The Rise of Skywalker novelization was recently released, and author Rae Carson did an incredible job at capturing the film in writing, while adding tons of fun details, helpful insights, and exciting answers.
It’s a great read, and I highly recommend it. I’ll be breaking down plenty of stuff from it in the coming days, but I thought I’d start by highlighting some of the scenes that made it into the novelization that weren’t in the film. There were quite a few of these, and some bigger than others, but here’s my ranking of my seven favorites
7. The Eye of Webbish Bog
A part of this scene actually made it into the finished cut of the film, as it happens on Mustafar as Supreme Leader Kylo Ren hunts for his grandfather’s wayfinder. The novelization greatly expands upon all of this, however. Kylo and his army fights on Mustafar while Allegiant General Pryde and General Hux watch on – and this leads to a fantastic line from Hux: “Flames of rebellion burn across the galaxy, and Ren chases a ghost.” It’s so good. Anyway, Kylo finishes fighting these locals (who are protectors of Darth Vader’s legacy) in the wake of the ruins of Vader’s castle, and he proceeds further by himself as he approaches a lake.
Out of the lake emerges a giant bald creature, and on its head is another creature – the two were connected and couldn’t live without the other. Kylo converses with the creature, called the Eye of Webbish Bog, and it discusses how Kylo has earned the wayfinder by defeating Vader’s protectors, and that the wayfinder would lead Kylo to him.
All of this sounds a bit strange and creepy, but it’s pretty cool. It expands upon Kylo’s efforts on Mustafar, makes it clear that it’s actually Mustafar and that there’s a strong connection to Vader here, we get an awesome line from Hux that I wish made the film, and we get a strange ritual-like scene with this creature where Kylo gets the wayfinder.
6. Lando and the Falcon
There are two new scenes in the novel with Lando Calrissian and his former ship, the Millennium Falcon, so I’m combining them here. The first one is on Pasaana, after Lando meets up with the heroes. They head off into the Forbidden Valley in search of Ochi’s shuttle, but Lando puts on his hermit gear and sneaks to spy on the Falcon. He is hit with nostalgia, and hopes to steal it to return it to Chewbacca, but he watches as stormtroopers steal the ship – planning to destroy it, on orders of the Supreme Leader. This scene serves as a way for further compelling Lando to re-join the fight.
The second scene with Lando on the Falcon is after he has arrived on Ajan Kloss, right before he and Chewbacca leave to cry for help. Lando takes time to wander around the Falcon, reminiscing about his memories and being hit with nostalgia.
While both of these scenes are cool, I don’t think the first one is that necessary for the film. But the second one is a scene I’d have loved to see. In The Force Awakens we got a scene of Han Solo taking it all in upon returning to the ship, and in The Last Jedi we got a similar scene with Luke Skywalker. I’d have loved to see one with Lando like that. But it’s pretty cool to read about him reminiscing about his old ship; and the best part about that scene was, well, we’ll get to that in just a minute.
5. Palpatine’s Return
This kinda encompasses several different scenes, but basically what I want to highlight here is that there’s a lot more exposition given to exactly how Palpatine returned. When Kylo meets the Emperor near the beginning of the film, he realizes that Palpatine’s spirit was in a clone body. But later, when Rey confronts the Emperor, she has a vision of what happened to him.
Basically, as Palpatine fell down the reactor shaft of the second Death Star, he flung his spirit to the clone body he had prepared years earlier upon sensing a flicker of light within Vader. But this transfer didn’t go smoothly, leaving Palpatine trapped in a broken body. The Sith Eternal cultists tried to make a suitable clone body to host his spirit, but they couldn’t. One clone, however, wound up being a non-useful (I’m guessing that means non-Force sensitive) son, who wound up fathering a girl named Rey. And this girl was the perfect body for Palpatine’s spirit.
This is crucial information that is revealed, as we discover that Palpatine’s spirit inhabits a clone body, that Rey’s father is a clone himself, and that Palpatine’s plan is to pass his spirit into Rey. This clarifies so, so much about Palpatine and his motivations in this film. It’s exposition that is much easier done in the pages of a book rather than on-screen, but it’s information that drastically changes and clarifies our understanding of some pretty major plot points.
4. The Battle of Exegol cameos
As Lando and Chewie arrive with their massive fleet of reinforcements, we get a sequence of some of the ships checking in. Among those checking in upon arriving at the battle are: Phantom Squadron, the Ghost, the Anodyne Two, Alphabet Two, Zay Versio and Inferno Squad, the Fireball, another deep voice, and Wedge Antilles.
Here’s what is really thrilling about all of that: it includes a ton of easter eggs. Phantom Squadron, for example, was the fighter squadron started by Wedge Antilles near the end of the Galactic Civil War. That’s an easter egg to other Star Wars books. There’s also the easter egg to Battlefront 2, which introduces Zay Versio and Inferno Squad (meaning that Shriv was probably with her!). There’s easter eggs to two different Star Wars animated series, as the Ghost is the main ship of Star Wars Rebels (though we don’t know who is flying it…), and Kazuda Xiono and Jarek Yeager (the deep voice mentioned) are from Star Wars Resistance.
