Publisher’s summary: Padawan Reath Silas is being sent from the cosmopolitan galactic capital of Coruscant to the undeveloped frontier—and he couldn’t be less happy about it. He’d rather stay at the Jedi Temple, studying the archives. But when the ship he’s traveling on is knocked out of hyperspace in a galactic-wide disaster, Reath finds himself at the center of the action. The Jedi and their traveling companions find refuge on what appears to be an abandoned space station. But then strange things start happening, leading the Jedi to investigate the truth behind the mysterious station, a truth that could end in tragedy….
Claudia Gray is my absolute favorite Star Wars writer. From 𝘓𝘰𝘴𝘵 𝘚𝘵𝘢𝘳𝘴 to her Leia books to 𝘔𝘢𝘴𝘵𝘦𝘳 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘈𝘱𝘱𝘳𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘪𝘤𝘦, I have enjoyed her forays into this galaxy far, far away.
Which only makes it more of a shame that I really couldn’t get invested in 𝑰𝒏𝒕𝒐 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝑫𝒂𝒓𝒌, her first entry into the High Republic era.
Don’t get me wrong: Gray continues to be an excellent Star Wars author. She’s included here a bunch of characters that I loved (bookish Padawan! space Matthew McConaughey! a sentient rock!). And Gray continues to write about the Force better than any other author — I highlighted a great many lines from this novel.
But still, the story felt a little lacking.
It’s a by-product of being part of a multi-platform storytelling project, I suppose. The main story of 𝘚𝘵𝘢𝘳 𝘞𝘢𝘳𝘴: 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘏𝘪𝘨𝘩 𝘙𝘦𝘱𝘶𝘣𝘭𝘪𝘤 is being told through a trilogy of books, while a slew of stories told through audiobooks, comics, YA and middle grade novels acting more or less as support and supplementary material. And it’s this extra content that seems often to get bogged down by too much continuity noise and baggage that spins out of the primary plot line.
And it’s also because this novel just largely lacked Gray’s opposing outlook angle that is present in most of her works: 𝘓𝘰𝘴𝘵 𝘚𝘵𝘢𝘳𝘴 (literal star-crossed lovers, one of whom is a Rebel, the other an Imperial); 𝘉𝘭𝘰𝘰𝘥𝘭𝘪𝘯𝘦 (Leia, the rebel senator, begrudgingly teaming up with someone who holds an entirely different ideology); 𝘔𝘢𝘴𝘵𝘦𝘳 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘈𝘱𝘱𝘳𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘪𝘤𝘦 (Qui-Gon’s mystical approach to the Force at odds with his Padawan’s more pragmatic, traditional take). We find it even in her non-Star Wars work, such as in 𝘋𝘦𝘧𝘺 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘚𝘵𝘢𝘳𝘴 (two people on opposing sides of a war fall in love). It’s a technique that Gray particularly excels at, allowing her as it does to better explore the gamut of the tensions and conflicts that make up a proper pulp narrative, making for a more involved and compelling read.
We get hints of that in 𝘐𝘯𝘵𝘰 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘋𝘢𝘳𝘬 — Jedi Masters feeling conflicted towards the Order’s austere methods; a Padawan questioning the path laid out by their Master — but it’s not the engine that drives the plot, and I found myself thinking it would be a richer, more substantial story if that were the case.
Regardless, Gray has only been adding great things to Star Wars’ already significant lore, and I hope she gets to do so for a long time. I’ll still be there reading every step along the way.