This article contains spoilers for Path of Deceit by Justina Ireland.Phase II of Star Wars: The High Republic has opened with a shocking Jedi twist beyond anything George Lucas would ever do. There’s a sense that Star Wars is the oldest transmedia franchise of them all, with the first official tie-in novel, Alan Dean Foster’s Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, published in 1978, years before the release of The Empire Strikes Back. Despite them being officially licensed content, George Lucas never considered himself bound by the so-called “Expanded Universe” novels, though he was willing to pull ideas he liked from them.
Disney acquired Lucasfilm in 2012 and chose to erase the old Expanded Universe from Star Wars‘ continuity. Since then, though, the studio has built upon Star Wars‘ transmedia legacy, expanding the franchise through a range of popular Disney+ TV shows. Meanwhile, Lucasfilm Publishing has continued as a trailblazer, with a notable initiative called Star Wars: The High Republic. Set hundreds of years before the events of Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, this grand story appears to be telling the story of how the Force came to lose its balance. This makes it essential reading to understand Star Wars‘ Chosen One prophecy.
Justina Ireland’s YA novel Path of Deceit launched Phase II of Star Wars: The High Republic, and it’s immediately clear this is a story George Lucas would never have told. The book stars Jedi Knight Zallah Macri and her Padawan, Kevmo Zinc, and over the course of the novel readers come to know them well. This is especially true of Kevmo Zinc, whose struggles with attachment are absolutely delightful to read. The first three-quarters of the story follows a pretty standard, fairly lightweight Jedi adventure. Then, in a shocking twist, everything changes. Ireland brings her characters face-to-face with monstrous creatures the Jedi will come to call the Nameless — the ultimate Force predators. The last quarter of Path of Deceit reads like a horror novel, and neither Zallah Macri nor Kevmo Zinc survives the encounter.
Path Of Deceit Is The Boldest Star Wars Novel To Date
It’s not uncommon to see movies, TV shows, or novels feature a sort of prologue in which promising characters are killed by something truly horrific, with their deaths kicking the main story into action. Star Wars: The High Republic Phase II is more surprising, however, in that Justina Ireland’s entire novel essentially serves that purpose. The narrative of Path of Deceit is a compelling one, and the shocking change of tone and style leaves readers reeling when the Nameless emerge from the shadows. There’s nothing new in the idea of a Star Wars story killing Jedi — the prequel trilogy features Order 66, after all, slaughtering countless Jedi. But this is the first time a Star Wars story has ever dared kill both its main protagonists.
George Lucas would surely never choose to make this narrative decision. But that isn’t a criticism; rather, it is praise, for it demonstrates the truth that Star Wars has evolved beyond even its creator. Path of Deceit‘s story is fascinating, the characters are enjoyable, and the skill with which the final twist is executed is tremendously impressive. Star Wars: The High Republic has already proven itself one of the best initiatives launched since 1988, and Phase II has started in style.
Next: After 42 Years, Star Wars Finally Uses Carbonite Properly!