Whenever a new Star Wars film is released, a Visual Dictionary by Pablo Hidalgo of the Lucasfilm story group is published.
And I rarely say anything is a “must read,” but these Visual Dictionaries fit the bill: they are always among my most anticipated Star Wars publications, and they provide a wealth of fun tidbits and details. I highly recommend it.
In making this article I actually had tons of tidbits written down, and I had to try to synthesize some of them and pick ten of the bigger ones. The reason I say this is that there are a ton of other fun details in the book that won’t make it in this article, so I encourage you to check it out if you want a better understanding of the characters, planets, and ships of The Rise of Skywalker.
But here, let’s take a look at ten of the most interesting tidbits that I found while reading the Visual Dictionary.
1. Lando has dealt with personal tragedy
When we meet him in the film, Lando Calrissian is a hermit living on Pasaana. But the events that led him to him living there alone are far more tragic than many would have imagined. Here’s what the Visual Dictionary says:
“When peace reigned, he attempted to start a family, but tragedy struck and his infant daughter vanished. It was only later that it became clear who the culprits behind the abduction were: the First Order, building their fighting forces but also specifically striking at the old Alliance leadership.” (114)
The Visual Dictionary also gives us a timeline for this happening, as Lando’s daughter was born 21 years before The Force Awakens, putting it nine years after the Battle of Endor and six years after the events of the Last Shot novel. But when his daughter was just two years old, 19 years before TFA, she was kidnapped by the First Order. This is a pretty massive revelation that apparently was cut from the final film, and it’s important for us to understand for a couple of reasons. (1) First, it helps us better understand what has happened to this beloved character since we last saw him. Why is he just hiding out on Pasaana? Why hasn’t he re-joined the fight already? The Visual Dictionary tells us that “he felt he had earned his rest after so much sacrifice” (115), and that’s understandable – he tried to start a family, only to see it all tragically fall apart. (2) But second, and this is most important, it greatly informs a key Lando sequence. After the Resistance has won at the Battle of Exegol, as they reunite and celebrate on Ajan Kloss, Lando has a talk with Jannah about his home system and hers. And this knowledge of Lando presents two possibilities about this scene; either Jannah is his long-lost daughter, or Lando sees his daughter in Jannah and has a ton of empathy, thus wanting to help her find her family.
2. The First Order specifically targeted old Alliance leadership
Along those lines with Lando’s tragic history, we are told that part of the First Order’s plan was to target the old Alliance leaders. Consider:
“Few realized that before the First Order was ever known to be a threat, many of the old commanders had been specifically targeted – either assassinated outright or emotionally hobbled by tragedies that ripped them from their military careers.” (14)
“It was only later that it became clear who the culpirts behind the abduction [of Lando’s daughter] were: the First Order, building their fighting forces but also specifically striking at the Old Alliance leadership.” (114)
“The First Order went after us – leaders from the old wars. They took our kids.” – Lando Calrissian (114)
So a part of the First Order’s plan, even while they were hiding in the shadows without anyone really realizing it, was to take out old Rebel Alliance leaders. Sometimes this meant killing them, and other times it meant striking at those they loved; but either way, they were effectively removed from the fight. We’ve already seen several examples of this. Obviously, Lando’s daughter being targeted and kidnapped is one such tragedy. And while this one’s a bit different, Snoke targeted the son of Leia Organa and Han Solo, seducing him to the dark side – and in doing so removing Luke Skywalker from the game too. And even Leia, who seemed to be one of the few to be able to withstand such tragedy, was the target of an assassination attempt with the Napkin bombing incident six years before TFA.
Especially considering that Palpatine was behind the First Order, it makes sense that they would not only want to grow their forces but also retaliate against those who helped lead to the downfall of the Empire. It’s a tragic plan, though, and I imagine this means that many of the heroes we knew from the original trilogy didn’t have the “happily ever after” that they would have hoped. Their role in the Galactic Civil War put an unknown target on their backs from the First Order.
3. Luke’s search for Exegol
The film references something that seems important: Luke Skywalker searched for Exegol, but the trail ended on Pasaana – thus why Rey says she must finish what Luke started. But the Visual Dictionary fills in some of the details.
Luke’s search for Exegol took place 13 years before the Battle of Starkiller Base, and the Visual Dictionary says that the reason why was because he was “sensing the continued presence of the dark side” (9) and because “whispers spoke of a resurgent enemy from the past, and Skywalker was determined to find some answers. Had some remnant of the Sith survived?” (115).
Lando got involved because he had underworld contacts who informed him of Ochi beragging at a bar while drunk that he was searching for a wayfinder and found it in a vault belonging to the Emperor (126), and eventually Lando’s contacts passed on information about Ochi’s location on Pasaana (115). Obviously Luke and Lando never found Ochi, but it’s interesting to read more details about what happened. I think that’s a story worth telling someday, hopefully soon.
