Publisher: Del Rey/Penguin Random House Audio (Audiobook – 15 November 2022)
Series: Star Wars – The High Republic
Length: 13 hours and 28 minutes
My Rating: 4.75 out of 5 stars
The next phase of the High Republic is in excellent form as outstanding author Zoraida Córdova presents a particularly awesome new tie-in novel with Star Wars: Convergence.
For last couple of years, the focus of the Star Wars extended universe has been The High Republic, an intriguing prequel series of tie-in media that expands and explores the iconic Star Wars universe in the centuries before the Skywalker Saga. Set hundreds of years before The Phantom Menace, the High Republic series examines the Republic and the Jedi at the height of their influence, as well as the many dangers they encountered during this time. I have had an awesome time with the High Republic series, and there are some excellent stories contained within this elaborate prequel sub-series, written by a great collection of writers. Highlights so far include the main novels Light of the Jedi, The Rising Storm and The Fallen Star, as well as great young adult novels such as Midnight Horizon, all of which come very highly recommended.
The latest batch of High Republic books are currently part of the second phase of the series, which acts as a prequel to the first and upcoming third High Republic phases. Set even further back in the Star Wars timeline, the second phase provides intriguing context to the previous entries, including the origins of the main antagonists and the reason for their hatred of the Jedi. I have so far read the preceding second phase novel, The Path of Deceit, a fantastic young adult read, and I have been excited for Convergence for some time. Written by talented new Star Wars author Zoraida Córdova, Convergence was an amazing read that I had a wonderful time listening to.
It is a time of great expansion, exploration and diplomatic strides in the galaxy as the Republic seeks to expand its influence. Led by the Jedi, Republic pathfinder teams are constantly journeying out into the furthest reaches of the galaxy, seeking out new civilizations and planets. However, not everyone is excited to see the Republic or the Jedi, and chaos is always around the corner.
Nowhere is this clearer than the closely neighbouring planets of Eiram and E’ronoh, which have been at war for generations. Bound to the fighting by hatred and years of conflict, the end of both planets looks to be near, as the war has resulted in nothing but drought, starvation and despair. However, after an unexpected tragedy brings the two heirs of Eiram and E’ronoh together for the first time, a solution to the ongoing war comes clear and the mediating Republic are able to broker a marriage alliance between the two royal families.
But before wedding preparations can begin, an attempt is made on the lives of the young couple, which once again brings the planets close to war. Determined to keep the peace, young Jedi Knight Gella Nattai is chosen to act as the couple’s bodyguard and journeys across both planets with them as they attempt to sell the peace to their people. A serious and dedicated Jedi, Gella is unprepared for another companion for the journey as Republic Chancellor Kyong also sends her son, Axel Greylark, to represent the Republic. A rogue and cad of the highest quality, Axel swiftly gets under the group’s skin, especially as his disdain for all Jedi, including Gella, is plainly evident. However, the new companions need to work as a team, as they find themselves caught in a deadly conspiracy that can impact not only the warring planets but the entire Republic. Can they get to the bottom of this plot before it is too late, and are they truly ready for the consequences if they do?
Damn, now this was a pretty awesome Star Wars novel from a very talented author. Córdova came up with a remarkable and powerful narrative for Convergence that not only contained its own brilliant character-driven plot, but which also sets up some awesome narrative threads for the future. I had an amazing time getting through Convergence, and it was one of the better Star Wars books I read in 2022.
Córdova brings out an impressive and complex story for Convergence that drags you in quickly and hits you with a ton of great elements from this new High Republic era. Primarily set around the war-torn twin worlds of Eiram and E’ronoh, Convergence starts off with the two once again on the brink of war after an unfortunate space battle. However, the battle leads to the intervention of the Jedi and the Republic, who attempt to force peace, as well as the chance meeting between the planet’s two royal heirs. What follows is a compelling bout of political intrigue, as the two planets negotiate, while various elements with ulterior motives try to sabotage it. This early part of the book is pretty damn compelling, as the author spends a good amount of time introducing the complex characters as well as the well-crafted background setting and war story arc.
