Star Wars: Temptation of the Force (The High Republic)

Star Wars: Temptation of the Force (The High Republic)

by Tessa Gratton
Star Wars: Temptation of the Force (The High Republic)

Star Wars: Temptation of the Force (The High Republic)

by Tessa Gratton

Hardcover

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Overview

The reunited Jedi prepare to strike back against the ruthless Nihil in this thrilling sequel to Star Wars: The Eye of Darkness.
 
For over a year, Jedi Masters Avar Kriss and Elzar Mann were kept apart by the Nihil’s Stormwall. After Avar makes a daring escape from inside the Occlusion Zone, the star-crossed Jedi are reunited. But while the physical distance between them has evaporated, their shared grief over their failure to protect the galaxy from the Nihil threat remains.
 
To rally the Jedi Order and the Republic, Avar and Elzar cling to their belief in serving Light and Life. Together, they lead a daring mission into Nihil space to liberate the planet of Naboo and show those trapped behind the Stormwall that the Jedi will never abandon them. Now back within close orbit of each other, the two Jedi Masters can no longer deny the bond that has always drawn them back together and made them stronger.
 
After finally embracing their true desires and imbued with renewed purpose, Avar and Elzar devise a plan to turn the tide of the conflict with the Nihil once and for all. Accompanied by Jedi Knights Bell Zettifar, Burryaga, and Vernestra Rwoh, the Jedi begin their hunt for Marchion Ro. But to seek out the Nihil’s dangerous leader, the Jedi will have to survive the Nameless terrors that thus far they have been powerless to stop.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780593723098
Publisher: Random House Worlds
Publication date: 06/11/2024
Series: Star Wars High Republic Series
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 4,334
Product dimensions: 9.20(w) x 6.40(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

About The Author
Tessa Gratton is the New York Times bestselling author of adult and YA SFF novels and short stories that have been translated into twenty-two languages. She has been nominated twice for the Otherwise Award, and several of her novels have been Junior Library Guild selections. Her most recent novels are the dark fairy tales Strange Grace and Moon Dark Smile, the queer Shakespeare retelling Lady Hotspur, and novels in the Star Wars: The High Republic series. Though she has lived all over the world, she currently resides at the edge of the Kansas prairie with her wife. Queer, nonbinary, she/he/they.

Read an Excerpt

Prologue

Seswenna Sector, Inside the Occlusion Zone

Porter Engle drifted.

It was not the first time he’d died—or nearly died—nor was it likely to be the last. Someday the final death would arrive, and he would be one with the Force.

The last clear memory he had was of standing over the void of space, on the torn edge of a ship, his lightsaber lost, his shoulder bleeding, and that old Mirialan grinning desperately at him from above: “Goodbye, Porter Engle.”

Goodbye, Porter Engle.

You are not alone.

No, that wasn’t—

Porter groaned softly and fell back into drifting.

He remembered screeching metal, the hiss of a lightsaber blade against beskar. He remembered sending someone off—you are not alone—again, always sending others away, watching them leave, driving them off—

No.

It had been Avar Kriss this time, determined to make it, filled with a fire of hope.

He remembered white braids whipping like ropes and a laugh, chasing after that laugh, chasing after promises, tears, and lightsabers clattering to the ground all around him like an avalanche.

General Viess. Older. Stronger. Goodbye, Porter Engle.

Then, on the tattered metal edge of what once had been a hangar bay, Porter remembered sitting down to welcome the Force. He had closed his eye and let the pain diffuse into light, the blood sticking to his skin a warm reminder of the life he was leaving.

It drained out of him, and he listened to the Force. He felt other beings scrambling in the ruined ship, heard the wail of steel, the burst of engines, and the whisper of blades cutting through air: the Force all around him.

Porter Engle had never sought death, though through his long years, it had often come calling, but now he could welcome it through the Force.

Except.

Porter was here. On a bed with a thin mattress. It gave oddly, like a material pulled over metal bars. A cot. His head throbbed, and his shoulder tingled. There was a noise he should be able to recognize. It was familiar. Rhythmic.

By the Force, his body ached.

He was alive.

Not quite ready to open his eye, Porter let his breath deepen again and internally studied his situation. He wore what felt like a thin clean robe. He smelled medicine and a soothing astringent smoke, like incense maybe. No shoes on his feet. No eye patch. A bandage was wrapped on his left shoulder where Viess had stabbed him. He could move his fingers and toes.

All told, not a bad summation.

This was a small room, based on the echo of that familiar rhythmic noise.

Oh, it was only music.

Someone in the room was playing some kind of harp, though not especially well.

As Porter focused, he heard the sound of breathing and the ruffle of clothing. A distant, muffled thrum of life outside well-insulated windows. So a city, perhaps.

Porter reached with the Force and identified one other being in the room. They felt mostly at ease, if frustrated by something. Not an immediate threat.