Read more: Did Luke Skywalker sense Palpatine’s return?
4. Timeline clarified
One of the most helpful things that the Visual Dictionary does is clarify and explain the timeline of events leading up to the sequel trilogy. The book orients this timeline relative to the Starkiller Incident, explaining how much before or after this event something happened (note: this isn’t the standard for every date going forward in Star Wars, but rather a helpful way of framing the events leading up to the sequel trilogy. Nothing more).
I’ve written a whole article about this timeline, outlining the major dates, but here I want to focus on a few of the really significant ones. First of all, just to give some framework, Poe Dameron was born 32 BSI, Ben Solo was born 29 BSI, and Rey was born 19 BSI. The Battle of Endor took place 30 BSI.
But let’s zero in on 19 BSI, because that was a very important year. In that year, Rey was born, Luke agreed to train Ben, and Lando’s infant daughter was kidnapped. Three major events with major ramifications. And since Rey and Ben are the rare dyad in the Force, I wonder whether Rey’s birth had some ripple effects in the Force that led to Ben’s training starting?
The second year I want to mention is 13 BSI, at which point Rey would have been six years old and Ben would have been training with Luke for six years. This was when Luke and Lando began searching for Exegol, and it was also the year in which Rey was left on Jakku. Since TROS made it clear that Palpatine ordered Ochi to bring Rey to him, then Palpatine had to have returned at least by this point. So it seems very likely that Luke did sense Palpatine’s return and thus started searching for Exegol, just without knowing that Palpatine had actually returned.
The last thing I’ll mention regarding the timeline is with Poe Dameron, since the movie wasn’t clear on this. Zorri Bliss says that Poe left the Spice Runners to join the Resistance, which clashed with previously established canon. The Visual Dictionary attempts to clear this up: Poe ran away from home in 16 BSI (when he was 16) to join the Spice Runners. He then left the Spice Runners in 11 BSI to head home to Yavin 4, but in 7 BSI joined the New Republic. He served in the New Republic until he joined the Resistance in 3 BSI.
5. The state of Mustafar
At the beginning of the film, Supreme Leader Kylo Ren leads his forces on a fiery world – and yes, that was Mustafar. From space it definitely looked like it, but when we saw the surface, that lent a bit more room for doubt. But the Visual Dictionary confirms that Mustafar was indeed the planet at the beginning of the film, and obviously it has changed quite a bit since we last saw it.
We are told that, “Only within the last few decades have patches of the planet’s angry surface started to cool” (42), and that offworlders have come to the planet for spiritual reasons (connected to Darth Vader and his home). The area where Kylo Ren battles those offworlders is known as the Corvax Fen, named for Lady Corvax, and is an area with “an unlikely bog of fertile soil said to be soaked by the Lady Corvax’s tears” (42). It is here that the offworlders planted trees, hoping to return the planet to its former state. But Kylo Ren’s purpose is to head to Darth Vader’s castle, which looms above the Corvax Fen (43), but the castle is little more than crumbling ruins at this point (42).
So there you have it. Kylo Ren did visit Mustafar, intending to retrieve his grandfather’s wayfinder from Darth Vader’s castle.
6. How the Tantive IV was recovered
Similar to the appearance of Mustafar, we also see a Rebel blockade runner featured prominently on Ajan Kloss and in the Resistance fleet, and the Visual Dictionary confirms that it is, in fact, the Tantive IV. This is the iconic ship that Princess Leia Organa used to flee from the Battle of Scarif with the Death Star plans and travel to Tatooine attempting to retrieve Obi-Wan Kenobi. But the ship fell under attack from Darth Vader, Leia was captured, and the galaxy was informed that the crew of the ship was killed. How did Leia get it back all these years later?
The ship is the largest in the Resistance fleet at the time of the film (71), and we read that,
“Leia has recently been reunited with her consular ship from her teen years, which was discovered moldering in a hangar in the Yarma system by a sympathetic former Imperial senator. It was returned as a gift.” (72)
Additionally, we read:
“The captured Tantive IV was scheduled to be destroyed as part of a falsified report to the Senate, but the Senate was disbanded within days and the ship’s destruction was no longer a priority.” (72)
So there you go. We had initially been under the impression that the ship was destroyed – because we knew that it was going to be destroyed – but apparently the Empire never went through with it. And though that does seem a bit convenient plot-wise, I think it’s believable: if they didn’t just immediately destroy it above Tatooine (and it seems they didn’t because they didn’t want it to be obvious), then they would soon be faced with the dissolution of the Senate and the destruction of the Death Star. In wake of all of that, destroying a ship doesn’t seem quite as important. So Leia was gifted the ship back decades later, and Nien Nunb is given the honor and responsibility of flying the General’s ship.
