One of the most significant new characters introduced in The Rise of Skywalker was Allegiant General Pryde, a brand new officer in the First Order.
The film pits Pryde against General Hux, while also making it clear that Pryde outranked Hux in the First Order hierarchy. But after Supreme Leader Kylo Ren turned back to the light, Pryde spoke with Palpatine, revealing that he had served him in the old wars and would serve him now. This led to Pryde commanding the entire Sith fleet during the Battle of Exegol.
The Rise of Skywalker Visual Dictionary (by Pablo Hidalgo) revealed that Pryde was kept in reserve by Supreme Leader Snoke, and that Pryde was one of the few in the First Order that realized Snoke served someone else. But the novelization for the film, written by Rae Carson, delves deeper into Pryde’s connections to Palpatine.
We read about this at several different points in the novelization. Consider:
“General Pryde knelt in the dark before the hologram. He was in an area of his private quarters. No one had access to this place but him. Even Supreme Leader Ren didn’t know it existed. It took effort and careful planning to erase all record of these transmissions, but the risk was worth it. Everything had been worth it.” (177)
“‘Behold, the fruit of your labor,’ his master said, as the data streaming toward him revealed another frequency channel.” (177)
“The Sith fleet that was his life’s work, hidden no more.” (178)
“Everything he had worked for his whole life was finally coming to fruition.” (179)
“Pryde’s hands began to shake, and he clasped them even tighter. His life’s work had led him here.” (200)
“Allegiant General Pryde appeared on the bridge holo. ‘All ships rise to deployment altitude,’ he ordered. He’d been out in the galaxy for his whole career, only communicating with Exegol rarely.” (204)
“In his last moment, Allegiant General Pryde finally understood that the return of Emperor Palpatine was meaningless if he were not alive to see it. All his efforts, his sacrifices had not been worth it.” (233)
So Allegiant General Enric Pryde’s true loyalties all along seemingly were to Palpatine, as was much of the foundation of the First Order, we’re learning. But Pryde knew far more than most people did. While most people knew that the First Order was born out of the ashes of the Empire, Pryde lived it; as a former Imperial, he was part of the remnant that traveled to the Unknown Regions to rebuild, all as part of Palpatine’s contingency. And while most people saw Snoke as the mysterious leader of the First Order, Pryde was one of the few that knew Snoke served another master – something that not even Kylo Ren knew. But while General Armitage Hux rose to a position of influence in the First Order, overseeing the completion of Starkiller Base, Pryde was kept in reserve by Snoke.
Upon Snoke’s death, however, Supreme Leader Kylo Ren discovered Pryde and his reserve forces, bringing them into the fold and appoitning Pryde to a place of nearly unrivaled influence – which happened in part because Pryde knew far more than the others on the First Order council about who was really behind it all.
But what this novel reveals is that Pryde was always a loyal servant to Palpatine. Though he didn’t fully understand the Force, he was loyal to the Sith Lord and secretly communicated with Exegol. It sounds like these communications were infrequent – due to the sensitive and secretive nature of it – but that he spent his entire career devoted to seeing Palpatine’s Empire rise again, as the Final Order.
This explains why Pryde was the one to whom Palpatine turned upon Ben’s rebellion, and why Pryde was so willing to join him. Because it turns out Pryde had long known about Palpatine’s plans and was a servant to him above all.