Towards the end of The High Republic Phase 1, it seemed like all roads were leading to Dalna. As Phase 2 begins to wind down, the same appears to be true, but this time around, Lydia Kang’s Cataclysm leaves us with many more answers than questions. A small mercy in a book jam packed with action and thrills that will leave you reeling by the end.
The story picks up shortly after the events of Convergence and nearly concurrently with Battle of Jedha as the Eiram/E’ronoh peace talks fell through, and the two planets are facing the prospect of war yet again. Not helping matters are the Path of the Open Hand, who plant two agents on the moon between the warring worlds to entice them to war if the skirmish on Jedha does not.
Xiri and Phan-tu, now a married couple, find themselves struggling with what that means for them, exactly. With strongly-held loyalties to their homeworlds, splitting their priorities doesn’t come easily for either of them, no matter how they might feel about one another personally. As they work to keep their planets from going back to war, more and more Jedi find themselves drawn into the conflict, which spreads from the neutral moon to the world of Dalna, in pursuit of the Path of the Open Hand.
Also along for the ride, and engaged in some drama of their own, are Axel Greylark and Gella Nattai, who went their separate ways at the end of Convergence, but are forced back together in Cataclysm when Gella realizes Axel might have information helpful to their fight.
I’ve made no secret of my love for Xiri, Phan-tu, Gella and Axel, and while I love them just as much now, this book was also bittersweet. In a bid to wrap up plot points from the Phase as a whole, and to set us up for the next phase, I feel like I was only just getting to know them, and now we have to say goodbye already, giving the book an overall bitersweet feeling. I’d love to be wrong, though, and to have some of them pop up later on, even after the High Republic initiative wraps up.
For a series that seems to relish in posing as many questions as it answers — meaning Star Wars as a whole, and not just The High Republic — I was surprised with the amount of conclusive, satisfying answers we get to mysteries that have been left hanging over a year since Phase I wrapped up. Plot points I suspected would be relevant were, in fact, relevant and their connection to the events of the “present day” (read: Phase I and III) is made clear. In that respect I can say that although there are still two books to go in Phase II (and however many comics) things are winding down in a very satisfying way.
Cataclysm is out April 4, 2023. Special thank you to Random House Worlds for the advance copy for review purposes.