Questions About the Jedi’s Role Began Before the Clone Wars

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An excerpt from Justina Ireland’s upcoming Star Wars: The High Republic: Out of the Shadows highlights fundamental questions about the Jedi’s role.

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Star Wars: The High Republic: Out of the Shadows by Justina Ireland, releasing July 27, 2021, Star Wars: The High Republic: Into the Dark by Claudia Gray, Star Wars: The High Republic: Race to Crashpoint Tower by Daniel José Older and Star Wars: The High Republic: The Rising Storm by Cavan Scott.

In Star Wars, the High Republic era represents the height of the Jedi and the Republic’s presence in the galaxy. Since the Jedi are used to more peaceful times, they are having to question their role in the galactic conflict as the Nihil and the Drengir continue to violently spread across the galaxy. And A StarWars.com exclusive excerpt from Justina Ireland’s upcoming Star Wars: Out of the Shadows uses a sparring match and competition between Jedi Knight Vernestra Rwoh and Padawan Reath Silas to elaborate further on the clash between reactive strategies and proactive measures as the Jedi try to prevent more loss in the Nihil and the Drengir’s wake.

To contextualize this excerpt, both Vernestra and Rwoh have witnessed firsthand the destruction that the Jedi’s two new enemies have wrought throughout the galaxy. In both waves, Vernestra has fought against the Nihil, both in the aftermath of the Great Disaster, a hyperspace crash caused by the Nihil that resulted in millions of deaths, from the debris from the crash, and from the Nihil attacks afterward. In regards to the Drengir, in Star Wars: Into the Dark, Reath Silas was there and partially responsible for the reawakening of the Drengir, a plantlike species that views the entire galaxy as food. In truth, Vernestra and Reath have both been on the front lines of the brewing galactic conflicts throughout the subseries.

RELATED: Star Wars: The Nihil’s Deadliest Weapon PETRIFIES the Jedi

Marchion Ro stands dramatically in the background as the Nihil raise their fists and weapons in allegiance.

This conversation also takes place in the aftermath of the reveal of the Great Leveler, a beast, controlled by Marchion Ro, the leader of the Nihil. Unlike the other attacks throughout the series which focus on general chaos, the Great Leveler specifically targets Jedi, either trapping them within the horrors of their own mind or, once the Leveler has psychically taken everything they can, literally petrifying their victims and turning them to ash. This means stakes for the Jedi have been raised on a personal and a galactic level.

The excerpt from Star Wars: The High Republic: Out of the Shadows focuses on a quiet moment between Reath and Vernestra when both of them are unable to sleep. While practicing sparring, they discuss the role of the Jedi in the conflicts with the Drengir and the Nihil and how each of them approaches conflict. As Vernestra points out, the main reason that Reath loses is that he only focuses on defense and doesn’t take offensive strikes. In contrast, Vernestra leaps into the fight, preferring to attack first rather than wait to be attacked.

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These strategies illustrate the growing philosophical questions the Jedi face. Throughout the course of the match and their conversation afterward, they discuss the Jedi’s role as peacekeepers and whether they should take an even more active role in the fight. Thus far, the Jedi have mainly been reactive, dealing with Nihil attacks as they happen rather than being more proactive and seeking out the threat itself. Vernestra leans more toward a proactive approach, but Reath, who, before the conflict was far more interested in books and libraries, worries that such actions might place them out of balance within the Force. However, even though they both have sides that they seem to favor, neither reaches any definitive conclusions. Instead, they bond over their confusion even as they grow older and progress within the order.

Reath and Vernestra’s conversation highlights a fundamental struggle that the Jedi have had throughout the Star Wars eras that formed the backbone of the conflict during the Clone Wars. As the Nihil and Drengir continue to rise, more and more Jedi will have to reckon with their place within the Order and the Force itself to deal with the coming conflicts. And while Reath and Vernestra don’t reach any definitive conclusions during their discussion, they still show that these questions about the Jedi’s role in the galaxy have been a part of the Order for centuries.

KEEP READING: Star Wars: The High Republic #8 Unleashes the Drengir (Exclusive)

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