I’m a pretty shameless shill/stan/whatever for the High Republic at this point, but when I tell you that I was simply blown away by Path of Deceit by Tessa Gratton and Justina Ireland…….whoof. Easily my favorite High Republic title to date.
I won’t lie, I was skeptical of the choice to throw us back 150ish years after we just met, got invested in, and had our hearts broken by the Jedi of Wave 1. However, this book immediately dispelled any concerns or sadness I had about not getting to continue on with that story because these characters and their actions not only directly inform what is happening in Wave 1, but introduce so many additional intriguing concepts and stories.
When it comes to Star Wars stories that I’ve watched/read/experienced, this book is easily the most philosophical with regards to the nature of the Force. The Wave 1 stories did some really interesting and new stuff when considering how the Jedi experience the Force and utilize it for good(?), but this book pulls that curtain even wider to consider the Force as a whole. There’s a moment early on where Jedi padawan Kevmo does something that, to us as experienced Star Wars fans, is pretty mundane – we’ve seen it plenty before. However, the reaction by cultist (and Marchion ancestor) Marda Ro made me stop, put the book down, and go for a walk to contemplate everything I’ve ever known about life and the universe and the Force. Gratton and Ireland were able to challenge my perception, understanding, and ethical consideration about such a simple and common use of the Force and that kicked off 300 pages of philosophical musings, debates, and explorations that had me hooked.
Kevmo, Marda, and Yana Ro are the main trio of characters in this book and each was fascinating to read about in their own right. As each chapter would end, I would loudly groan because I wasn’t ready to leave the brain of the character in question, only to immediately be sucked in by the inner monologue of the next. The way they each understand the concepts of the Force, life, and family, and in turn challenge each others’ perceptions of those things is the type of material that makes me want to drop everything and become a philosopher in the GFFA.
Also. There’s romance. I’m not usually into romance, but it’s a good romance. I was rooting for it from the get-go.
And that ending. No spoilers, but holy heck, it’s been a couple of weeks since I finished this book and I’m still feeling Some Sort of Way about that ending. I’ll be about to fall asleep, and suddenly sit up straight in bed, shout a few select words into the void at the authors, and then lay down again, as I continue to process what I read and count down the days until Path of Vengeance is in my hands and I can see what happens next.
Path of Deceit opens up the familiar Star Wars galaxy in new and interesting ways. That’s always one of the biggest tests of new Star Wars stories, in my opinion, and there’s no doubt that this book was successful. Pick it up, read it, cherish it, caress it fondly, reread those delicious philosophical debates and have an existential crisis of your own.
Oh, also there’s cult stuff.
100 flowers out of 10.
Thanks LFL Publishing for the review copy. I’m probably gonna buy, like, ten more.
Danni (they/them) is Rogue Six on Rogue Podron. They don’t sleep well, probably due to the regular yelling about fictional space books. They tweet things at @dannipurrgil.