Star Wars: Shadow of the Sith – 10 Takeaways from the Book

Star Wars Shadow of the Sith, coverBy Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

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?

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

The Rise of Skywalker Novelization Review – Palpatine Edition

***I just recently finished the Rise of Skywalker novelization. Naturally, as the “Expanded Edition,” it’s intended to supplement the events of the film and hopefully fill some of those gaping plotholes. Naturally as a Star Wars geek, I’ve got opinions. Too many to fit into a single review. Thus, welcome to the first of my multi-part Rise of Skywalker novelization review!***

By Rob Siebert
Has a LOT of free time during quarantine.

1. After the Big Boom
The book confirms something that a lot of fans already suspected: The Palpatine we saw in The Rise of Skywalker was indeed a clone. Or rather, the real Palpatine’s consciousness in a clone’s body.

There are more than a few Darth Plagueis references in the novel, which is a nice touch. Having learned from his old master how to cheat death, the Emperor began working on his contingency plan when he sensed the conflict in Darth Vader.

Palpatine’s consciousness left his body as he fell toward the Death Star core in Return of the Jedi. It traveled “far, far away to a secret place he had been preparing.” I can only assume that secret place was Exegol. But his new body wasn’t fully prepared, and his various Sith heretics rushed to sustain him. Obviously they never fully succeeded, as he would eventually plan to take Rey’s body as his own.

I know some fans thought Palpatine’s survival essentially negated the end of Return of the Jedi. I never really got that logic. Darth Vader was redeemed, the Empire was dealt a fatal blow, and the galaxy had three decades of peace. Not a bad deal as far as I’m concerned.

2. “They turned our kids into our enemies.”
Since The Force Awakens, one concept that’s both fascinated and frustrated me is the formation of the First Order. How they came together, what they want, how they’re different from the Empire, etc.

Lando has a few lines in this book that I really wish they’d put in the movie. During the scene on Pasaana where he tells Rey and the others he’s not coming back with them, he says…

“First Order went after us – the leaders from the old wars. They took our kids. … My girl wasn’t even old enough to walk. Far as I know, she’s a stormtrooper now. … They turned our kids into our enemies. My girl. Han and Leia’s son, Ben. To kill the spirit of the Rebellion for good.”

When you take into account Palpatine was been behind the First Order from the start, and that he’s essentially the most patient villain in pop culture history, that makes all the sense in the world. What better way to not only take the galaxy back, but to exact revenge on the heroes of the Rebellion than by targeting the next generation? You turn Han and Leia’s son into your unwitting apprentice, and you get Lando’s daughter as a bonus. The movie never even indicated that Lando had a daughter…

To an extent, the whole “They took our kids” thing applies to Luke as well. Remember, all his students ended up dead. All of them.

Ultimately, Palpatine’s plan worked, didn’t it? Han and Leia’s family imploded, Luke went into exile, and Lando ran away from it all.

3. Stormtroopers and Sith Troopers
The book tells us that the Sith Troopers, a.k.a. the red stormtroopers, were pulled from the regular stormtrooper roster, and designated lost in action somehow.

While the novel never indicates this explicitly, I think putting Palpatine in charge of the First Order adds a nice little irony to the stormtroopers being taken as children and forced into training. Because, to an extent, that’s exactly what the Jedi did.

Granted, you can make that argument without Palpatine. But it’s much more poignant with him.

4. You Have One Unheard Message
The first paragraph of the opening title crawl tells us “The galaxy has heard a mysterious¬† broadcast, a threat of REVENGE in the sinister voice of the late EMPEROR PALPATINE.”

Gotcha. But what did he say exactly? We never hear it in the movie.

Thankfully, the book fills us in…

“At last the work of generations is complete. The great error is corrected. The day of victory is at hand. The day of revenge. The day of the Sith.”

5. More From Dark Empire
While I’m about to talk about this book yet again in relation to The Rise of Skywalker, it must be said that Dark Empire is one of the most atrociously colored books I’ve ever seen. Obviously it was a style choice. But hindsight being 20/20, a different choice would have been better.

This isn’t so much about the novelization as the story itself. In Dark Empire, Palpatine comes back in a clone body and has a fleet of “World Devastators” at his disposal. In the end, he’s defeated by Luke and Leia as they draw strength from words spoken by Yoda as he trained Luke.

Would Star Destroyers with attached Death Star lasers count as “World Devastators?” Asking for a friend…

I’m not trying to make any sort of salacious allusions here. I just find it amazing how prophetic this story from 1995 would turn out to be in terms of a movie that would come out 25 years later. And feature a much older Luke and Leia.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.