Review: Cavan Scott's "The Rising Storm" (Spoiler Free)
When I had the opportunity to read the prologue of this book at the beginning of May, I thought to myself, “Oh no, this isn’t going to go well for our heroes.” With an opening line like “The screams had never left Elzar Mann,” what else was I supposed to think!?
I’m happy to report that Cavan Scott's The Rising Storm lived up to that chilling expectation! After the events of Light of the Jedi, which is the predecessor novel from Del Rey Books, I immediately knew this series was not one that will likely end with a happily ever after. Nonetheless, I've become wildly invested, and part of the fun (and the really really scary part, let’s be real) is watching how bad things can get. As some might say, "Star Wars is tragedy."
The Rising Storm takes place about one year after the Great Hyperspace Disaster in a galaxy that is working to rebuild trust, unity, and hope after such destruction. In an attempt to rally various worlds together, Chancellor Lina Soh plans the Republic Fair on the world of Valo to showcase innovation, culture, and art from around the Republic. It is meant to be a time of peace and prosperity, but the Nihil have other plans and have been lying in wait for the perfect moment to strike — unfortunately, that moment is now.
Clocking in at about 425 pages, The Rising Storm is nothing to be intimidated about. The book itself is a compelling page-turner. Just when things are getting exciting (aka bad for our heroes), they somehow get even more exciting (aka even worse for our heroes) and you have no choice but to read on! Even when we aren’t in battle, though, this book is still a thrill ride. I personally adored the politics in this book and hearing how the aftermath of the Great Disaster affected both the perceptions of the Republic and people's faith in Chancellor Soh's leadership.
I also enjoyed getting to know some of these characters on a more intimate level and better understand their interpersonal relationships. Without getting into spoilers, the constantly shifting dynamics between Marchion Ro and his Tempest Runners is wild to watch play out. Getting more of Padawan Bell Zettifar and his charhound Ember is absolute perfection. The rapport between Stellan Gios and Elzar Mann, my personal favorites, is a delight. Speaking of Elzar Mann, his relationship with everyone and everything is fascinating to see unfold and, without a doubt, provided me with some of my favorite moments.
Now that we’ve been introduced to such a strong host of Jedi in this era, I hope we continue to see more character exploration of this depth in future installments. They are original and fun to watch!
For those that struggled with the scope and breadth of characters in Light of the Jedi, I’m not sure you’ll have an easier time in this installment. While Scott’s writing feels less choppy than the heavy-on-the-details world-building of Light of the Jedi, The Rising Storm still bounces from many points of view, especially during our big battle. While I enjoy the cinematic scope of this Star Wars era and find that following so many characters is a gift (as if the feeling of Christmas Day lasted for an entire book), even I have struggled to keep up when hopping between various set pieces and particularly intense sequences. I hope this is something that the High Republic team will continue to refine, and I hope that we will get some smaller stories for adult audiences too.
Ultimately, The Rising Storm is a thrilling second installment in the adult offerings of The High Republic. It completely surpassed my high expectations, shocking me more than a few times. It has emotional highs, emotional lows, and provides the same level of excitement and enjoyment that you’d expect from your favorite Star Wars movie. It has set us up for even greater stories, and I applaud author Cavan Scott and the whole High Republic team for making me even more worried than ever before.
A most sincere thanks to Del Rey for providing me with a review copy of this book.
Sarah Hass is a co-host on the Friends of the Force main show and Resistance series Bibo's Book Report. She is also a co-creator of #RememberingResistance Day. When she's not annoying Brad by keeping him on the Zoom meeting longer than either of them intended, you can find her nonsensical ramblings on her twitter @seh221 and her book musings on Instagram at @sarahspuzzledpages.