Thanks to some mysterious murders and sabotages, the middle of Convergence evolves into an exciting road-trip narrative, as the two royals, their new Jedi bodyguard and the unrepentant party boy Axel Greylark, embark on a goodwill mission to both planets, which results in further action and adventure, while also taking the time to build up the four main characters and establish some intriguing relationships between them. After some excellent and often heartbreaking sequences, the story enters a whole new phase as the deadly outside influences trying to disrupt the peace process are revealed. There are series of great twists and turns around here, including one massive reveal that severely impacts a major character, and everything you think you know about the plot is changed as hidden motivations are revealed. The last third of the book is easily the most exciting, as you wait for the various characters to explode when everything is brought to the light and the full scope of the various plots are revealed. The author really amps up the action towards the end, including one of the most chaotic wedding sequences in Star Wars history, and there is no shortage of intense interactions as certain characters come face to face. Everyone walks away from Convergence with their emotional and excitement buckets filled and I really appreciated the fantastic swings that Córdova took in this major High Republic book.
I deeply enjoyed how this excellent narrative came together, and Córdova has a great writing style that lends itself to an intense character-driven plot. Told from multiple compelling character perspectives, Córdova has produced an excellent narrative that combines adventure, intrigue and character growth with the lore-heavy Star Wars universe. While there is plenty of action and some great universe building featured here, most of the book is constructed around intense character emotions as the central protagonists attempt to overcome their pasts and the dangerous secrets they all hide. The author keeps the pace of Convergence’s narrative pretty constant throughout, and there were no major areas that slowed down or got stuck, and I enjoyed the continued build-up of disasters and betrayals that occurred. The various action scenes featured throughout a very well written and make sure to highlight both the emotion behind each battle, but the iconic Star Wars elements such as the Jedi. There is also a great sense of mystery and betrayal throughout the book that gives it a powerful overarching tone, and you really get drawn in trying to see how the characters are going to implode with their own inner chaos. It really proved quite impossible not to enjoy this captivating read, and I really think that Córdova showcased just how impressive her writing ability is with this outstanding read.
In addition to having an outstanding story, Convergence also serves as a great entry in the second phase of the High Republic and I loved how it continued certain awesome storylines as a key novel in this sub-series. I have mentioned a couple of times previously on my blog that I was surprised they started off the second phase of this sub-series with the young adult book, Path of Deceit. However, after getting through Convergence, I now completely understand why they did this, as the more subtle Path of Deceit really helped to set up certain key overarching plot elements, as well as the wilder aspect of this period of the Star Wars timeline. Convergence had a narrower narrative focus which, which really benefited from not having to introduce a whole new batch of major antagonists in too much detail. Córdova was able to expertly utilise and then expand some of the elements from Path of Deceit throughout Convergence’s narrative, which I think really enhanced the overall story, and made it a bit more gripping and connected with the wider series. I do think that at this point in the High Republic, Convergence is a very hard novel for those non-Star Wars fans to easily jump in and fully appreciate. A lot of the joy of Convergence and the other books in the prequel second phase is in seeing the origins of key characters, organisations or events that are featured or discussed in the first phase. As such, you can only fully appreciate this book if you have read a few of the key novels from the first phase, and this makes Convergence a little less accessible as a result. Luckily, Convergence really is geared towards established fans of the franchise, who are guaranteed to have a wonderful time with this book.
I really must highlight the outstanding settings that were such a key part of Convergence’s narrative and tone. Part of this comes from the even earlier timeline that the book is set in, as this period of the High Republic is a lot wilder and less civilized in places, more resembling a space western than the golden age seen in the first phase. While the story doesn’t spend a lot of time in the wider Star Wars universe, you get an idea of the different society and times in this new phase, and it really feels like a period of flux and new ideas. However, the story primarily takes place on the twin worlds of Eiram and E’ronoh, both of which have been featured to a degree during the first phase (Into the Dark and The Fallen Star for example). Both planets are shown in even more detail in Convergence, especially as the characters spend most of the book there. Stuck in an endless cycle of war and destruction, both Eiram and E’ronoh are in very dire straits when Convergence begins, which adds a great layer of politics, strife, and desperate characters to the narrative. The protagonists are forced to dive into the history and culture of both planets to resolve the war, which reveals some major emotional edges as the dark similarities and differences between them make peace seem impossible. Córdova does a remarkable job highlighting both planets throughout the course of Convergence and I really cannot emphasise how impressive they were as a background setting, especially as there is a tangible tension and threat of violence permeating both. I deeply enjoyed this cool setting and I look forward to seeing another author’s take on these planets, and the wider Star Wars universe at this time in the next High Republic books.
While I loved the epic story and impressive Star Wars elements, the best part about Convergence for me was the exceptional characters that Córdova introduced and strongly featured throughout the course of the narrative. Each character is pretty intriguing in their own way, and many are clearly set to become central figures in this second phase and will no doubt be reutilised again by other authors in the future. The plot of Convergence, however, primarily rests around four complex and well-written protagonists who tend to serve as the main point-of-view characters of the book.