This is such a cool moment, and though it goes by pretty quickly, I’d have loved to hear these ships checking in during the scene. It’s awesome how it connects to tons of Star Wars media, from the books to the games to the shows.
3. Leia and Luke
There are a couple of touching moments between Luke and Leia in the novel that aren’t included in the film (as one of the things this book does best is give far more focus on Leia, since it wasn’t bound by the scenes already filmed by Carrie Fisher). One of these scenes is a flashback Leia has while training Rey, of her training with Luke on Ajan Kloss (which Luke called “nice Dagobah”), and her doing the handstand like Luke did with Yoda on Dagobah. But as Luke egged her on, Leia wound up levitating off the ground, much to Luke’s surprise and bewilderment. He then remarked that she, as his apprentice, would make him a better Jedi.
But what I especially liked was a running theme throughout the novel of Luke speaking to Leia through the Force. It is made clear that Leia has heard from Luke since his passing into the Force, and that includes several times in the course of this story. Three different times, Luke comes to Leia to tell her it’s time, but each time she resists. Luke tells Leia that it’s time, and that she has just one thing left to do. The third time this happens, Leia admits to Luke that she never gave up hope for Ben, and Luke tells her that she must tell him that. And so it is Luke who continually prompts Leia to let go and reach out to Ben, and finally, she does. And it’s that expression of love and forgiveness, along with his encounters with Rey and Han Solo, that shatter his previously conceived notions and bring him back to the light. And as Leia passes away and becomes one with the Force, Luke was there to welcome her.
I love these interactions between the siblings, and I am really hoping for more stories about Luke training Leia in the near future. I love this little anecdote that is revealed in the novel, but even more, I love how Luke keeps coming to Leia telling her that it’s time. Especially when Leia reaches out to Ben, I love how it’s Luke who keeps prompting her to do so. That doesn’t take away from Leia’s desire and actions, but it helps show that Luke also plays a role in Ben’s return to the light. He keeps calling for Leia from the Force, telling her that there’s only one thing left to do, and finally, she does it. And then, she joins Luke by becoming one with the Force. It’s really powerful stuff.
2. Rey and Ben
This one is really brief, but I love it so much. And here’s all it is: after Ben revives Rey, having given her all of his life, he dies… and Rey mourns. But as Rey weeps, Ben speaks to her through the Force: “I will always be with you.” Rey smiles, whispers, “No one’s ever really gone,” and then leaves.
That’s it, but I think it’s so beautiful, and I would have loved it to play out that way in the film. I don’t really mind Ben’s death as a narrative choice (as I’ve written here), but I think something as simple as this would have gone a long way in helping people deal with it. I’ve previously said that I wish Ben was a Force ghost alongside Luke and Leia on Tatooine, but this works too to accomplish a similar thing: to assure Rey that she’s not alone and that Ben will be with her. To have Ben speak to Rey from beyond, telling her that he’s always with her, is such a perfect way of showing that Ben lives on, that Rey isn’t alone and their bond isn’t done, and moving Rey beyond the grief back home to her friends. I so deeply wish this was in the film; it’s so simple, yet so special.
1. Chewie and Ben
There are a ton of new scenes that I loved in the book, but number one by far were the two scenes relating to Chewbacca and Ben Solo. Yes, that’s right: the scenes with Chewie and Ben! We didn’t get any hint of this in the film, but the book definitely delivers.
The first scene is aboard Kylo Ren’s Star Destroyer, where Chewbacca is held prisoner. Kylo visits Chewie to probe his mind to figure out where the heroes are going (to Kijimi). But as Kylo dives into Chewie’s mind, he is met by memories. Memories of Chewbacca and Han Solo from many years before. Memories of Chewbacca’s happiness at Han and Leia’s wedding. And, most importantly, memories of “Uncle Chewie” and young Ben Solo, cuddling him as a baby, teaching him to fly a speeder, shooting target practice together, etc. Kylo got the information he wanted out of Chewbacca’s mind, but he paid the price, re-living these memories as he probed Chewie’s mind.
The second scene is later, when Lando explores the Falcon and reminisces. With Chewie prepping the ship in the cockpit, Lando discovers a well-worn holodisc in Chewie’s compartment and can’t resist looking… and it’s an image of Chewbacca holding young Ben Solo, who was filled with delight, and Chewie holding him close and purring. Lando couldn’t watch much of it, for it was a sad reminder of how much they had all lost – Chewbacca included – and how Chewie still held out hope for Ben Solo.
Simply put, I got emotional reading these scenes. They’re so beautiful, touching, sad, yet hopeful. Chewbacca has been a major player in the sequel trilogy, but the only inkling of a connection between him and Ben was when he shot him on Starkiller Base (that’s mentioned during Kylo’s interrogation of Chewie here). Beyond that, nothing. But bringing Ben back to the light is such a major theme of this film, and I love that the novelization gives a moment to show that Chewbacca loved and missed Ben too. It wasn’t just hard on Leia, Han, and Luke – it was hard on Chewie. He had wonderful memories of the young boy, and he seemed to watch the holodisc over and over and over.
I love these two moments so, so much.