Below them more beings moved, alive with the Force. He was on the second story of a building. Alone with the musician.

Slowly, Porter turned his head toward the musician and opened his eye to daylight.

The player was human, by the looks of him, wearing a black tunic and robe with bright-red ribbons tying his sleeves tight to his forearms as he stood over a horizontal harp and gently picked out a song by tapping the strings with little hammers. Concentration pulled his young, handsome tan face into a frown, and strands of black hair fell from a messy topknot.

The human looked harmless, and Porter’s wounds had been tended, but better not take chances.

Carefully, Porter settled himself and welcomed the Force toward him. He waited until he felt it gleaming around him, sharp as a hundred blades, humming in his mind like kyber.

He moved.

Porter leapt up and swept across the room between two strikes of the hammers, ending with his side against the human’s back and one arm around his neck—too loose to kill, too tight to allow for a struggle.

The human froze.

“You’re, ah, awake,” he said.

Porter grunted. “Who’re you?” he said, voice dry and cracking. Unused for the Force knew how long. Maybe it had been a day, maybe weeks.

“Cair,” the young man said quietly. His hands slowly lowered the hammers, placing them gently against the strings of the harp. A dulcimer, Porter thought. He’d seen them before.

“Where are we?”

“Seswenna City.”

Porter nodded, his right hand clenching, inadvertently tightening that arm around Cair’s neck. “How did I get here?”

“I rescued you,” the human said, and for the first time Porter detected a tone in his voice: lighthearted, purposefully gentle, the way one might speak to a wild predator.

Porter had been a lot of things in his long life, including a predator. A hunter. It wasn’t his natural state or his preference, but this was still the Occlusion Zone, and the Nihil were still in charge. He’d closed his eye on a fracturing Nihil ship and opened it here. The most logical explanation was that this Cair was Nihil, too. Despite his music, despite Porter’s lack of restraints.

Snorting, Porter shook the young man slightly. “Rescued me, ah? How? That ship was littered with Nihil and only Nihil.”

“Well,” Cair admitted, “I do sometimes run supplies for them.”

Porter sucked air through his teeth.

“But!” Cair was fast to explain, his hands lifting urgently in surrender. The left hand was a prosthetic made of black alloy. “I do it to keep my clearances, you know, against scav droids, and to be able to move around. I smuggle under their noses. Information, goods, sometimes people, but that’s more difficult.”

“Difficult is what this story is to believe,” Porter said, more cranky than usual because of all the things he didn’t know, as well as his aching shoulder and the expanse of anger growing in his guts. “I’m to understand that a non-Nihil Nihil just happened to come across me, get me out of the wreckage, and nurse me to health?”

Cair shrugged abortively under the weight of Porter’s grip. “Not . . . not so hard to believe if you trust the Force.”

Porter barked a laugh and again tightened his arm around Cair’s neck. “The Force?”

“Let me show you something, old man,” Cair said, turning his head to show Porter the gleam of a dark-brown eye and the edge of his grin.

For a moment, Porter did his best to stare into that eye, feeling his way with the Force to discern if Cair was setting him up. He sensed an earnest nature, a thrill of fear and excitement. Nothing more.

Well, Porter hadn’t made it this long without throwing himself off a few metaphoric—and literal—cliffs. “All right.”

Releasing Cair in one swift motion, Porter stepped back and tightened his fists at his sides. He was the blade. And the Force was with him.

Cair darted past the harp and quickly moved around the cot where Porter had been unconscious. On the other side was a small metal table with several drawers. Cair pulled the top one open, and Porter tensed, calling on the Force in case the human took out a blaster.

But it was no such thing.

In the young man’s hand was a lightsaber—Porter’s lightsaber, which had gone rolling away from him on the ruined deck of General Viess’s ship. Porter stared at it as Cair flipped it and offered the hilt to Porter.

“I haven’t known many Jedi,” Cair said. “But I’m from the Core and didn’t always live out here. I wasn’t always trapped under Nihil cruelty. I know a lightsaber when I see one, and I know Jedi even without their robes.”

Something about the words settled heavily on Porter’s shoulders. He drew a long breath and reached out for his lightsaber with the Force.

Cair let go and the weapon flew the short distance to gracefully land in Porter’s palm. It felt like years since he’d held it. “How long since you found me?”

“A little more than a month,” Cair said. “You had to be in stasis for a while, because of your injuries. And also, honestly, I don’t have access to the finest medicine under Nihil occupation, so it took me a while to safely track down the right help.”

“That hand looks pretty fancy,” Porter said, though he was starting to believe the kid.

“It’s a long story,” Cair said glumly, flexing the black prosthetic. But his attention spiked again, and he stepped eagerly toward Porter. “Listen, I know how the Force works. It had to have led me to you for a reason. I’m trying to help people out here. I can’t do what Jedi do, but regular people are doing our best.”

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