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'Star Wars: Convergence' Review: An Exciting New Jedi Era Opens, With Some Wrinkles

The first adult novel in the High Republic's Phase 2 introduces a fascinating new cast of characters.

Sean Keane Former Senior Writer
Sean knows far too much about Marvel, DC and Star Wars, and poured this knowledge into recaps and explainers on CNET. He also worked on breaking news, with a passion for tech, video game and culture.
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Sean Keane
3 min read

Star Wars' High Republic era of stories, which are set more than 200 years before the movies' Skywalker Saga, took a major swerve earlier this year after novel The Fallen Star closed phase 1 on a cliffhanger. Instead of continuing the story from that point, phase 2 jumps 150 years further back in the timeline.

Gella Nattai wields two purple lightsabers against a blue and yellow background on the Star Wars: Convergence book cover

Gella Nattai proves a compelling protagonist, but not all of Star Wars: Convergence's characters are as strong.

Penguin Random House

Author Zoraida Córdova tells the first major phase 2 tale with novel Star Wars: Convergence, which hit shelves last month. It's an era of exploration as the Galactic Republic expands, with Jedi Knight (and cover star) Gella Nattai leading a new cast of characters. She travels to Eiram and E'ronoh, warring neighbor worlds in an uneasy ceasefire, to investigate a royal assassination attempt.

One of the issues with previous High Republic novels was that there was too much going on, making it tough to connect emotionally. Córdova avoids this by sticking with a few core characters and giving each a clear arc. The evocative writing invites you to keep reading, with clever language choices injecting color into the locations and beautifully detailed battles giving the action a visual flair.

The watery Eiram and the arid E'ronoh played a role in phase 1, but this is our first time exploring them fully. And yes, they do have similar names -- to the point where it's too easy to mix them up (thinking "arid E'ronoh" will help). 

Thankfully, each world's main royal is distinct and memorable --  Xiri A'lbaran is the daughter of E'ronoh's monarch (and an awesome pilot), while Phan-tu is the adopted son of Eiram's queen. Their evolving relationship is the novel's emotional core, since they represent hope for the future. It's fascinating to watch their journey unfold.

Gella, Xiri and Phan-tu are joined by royalty of another sort -- Axel Greylark, the arrogant son of a Republic chancellor. Sent to represent the galactic union's political interests, Córdova gives him depth by slowly revealing the trauma of his past. 

Axel's character leans too hard into bad boy tropes; he's impossibly charismatic and dangerous. Despite this, his bond with the more believable Gella is among the novel's most mesmerizing elements.

Spicing things up further is a shadowy villainous group trying to end the ceasefire between Eiram and E'ronoh, but this element isn't developed in a satisfactory way. It's largely left as a tangling plot thread for other High Republic books. Specifically, we learn more about these baddies in Tessa Gratton and Justina Ireland's novel Path of Deceit, indicating that phase 2 will continue the High Republic's decentralized approach to storytelling.

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Still, the baddy group's presence adds a sense of danger to the central quartet's journey across the two worlds, and Córdava offers us plenty of nuance in the political drama. The narrative occasionally loses momentum (particularly in one side quest to a space station fight club), but a dark twist increases the stakes toward the end of this 336-page novel.

Elements of the climactic action sequence feel too chaotic, with Xiri's and Phan-Tu's roles reduced to a disappointing degree. Ultimately, it's forgivable since the novel comes to a satisfying conclusion that leaves its characters changed in fun ways. The story will continue in Lydia Kang's Cataclysm in April.

Star Wars: Convergence is a solid start for phase 2 of the High Republic, taking the time to develop a small, memorable cast and explore two fascinating worlds. Despite Axel's unbelievable qualities and the story getting a little silly at the end, it's still a journey worth taking.

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