This review was originally posted on The Geeky Waffle. It has been reposted here with permission.
If there’s one thing George Mann can do extremely well, it’s take a piece of Star Wars lore, and spin it into something both intensely gripping and quietly chilling. One need look no father than his Myths & Fables books for that. Unless, of course, you would like to see how he brings that signature style into the ever-evolving world of The High Republic.
Quest for the Hidden City, the first middle-grade book in the High Republic Phase 2, does not take place on the much-spoken about worlds of Dalna and Jedha, both of which seem to be playing a larger role this time around. Instead, it is set on Gloam, a world largely abandoned by its inhabitants, save for mysterious, bloodthirsty creatures…and father and son team Spence and Dass Leffbruk, who have been stranded on the planet.
Meanwhile, Jedi Padawan Rooper Nitani and her master Silandra Sho receive a message from one of the Republic’s Pathfinding teams, warning of a mysterious danger on Gloam, and so the two set out to investigate with a Pathfinding team of their own, as well as two Katikoot, humanoid bat-like beings who might know more about the threat than they are letting on.
What makes Quest for the Hidden City stand out so much is it does feel very much like the pulpy adventure story – which I mean in the best possible ways. Underground caverns, giant bats, long-lost Jedi knowledge, explorers seeking out the furthest corners of the known galaxy only to push beyond it? These are the things good Star Wars adventures are made of.
With Phase 2 being the High Republic’s age of exploration, it makes sense that we would get a book that also focuses on the Pathfinding element – not to be confused with the members of the Path, who are a whole separate thing to contend with. If Phase 1 is where the Republic begins to feel the effects and consequences of their outward expansion, then it’s Phase 2 – set 150 years prior – that sets the stage for those consequences to unfold. Consider this my familiar refrain to those who would skip the middle grade books to reconsider. They add such a richness to the story, and with something as interconnected as The High Republic, you never know when a little extra context might be just the thing.
Though as mentioned above it looks like most of the stories in Phase 2 will be revolving around Dalna or Jedha – the latter of which does get a name drop here – Mann has created such a fascinating corner of the Star Wars universe, along with protagonists Rooper and Dass who are all too eager to explore it, that it would be a shame if this were to be the last we see of it.
Quest for the Hidden City hits shelves November 1, 2022. Special thanks to Disney Books for the advance copy for review purposes.