Star Wars: Shadow Of The Sith Rights Wrongs Of The Rise Of Skywalker

This will contain spoilers for "Star Wars: Shadow of the Sith."

"Shadow of the Sith" is the first "Star Wars" novel released by Adam Christopher. Christopher had been announced to be writing a book set in the time and place of "The Mandalorian," but when it was unceremoniously canceled, this book was what he eventually produced. It takes place in the time between "Return of the Jedi" and "The Force Awakens," documenting events we learned about in "The Rise of Skywalker." Lando Calrissian, still hurting over the loss of his daughter years before and looking to do something, stumbles upon a plot by Ochi of Bestoon to kidnap a young girl from a family. Lando does not know this young girl is Rey and that her parents, Miramir and Dathan, are fugitives from the Sith, but the old scoundrel takes it upon himself to save them. Knowing the Sith are somehow involved, Lando goes to Luke Skywalker for help.

Luke, however, was already on the trail of some dark shadow that filled his dreams. The place he saw? Exegol, the place where Darth Sidious as the Sith Eternal gathered his strength to once again attack the galaxy. When these two paths collide, Luke and Lando hunt to save Rey and her family from the Sith assassin pursuing them and put an end to the threat of the Sith once and for all.

The book takes all of the questions about the consistency of some of the storytelling in "The Rise of Skywalker" and re-contextualizes many of the things that had fans scratching their heads so they make sense.

Rey's Parents

One of the biggest questions coming out of "The Rise of Skywalker" had a lot to do with Rey and where her parents came from. If Palpatine was truly her grandfather and the blood of the Sith truly ran through her veins, how did that happen? Over the course of the last few years, some of the media has made hints about what really happened. Rae Carson's adaptation of "The Rise of Skywalker" confirmed that Dathan was a clone of Palpatine, but didn't offer his name or elaborate on him much further than that.

"Shadow of the Sith" delves deep into where Palpatine's "son" Dathan grew up, how he escaped, and how he fell in love with his wife, Miramir. The entire story plays like a tragedy, a train you know is going to crash. We saw Ochi of Bestoon — hunting for Rey herself — kill Rey's parents with the Sith dagger and we saw Ochi's ship leave her on Jakku. How could these two things be true? Christopher weaves a tale that makes sense of these disparities and shows us the sacrifices Rey's parents made for her and why she'd think they were nothing more than junk dealers on Jakku for the majority of her life.

You can't help but turn the pages without wanting to look away, hoping they can pull it off, but knowing they absolutely can't. Some would argue this robs the book of suspense, but it's utterly thrilling to see how close they came and how corrupting the influence of the Sith is in foiling their own plans.

Relics Of The Sith

One of the most interesting things explored in this book are the artifacts of the Sith and how they can influence their bearers. The two chief objects whose power the book explores are the Sith Dagger we saw in "The Rise of Skywalker" and wielded by Ochi of Bestoon, and the mask of Viceroy Exim Panshard.

The dagger Ochi wields is the key to finding the Sith Wayfinder, though Ochi doesn't know it as he stabs his way through the story. The dagger itself is bloodthirsty, demanding more and more as the story progresses. The influence of the knife dims Ochi's ability to think straight and, by the end, almost damns him to his fate beneath the sinking fields of Pasaana. In fact, Ochi dying in the way he does, under the influence of the Sith Dagger, evokes the death of Isildur and the loss of the ring of power in the Disaster at Gladden Fields in "The Lord of the Rings." It feels as though dagger wanted to be where it was and betrayed Ochi, just as the ring betrayed Isildur. This was how the Sith Eternal put the pieces together for the potential to resurrect himself to his former glory, the same as Sauron.

As far as the mask of the Sith used in this story, it has an interesting history. Over the course of the new canon, objects have been imbued with the spirit of the Sith. In their quest for everlasting life, they looked for cheats to preserve their spirits. One recent instance that Lando references in the book is the mask of Darth Momin. Momin was able to put his spirit in the mask that was ultimately retrieved by Darth Sidious and given to Darth Vader as he set out to build his castle on Mustafar. Momin inhabited an Imperial officer and then a Mustafarian as his spirit worked to build Vader's castle. Eventually, Lando would have a run-in with Momin's work in Charles Soule's first "Star Wars" comic. This mask of Viceroy Exim Panshard works similarly through Kiza, an Acolyte of the Beyond. She was first introduced as a member of this Sith worshipping cult in Chuck Wendig's "Aftermath." She obtained the mask of Panshard and he took over her body, working to find their way to Exegol and reunite with the Sith Eternal. The voices she hears, though, feel as though they could be all the Sith, or Palpatine, or just Panshard. It's unclear, but feels implied that Palpatine is pulling the strings, even at this point in the timeline.

Fortunately, Luke Skywalker was on the case to face her and take the mask.

The Puzzle Of Ben Solo

Ben Solo appears as a Padawan briefly in the book, an astute student of Luke and an eager teacher of the younglings. Fans of the character will be grateful to see him, however briefly, but these Sith artifacts create a compelling case for how Palpatine was able to get some of his hooks into the young Solo.

The mask of Exim Panshard ends up being taken to Luke Skywalker's Jedi temple on Ossus, still humming with the forces of the Dark Side and the voices of the Sith. Although the book doesn't get into it, it creates a compelling scenario where this could have been the thing Palpatine needed to further corrupt Ben. Snoke certainly got to him, as well as another puppet of Sheev Palpatine, but this mask could have easily aided in the corruption.

