High Republic Novel Reveals How To Cut Off A Jedi's Force Powers
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Star Wars High Republic Novel ‘The Light Of The Jedi’ Reveals How To Cut Off Force Powers

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BY January 5, 2021

The era of The High Republic is here with the launch of a number of books and comics detailing a previously unseen era in Star Wars history. A full review of the book is forthcoming, but an interesting detail in the novel goes a long way to explaining some inconsistencies about how the Force works. Ever since Alec Guinness’ Ben Kenobi first explained the Force to audiences (and Luke Skywalker) it has captivated us. Both a philosophical construct and a source of magical powers, the Force itself can be confusing, leading some fans to suggest storytellers just use it as a catch-all explanation for cool stuff they want to do. However, there is a rationale behind it, and Charles Soule’s The Light of the Jedi, the first of the novels set in the High Republic, explains how villains are able to cut off the Jedi’s Force powers.

This revelation is important for two reasons. One, like all good Jedi, we Star Wars fans should be excited to deepen our understanding of the Force. Two, like all good obsessive fans, this can help explain perceived inconsistencies that the most toxic critical fans simply dismiss as “bad writing.” One of the biggest unanswered questions from the prequel trilogy is how Emperor-to-be Palpatine hid himself and his plans from the Jedi’s senses. In the film, they talk about how their “ability to use the Force has diminished.” This new High Republic novel explains how the dark side can cloud or restrict the Force powers of a Jedi.

If you want to go into The Light of the Jedi with no foreknowledge, bookmark this and return when you’ve read it. But we will not be spoiling too much below.

How the High Republic Enemies Can Cut Off A Jedi’s Force Powers

The enemies in the High Republic saga are the Nihil, which continues the Star Wars tradition of on-the-nose names for bad guys. They are anarchists and thieves who only act out of self interest and a desire for power. While they are not Sith nor practitioners of the Dark Side, their actions help to throw the Force out of balance. In fact, it is because of this that they are able to hamstring the Jedi who seek to end their threat. Towards the end of the book, the leader of the Nihil explains why they are able to go toe-to-toe with the Jedi.

The Light of the Jedi features discussion of how the Force works and how Jedi use it in its text. We get detailed descriptions of how Jedi can sense things through it, calm others’ emotions with it, and even how they use it for superhuman physical feats. Yet, they aren’t the only ones who understand it. When one of our heroes is captured, he is unable to free himself or even call on the Force. In the tradition of the old-school film serials that inspired the original Star Wars, the villain casually explains it’s because he’s torturing his other prisoners.

He says:

“My family knew all about you people. They told me what you could do, and how to resist it…. My grandmother told me how to do it; she learned from hers. You don’t imprison Jedi behind bars. You do it with pain. I never had a chance to try it—but it seems like it works well enough.”

The suffering of the Jedi’s fellow prisoners hampers his ability to call on the Force, and it even makes it difficult for him to think. While this specific maneuver is done on a small scale, it could be a clue how Palpatine was able to dull the senses of the Jedi during the prequels. Instead of torturing prisoners, the pain and suffering he caused was planetary in scale and then, once the war kicked off, galactic. This combined with the failings of the Jedi Order itself during the prequels allowed the Empire to rise.

Fear Leads to Anger, Anger Leads to Hate, and Hate Leads to Suffering

In the above scene from The Phantom Menace, Yoda (in his original puppet form) states the simplest explanation for how good people fall to the Dark Side. Ever since the introduction of midichlorians, fans have had a difficult time understanding who or what can tap into the Force. Yet, the important thing to remember is that the Force is created by all living things, and it, in turn, responds to them. It’s all about balance, which is itself a misunderstood concept in the Star Wars universe. Many people think of balance in terms of an old-school scale like the kind Anubis used in the Egyptian myths of old. But that’s not what balance actually means. The ultimate message for kids—always and forever the primary intended audience for new Star Wars stories—is that being selfish or cruel creates an imbalance in life.

Star Wars Rebels Sequel Series Disney+ 2020 Ahsoka the White High Republic Force powers Image via screengrab

As Dave Filoni explains in The Art of The Mandalorian:

“The dark side of the Force is manifested in our greed, desire for power, and fears. And the light side of the Force is propagated by selfless action, by living in balance, by overcoming our fears. The Force naturally exists in balance; that balance is thrown out when someone chooses to give in to their fears and then spirals out of control making selfish choice after selfish choice.”

Thus, the Jedi Order we saw in the prequel trilogy was one already very out of balance. In the clip where Yoda talks about the fear in Anakin, he neglects to notice that fear (of Anakin’s potential fall) is what drives the council’s decision. The Jedi were not to have attachments because such attachment can lead to fear of loss. Yet, by becoming detached from everyone else (save for the Senate who gave them marching orders), the Order fell under the cloud of the Dark Side before Palpatine ever became Chancellor.

Given this passage in The Light of the Jedi, I think we may have our answer to why Lucasfilm decided this was the next era of storytelling to open up. This small scale attempt by the villain to cut Jedi off from their Force Powers during the High Republic, when the Jedi Order was at its peak is perhaps the beginning of the end for the Order of old. Remember, Star Wars is almost always about how the systems in our lives tend to fail us or be corrupted by dark intent. We know how that story ended after The Rise of Skywalker, but with the High Republic we may finally learn how it began.

Star Wars: The High Republic titles are available now at booksellers and comic shops.

What do you think? What other interested Force powers do you think we’ll learn about in future High Republic titles? Share your thoughts, theories, and questions in the comments below.

Featured image via Lucasfilm.

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Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.

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