‘Star Wars: The Fallen Star:’ Read an Excerpt from Claudia Gray’s New High Republic Novel (Exclusive)

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The first phase of Star Wars: The High Republic is almost at an end, and TheWrap has an exclusive excerpt from author Claudia Grey’s new novel “Star Wars: The Fallen Star.”

The High Republic publishing initiative, which began early last year, has already spread into all corners of the “Star Wars” Universe, whether it’s in the anime short films “Star Wars: Visions” or into the backstory of the forthcoming Star Wars-themed hotel at Walt Disney World, the Galactic Starcruiser. (There’s also the forthcoming live-action Disney+ series “The Acolyte,” set during the High Republic.) Truly, if you haven’t read or experienced any part of the High Republic mythos (set roughly 200 years before the events of the “Star Wars” prequel films and centered around the glory days of the Jedi and a space station called Starlight Beacon), now is the time.

On Jan. 4, a new “Star Wars” novel set during the High Republic is being released. This novel, by fan favorite Claudia Gray, is part of the final wave of the first phase of High Republic material, which is fitting because a Gray novel helped kick off the launch of the initiative a year ago.

“It’s been an incredible ride–more all-encompassing than I ever imagined way back at the beginning, when [Director of Creative Franchise at Disney] Mike Siglain first mentioned the idea of a multi-platform story years ago (could it have been 2015? Possibly!) In many ways it doesn’t feel like an ending at all–there’s so much more story, and so much still to come,” Gray told TheWrap. “But my hope is that ‘The Fallen Star’ gives readers a powerful sense of closure for this first story arc, and this core group of characters.”

When asked about Gray’s future in the High Republic, she was coy (as most with ties to “Star Wars” projects usually are). “There’s nothing I can announce at this time, but you’ll see me again before too long,” Gray said.

And to ease the way until Jan. 4, please enjoy the following excerpt from “The Fallen Star.”

Star Wars: The Fallen Star Exclusive Excerpt

“It is almost time, my lord,” said Thaya Ferr.

Marchion Ro gave his underling the slightest nod as he stared into the depths of the holographic star chart. His preselected targets glowed red among the whiter stars, and he studied each one in turn.

These were ordinary worlds. Large and prosperous enough to be of note at least to neighboring systems, not so large as to have strong planetary defenses or to draw undue attention. He walked through the holographic chart, imagining the suns and planets pushing apart to let him pass.

The worlds he had chosen shared two things in common: First, they all had good communications systems that would allow them to reach officials on Coruscant within minutes.

Second, they were all very, very far from Starlight Beacon.

He smiled his bloodless smile. “Begin.”

Aleen: a planet neither particularly obscure nor noteworthy. Although Aleen had been racked by wars in its distant past, it was now a place where nothing of significance had happened in a very long time—even by its own inhabitants’ reckoning—and nothing of significance was anticipated for perhaps an even longer time to come. The legends of the wars were enough to make every soul on Aleen satisfied with an uneventful life.

Yeksom: one of the longest-standing Republic member worlds on the Outer Rim, one that had suffered terrible groundquakes in recent years. The Republic was helping the planet rebuild, but it was a protracted, painstaking process. Its people remained guarded, uncertain, sad-eyed; everyone had lost someone in the quakes, and grief veiled the world’s gray sky.

Japeal: a planet on the frontier, newly bustling, with no fewer than three small space stations in various stages of construction. Its temperate climate and plentiful water practically invited settlers to find a place they might call their own. Dozens of species set up storefronts and eateries; engineers mapped bridges and roads; families put finishing touches on brand-new, prefab homes.

Tais Brabbo: Anyone on Tais Brabbo who wasn’t up to no good had taken a wrong turn somewhere. Rumor had it the Hutts had considered moving some operations onto Tais Brabbo but decided against it—the place was too corrupt even for them. It was a good place to get lost, and on any given day it housed millions of souls who wanted nothing more than to remain out of sight of any authorities more powerful than the ineffectual local marshals.

On each of the these very different planets, under four different shades of sky, millions of very different individuals were going about tasks as divergent as spinning muunyak wool or taking bounty pucks when they each heard the exact same sound: the thudding hum of spacecraft engines descending.

All those millions of people looked up. They all saw Nihil ships streaking down out of the sky—numerous as raindrops—the beginning of the Storm.

Explosives dropped. Plasma weapons fired. The assault slammed into homes, factories, bridges, cantinas, medcenters, hangars. There was no specific target, because everything was a target. It seemed the Nihil wanted to cause mayhem for mayhem’s sake, which nobody who had heard of them found difficult to believe.

One passenger ship leaving Japeal at that very moment got lucky. It took damage—a devastating hit to its port side—but was able to limp out of orbit and even get into hyperspace. Its crew and surviving passengers thought it was a miracle they were still alive and might even remain so, if they could get to help in time.

The so-called miracle was, in fact, no more than a standing order Marchion Ro had given before the Nihil attack began. Some people needed to escape—because the Nihil needed them to run straight to Starlight Beacon….

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