One of the great things about Star Wars is that it inspires endless debates and opinions on a wide array of topics. Best bounty hunter? Most powerful Jedi? Does Salacious B. Crumb have the best haircut in the saga? In that spirit, StarWars.com presents From a Certain Point of View: a series of point-counterpoints on some of the biggest — and most fun — Star Wars issues. In this installment, two StarWars.com writers make a case for the best new character in Star Wars: The High Republic.
It’s Bell Zettifar, says Megan.
As the heyday of the Jedi, Star Wars: The High Republic brings in a lot of new characters, each growing and changing as the series continues. Heroic Avar Kriss, uncertain Imri Cantaros, villainous Lourna Dee and, of course, Geode (who needs no introduction) are among my favorites. But the one who best illustrates what it means to be a Jedi at the height of the Order’s abilities is none other than Bell Zettifar.
An 18-year-old Padawan at the start of the series, he has his whole life ahead of him and a wealth of experiences in his young life. In many ways, he is a Jedi archetype: a person who wants to see the world and be the best version of himself he can be, but who also struggles with doubt and picking up new skills. Bell loves being a Jedi, and that’s one of the things I love about him.
Bell and his Jedi Master Loden Greatstorm both want to do good for the galaxy. It can be fun to see the more selfish or conflicted Jedi, too, but Bell exemplifies one of my favorite concepts in The High Republic: that good people can be complex, too. Villainy is not inherently more intellectual or entertaining than good.
Soon after the Great Hyperspace Disaster, Loden tries to teach Bell to fall from a great height and land unscathed through careful, calm application of the Force. Bell loves flying in a ship, but jumping out of one isn’t easy: Bell is afraid, and doubts his own abilities. Who wouldn’t, especially if one of the things you needed to do to graduate from school was to jump out of a plane and land on your feet without a parachute? Bell thinks it’s “another impossible task — but he was a Jedi, or getting there, and through the Force all things were possible.” And indeed, Bell eventually learns to fall — and more importantly land — with the Force when he needs it most.
Like Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi, Bell and Loden are a pair brought together by the Force who also have some all-too-human problems. Bell’s connection to his teacher shows the strength and contradiction at the core of the Order’s structure. A Master and Padawan are as close as family, but are also supposed to refrain from excessive attachments. That’s put to the test when Bell thinks the Nihil have killed Loden, only to discover he’s been captured by the marauders. One of the closest and most powerful Master-Padawan pairs in the series also becomes one of the first to be marked by personal tragedy, despite Bell’s unshakeable belief that the Force is on his side.
That goodness and kindness also extends to animals. Bell’s pet charhound, Ember, adds more fun fantasy to this Jedi’s story. Personally, I always love stories about fantastical animals. This was part of why I liked Star Wars in the first place, too, with strange beasts that ranged from deadly to cuddly. The High Republic has some of both in Ember: fierce and strong, she’s also a loyal companion. At their best, Jedi bring people (and animals) together and work together for good. Just look at Obi-Wan’s connection with the varactyl in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, or Ezra Bridger’s bond with the purrgil in Star Wars Rebels. Bell brings this aspect into the High Republic with help from a loyal hound.
A person who wants the best for people and animals, but who has his own flaws and discovers that life doesn’t always end up the way he expected — Bell Zettifar is a Jedi in the classic sense, which helps to make him one of the stand-out characters of The High Republic.
Sorry, but Vernestra Rwoh is the light of the Jedi, says Kelly.
Vernestra Rwoh stands out among the ranks of the Jedi Knights in The High Republic — and not just because she was one of the youngest Padawans ever to pass her trials! She might be a prodigy, but she’s not perfect. If you’re looking for a stoic warrior who stands alone against the darkness of the galaxy, that’s not Vernestra. She’s just the opposite. And that’s what makes her great. Vernestra is supportive, sympathetic, terrible at flying, clever, and tenacious. She shows us what the Jedi of any era can and should be.
The Mirialan Jedi Knight is just 16 years old when readers meet her in Justina Ireland’s Star Wars: The High Republic: A Test of Courage. The Force speaks to Vernestra in a dream, guiding her to modify her lightsaber blade into a lightwhip. Yes, she has a purple-bladed lightsaber that turns into a whip, and that’s not even the coolest thing about her. One of her first assignments, escorting a senator’s daughter, seems simple enough. But nothing is ever simple when you’re a Jedi, is it?
Not only does Vernestra take charge and lead her companions when their lives are in danger, she guides the Padawan Imri Cantaros to work through his fear and anger. She becomes his master, taking a Padawan only a few years younger than herself. She continues to help Imri as a mentor and a friend.
Vernestra is always there for anyone who needs a gentle hand on their shoulder or a sympathetic ear. She’s no stranger to uncertainty and doubt, often struggling with her own misgivings. But her faith in the Force never wavers, and she remains dedicated to everything the Jedi Order stands for. Vernestra is among the best characters in The High Republic because she has those struggles, accepts and fights through them, and ends up stronger for it. She represents the bright future of the Jedi Order.
Just don’t call her Vern, okay?
Visit Lucasfilm’s official hub for all things Star Wars: The High Republic at StarWars.com/TheHighRepublic.
Megan Crouse’s work has appeared in Den of Geek, FangirlBlog, and Star Wars Insider. She podcasts on Western Reaches and Blaster Canon and can be found on Twitter at @blogfullofwords.
Kelly Knox writes features and DIYs for StarWars.com. Her writing can also be seen on Marvel, DC Comics, IGN, and more. Follow her on Twitter at @kelly_knox to talk Star Wars, games, and crafts.
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