New Book Nook: “Tempest Runner” – An intimate character study of The High Republic’s Lourna Dee

After hitting the New York Times bestseller lists for every relevant age group and making comics readers out of the more reluctant, it was only a matter of time before The High Republic conquered another medium. Cavan Scott’s Tempest Runner has the distinction of being the first – but hopefully not the last – audio drama set during this golden era of the Republic. It is a brilliant continuation of the immense story being told, both a slow-burning mystery and a thrill ride from start to finish.

Tempest Runner centres on Lourna Dee (played by Jessica Almasy) sometime after the events of Out of the Shadows. An encounter with the Republic leaves her scrambling and abandoned by Eye of the Nihil Marchion Ro. After her escape attempt goes somewhat awry, she winds up in Republic custody under an assumed name. 

Which, as it turns out, is not the first time the Tempest Runner has had to operate under an alias.  Each new phase in her life sees Lourna either concealing her own identity for safety, or else having her identity stripped away from her. And in some cases, it’s a little bit of both. What Tempest Runner becomes, then, is an exploration of both Lourna’s past and everything that made her the hardened pirate she is. But it’s also Lourna coming to terms with her damage and pain, and choosing whether or not she’ll continue to let it define her, or if she will chart a new path in a new way. 

Ultimately, if I had to summarize it in the simplest possible terms, Tempest Runner is Lourna Dee’s search for identity. 

And what a journey it is. The event that starts off her journey, the loss of her family on Aaloth, was one of the more intriguing to me. There were some hints as to her origins in Shadows, but I don’t think I quite expected it to unfold as it did. What I did expect to some degree, was to agree with Lourna’s reasons for seeing out more beyond the only life she’d ever known. A path that eventually led her to the Nihil, albeit via some horrifying circumstances.

The Nihil are the most interesting villains Star Wars has done in a while. They don’t owe their allegiance to a galaxy-conquering government, nor are they vying to become that government. They are a loose organization that has existed for generations by taking what they want and leaving nothing else behind. They are a band of pirates with a legitimate 9in their view) grievance, as the Republic encroaches more and more on their space and attempts to change their way of life.

In the stories released so far, two characters from within the Nihil have arisen as points of interest. One, of course, is Marchion Ro who appears throughout the High Republic stories with some frequency.

Also, though it wasn’t much – since it’s not his story – I did enjoy what little glimpses we got of Marchion Ro, particularly in flashback. The different approach he and Lourna take to nearly everything makes them interesting foils for one another. It almost makes me wish we had a followup of just their dynamic over the years, to watch it evolve and reshape itself.

But the other Nihil we saw a lot of, Lourna Dee, has remained something of a mystery until now, and I am glad to see her finally getting her due. She has become one of the more fascinating characters to watch going forward, with the end of Tempest Runner leaving her story wide open as to the new path she’ll take. I’m inclined to believe the events of the story will stick with her in some way. They have to. She’s too smart to let it all fade away into nothing.

Star Wars audiobooks in general are always a treat to listen to, but the audio dramas in particular have been a very exciting trend. Read by a full cast and full of familiar music cues, they really make the story come to life, and play with non-linear storytelling in increasingly interesting ways. It’s interesting to watch – or rather listen to – how each subsequent audio drama chooses to convey flashbacks and non-linear progression. In the case of Tempest Runner, the choice is perhaps the simplest one, but it also packs the biggest emotional punch. It’s not a narrated recording for others, like in Dooku: Jedi Lost, or for herself, like in Aphra.

It’s Lourna Dee’s life laid bare, exactly as it was for better or worse.

Tempest Runner is available now.

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