Star Wars: The High Republic – Quest for the Hidden City by George Mann is the first middle-grade novel in Phase II of The High Republic publishing initiative.
But don’t let the “middle grade” classification fool you. While the story is written in a way that a middle schooler should be able to follow it, the writing is far from elementary. George Mann consistently pumps out well-written books for Star Wars. He’s specifically adept at setting the stage through beautifully written and detailed descriptors of the setting and environment.
And, unlike Path of Deceit, it’s currently unclear if this book is “essential” to understanding future books, comics, etc. in phase 2 of the High Republic… there is enough connective tissue and easter eggs that 100% make this worth reading.
The core story of Quest for the Hidden City revolves around 4 different groups of characters.
Dass (son) and Spence (father) Leffbruk: Spence and his tennage son, Dass, are hyperspace prospectors who get stranded on an unknown planet. They’re alone, running low on time, and are being hunted by monsters who are inching closer and closer to catching them every day.
Padawan Rooper Natini and Jedi Knight Silandra So: The master padawan team are sent to Aubadas to find a missing team of Jedi and Republic Pathfinders who went missing during a mission to help a species called the Katikoot on Aubadas. Silandra So is an absolute badass who carries around an energy shield as well as her lightsaber. She uses this as a metaphor that the Jedi are not meant to be a blade… but rather a shield that helps those in need.
The Republic Pathfinders: These pathfinders are official Republic pathfinders and are teamed with Jedi to discover new hyperspace lanes, discover new planets, make contact with new species, and help anyone they come across. They’re essential rugged ambassadors of the Republic tasked with spreading the good word of the republic through explorations and good works.
The Kalikoot – The Kalikoot are an advanced species of huge bat-like beings who occupy two twin planets, Aubadas and Gloam. They’re currently in the middle of a species-defining energy crisis that, if not solved, will likely mean the end of their civilization.
The plot centers around the different groups working together to find out what happened to the dark and ravaged world Gloam. Not only to help the Katikoot survive but to find their missing friends.
Final Spoiler Free Thoughts.
I liked this book. I thought Mann did a great job putting together a Star Wars story with a lot of horror movie vibes. Mythical monsters, a dark gloomy planet, people trapped, people missing, and dark secrets that even the Katikoot do not know.
My main complaint is that I didn’t have a strong connection to all of the characters or relationships. While I do think it is a fantastically written book that even the most seasoned adult novel reader can enjoy, many of the relationships, specifically with the Jedi and the Pathfinders, felt a little surface level.
Now, in all fairness, I have not read many middle-grade books since I was in the age group they are written for. This could be a case of keeping things simple enough and not diving into TOO much lore that a middle schooler may not understand.
I did think the relationship between Dass and Spence Leffbruk was done well. I felt their love and their sincere devotion to each other. Which should be true for any healthy father/son relationship.
In short, I liked it and I think you would too.
Final Spoiler Free Thoughts
Path of Deceit is like most of the adult and YA novels that we got in phase I of the High Republic. A good portion of the book is setting the stage, introducing and fleshing out the characters, and getting you to care about what is happening.
Parts of it are slow and others are repetitive. We’re repeatedly reminded of the Path’s philosophy and the group’s members routinely talk about their purpose. To accept and give gifts freely given. That the force should and will be free.
It can feel like filler from time to time but the authors absolutely stick the landing in the end. The payoff is well worth the wait and the last 75-100 pages are some of my favorite pages in all of the High Republic so far.
If you find yourself frustrated with the lack of story progression know that, in the end, it’s worth it.
Once I finished the last page I immediately knew that this was my favorite Young Adult High Republic book. It’s both beautiful and gut wrenching and a fantastic introduction to one of the main groups in the phase, The Path of the Open Hand.
Verdict: This book rules and you should read it.
Light Spoilers / Interesting Notes
If you are still waiting to read the book and want to go in without any spoilers then now is the time to run away. I won’t be breaking down the book chapter by chapter or anything but there are a few notable events and connections to phase I that I’m keeping an eye on. This connective tissue is what makes this publishing initiative so fun.
There were some smaller easter eggs but also one huge one.
Dass and Spence Leffbruk have been to the homeworld of The Leveler aka The Nameless. If you don’t remember that was the ghost dog looking creatures from Phase I that Marchion Ro used to turn a ton of Jedi into dust. The same creatures that killed Kevmo and and his Master Zallah Macri on Dalna when they confronted the Path of the Open Hand.
The father/son prospector team discovered the planet alongside resident sketchball and fellow prospector, Sunshine Dobbs. Sunshine Dobbs was featured heavily in Path of Deceit and appears at the end of the Marvel issue of Star Wars High Republic #1 (2022) to announce the arrival of the Path of the Open hand on Jedha.
Sunshine Dobbs faked that his ship was having mechanical issues and landed on Gloam. Just to leave the unsuspecting duo there to die. Keeping the secrets of this new paradise planet to himself.
The planet was also visited by Marchio Ro and the Nihil in Star Wars Eye of the Storm #2.
That’s the main connection to the rest of the High Republic content. It’s becoming clear that Plase II of The High Republic is mainly about two things.
- The origin of the Leveler/Nameless
- The reasons why the Ro family hates the Jedi.
This story let us know that, while Sunshine Dobbs delivered the first Leveler egg to the Path of the Open Hand, he’s not the only one who knows about the planet.
I remain very interested how the authors are going to explain the Jedi’s ignorance to this threat considering that multiple Jedi have been killed by the Nameless already and it appears a lot more will be feasted on by the end of the Phase.
At the moment I expect very few Jedi to make it out alive in this phase. If no one survives to tell the story… then no one would know how big of a threat they were truly facing in Phase I.
That’s all for now my friends.
For Light and Life!
Grand Admiral Frik