Shadow of the Sith by Adam Christopher was recently released, and it’s a masterful book that tells a pivotal story set in-between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. It tells of Luke Skywalker and Lando Calrissian searching for Exegol, but delves into so much more.
This article will get into major spoilers for the book, so don’t read any further if you haven’t read it yet. But there are some major things that are discussed and disclosed in the book, so I wanted to mention some of them here. There’s a lot more I could have written about, and I’m sure I’ll get to a lot more eventually, but here are seven things that Shadow of the Sith taught us, filling in some major plot points along the way.
1. Luke Skywalker and Lando Calrissian were hot on the hunt for Rey and her parents, and came extremely close to saving them
The book centers around a family: Dathan, Miramir, and their daughter, Rey. As they attempted to flee from their pursuers, they were picked up by the New Republic, by members of Halo Squadron. The New Republic claims to have more pressing – and secretive – matters to attend to than this random family, despite their request for help. One pilot, Dina Dupurl, tries to help where she can, taking their report and sending them to an old Rebel ally. Luke Skywalker and Lando Calrissian pursue the family, and each step of the way Dathan and Miramir prove more than capable. But Lando and R2-D2 also get a chance to help them escape at one point, and Lando tells them he’s with a Jedi Knight. Dathan and Miramir realize that this might be the break they’ve been needing, and for the rest of their lives they hold out hope of meeting up with this Jedi, but that never happens due to them being forced to stay on the run.
Ultimately, Lando finds the family yet again, this time above Jakku – but he’s too late. He discovers the dead bodies of Dathan and Miramir, and he, Luke, R2, and Komat (a former Acolyte of the Beyond who winds up helping them in their quest) hold a burial for them. Luke senses that Ochi hasn’t yet found the girl, and he and Lando hold out hope of finding her first.
It’s incredible how close they got several times, and it’s extremely interesting that at the same time that Ochi of Bestoon was hunting Rey, so too were Luke and Lando. I think this helps make so much sense of the intrigue around “the girl” in The Force Awakens. For example, when Kylo Ren exclaims “what girl?”, it makes sense that he would have heard about her from Luke. And at the end of the film, when Rey arrives and holds out the lightsaber to Luke, I now wouldn’t be surprised if Luke knows, deep down, that this is the girl he searched for.
2. How did Rey’s parents hide Rey?
This book really dives into the backstory for Rey’s parents in very significant ways. Her father, Dathan, was a clone of Palpatine who was cast off, and he managed to sneak off of Exegol and start a new life. He met Miramir, who was from the planet Hyperkarn, when Dathan took up work on the planet. They fell in love and got married, but not long after Rey was born they realized they needed to leave, not wanting to endanger the people there. So they moved to Jakku, where they lived a simple life. But the hunters found them, forcing them to flee.
They went across galaxy, successfully staying one step ahead of their pursuers, but knew they couldn’t keep it up forever. So Dathan insisted that they needed to hide Rey and then go find the Jedi and get help before coming back to get her. They wound up stealing Ochi’s ship in an attempt to delay him, and then took Rey back to Jakku. They entrusted her with Unkar Plutt, the only person they could trust. They trusted him because he was a pragmatist, and as long as there was something in it for him they knew he’d protect her. Unkar did just that, and he even aided their cause by subtly giving Miramir an Aki-Aki bead – insurance, should it be needed.
And it came in handy. Ochi tracked Dathan and Miramir and boarded their ship as they were fleeing Jakku, and he killed them. He then found in Miramir’s hand the Aki-Aki bead, and he concluded that they had hidden Rey on Pasaana. He headed to the planet in search of her, but he didn’t make it far, as the sinking fields consumed him.
All of this highlights how Rey’s parents truly were heroes, and it even casts Unkar Plutt in some different light too. But it also provides some really good explanations for how all of this fits together: for why the same ship that dropped Rey off on Jakku was Ochi’s ship, for why she was left behind on Jakku thinking her parents would be coming back, for why she was never found on Jakku, for why Ochi was on Pasaana in his search for Rey, etc.
3. Lando has not gotten over the disappearance of his daughter
Lando Calrissian tried to settle down and live as a family man, having a daughter named Kadara (and though her mother isn’t explicitly named, it’s certainly implied that it’s Kaasha). But when she was just two years old, she was kidnapped. This book takes place six years later, and he still hasn’t found her.
When Kedara was taken, Lando went to his friends in desperation, and they all immediately jumped in to help him search the galaxy for her – Luke, Han, Leia. But as time went on and leads dried up, the others resumed their normals lives, with Luke at his Temple and Han and Leia with their family. But Lando carried his burden alone, never giving up the search. The loss of his daughter still pained him, still was a gaping void in his heart, and he even grew frustrated with himself that the pain wasn’t as raw as it used to be.
“As six months turned into one year turned into two, he found himself repeating actions, going back to the same places again, without even realizing it, as he tried to follow a lead, a whisper, a clue as to where his daughter had been taken.”
But with a stroke of luck, Lando happens to be in a casino at the right time, overhearing Ochi of Bestoon talking about a mission to kidnap a girl, working for the Sith, and Lando wonders whether this is the same thing that happened to his daughter. He gets no answers, nor do we, but it is this that motivates him throughout the book, as he wants to help this other girl and her family avoid the same fate that befell his daughter and family.
By the end of the book, Lando decides to remain on Pasaana, which he says will serve as a base of operations to explore the surrounding systems, which he hasn’t yet searched in pursuit of his daughter. Plus, as his newfound ally Komat told him, the desert helps you to forget.
