If you’re still of the mindset that the middle grade High Republic novels aren’t worth it, you’re absolutely missing out. While the Young Adult and the Adult novels are where the bulk of the important plot beats take place, the Middle Grade are an instrumental piece in not only introducing the audience to important characters in a less busy setting – remember, Vernestra Rwoh was first introduced in A Test of Courage – but they also serve as important tone setters. The same holds true here in Phase 2 with George Mann’s Quest for the Hidden City.
Quest for the Hidden City is the book that really dives into the concept of the Republic’s Pathfinders. These teams travel the outer reaches of the galaxy, looking to bring new worlds into the republic. Part missionary work, part colonialist undertones, all with the best of intentions of course.
The story follows Jedi Silandra Sho and her Padawan Rooper Nitani, who respond to a distress call from a missing Pathfinder team, which takes them to Gloam. Along with them are a new Pathfinding team and two Katikoot – humanoid bat-like figures who have a historic connection to Gloam and might be able to explain what went wrong with the Pathfinders.
Also on Gloam are hyperspace explorer Spence Leffbruk and his son Dass, whose ship was damaged, and who relied on the kindness of a stranger to get them somewhere for repairs. The stranger, Sunshine Dobbs, who readers met in Path of Deceit and know to be in the service of the Path of the Open Hand, instead abandoned them and their belongings on Gloam and took off. Their efforts to construct a distress beacon progress well enough…until the mysterious creatures that haunt the planet begin to pose a serious threat.
I always like the middle grade High Republic books because they have that pulpy adventure novel vibe, and Quest for the Hidden City is absolutely no exception. They’re coming of age stories, they build out the world, what’s not to love?
Another thing I am a big fan of is George Mann’s Myths & Fables books. He has a knack for taking these stories and injecting them with enough horror to make them chilling, if not outright terrifying. It’s not the jumpscare kind of scary, more the psychological kind that builds and builds. This book is no exception.
The vibe of an abandoned Jedi temple and an abandoned mine, both left behind as the inhabitants became corrupted by the atmosphere and slowly transformed into monsters? Perfection. Its the kind of thrilling and chilling read perfect for spooky season.
As far as characters go, Rooper and Dass have potential, as young and adventurous types to become this Phase’s standout teenagers, in the vein of Lula and Zeen from Phase 1. I also find myself intrigued by Silandra Sho, Rooper’s master who has experienced great loss in her past and is clearly still reeling from that. I can’t help but wonder – and really, hope – that she’ll pop up later on in Phase 2, since it’s unlikely she’ll survive into Phase 3. She expressed a desire to go to Jedha and visit the great Temple there, and with so much of this phase revolving around Dalna and Jedha, I feel like the chances of that are high.
This website is a labour of love. If you’ve enjoyed this review, consider buying me a coffee to help keep it going?