***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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or check us out on Twitter.