By Rob Siebert
The Rise of Skywalker was, in my humble opinion, not a good movie. But it did drop a few storytelling bombs on us. The most compelling being that Palpatine had a son, who in turn was Rey’s father. We also learned that Lando and Luke did some Sith hunting many years before the events of the sequel trilogy. I remember thinking at the time, “Boy, all this background would make for a hell of a novel…”
Shadow of the Sith by Adam Christopher is that novel. It didn’t come quite as quickly as I’d hoped, but it ultimately proved worth the wait. For Star Wars buffs, this is the essential companion piece to The Rise of Skywalker, and perhaps the sequel trilogy as a whole. As far as Star Wars novels are concerned, it’s destined to go down as one of the greats.
Here’s what I came away from Shadow of the Sith thinking about. (Spoiler free for your protection!)
1. This thing is a brick. At 465 pages, Shadow of the Sith is a hefty read. As such, in a house with two young children it took me longer to finish it than your average novel. Am I complaining? Not really. There’s so much meat on the bone with this book that I can’t gripe about having to spend more time with it.
2. “Who the hell is Ochi of Bestoon?” That’s what I said when I initially read the premise for Shadow of the Sith. As I’ve only seen The Rise of Skywalker a couple of times, it took me a bit to remember who Ochi of Bestoon was. YouTube was very helpful in that respect. But Shadow of the Sith dives into just who this guy was, how and why he was hunting down Rey’s parents, what his relationship to the Sith is, etc.
3. Rey’s parents – Who they are, and what their story is. Shadow of the Sith answers many of the basic questions we had about Rey’s parents, and Palpatine’s son, coming out of The Rise of Skywalker. What their names are, how they met, how they got where they are, etc. Their story is obviously a tragedy, as we know what eventually happens to their family. Some of it is truly heart-wrenching to read, especially as a parent of young children. But we find ourselves rooting for them nonetheless.
4. More on Lando and his daughter. While it was never outright stated in The Rise of Skywalker, those of us who follow expanded Star Wars lore knew coming into this book about Lando’s daughter. We knew she was taken from him by the group that would come to be known as the First Order, and his desperate attempts to find her. Those of us who read Last Shot by Daniel Jose Older also had a pretty good idea of who the mother was. But Shadow of the Sith colors in a lot of the background to that story. Perhaps most notably, we also learn Lando’s daughter’s given name. That’s got a direct implication for somebody we met in The Rise of Skywalker…
5. There’s a cool Sith chick in a mask. The Sith are kind of a sausage party, aren’t they? We don’t necessarily see a lot of female Sith. There was Asajj Ventress, that twi’lek lady from Dark Horse’s old Star Wars: Legacy series…and is that it? It might be.
Shadow of the Sith chips away at this issue with a new character, who we see on the front cover. And what’s more, she’s pretty awesome.
6. Lando drinks cognac. I mean, of course he does. He’s Lando Calrissian. But on page 140 we actually see Lando partake in some “Declavian cognac.” I assume that’s cognac from the planet Declav, or something. It’s a cool detail that not only fits Lando’s character, but it made me think of those amazing Colt 45 commercials Billy Dee Williams did.
Lando also pours a glass for Luke. I’ll leave it to your imagination whether our beloved Jedi Master helps himself or not.
7. That Force ghost sequence. Shadow of the Sith features a pretty awesome appearance from a Force ghost. I won’t say who it is. But I will say that many thought this particular specter should have appeared in the sequel trilogy…
8. Luke and Lando’s friendship. One thing I didn’t necessarily appreciate about the old Expanded Universe (now known as the “Legends” timeline) is that Luke and the gang all remained a fairly tight-knit group in the decades after Return of the Jedi. That’s not necessarily realistic, is it? People grow, change, and evolve as time goes on. Sometimes they stay close, but sometimes they drift apart. Shadow of the Sith shows us that Luke and Lando, who I’d estimate were never close friends to begin with, have in fact drifted apart since their days in the Rebel Alliance.
Thankfully, they do fall back into a friendly rhythm rather quickly. I mean, we don’t want them to be virtual strangers, do we?
9. Hot chocolate. For whatever reason, I’ve always remembered Luke drinking hot chocolate during his entrance scene into 1991’s Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn. So when Luke and Lando get to enjoy a hot chocolate on page 303, I smiled.
It just occurred to me this is my second beverage-themed takeaway from Shadow of the Sith. Maybe I need to stay better hydrated…
10. Aging heroes. On page 425, Lando contemplates aging. Older had Han Solo do something similar in Last Shot.
I suppose it’s only natural for these characters to contemplate their mortality as we move from the original trilogy era into that of the sequel trilogy. It’s an interesting thing to read, at least for yours truly, as I inch toward my 40s…
On second thought, let’s not talk about it anymore, eh?
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