By George Bate
Since The High Republic’s debut, much attention has (deservedly) been on the incredible, diverse host of Jedi at the heart of these stories. But, hovering under the radar (both in stories and among fan conversations), are the Nihil – a truly underrated collection of villains unlike anything we’ve seen in the Star Wars universe. In Tempest Runner, the newest audio drama by Cavan Scott from Del Rey Publishing, the emphasis is placed on one member of the Nihil in particular – Lourna Dee – in a captivating and ruthless story.
Lourna Dee made her debut in Charles Soule’s Light of the Jedi that kicked off The High Republic publishing initiative. When we first meet her, Dee is a mysterious and fordimible Twi’lek Tempest Runner that, most recently, came head-to-head with Jedi on Valo and was more than a match for her opposition. Amidst the vast array of characters in Light of the Jedi and The Rising Storm, we’re given little insight into the inner-workings of Lourna Dee, something Tempest Runner explores in intense fashion.
Cavan Scott intelligently structures the audio drama by interweaving a series of flashbacks as Lourna is captured and interrogated by Republic officials. Events from other High Republic works are retold at times, but now from Lourna’s unique point-of-view, which is a refreshing contrast to the different perspectives we’ve seen before. There’s a brutality and ruthlessness in Tempest Runner that feels fresh and exciting, which is counterbalanced by the tragedy and heartbreak of Lourna’s origin story. In detailing Lourna’s motivations and background, her inclusion in previous High Republic stories is put in an entirely new context. Lourna is not merely another ruthless space pirate – there’s a depth to her character that Scott brings to life as he chronicles her downward trajectory from royalty to enslavement and, eventually, to the Nihil.
The production value of Tempest Runner helps bring this captivating story to life. The voice work by Jessica Almasy really brings Lourna Dee to life, and actors Marc Thompson and Jonathan Davis offer interesting takes on Marchion and Asgar Ro respectively. One’s enjoyment of Tempest Runner may ultimately come down to their taste or distaste for audiobooks. While the production is fantastic, some may prefer to wait until Tempest Runner is released in script format as other Del Rey audio dramas like Dooku: Jedi Lost and Doctor Aphra have been.
Tempest Runner is another impressive addition to the High Republic publishing initiative that adds significantly to the character Lourna Dee. In an unexpectedly emotional and traumatic story, author Cavan Scott sheds new light on a character that we previously barely scratched the surface of, but, now, can’t wait to see more of.
Images courtesy of Del Rey and Lucasfilm