland continue to bring the goods and deliver another solid entry…even if it’s more about catching up with characters rather than a bigger story unfolding. Let’s go ahead and talk about it!

Vernestra Rwoh

Into the Breach

Defy the Storm brings together a fairly sizable cast of characters this time around, though I would say the “main characters” are definitely Vernestra Rwoh, Avon Starros (Sunvale now), and Jordanna Sparkburn. All three we’ve dealt with before, but this marks their first real adventure in this Phase of The High Republic, which means there’s some catching up to do. Don’t worry, there are a number of other familiar faces from these characters’ previous adventures that pop up as well.

All three of them have been dealing with things over the past year since the Stormwall was erected and Starlight beacon was destroyed. Vernestra, believing her Padawan killed on Starlight and shaken by the Jedi’s failure, found herself in need of a little…sabbatical. As such, she’s kind of sequestered herself for the past year. Through her story, readers can get caught up on some of the major highlights of recent events in The High Republic and things they may have forgotten in the time since The Eye of Darkness released.

Avon has been secluded on the opposite side of the Stormwall, deep within the Nihil’s heart of power. Having to contend with assassin’s and coming to grips with the knowledge her mother (Ghirra Starros) is a traitor to the Republic, Avon manages to scheme her way out of the Occlusion zone. She’s planning a big return, however, with revenge in mind.

Jordanna Sparkburn, having been reunited with the love of her life, Sylvestri Yarrow, is having a pretty good year all things considered! The pair are traveling the galaxy, taking jobs to help those who’ve been affected hardest by the Nihil Stormwall. Even so, Jordanna’s sense of duty/honor has left her wondering about her family trapped on the other side of the wall, and those she’d sworn to protect.

The three women inexplicably find their paths converging as their separate goals bring them together on a harrowing mission deep into Nihil territory. To succeed they’ll have to rely on some unexpected assistance, and the information they uncover could help the Republic/Jedi finally find a way to strike back. In the interest of keeping things spoiler free, that’s about as much as I’m willing to get into.

Avon Starros/Sunvale

Diverging Stories

Because of how the story is set up, Defy the Storm feels a tad…disjointed. Mostly because there isn’t a singular overarching story thread. Instead, the characters each have their own things going on. This isn’t necessarily an uncommon thing, especially within big publishing initiatives like this. Even The Eye of Darkness featured numerous diverging character stories, but those seemed to come together at some point to form a more singular narrative.

In Defy the Storm, they mostly remain separate. Without trying to spoil anything, it basically boils down to the characters coming together to find a way through the occlusion zone, then go on their separate missions before trying to find a way back. We’re talking separate locations, goals, and set of circumstances they’re all dealing with. The only common thread is the fact these characters all know each other and currently share a ship.

I’m not saying this is a bad thing. Far from it, actually. Each of these little adventures rule in their own way and made me appreciate the characters even more. More so, their separate journeys allowed them each to acquire new, crucial, information that will undoubtedly play a major role in the story going forward. It’s just that I kept waiting to see how these stories would come together. I found myself waiting for things to intersect and reveal their differing stories weren’t unrelated.

That’s more of an expectations issue, rather than a problem with the book itself. Even without things coming together completely, the stories are compelling and the pacing makes for a quick read. Even at 464 pages, it breezes by. There’s a surprising amount of action, all of which feels excellently laid out in a way that makes you feel like you’re right in the middle of it with the characters. Due to each of the characters unique skills/abilities, none of the action feels repetitive either, giving each major sequence its own feel and sense of tension.

Jordanna Sparkburn

Mindful of the Moment

The novel Gratton and Ireland have created serves as a more of a character study. Rather than significantly moving the needle forward on the “main” plot for this Phase of The High Republic, we get a more intimate/nuanced look at these characters. In a lot of ways, it’s exactly what’s needed. Storywise, as things are seemingly at an impasse with the Nihil as the Republic strives to find a way through the Stormwall, this is the perfect time to slow down and let readers “catch-up” with these characters. Between all that’s happened and the jump in time, it’s crucial to see how they’ve changed since the last time we saw them.

Defy the Storm absolutely delivers on that front and left me more excited than ever to see what comes next for these characters. Combine that with some fun hints/teases of things that are setting the stage for something major, and fans are once again left with a High Republic story that can’t be missed.

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Jordan Maison
Jordan Maison
Lover of all things nerdy, Jordan's passion for books began at an early age and simply never stopped.