The first two characters I need to talk about are Jedi Knight Gella Nattai and political scion Axel Greylark, who form an intriguing odd-couple pairing for much of the book. Gella is naturally the more serious and stoic Jedi character, who is dealing with regrets and uncertainty after a failed mission that saw the order lose confidence in her. Now forced to work under more experienced Jedi Masters, Gella is uncertain what her future holds, but her impulsive nature brings her into the middle of the conflict on the two warring planets. She is eventually relegated to the role of bodyguard for the royal characters and is teamed up with Axel, who is easily the most entertaining and fun character in this entire book. The son of one of the Supreme Chancellors, Axel is a pampered rogue and troublemaker who spends most of the book gambling, flirting and doing irresponsible things (think Lando dialled up to 11). Introduced in a very entertaining early chapter which ends with him shooting up an illegal casino, Axel is sent by his mother to the twin planets as her envoy and is recruited as an extra bodyguard when things go bad. He immediately goes to work annoying Gella, not just because of her uptight personality, but because he also has a great dislike of the Jedi in general after they failed his family as a child. While it is easy to see Axel as a one-note character, he is one of the most complex figures in the entire novel and he has one of the best character arcs. I loved the unique partnership he formed with Gella, which initially begins with great antagonism but eventually morphs into something else, that really changes both for the better. Of course, there is a further great twist around Axel that changes the entirety of his story, and it will be fascinating to see how that evolves in some future books.
The other two major characters are the heirs to Eiram and E’ronoh, Princess Xiri A’lbaran of Eiram and Prince Phan-tu Zenn of E’ronoh, who suddenly find the fate of both worlds resting on their shoulders when they have a chance meeting. Both are very different from each other as Xiri is a tough and practical warrior from a proud lineage, while Phan-tu is a kind and somewhat gentle former orphan who was adopted into the royal family. Despite their differences, both are dedicated to their respective planets and initiate the peace process through an arranged marriage that will unite their houses. While initially uncertain of each other, the two begin to grow closer as the book continues, not only because of their duty but because of their legitimate feelings as they prove themselves to their future spouse. The author features a slow-burn romance between the two that builds throughout the course of the story and has a lot of roadblocks to it, including both characters’ families and pasts filled with tragedy. Xiri and Phan-tu prove to be exceptional partners as the book proceeds, and I also really enjoyed the fantastic friendship group they formed with Gella and Axel during their travels, as the four stay to play off each other perfectly. These four end up really carrying the book on their shoulders, and I really must compliment Córdova on how well they were crafted and the amazing stories woven around them. Backed up by an amazing supporting cast of big personalities, this was an amazing character-focused book, and I cannot wait to see how some of these figures are featured in future High Republic works.
I doubt that anyone who is familiar with my blog and my love for Star Wars novels is going to be too surprised that I chose to check out Convergence on audiobook rather than reading the physical book I received. I love, love, love all the Star Wars audiobooks, especially as the production team behind them always features iconic Star Wars sound effects and music throughout the runtime, which I find adds to the overall ambience and emotional impact of the plot. Convergence was another exceptional example of this, and I especially enjoyed how the awesome music made every major scene feel that little more epic. At the same time, Convergence also featured the outstanding voice work of Marc Thompson, who is easily one of the best Star Wars audiobook narrators of all time. I always enjoy Thompson’s brilliant voice work in Star Wars fiction (such as in the audiobooks for Thrawn, Chaos Rising, Greater Good, Lesser Evil, Scoundrels, Dark Disciple and more), and he once again hit it out of the park in Convergence, giving each of the characters their own distinctive voice that really brought out their personalities and inner emotions. I really loved some of the cool voices that Thompson brought out for Convergence, especially as they were well tailored for the relevant characters and their backgrounds, and this ended up being an epic performance from him that allowed listeners to power through the audiobook. Coming in with a runtime of roughly 13 and a half hours, Convergence has a decent length, but dedicated listeners should have no trouble powering through it quickly. I personally thought this was an outstanding way to enjoy this amazing book, and I even featured Convergence on my favourite audiobooks of 2022 list before I’d even finished it.
The brilliant High Republic series of Star Wars fiction continues to roll on at an unstoppable pace with the latest epic read, Convergence by Zoraida Córdova. Featuring an exceptional plot, amazingly complex characters and serving as an intriguing prequel to the previous run of High Republic books, Convergence was an outstanding read that I cannot recommend enough. One of the best Star Wars books of 2022, Convergence was extremely impressive and captivating and I am now very excited to check out all the High Republic entries of 2023.
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