When Palaptine says in "The Rise of Skywalker" that he is every voice that Ben has ever heard inside his head and transforms his voice to match Snoke and Darth Vader, it makes sense that he could do it with Exim Panshard as well. Especially given his lines later in the movie about how he is all of the Sith.

It really feels like they might be heading toward stories that offer deeper explanations of Ben's corruption to the dark side and are putting the pieces that make it happen on the table.

Details To Watch Out For

There are a lot of really cool details and Easter eggs Adam Christopher laced into the narrative, and fans of other parts of the saga and the Legends universe will be very happy.

First, from the "Battlefront" games we have an artifact that Luke retrieved with Del Meeko on Pilio: a Jedi star compass. This piece features in the book and was made real for shots in "The Last Jedi" as well. This compass is the Jedi equivalent of a Sith Wayfinder.

Another character that appears in "Battlefront II" is Shriv Suurgav, a Duros with an attitude and friend to Lando Calrissian. He quickly became a fan favorite in that game and has no problem stealing scenes in "Shadow of the Sith."

Dominic Monaghan's character from "The Rise of Skywalker," the archeologist Beaumont Kin, makes an appearance as well as a much younger man before joining the Resistance on an archeological dig of interest to Luke Skywalker and Lor San Tekka.

At one point, Ochi of Bestoon thinks back on his time in the Clone Wars and before, making references to Mace Windu and his apprentice Depa Billaba in a way that evokes some of the imagery of one of the best "Star Wars" novels, "Shatterpoint" by Matthew Stover.

"Star Wars" author Michael A. Stackpole gets his due and proper in two ways. The first is the canonization of the Errant Venture, a ship he first mentioned in one of his X-Wing books. In the Legends universe, it was a massive Star Destroyer painted red and run by the smuggler and scoundrel Booster Terrik. Lando's mention of it implies that he ran with Booster and he's running around the galaxy somewhere. The second is a little more obscure. At one point in the narrative, Luke and Lando need speeders to chase down Ochi of Bestoon and his thugs. Lando happens to have a couple of classic speeders in The Lady Luck. They're Stacker Polaris Stormwolfs. One of them is a '57. Stacker Polaris is a nice nod to Stackpole, but his longtime website is Stackpole also happens to have been born in 1957.

Another deep cut reference comes in the form of the CAP-2. The CAP-2 Captivator was a tool used by the Empire and bounty hunters to capture people, and it has its roots in a toy that Kenner put out for "The Empire Strikes Back." It was nothing that appeared in the films, but designed exclusively for the toy line. The bounty hunter Bossk appeared on the packaging, using a CAP-2 to deliver a rebel to Darth Vader.

Lando Calrissian drops another deep cut comes when he looks back at his Calrissian Chronicles, reprising their function from "Solo: A Star Wars Story." He mentions an adventure on planet Lahsbane, which is a reference to an original 1983 issue of a Marvel "Star Wars" comic where Lando Calrissian joins Luke, Leia, Artoo, and Threepio to planet Lahsbane to retrieve datatapes vital to the Rebellion.

Maybe the deepest cut, though, might be the reference to Bria LaVorgna. LaVorgna is a Star Wars writer and, alongside myself, contributed essays to the back of the "Age of..." Star Wars comics. She's also written about Star Wars in other places, including As Lando looks at some games to play, "LaVorgna's Age of Dragons" jumps out at him, referencing Bria's overriding love of the "Dragon Age" games.

The Verdict

Overall, Adam Christopher weaves a compelling tale that makes sense of some of the more glaring errors in "The Rise of Skywalker." One of the chief problems he solves is what I call the Anakin Skywalker problem. If Luke was searching for a Sith Wayfinder and one of them is in Vader's castle because it was in Vader's possession, why didn't he just ask the ghost of his father? Christopher is able to answer this question with a dramatic scene where Anakin's very spirit is in danger and he's doing his best to protect Luke from the dark forces approaching him.

Another he solves deftly is the confusing chain of events that allow Rey to be left on Jakku in Ochi's ship when Ochi is the one searching for her and can't find her and doesn't know where she is. Really, the book feels designed to fix this one confusing plot point, but never once does it feel like a chore. In fact, the entire book was nothing but a pleasure to read. As it filled in holes and expanded our knowledge of Luke Skywalker and his whereabouts in the time between "The Mandalorian" and "The Force Awakens", it gave us a thrilling adventure and suspense story.

The book also shed light on the undernourished and largely cut subplot about Lando's kidnapped daughter from "The Rise of Skywalker." The Lando in "Rise of Skywalker" now makes a lot more sense and Christopher is owed all the credit.

For fans of "Star Wars" hoping to fill in the gaps, this book is perfect. Fans looking for a fun read through a rollicking adventure will find a home in this book as well. Christopher writes Luke and Lando with a wry smile and gives us everything we'd need but didn't know we wanted.

"Star Wars: Shadow of the Sith" is available now at bookstores everywhere.

Read this next: Star Wars Plot Holes That Still Confuse Fans

The post Star Wars: Shadow of the Sith Rights Wrongs of the Rise of Skywalker appeared first on /Film.