I read Out of the Shadows this week, and totally adored it! I loved getting to see one of my favorite High Republic characters, Vernestra Rwoh, again, and getting to explore her along with other characters, both familiar and new. It also really developed some of the storylines related to the Jedi and Nihil that we've seen in other High Republic books and continued along some lines that both look at finishing some of those big storylines as well as promising new ones. It was a great book and one that I would 100% recommend for High Republic fans, both because of how good of a story it is and because of how impactful the events will surely be in future High Republic stories.
Spoilers ahead for Out of the Shadows by Justina Ireland!
Seeing Vernestra and Imri again were a highlight of this book for me. I looooooooved Justina Ireland's other High Republic book, A Test of Courage, and Vernestra is my favorite High Republic character. I liked getting to see how their master-padawan relationship is after Vernestra took him on at the end of that book, and seeing how they've grown. It was interesting to see Vernestra especially struggle and develop in this book as we learn about her hyperspace visions and how they affect things going forward. She was so confident and grounded in the first book, and I liked getting to see her on shakier ground here and making her grow. It was also cool to see Imri struggle with his heavy empathetic abilities, the emotions of others frequently overwhelming him, and how he learns to control these abilities so they aren't a detriment to him anymore.
I also enjoyed getting to see Reath & Cohmac from Claudia Gray's Into the Dark again. Like Vernestra and Imri, they're another pair where the padawan (Reath, in this case) lost his master, so the Jedi Knight took them in as their own padawan. While they weren't in the book as heavily as Vernestra and Imri, I liked seeing the bits of their relationship that we did get, and especially seeing how Reath has changed since the beginning of Into the Dark. While he was more bookish and reluctant to leave Coruscant in the beginning of that story, after the events of that book he now enjoys adventure more and is even reluctant to return back to Coruscant. I love how the character development carries over not only across different books but different authors, to me it really shows the amount of care and passion that is going into the High Republic across all of the storytellers.
Sylvestri Yarrow & Jordanna Sparkburn were two new characters to the book, and ones that I really fell in love with. Syl is a pilot on a hauler who recently lost her mother in a Nihil attack, though she later learns that's not the whole truth. Jordanna is a San Tekka deputy protecting a town from Nihil attacks, though even when our four main Jedi in this book step in to help, she's unsuccessful in a final, brutal attack, and decides to leave for Coruscant with them. Jordanna and Syl were briefly romantically involved but split sadly, and aren't reunited until disaster strikes in the book. Their reunion is a little bitter, but they find that their love still persists in a really sweet (though poorly timed, as Imri has to ask them to kiss later and escape an exploding Nihil base), and eventually are able to fly away together like they'd once dreamed of. Their story is really sweet, and both of these characters will really interesting. It looks like they're going to join Maz Kanata at the end too, so I definitely hope that they'll show up again in future stories.
Finally, there's some development on the Nihil storyline weaving through the High Republic. We know that the Nihil's expert use of hyperspace came from the kidnapped and long-preserved form of Mari San Tekka, who uses the Force to navigate through hyperspace better than any computer (not unlike Thrawn Ascendancy's sky-walkers). In this book, Syl's mother Chancey Yarrow is working with the Nihil on a prototype weapon that can pull incoming ships out of hyperspace. Though it's all found and destroyed by the Jedi (and Mari San Tekka gives Vernestra a hyperspace Path to use before she finally finds peace in death), Chancey escapes and goes to work with the Graf family, the San Tekka's competing hyperspace prospectors, with the data she's taken from her experiments. The Nihil are left now without the Paths, their greatest asset, and Chancey and the Grafs are sure they'll all be dead in a matter of time. Chancey takes Nan, the double-crossing girl from Into the Dark, with her, and she takes a position as a spy and informant with the Grafs. What exactly she'll be tasked with is yet to be seen...
Overall, this was a very engaging and exciting book, and I look forward to seeing how the High Republic stories continue to develop in the future!