When Star Wars: The High Republic launched in 2021, starting with Phase I, one of the best features of the initiative was the all-new cast of characters Star Wars fans would meet. From the powerful yet flawed Jedi Knights to the nefarious Nihil and the Path of the Open Hand, new characters gave The High Republic authors the freedom to engage in deep character development, with readers having no idea what would happen to each hero or villain.
The High Republic is a new publishing initiative set 150 years before the events of The Phantom Menace. Spanning three phases of storytelling, The High Republic comprises adult novels, young adult novels, middle-grade novels, short stories, and comic books that all work together to tell an overarching story. As such, and with dozens of new characters in The High Republic, there are a lot of new names to learn, and the many strange characters can be intimidating to fans new to the Star Wars expanded universe.
Key Characters in Star Wars: The High Republic Phase I
The Star Wars universe has traditionally been full of vibrant and engaging characters, which has never been more true than in The High Republic. Not only is it the most diverse cast Star Wars has ever seen, but the new characters featured in Star Wars: The High Republic Phase I demonstrate a level of depth and character development seldom seen in the universe before now.
From Force users to Nihil terrorists to average citizens fighting for their way of life, it’s worth getting to know the main characters of The High Republic Phase I.
Avar Kriss is a mighty Jedi Knight who uses the Force differently from her peers. She hears the Force as a song and can connect with other Jedi to act as a single entity through the Force.
During the crisis after the Great Hyperspace Disaster, she organized a joint effort to push large pieces of debris using the Force, preventing further incidents that would have killed millions. Later, she oversees Starlight Beacon and is instrumental in the fight against the Nihil, particularly Lourna Dee.
A Padawan during Phase I, Bell Zettifar has one of the first phase’s most profound and emotional stories. Initially the Padawan to Loden Greatstorm, Bell Zettifar has a deep connection with the Jedi Master and is constantly pushed to improve his skills. However, the events of the great disaster throw Bell’s life into disarray, and he is faced with emotions of loss and anger, all while trying to do his duty.
During the attack on the Republic Fair in The Rising Storm, Bell is hurt again by the Nihil and Marchion Ro, as he is briefly reunited with his master in one of the greatest scenes in the entire High Republic initiative. However, it is short-lived, and Bell must cope with having every wound from his trauma ripped open once again.
Readers first hear about Reath Silas in Light of the Jedi, but we don’t meet the young Jedi Padawan until Into the Dark. Unlike many of the Jedi Order’s other members, Reath prefers the safety of the Jedi Archives and his books to the danger and adventure of being out on missions for the Republic. So naturally, he is thrown into one dangerous situation after another in the Outer Rim and becomes one of the most enjoyable characters in The High Republic.
Reath plays a significant role in the young adult books of the first phase, especially Into the Dark and Daniel José Older’s excellent Midnight Horizon. However, Reath Silas’ growth, combined with Bell Zettifar’s journey through pain and trauma, make Phase I worth reading.
The Jedi Knight Loden Greatstorm quickly became a fan favorite in The High Republic Phase I as the Twi’lek endured the worst that the Nihil could offer, yet his dedication to the Force and his Padawan helped him never give up. His exchanges with the Nihil, and Marchion Ro in particular, demonstrate the stark difference between the two sides. Greatstorm is the best of the Jedi Order, while Ro is the worst of the Nihil.
In The Rising Storm, Cavan Scott captures the power of Greatstorm during the Republic Fair tragedy and the disbelief of Marchion Ro in the Jedi’s strength:
And within the smoke, the accursed flash of plasma blades. One, in particular, caught his eye, wielded by a dark-skinned Jedi far below, little more than a boy. He was engaged in a fight with two lowly Strikes, batting back their blaster bolts, while beside him stood…
No, it could not be.
Loden Greatstorm fought alongside the young Jedi, his lightsaber back in his hands, the lightsaber that by rights belonged to Ro. How could the Twi’lek be alive after everything they’d done to him? Why wouldn’t he break?
It is a powerful passage that demonstrates everything good about the Jedi Order. Loden’s journey is both inspirational and heartbreaking, from its beginnings in Light of the Jedi to its end.
A close friend of Avar Kriss and Stellan Gios, Elzar Mann is a black sheep in the Jedi Order. He has always chosen his own path and does not use conventional Jedi methodology when attacking a problem. For that reason, he is often a valuable resource, as he was during the great disaster. However, his willingness to embrace his feelings makes him one of the most exciting and volatile characters in the High Republic era.
Throughout the adult novels in Phase I, Elzar Mann forms a connection to the Dark Side of the Force. It begins at the end of Light of the Jedi when Dark Side visions give him insight into the horrible events that would unfold at the Republic Fair in The Rising Storm. Until we learn his fate on Starlight Beacon in Fallen Star, Elzar Mann remains one of the most fascinating Star Wars: The High Republic characters.
The leader of the Nihil, Marchion Ro has an incredibly eventful journey through Phase I of The High Republic. Though he isn’t a character in every book, his presence can be felt in the adult and young adult novels throughout the first phase.
While leading a fight against the Jedi Order and the Republic that includes the Great Hyperspace Disaster, Republic Fair, and an attack on Starlight Beacon, Ro is also navigating the internal politics of the Nihil at the same time. He transforms his role within the Nihil to the point that he has stolen power from each Tempest Runner, taking the organization for himself.
Ro’s ruthlessness is felt throughout every part of Phase I. He is such an impactful character that, as soon as readers see the name Marda Ro early in the second phase, they know that the impact of Marchion Ro is far from gone.
These are all of the major characters in Star Wars: The High Republic Phase I.