Biweekly Book Review: Battle of Jedha

Where The High Republic Phase 1 had three Waves each with their own culminating event, Phase 2 seems to have gone about things differently. With the whole face concentrating on two or three key plot points/events, it makes sense that they would each bleed into one another, and hit their peak right at the Phase’s midpoint: the audio drama Battle of Jedha by George Mann.

The Story

Battle of Jedha takes place, as the title would suggest, in the holy city of Jedha, where groups from the warring planets of Eiram and E’ronoh are set to meet to sign their peace treaty ending their five-year “Forever War.” As expected in cases like this, there are plenty of parties invested in making sure that the two planets do not reach a peace agreement.

Present for the talks are Jedi Master Creighton Sun and Jedi Knight Aida Forte, Master Silandra Sho – there for a pilgrimage and pulled into matters anyway – as well as representatives from the Graf and San Tekka families. Also around, and causing trouble, are the Path of the Open Hand, who have come to the holy city to spread their message and attempt to…ahem…level off abuses to the Force.

When an explosion goes off just as the treaty is set to be signed, it throws the whole proceedings into chaos, and tosses an already delicate situation back into unbalance.

What Worked For Me

Despite this book primarily focusing on a battle, the best parts of it, to me, are the ones that focused on the politics and intricacies surrounding the Jedi, the Path and other sects who revere/use the Force in some way. Some of this came about in small ways, like how at the beginning, we hear that the various groups on Jedha are combining to turn the Season of Light into a new holiday unaffiliated with any one particular group. Master Sun has a very grumpy “the force is the reason for the season” approach to this, which I found funny, but it was my sense that the larger point was that Jedha was a hub of cooperation, and a cultural mosaic of sorts.

Things get far less cute and funny once the Path of the Open Hand gets involved. Like in Path of Deceit, the group holds firm to the idea that anyone who uses – or in their words “manipulates”- the Force is upsetting the natural balance. We already knew that Marda Ro believed this perhaps more than most, but if anything by the time the group gets to Jedha she seems to have tripled down on her stance. She is becoming more firmly entrenched in these beliefs, and more unshakeable in her conviction.

The Mother, too, holds tight to these beliefs. At least publicly. I’m still not 100% sure she believes what she’s saying, or if she simply says it because it’s easiest to keep people in line that way. Maybe some combination of the two. What’s eerily unsettling about the way she is written, however, is how she juuuust managed to straddle that line of making sense. Anyone who thinks about what she says for more than 10 seconds can see she operates in hyperbole, ambiguity, and absolutes (and we know who deals in absolutes, don’t we). But I would be lying if I said I didn’t consider more than once whether there was something to her beliefs that every action in the Force provokes a reaction elsewhere. Not even as a bad 1:1 punitive thing. Just as an action-reaction type thing.

What Didn’t Work For Me

It’s unfortunate, given the title, that the part that really didn’t resonate with me was the battle itself. Not that the stakes or the conflict weren’t made clear to me, they absolutely were. The problem, however, is when it’s purely in audio format, constant explosions, fighting and shouting become much harder to keep track of. The scene transitions were handled very well, but whenever a new one would start, it always took a few minutes for me to clue into who was speaking to who, and where exactly we were meant to be. We can chalk this up to me being a very visual person, though, so I’m sure I’ll have better luck when I get my hands on the script version.


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