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Biggest Reveals About The Jedi Order Before Phantom Menace

The future of Star Wars lies in the past, with the publication of the first two novels in the Star Wars: The High Republic range – and they’ve already made a number of major reveals about the state of the Jedi Order 200 years before Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. Star Wars has always been a multimedia…

The future of Star Wars lies in the past, with the publication of the first two novels in the Star Wars: The High Republic range – and they’ve already made a number of major reveals about the state of the Jedi Order 200 years before Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. Star Wars has always been a multimedia franchise, with the publication of the first official tie-in book all the way back in 1978. In 1996, Lucasfilm launched what should really be considered an early transmedia initiative, Shadows of the Empire, with a main narrative told in books, comics, and even a video game.

But The High Republic is the boldest transmedia project in the history of Star Wars. It introduces viewers to a time when the Republic was at its greatest and the Jedi were beings of radiant light, some 200 years before the prequel trilogy. The story has kicked off with Charles Soule’s Light of the Jedi and Justina Ireland’s young-adult book A Test of Courage, both of which set up the main story of Star Wars: The High Republic. Soule’s novel tells a sweeping narrative of galactic conflict, while Ireland’s is more of a character study. But, as enjoyable as the stories themselves may be, the most fascinating revelations in these books are undoubtedly those exploring the beliefs and practices of the Jedi of this time. This is all the more exciting given Lucasfilm intends to explore the High Republic Era on the small screen as well, announcing a Disney+ TV series called The Acolyte – meaning all these ideas may well find their way into the show.

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Related: The High Republic Show Is The Biggest Test Of Star Wars’ Future

There’s already been a number of major revelations about the Jedi Order during the High Republic Era. When we meet the Jedi in the prequels, it’s the beginning of the end. They’ve become arrogant and politically compromised, becoming totally blind to the decay in the balance of the Force around them. The High Republic Era gives us a look the Jedi Order before they began that decline, painting a much more idealistic image of the galaxy’s guardians of peace and justice.

The Jedi Were Based On Coruscant – But Separate From The New Republic

Coruscant Star Wars

The galactic economy was less concentrated in the Core in the High Republic Era, but already Coruscant was becoming dominant. The Jedi Order had established their Temple there, with the Jedi Council permanently situated on the ecumenopolis. This would ultimately lead to the Jedi becoming absorbed in galactic politics, bound too closely to the Senate, but that problem was yet to materialize in the High Republic Era; in fact, speaking at the High Republic livestream in January 2021, writer Cavan Scott revealed there are actually Jedi outposts and temples on every major planet in the Republic. Light of the Jedi even presents a meeting of the Jedi Council, as they consider Chancellor Lina Soh’s request to support military action against a group of galactic Vikings called the Nihil. Political figures are actually surprised when the Jedi agree to join the battle against the Nihil.

Master Yoda Was Already On The Jedi Council – And He Wasn’t The Only One

Yoda on the Jedi Council

Master Yoda is only referenced in Light of the Jedi, but apparently, he already served on the Jedi Council and had developed a reputation for keeping his own counsel. Light of the Jedi is set during a period in which Yoda is on sabbatical, traveling the galaxy and training Younglings; he has appointed a relatively young Master to the Council in his stead. It’s possible he had a habit of doing this, and that several of the Council members in the prequel era had first been given experience thanks to Yoda.

There’s also several other prequel era Jedi who are apparently more long-lived than anyone had previously realized. The Council of the High Republic Era includes the Quermian Yarael Poof and the Thisspiasian Oppo Rancisis, both of whom were still sitting on the Council until the Clone Wars, and perished during that conflict. Interestingly, Rancisis appears to be one of the Jedi who pushed the Order to be more politically connected, working hand-in-hand with the Republic.

The Term “Jedi Master” Had A Different Meaning

Liam Neeson as Qui-Gon Jinn in The Phantom Menace

The core of the Jedi Code – the mantra that insists “there is no emotion, there is peace” – is famous. But the Jedi Code is actually a much larger document governing every aspect of Jedi conduct and providing structure to the Order as a whole. It is a living thing, modified and adapted over the course of time, and Light of the Jedi suggests some important differences between the Code in the High Republic Era and the one the Jedi ascribed to by the time of the prequel trilogy. One of the most striking of these is the fact that the rank of Jedi Master is attained in a different way.

Related: Star Wars: All 6 Jedi Order Ranks Explained

In the prequel era, a true Jedi Master is someone who has successfully trained a Padawan to the point where they became a Knight. But in the High Republic Era, it appears the rank of Jedi Master is simply an honorary title given to any Jedi who has demonstrated a certain degree of accomplishment and innovation in the Force; Light of the Jedi features one sub-plot in which Jedi Knight Elzar Mann, a somewhat unorthodox Jedi, strives to attain the rank. A Jedi Master is allowed substantially more freedom by the Council, allowed to pursue their own interests.

