Star Wars: Midnight Horizon is the final book in Phase One of The High Republic initiative, and caps off well over a year of storytelling. The High Republic has brought new worlds, characters, heroes, and villains into the Star Wars universe, but it has done far more than that. Through the various books, comics, and audio dramas that have made up Phase One, The High Republic has changed the landscape of Star Wars for the better. Midnight Horizon by Daniel José Older is no exception.
Older’s book is the Young Adult entry in Wave Three, but at times it has a decidedly more mature tone. This is certainly not a bad thing, and often proves to be one of the biggest strengths of The High Republic. We’ll get into that more a bit later in this review.
Before reading Midnight Horizon, it is helpful to know that many of the characters come from Daniel José Older’s High Republic Adventures comic series. If you want to make sure you don’t miss anything here, you may want to start there. In fact, check out our entire reader’s guide to The High Republic to make sure you’re reading everything in the right order.
In Midnight Horizon, Jedi Masters Kantam Sy and Cohmac Vitus are dispatched to Corellia to investigate potential unrest caused by the Nihil – the central enemy in Phase One. They are accompanied by Padawans Reath Silas and Ram Jomaram. Meanwhile, another group of Jedi is sent to capture Krix before he can cause more destruction with the Nihil.
High Adventure in Midnight Horizon
Zeen’s storyline with Krix from The High Republic Adventures series is largely tied up here, and is done so relatively early. This is because Zeen has more to do with the Jedi on Corellia, where she travels midway through the book. Zeen, along with security team leader Crash, assists Padawans Silas and Jomaram in a plan meant to expose and defeat the Nihil presence on Corellia.
Jedi Masters Sy and Cohmac, meanwhile, are working with the higher-ups in Coronet City to root out the Nihil presence. Since the Jedi learn of the attack on Starlight Beacon during the course of Midnight Horizon, they are often conflicted between focusing on the task at hand and their concern for the people they care about on Starlight Beacon.
Over the course of the novel, Kantam Sy conveys a story to Master Cohmac from their youth when they left the Jedi Order for love and passion. At the time Sy was Yoda’s padawan learner, and they discuss the choices that had to be made leading up to the decision. Ultimately, they tell Cohmac what led them to return to Yoda, and how only by leaving did they learn their own path.
Later in Midnight Horizon, this recounting would prove to be much more consequential than just remembering a lesson learned. It leads to significant decisions made late in the story.
One of the absolute strengths of The High Republic series is the tone that is set in many of the stories. A criticism of Star Wars that I always felt was fair is that the Jedi are often not very compelling. They are often stoic, balanced, and unwavering. The High Republic turns that entire principle on its head.
Throughout Phase One, the actions of the Nihil have put the core values of the Jedi to the test. Many Jedi have faced internal conflict about whether being a Jedi was the right path for them, and some embraced the Dark Side as an avenue to secure victory.
The Conflict Isn’t Just With the Nihil
This internal conflict is at a high point in Midnight Horizon. Master Cohmac, Padawan Silas, Master Sy, Zeen, and others are all trying to come to terms with the pain they have suffered. In turn, they are faced with the decision about where their place in the universe is. Given that the Jedi are often presented as infallible and without fear, this direction in The High Republic makes them far more human and relatable.
Along with these very serious themes, there is a lot of levity in Midnight Horizon too. It is a Young Adult novel, after all. Daniel José Older does a tremendous job of capturing and defining the spirit of the characters with how they communicate with each other. While Masters Sy and Cohmac have serious conversations about their past and the future, Padawans Silas and Jomaram engage in more silly dialogue and banter.
These conflicting tones are part of what makes Midnight Horizon work so well. Yes, Silas and Jomaram are Jedi, but they are also teenage boys. It is almost comforting to know that they help defend the universe from the Nihil, but still get nervous and competitive around a girl. It connects the characters with the reader. At the same time, seeing Sy and Cohmac laugh with each other about the boys’ awkwardness shows their humanity. Older is great at this.
It is worth noting that one of the stated goals of the authors of The High Republic initiative is to make Star Wars a more inclusive universe. Again, Older really shines here. What is great about how inclusive and diverse the cast of characters in Midnight Horizon is that there isn’t any sort of grand calling attention to it. These characters simply exist in this world, same as any others, and they hold positions of importance and are treated with respect by other characters and the author.
A Great Third Act
The third act of Midnight Horizon features many cinematic, large-scale scenes. Older does a wonderful job describing the setting and action while protecting his characters’ inner narratives and conflicts. He also is outstanding on keeping readers “up to speed” on what is happening in the action. At times there were three significant locations to the conflict in the third act – Older never spent so much time on any one portion that the others felt neglected.
At the conclusion, the Jedi are forced to face themselves as much as they are facing the Nihil. They are confronted with feelings of loss, pain, and fear, and they realize that these cannot simply be swept away. At the conclusion, there is an indication that only looking to the past will get them the answers they need – this is a clear setup for Phase Two, which takes place approximately 150 years earlier than Phase One.
If you’re brand new to The High Republic, Midnight Horizon is probably not the best place to start. It does require some knowledge of prior events in order to really appreciate the story. However, if you’re a High Republic fan, Midnight Horizon is an excellent Star Wars tale that includes plenty of action, as the Jedi face conflict both externally and internally.
- THE GOOD
- Great character development for both the Jedi Masters and Padawans
- Ties up some storylines from the comics
- Fantastic action sequences in the third act
- THE BAD
- Prior knowledge of The High Republic, especially The High Republic Adventures, is required to fully grasp everything happening in Midnight Horizon
Midnight Horizon demonstrates the internal conflicts many Jedi face in The High Republic era while providing fans with a great action story.
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