A Test of Courage is the first book in Star Wars: The High Republic for middle school readers. Disney was kind enough to send a copy of the book out and I recently finished it. The book is written by Justina Ireland and features a few illustrations by Petur Antonsson that are great. You can grab a copy of the book from your favorite bookstores including Disney and Amazon now.
When a transport ship is abruptly kicked out of hyperspace as part of a galaxy-wide disaster, newly-minted teen Jedi Vernestra Rwoh, a young Padawan, an audacious tech-kid, and the son of an ambassador are stranded on a jungle moon where they must work together to survive both the dangerous terrain and a hidden danger lurking in the shadows….
A Test of Courage is a good and quick read. It’s written well for a middle school target audience with a story that even adults can enjoy. Honestly, this is perfect for reading with your kid if you’re both into Star Wars. It definitely will provide a different lens for looking at canonical Star Wars items. You have to remember that things are very different than what we’ve seen in the films. The Republic is seemingly flourishing, and the Jedi aren’t merely powerful soldiers.
One thing that I’m very grateful for is that the main character is not a human. Sure, three of her companions are, but she is a Mirialan. There are so many great species in the Star Wars universe, it’s great when they branch out from human characters. Now, I say that the main character is Vernestra, the Mirialan, but the book does take turns focusing on her and her companions Avon, Honesty, and Imri. I’ve read a few books that do this approach of bouncing between characters, and Ireland does a really good job of using this technique to further the story and provide additional information.
While it is a book for young readers, that doesn’t mean that Ireland plays it safe. There are definitely some moments where things get really intense and even a little dark.
Another note is that I do really like some of the messages of the book. The Force is seen by the Jedi as a religious thing more or less. Things happen as The Force wills it. However, not everyone agrees with this and it’s nice to see that contrast again. There’s also a bit more talk about the dark side and what makes a Dark Jedi at the end that I like but don’t want to spoil.
Not all adults are going to love this book, but that’s ok. It’s not written for them. It’s written for children who probably will love it. That being said, there will be adults that find great fun in this well-written book. I am interested to see what other adventures take place in The High Republic, and A Test of Courage is a decent start.