If you will take your mind back to the joyous era of Star Wars fandom that followed the release of the sequel trilogy opener, The Force Awakens, in 2015. It felt like everyone was eager to know who the mysterious’s parents were. Hero Rey and what Luke Skywalker had done in the decades since the original trilogy. The sight of Luke Skywalker brandishing his green lightsaber on the cover of Star Wars: Shadow of the Sith is ridiculously exciting, and Adam Christopher’s novel lives up to its potential.
Penguin Random House
Star Wars suddenly mattered again; the excitement was delightful, and the storytelling possibilities seemed endless. The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker (the second and third films in the sequel trilogy) answered some mysteries with varying degrees of success but didn’t delve as deeply as many fans would have liked.
Adam Christopher’s novel Star Wars: Shadow of the Sith, hits stores on June 28, is the deep dive I’ve wanted since 2015. It occurs 17 years after Return of the Jedi (and 13 years before The Force Awakens). Reintroduced to Rey’s parents as they flee across the galaxy with their young daughter. The couple was briefly seen in a flashback in The Rise of Skywalker, but this is their first major appearance. Their names will be revealed almost immediately, but we won’t show them in this review as Christopher builds on them beautifully.
Given the glimpse we got of Rey’s parents in The Rise of Skywalker, this plot thread has a sense of dark inevitability. Unable to trust anyone with the resurrected Emperor Palpatine’s agents on their trail, the trio’s plight feels desperate. That doesn’t stop Christopher from giving these characters emotional depth; you’ll find yourself fully invested in their quest for a haven, despite knowing how it ends.
After our short time with them in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the novel offers answers about Rey’s parents.
The family holds a glimmer of hope in Luke Skywalker, whose efforts to train the next generation of Jedi Knights are hampered by his visions of a sinister presence at the galaxy’s edge. This novel presents the Original Trilogy hero in his glorious prime—exactly how many fans wanted him to appear in the sequels—but Christopher deftly hints at the emotional state he’d reached by the time of The Last Jedi.
He is joined by fellow classic Lando Calrissian, who is in dire straits from his stalled search for his kidnapped daughter. This vulnerable state allows Christopher to explore the inner life of the smooth gambler to an unprecedented degree; it’s based on the cocky young man from the prequel spin-off Solo, the self-assured con man from the original trilogy, and the ghostly older warrior we met in The Rise of Skywalker.
Lando, featured in The Rise of Skywalker, embarks on an epic emotional journey.
Luke and Lando’s mission to save Rey’s family is complicated by the villainous killer Ochi van Bestoon (another character who winked, and you’ll miss it in The Rise of Skywalker), who members of a Sith cult have charged with the hunt for the parents and the child. He is a disgusting yet compelling presence and keeps getting unhinged as the story progresses.
Ochi’s story cleverly picks up plot threads from writer Greg Pak’s recent Darth Vader comics, but Christopher contains enough detail not to consider these a must-read before diving into this book.
The evil side is completed with a mysterious warrior empowered by the Force’s dark side. This side of the story leans on the eerie arcane Sith lore and proves to be the fascinating element of the novel. It gets surprisingly dark and weird and hopefully hints at avenues Star Wars will explore in the future.
Ochi van Betoon has a small role in The Rise of Skywalker, but we learn all about him in Shadow of the Sith.
Once our heroes and villains intersect, Christopher’s cinematic writing shines through epic action sequences that will delight those who want to see the magnitude of Luke’s strength. The author pits him with a worthy opponent, and it’s fun to watch the threat escalate to levels reminiscent of Legends’ old continuity stories.
At 496 pages, however, Shadow of the Sith loses steam a few times. An extended sequence on a mining space station comes to an epic conclusion, but there’s too much jumping between characters and wandering before you get to it.
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An extended cameo of a villain seen in The Rise of Skywalker also feels strange to the main storylines, even if they’re fun to spend time with. Thankfully, the other cameos are rated better, fit nicely into the story, and last just as long as needed.
Despite these minor issues, Adam Christopher’s Shadow of the Sith is the best kind of Star Wars novel and acts as an essential link between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. It cleverly explores ambiguous aspects of the films, tying up loose ends and adding emotional resonance while opening up many exciting new story possibilities. After more than half a decade, the mystery of Rey’s parents is solved in style.