4. Luke and Lor San Tekka had traveled the galaxy, uncovering secrets of the Jedi and Sith
Lor San Tekka was introduced at the very beginning of The Force Awakens, in a village on Jakku, known as an ally of Leia Organa and someone who had a history with Kylo Ren. It was subsequently established that he was a follower of the Force, unable to wield it yet religiously devoted to it, who became close friends with Luke and Leia. This book dives into his relationship with Luke, as
“the two had spent a lot of time in each other’s company since the death of the Emperor and the fall of the Empire. Luke was driven by a desire to reestablish the Jedi Order from, essentially, absolutely nothing. It was to Lor that he had come, eager for the old explorer’s help in hunting down relics and artifacts that had a connection with the Force.”
They used the compass that Luke found in the Emperor’s storehouse on Pilio, as seen in the Battlefront II campaign, and found many Jedi Temples across the galaxy, leading to Luke gathering a very large collection of old Jedi artifacts – and he found quite a few Sith ones, too.
Luke’s relationship with Lor is further demonstrated by the fact that Lor San Tekka is the only person Luke disclosed his haunting dreams to. And Lor also comes to Luke with another discovery of a dig site that might have possible Jedi artifacts, a place they travel to together. It seems, then, that Lor San Tekka is an archeologist of sorts, and he helps keep Luke up to speed on places that might be of interest to explore. As the book explains, “for Lor, this was a holy quest; for Luke, a quest of understanding, of knowing the past so the future could be shaped.”
5. Luke senses a darkness rising in the galaxy
When we meet Luke in the book, he’s haunted by visions. It’s been happening for weeks, causing him to spend most of his time in his hut and entrust the training of his pupils to Ben Solo and some of the other more gifted students. He tries to piece together these visions, but he knows something isn’t right and there’s a rising darkness lurking. He travels to Tython to sit on the seeing stone, and there he is transported via the Force to Exegol. He’s confronted by spirits and rescued by Anakin Skywalker, but it gives him even more reason to think that something sinister is going on.
Much of the novel is about Luke tracking down this mysterious darkness, sensing the return of the Sith. It leads him to Kiza, the former leader of the Acolytes of the Beyond, who is possessed by the mask of Viceroy Exim Panshard (and who flies a TIE Defender, which is awesome). Kiza, herself devoted to the dark side, is a vessel through which Panshard has returned, and she wields the curved lightsaber of the ancient Sith Darth Noctyss. Both Kiza and Panshard are seeking the path to Exegol, which they think will give them what they desire. Luke defeats her in lightsaber combat, and then after Panshard once more possesses her dead body, Luke defeats the Sith Lord.
When he does, the clouds lift, and Luke realizes that the darkness he had been sensing was connected to the return of Panshard, and he was the Sith that Luke was concerned about. Which, of course, we know isn’t entirely true, as lurking in the shadows on Exegol is Darth Sidious, long presumed to be dead (Dathan knows he’s alive, obviously, and Ochi learns it, but that’s all that is disclosed in this book). But it also makes sense, as if Luke knew Palpatine was alive it would have been strange had he just given up the search for him. No, the reason Luke stopped searching for Exegol before he nearly found it was because he believed that the darkness he sensed through the Force had been taken care of after he defeated it.
6. Anakin’s Force ghost is troubled
After Anakin Skywalker’s Force ghost shows up and rescues Luke on Exegol, Anakin speaks with Luke briefly on Tython. This is the first canon conversation we’ve seen between the two of them after Return of the Jedi, which is awesome, but the conversation takes a dark turn… because Anakin is troubled.
“The look on Anakin’s face made Luke’s blood run cold. His father looked pained – no, worse, in agony – and Luke didn’t know if that was even possible. Anakin was one with the Force now. And yet… he was in trouble. His spirit flickered, faded, flickered.”
Anakin’s Force ghost flickers and fades, and in fact his appearance changes at one point from his youthful self to the version of his father Luke saw on the Death Star when he removed his mask (which I love as a small nod to the Force ghost change in different editions of Return of the Jedi). It is clear that something isn’t right, and Anakin tells Luke that as the seeing stone took his son to Exegol, “it has taken all that I can give to bring you back.” But, as Anakin fades away, he tells his son, “no matter how dark the night grows, you are never alone”
This opens up some really interesting possibilities about Force ghosts, but it seems that whatever is going down on Exegol is messing with Anakin’s ability to communicate with Luke. And that helps answer the question some fans have had of why Anakin didn’t just show up to Luke and tell him where to find the wayfinder (and, I suppose, why Anakin’s Force ghost didn’t appear in the sequel trilogy either).
7. Luke saved a member of the Acolytes of the Beyond
The Acolytes of the Beyond play a major part in this book, having been first introduced in the Aftermath trilogy as a group of cultists devoted to the dark side of the Force. Their leader, at one point, is Kiza, who is one of two main antagonists in this novel (alongside Ochi of Bestoon) and is possessed by Panchard. But she isn’t the only Acolyte that shows up, as Komat also appears. Komat winds up helping Luke and Lando in their mission, having been saved by Luke years before. At one point she explains:
“I believed that if [Kiza] lived, she would remain a danger to the galaxy. I sought the Noctyss blade myself, to prevent her from locating it. I failed in my task … but it was at that time I met Master Luke Skywalker, who guided me to the path of salvation.”
This, once again, is a reminder of who Luke Skywalker is. In this book he is shown to be at his peak, and his skills both with the Force and with his lightsaber are put on full display. But at heart, he’s a good person who wants to help others – and he does that with Komat. He’s not just out to defeat evil, but to save people from it. Just like a true Jedi.