The Rise of Skywalker gave us the pretty massive revelation that Palpatine made Snoke! The Visual Dictionary expands on Snoke’s role a little bit more, explaining that there were some in the First Order – like Allegiant General Pryde – who came to realize “Snoke himself was subservient to an unseen force” (13). We are told also that Snoke gloats in confirming that Rey and Ben share a unique bond in the Force, having gathered them together, and that this bond “features so prominently in the lore of the Sith Eternal cult” (29).
But probably the most significant thing we read about Snoke is this:
“Snoke’s entire existence has been built for this moment: to be the final test of Kylo Ren. The Supreme Leader has tested Ren’s worthiness as a disciple and – unbeknownst to all – his capacity to inherit the Sith legacy. Snoke is no Sith, but his role has been designed by the Sith Eternal cultists to act as a final crucible, to groom and mold Ren into a master not only of attack, but also cunning.” (29)
So in other words, Snoke’s existence was to serve as a test for Ben Solo about his worthiness to carry on the legacy of the Sith? That’s pretty interesting.
8. The First Order Dreadnaught was a test project
At the beginning of The Last Jedi, the Resistance fought to take down a First Order Dreadnaught, which Poe described as “fleet killers.” We further learned that it was the heroics of Iden Versio, Zay Versio, and Shriv Suurgav that allowed the Resistance to learn how to destroy these devastating ships.
But The Rise of Skywalker Visual Dictionary gives us a cool revelation about the First Order Dreadnaughts: “The First Order dreadnaught was a test project that informed the Xyston-class Star Destroyer design” (173). To be clear, the Xyston-class Destroyers were the ones seen above Exegol, one of which destroyed Kijimi with the blast from the superlaser that can devastate a planet.
This whole thing was connected. The Empire fell, but the First Order was reborn in the Unknown Regions (thanks in part to Palpatine’s Contingency). But there were several different aspects to this rebuilding, one of which was secretly located on Exegol, where the Sith Fleet was being assembled that would represent the Final Order. And so I think it’s pretty cool that the First Order Dreadnaught was actually designed to be simply a test project for the Sith Eternal cultists on Exegol who were working on developing the Xyston-class Destroyers.
9. Kef Bir vs. Endor
The heroes journey to Kef Bir to search the ruins of the second Death Star… which probably left people wondering: is that Endor, just looking different? And if not… why not? Well, the answer to that is that it’s not Endor (though we do see it at the end of the film briefly, with Wicket making a return!). So why not? The Visual Dictionary explains that.
As we have long known, Endor is a gas giant that had several moons – including the forest moon of Endor, which was also known as Endor. It was on this moon that the shield generator for the second Death Star was located. The Visual Dictionary names this moon as IX3244-A, one of the nine moons orbiting the planet, and another moon is known as IX3244-C, also called Kef Bir. Whereas Endor is the forest moon, Kef Bir is the ocean moon and can also support life. We are told that, “The Empire disregarded it as a construction site due to the paucity of valuable ores found in its crust” (155).
However, Endor and its moons lie in the Moddell sector of the Outer Rim Territories, where there are “notorious hyperspace anomalies” (154) that “have dumped ships into the Endor system from as far away as Sanyassa and Zorbia” (154) and that “may well have saved the Forest and Ocean Moons from the worst of the Death Star debris fallout” (154).
So basically, Kef Bir is another of Endor’s moons, and so part of the Death Star wreckage fell onto this moon. But the hyperspace anomalies of this sector spared both Endor (the moon) and Kef Bir from further damage and devastation, possibly sending debris across the galaxy. That’s a pretty interesting concept.
10. Sith Trooper legion name
One really cool fun fact revealed in the Visual Dictionary is that the Sith Trooper legions are named for ancient Sith Lords! But this history wasn’t widely known to the galaxy: “As this history was hidden from the rest of the galaxy, only the Sith Eternal cultists know the significance of these names” (175).
The Visual Dictionary reveals the names of six of these legions: the 3rd is named the “Revan Legion”, the 5th is named the “Andeddu Legion”, the 17th is named the “Tanis Legion”, the 26th is named the “Tenebrous Legion”, the 39th is named the “Phobos Legion”, and the 44th is named the “Desolous Legion” (175).
These legions are thus named for Darth Revan, Darth Andeddu, Darth Tanis, Darth Tenebrous, Darth Phobos, and Darth Desolous. Revan is surely the most well-known of that group amongst Star Wars fans, but there isn’t a whole lot of canon information about these figures yet – in fact, for some of them this is the first mention in canon material). But it’s really cool to see them mentioned, to see a nod to the past, and to see the Sith Eternal cultists being the keepers of the Sith legacy and seeking to keep it going.