Justina Ireland’s A Test of Courage is the new middle-grade novel that will belong to the High Republic publishing campaign, and that will be released on January 5, 2021. The novel follows a newly-minted teen Jedi Vernestra Rwoh, a young Padawan, an audacious tech-kid, and the son of an ambassador, that after being kicked out of hyperspace as part of a galaxy-wide disaster, they are stranded on a jungle moon where they must work together to survive.
Now, StarWars.com has released an exclusive interview with the author. Speaking about the age range this book is aimed at, Ireland had this to say:
“I think adults tend to get bogged down in our very complex yet somehow mundane daily lives, and one of the best things about kids books is we’re allowed to remember that life was once exciting and a vast, magical mystery. Especially Star Wars books!
Middle grade books are a great way to visit the galaxy for a little while and remember why we all fell in love with Star Wars in the first place. And for kids, it’s a place for them to interact with ideas of character and struggle without the limitations imposed by icky grown-ups.”
She also had something to say about Vernestra Rwoh, a character that has never been seen before in the Star Wars galaxy, but who we were introduced to back in April when the first character descriptions for The High Republic were released.
“I love that Vernestra isn’t prideful, she doesn’t see herself as any kind of hero or anyone special. Rather, she believes wholeheartedly in the Order and the Force, and she believes her job in the galaxy to promote the best qualities of both by helping others and being responsible and level headed even under the worst of conditions.”
“Vernestra (sometimes Vern, much to her chagrin) is excited about going on her first real Jedi mission after being promoted to Knight a few months ago at the very tender age of 15, and even though it’s really just a glorified babysitting job she’s still excited. Because at 16 she understands that doing your best, no matter the assignment, is the most important thing and, honestly, that’s just the kind of cinnamon roll Jedi she is.”
Avon Starros (distant ancestor of Sana Starros from Marvel’s Doctor Aphra and Star Wars) is one of her non-Jedi friends. This is what Ireland told StarWars.com about Avon and the relationship between Vernestra and Avon:
“Avon and Vernestra have an almost sisterly bond, with Vernestra being the annoying older sister who always knows the right thing to do and Avon being a little less restrained by convention and silly things like ‘rules.’ This only becomes more obvious after they are marooned on a wild jungle moon with acid rain, creepy vines, and strange creatures. They really have only each other to rely on. At the end of the day they care about one another and maybe even respect each other more than they think, something that becomes even more apparent when they are forced to work together.”
This is the beginning of the new excerpt of the book The High Republic: A Test of Courage:
“Hey, stop her!”
The sense of calm shattered and Vernestra opened her eyes to see a maintenance droid chasing a small, dark-skinned human girl riding a scoot speeder built of odds and ends. The girl’s hair framed her face in a halo of riotous curls, and she held a brightly shining power crystal in a single gloved hand. The expression of joyous triumph on her face was one that Vernestra knew all too well.
Avon Starros, daughter of Senator Ghirra Starros, was once again up to no good.
Avon had not yet seen Vernestra, and the Jedi used that to her advantage. Vernestra raised her hands, palms ﬂat toward Avon, and pushed with the Force. The girl went ﬂying backward off of her homemade contraption, but instead of letting her fall hard onto the deck, Vernestra kept Avon suspended in the air while the vehicle froze in the middle of the docking bay.
“Avon,” Vernestra said sweetly. “What is going on?”
Avon twisted around in midair, her happy expression souring when she spied Vernestra. “Ugh, I thought you were already on the ship.”
“No, I decided to take one last walk through the outpost before we left. I can see I am not the only one. What did you do?”
“Nothing! I didn’t do anything. By the stars, I don’t know why you always think everything is my fault, Vern.”