***I just recently finished the Rise of Skywalker novelization by Rae Carson. 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 third of my multi-part Rise of Skywalker novelization review!***
By Rob Siebert
A.K.A. Rob Skywalker
1. Force-Healing Powers.
Why did everybody get so bent out of shape about Rey’s Force-healing powers? Forget the fact that if you’re into Star Wars lore, you already know there were Jedi healers. But let’s say you’re not, and you’re still upset…
So the Force is a mystical energy field that binds the galaxy together, and the Jedi have access to it. What does that mean? For story purposes, it can mean whatever you want it to mean.
In the original film, it meant Obi-Wan could control people’s minds and make Stormtroopers hear things that weren’t really there. It also meant Luke could see through solid objects, hear Obi-Wan’s voice in his head, and move a proton torpedo with his mind.
Then in Empire, it also meant Luke could jump really high to avoid being frozen in carbonite, and that Darth Vader could stop blaster bolts with his hand.
In Return of the Jedi, it meant that if you were a bad guy, you could shoot lightning out of your fingers.
In The Phantom Menace, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan could run super-fast like the Flash.
In The Last Jedi, it meant Luke could essentially project a hologram of himself across the galaxy. Oh, and that Snoke could link Kylo Ren’s mind with Rey’s.
Now in this movie it means Rey can heal a serpent monster, and Ben can save Rey’s life.
Folks, I know a lot of Expanded Universe stuff has been written about the Force, Jedi powers, etc. But at the end of the day, George Lucas was making this stuff up as he went along. He didn’t bend the rules of reality too far, but he used it to suit the story’s needs.
So if Force-healing has always been a thing, why didn’t Luke use it to save Vader’s life? Why didn’t Obi-Wan use it to save Qui-Gon’s? I don’t know. I just know they didn’t. That’s enough for me.
2. Rey Fixed Luke’s X-Wing
Okay, so healing someone with your magic powers? I’m okay with that. But fixing a spaceship that’s been underwater for years and is missing a wing? That’s where I draw the line, damn it!
In the movie when Luke raises his X-Wing out of the water on Ahch-To, it seems like it’s primed and set. As if he’s somehow been fixing it underwater in a translucent scuba suit or something. The book gives us further details. They don’t make the notion that Rey flew Luke Skywalker’s X-Wing into the unknown regions of space any less silly. But I’m glad they’re there.
On page 200 (of the original hardcover edition), we learn Rey didn’t just have to patch the wing that was serving as the door to Luke’s hut. She also had to use parts from Kylo Ren’s Tie Whisper, which she’d just set ablaze, and do a bunch of rewiring. The ship, might never fight again … But it was still fighter class, and its transition from vacuum to atmo was seamless.
Of course it was.
A little Wookiepedia research tells me that, assuming Luke went into exile soon after Ben destroyed his temple, that X-Wing was probably down there about six years. Jedi or not, plop my dirty Honda Civic in the ocean for six years and see how quickly you can get it running. Just sayin…
3. “Be With Me”
Like the movie, the book doesn’t specify who exactly is talking to Rey as all the Jedi of the past are rooting her on. It’s better that way, of course. After all, how would Rey know what Qui-Gon Jinn, Mace Windu, or Anakin Skywalker sound like? The only obvious tell is Yoda based on his speech patterns. And of course, she recognizes Luke.
There’s also an interesting line in here about not all these voices necessarily coming from beyond the grave…
Presences filled her awareness, some recent, some ancient, some still anchored to the living in a strange way. Rey didn’t understand. But she accepted.
I assume that’s in there not just to keep Ashoka Tano’s fate a secret, but because certain Force sensitives around the galaxy could feel what was happening and were cheering Rey on. Even if they weren’t quite aware they were doing it. “Broom boy” from The Last Jedi comes to mind. And of course there’s Finn.
4. The Lars Homestead; “Rey Skywalker”
Upon second viewing, the movie is better at covering Rey’s exploration of the Lars Homestead than I remembered. We get a lot of familiar shots, only these places are now partially buried in sand. Probably stripped for parts too.
The implication, at least the way I interpreted it, was that Rey would now be the one to train a new generation of Jedi. She’d do it from the Lars Homestead, where Luke’s journey began, and where Anakin also had strong ties.
As it turns out, that’s not the case. At the end of the book, she and BB-8 get back in the Falcon and fly off. Presumably back to Ajan Kloss.
That’s disappointing. Yes, I’m sure different Empire/First Order survivors or sympathizers across the galaxy know where Anakin and Luke were born. They’re likely more than capable of following their trail back to Tatooine.
But in terms of closing the book on the so-called “Skywalker saga,” it’s poetic not just to see it end where it began. But to see it begin there again. I understand why they closed the movie with the image of Rey and BB-8. But in terms of the book going with the whole “alone with friends” theme might have been better. Sure, BB-8 is there. But we’ve also got C-3PO to help translate old Jedi texts. R2-D2 to do astromech droid stuff, and provide anecdotes from his days with both Anakin and Luke. Then there’s Finn. Rey’s first student.
Finally, the book gives us a brief moment where Luke, as he and Leia’s spiritual presences look on at Rey, grants her permission to use his family name.
It’s yours, Rey.
And so we reach an ending. But every ending is also a beginning.
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