Every once in a while, along comes a Star Wars book that is more than a well-written novel, more than an enjoyable tale, but something that adds so much context and depth to the franchise that it could well be considered a must-read for any Star Wars fan.
Shadow of the Sith is one such book.
The new novel, written by Adam Christopher, was among my most highly-anticipated Star Wars projects this year, and it not only lived up to the hype but exceeded all expectations, and I’m confident in saying it’s one of my favorite Star Wars books I’ve ever read.
I’m going to keep this review spoiler-free, only delving into the most general of details. The basic plot of the novel is that Luke Skywalker senses a rising darkness in the galaxy, while Lando Calrissian continues searching the galaxy for his kidnapped daughter. This leads to them teaming up on an adventure across the galaxy, in pursuit of a family that Ochi of Bestoon has been tasked with bringing to Exegol: Dathan (the clone son of Palpatine), Miramir, and their six year old daughter, Rey. Heroes and villains both search for Exegol, with the fate of the galaxy seemingly in the balance.
This is the book that I’ve been hoping to see for years. There was an era of Star Wars where books told some pretty major stories that filled in gaps in and around the Skywalker saga, but that has mostly been absent in recent years. That makes sense, given that Lucasfilm has kept the details close to the chest as they tell stories more on-screen, but this feels like one of the most important – maybe the most important – novel connected to the Skywalker saga in the Disney era. As the sequel trilogy wrapped up, I found myself immediately hoping that we’d start getting some more significant stories filling in the gaps.
For example, we had scarcely few stories about any of the familiar characters in the three decades in-between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. When we’ve gotten those stories they’ve been fantastic – like Claudia Gray’s Bloodline about Leia Organa or Charles Soule’s The Rise of Kylo Ren about Ben Solo – but we haven’t got much, and that’s especially true about Luke Skywalker. I’d have been happy with ANY story about Luke in this time period, but from the instant The Rise of Skywalker referenced Luke and Lando looking for Exegol I’ve been desperately hoping we’d get that story.
This is that book.
It’s a great story in its own right, but it also is the most significant tie-in novel to the sequel trilogy that we’ve had to date. Most significantly it gives us the backstory about Rey’s parents and why they left Rey on Jakku, filling in those gaps that fans have been wondering for years. But it also explores the mysterious darkness rising in the galaxy connected to Exegol. It explores Jedi Master Luke Skywalker at the height of his efforts to rebuild the Order. It explores Lando Calrissian reeling from the tragic disappearance of his daughter. It explores Ochi of Bestoon, and a whole lot of Sith lore and intrigue. And there’s tons more, too.
This book will change the way you view certain scenes and certain moments of the sequel trilogy. That’s always been the case with Star Wars, as further stories come along and add depth and context to the films, so it’s not the case of the sequel trilogy needing fixing or anything like that. No, this is the case of additional backstory and context being given that adds a remarkable layer of emotion and depth. Though the reader knows where the story will wind up – heartbreakingly so – that doesn’t keep it from becoming a predictable letdown. Adam Christopher does a remarkable job of weaving together storylines both from the movies but also from other books, bringing it all together into a truly compelling story that just feels really important.
And perhaps that’s the best way I can articulate it: this story feels like it really matters. There’s been plenty of really good books written in recent years expanding on various characters, but by design they have often lacked the sense of being a truly pivotal tale in the Skywalker saga. That is not the case with this book.
If you’re looking for an entertaining story about Luke Skywalker and Lando Calrissian teaming up on a mission in between episodes six and seven, this is the book for you. If you’re looking for additional context about the sequel trilogy, this is the book for you. And if you’re looking for a story that will feel like a crucial moment in the saga, this is the book for you. I can’t recommend this highly enough.