The Jedi Had A Different Attitude Toward Attachment

Star Wars Light of the Jedi Cover

The Jedi of the prequel era forbade attachment, but during the High Republic the Jedi seem to have had a much more relaxed view. They still believed attachment to be a potential conduit to the dark side, but they settled for discouraging it rather than banning it outright. The emotional bond between Master and Padawan was accepted, and Padawans even developed feelings for one another.

One prominent scene in Light of the Jedi sees two of the central Jedi in the book remembering when they had been Padawans together. “Shared moments as Padawans, tolerated and understood and even common – but things to be left behind once one ascended to become an adult in the Order.” It’s a much more benign understanding of emotions, and frankly a far healthier view.

The Jedi Of The High Republic Celebrated Individuality

Star Wars A Test of Courage Cover

The most basic definition of the Force was given in the very first Star Wars movie, all the way back in 1977. “The Force is what gives a Jedi his power,” Obi-Wan Kenobi told Luke Skywalker. “It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together.” Our understanding of the Force is going to change, though. Speaking at the High Republic panel at New York Comic Con 2020, Charles Soule revealed this reflected the philosophical dominance of Yoda in Jedi thought by the time of the prequel trilogy. The Jedi of the High Republic Era have a very different understanding of the Force, with each encouraged to relate to the Force in a different way; consequently, this has the potential to redefine the Force in Star Wars.

One of the central characters in Light of the Jedi is Avar Kriss, who experiences the Force as music. “She calls it the Song of the Force,” Soule explained. “And so, for her, all the different Jedi have their own tones and instruments, and it all comes together into this great symphony of dissonance and assonance, and all these beautiful things that she is able to perceive.” A Test of Courage focuses in on Jedi Knight Vernestra “Vern” Rwoh, who is so sensitive to the Force that she redesigns her lightsaber into a lightwhip ahead of a mission, trusting the Force to give her what she needs.

Related: Young Yoda Arrives in Star Wars: High Republic Preview

The Jedi Of The High Republic Are Far More Powerful Than In The Prequel Era

Star Wars High Republic Rising Story book cover closeup

It’s immediately clear the Jedi of the High Republic are more powerful than anything seen in the prequel trilogy. They are operating at a time when the Force was much more in balance, before the shroud of the dark side had fallen across the galaxy. As such, both Light of the Jedi and A Test of Courage feature some remarkable Force-feats. Avar Kriss, for example, is able to create powerful Force-melds that effectively synergize the power of the Jedi so they can achieve infinitely more than any single Jedi would believe possible. The sheer scale of her accomplishment is remarkable, making this the most impressive Force feat seen in canon. Meanwhile, in A Test of Courage a Jedi Padawan named Imri is a “Wayfinder,” because he navigates through the stars by sensing life on a distant moon. The ability is referred to as “Wayfinding,” clearly linking it to the creation of the Jedi and Sith Wayfinders seen in the sequel trilogy.

The Jedi Starfighters Of The High Republic Were Very Different To The Prequels

High Republic 1 Cover

The Jedi of the High Republic Era fly special craft called Vectors, which can only be successfully piloted by beings who are Force-sensitive, and that require almost as much skill to handle as a lightsaber. The best description of the Vectors is given in Light of the Jedi:

“The Vectors were as minimally designed as a starship could be. Little shielding, almost no weaponry, very little computer assistance. Their capabilities were defined by their pilots. The Jedi were the shielding, the weaponry, the minds that calculated what the vessel could achieve and where it could go. Vectors were small, nimble. A fleet of them together was a sight to behold, the Jedi inside coordinating their movements via the Force, achieving a level of precision no droid or ordinary pilot could match.”

Weapons on a Vector can only be operated with a lightsaber key, a way to ensure they cannot be used by non-Jedi, and that every time they are used it is with the same consideration with which a Jedi wields their blade. A Vector’s lasers can be scaled up or down via a simple toggle on the control sticks, and there are no targeting mechanics because the pilots rely only on the Force. Everything about the Vectors is designed to emphasize the intimacy of a pilot’s relationship with the Force – and prove just how remarkable the Jedi of the High Republic really are.

More: Star Wars’ High Republic Show Can Redefine Jedi & The Force

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About The Author

Thomas Bacon
(3354 Articles Published)

Tom Bacon is one of Screen Rant’s staff writers, and he’s frankly amused that his childhood is back – and this time it’s cool. Tom’s focus tends to be on the various superhero franchises, as well as Star Wars, Doctor Who, and Star Trek; he’s also an avid comic book reader. Over the years, Tom has built a strong relationship with aspects of the various fan communities, and is a Moderator on some of Facebook’s largest MCU and X-Men groups. Previously, he’s written entertainment news and articles for Movie Pilot.

A graduate of Edge Hill University in the United Kingdom, Tom is still strongly connected with his alma mater; in fact, in his spare time he’s a voluntary chaplain there. He’s heavily involved with his local church, and anyone who checks him out on Twitter will quickly learn that he’s interested in British politics as well.

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