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The big reveal at the High Republic panel at Star Wars Celebration in 2023 was that Vernestra Rwoh would appear in The Acolyte. She was announced by the show’s creator, Leslye Headland and will be played by Rebecca Henderson, the announcement of her appearance got huge applause and cheers from those in attendance. If you read my recent article about what to expect from Star Wars: The Acolyte (linked below), then you might remember me mentioning Vernestra Rwoh as an important character in the series. In this article, I’ll talk about on her role a bit more, and delve into why she’s important, as well as what it means for the future of the show and the era itself. 

The High Republic and The Acolyte

The High Republic is mentioned a lot with discussion around The Acolyte, with Disney themselves advertising the show as being set at the tail end of the era. The actual High Republic era spans from around 500-100 years before The Phantom Menace, a time of peace and prosperity for the galaxy before it gets disturbed by the Nihil, a nasty group of pirates who manage to almost bring the Republic to its knees.

The publishing initiative surrounding The High Republic is in full swing even now, with it set to end in June 2025. Vernestra Rwoh is a big part of the books, which is why her inclusion in The Acolyte brought so much applause and attention.

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The history of Vernestra Rwoh

Vernestra Rwoh’s first appearance is in the novel A Test of Courage written by Justina Ireland, which was published early 2021. In the book, she is one of the youngest Jedi Knights in generations, after being knighted at 15 and, of course there is a lot to deal with being a knight at such a young age. She even takes on a Padawan at age 16 further proving she is as much of a Jedi prodigy as she is believed to be by everyone in the books.

Throughout the rest of the books we see Vernestra dealing with the threat of the Nihil, spending a year finding herself away from the Jedi order, saving her Padawan, and proving herself as a very capable Jedi Knight even in the darkest of times.

Rebecca Henderson as Vernestra Rwoh in The Acolyte
Rebecca Henderson as Vernestra Rwoh in The Acolyte (Disney+/Lucasfilm)

This is an important backstory for her as she is brought into The Acolyte, as 100 years later during the time of the show she is now an aged Jedi Master in the order. With so much life lived and experiences had by her, she will no doubt prove to be a level head in times of crisis. This should be especially true during The Acolyte series, with the reveal of a supposed Sith threat.

Vernestra has known most of the characters in the show since they were Padawans themselves. It will be great to see such a Jedi, outside of the likes of Yoda and other aged masters, helping and offering advice to the main characters of the series.

In the novel, A Test of Courage, Vernestra Rwoh gains the ability to turn her lightsaber (a very cool looking purple blade) into what is known as a lightwhip. Whilst this is an ability for lightsabers first seen in Legends, it is the first time a character in the current Star Wars canon has had one, and a first for the Jedi.

The lightwhip basically acts exactly as you would expect, a whip that can cut through almost anything. This has sparked some debate among fans since the announcement of her being in the show and with the recent trailers. Such as the teaser linked below…


In the books, Vernestra feels similarly about the weapon, even going so far as to hide the idea of a lightwhip from her old master and other Jedi as they may feel it is not suited to the order. According to Ireland, Vernestra’s lightwhip was conceived as a way to make her less of a conventional Jedi, a motive well suited for The High Republic era, which is full of unconventional Jedi.

Despite this, Vernestra is a proficient lightwhip user in later books. We can also see her use it as shown in that recent teaser spot as she unsheaths it and turns it into the whip. This is amazing to get to see in live action, and we can only guess how she’ll use it in The Acolyte and how cool it will look in the full scene. 

Light whip lightsaber in The Acolyte
Verestra Rwoh’s lightwhip lightsaber in The Acolyte (Disney+/Lucasfilm)

Why Vernestra Rwoh being in The Acolyte is important to the wider Star Wars universe

Vernestra appearing in The Acolyte is also very important as it means we can access even more of the High Republic books and bring them into The Acolyte or other Star Wars media. For now, at least in season 1, Headland has stated that Vernestra is the only character from the books that will make it into the show. With ideas for a possible second season, she has “already talked to Pablo Hildago (part of the story group for Lucasfilm) about it.”(via Empire Magazine). We can only guess at who else could show up to really help the era come alive! 

Vernestra Rwoh being in The Acolyte brings with it the essence of the High Republic as a whole, the idea of hope, light and life as she will interact with the Jedi of the show. Her lightwhip will surely spark a lot of conversation, and brings with it the idea that Star Wars can branch out in weird and wonderful ways.

Vernestra Rwoh will hopefully only be the start of seeing more of the wonderful group of High Republic characters into the realms of live action and other projects, and as the era continues to expand it will only get better and better. I for one, can’t wait to see Geode.

Star Wars: The Acolyte starts streaming on Disney+ on June 4th! Are you excited to see Vernestra in it? Let us know what you have to say about the series on social media @mycosmiccircus or in The Cosmic Circus Discord. 

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