In the aftermath of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’s release, much of the conversation surrounding the movie involves what it didn’t show us, rather than what it did. From deleted scenes to crucial background information that can only be found in supplemental material like The Rise of Skywalker: The Visual Dictionary, there’s a whole lot of story content that got left on the cutting room floor.
With the upcoming release of author Rae Carson’s novelization (dubbed Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – Expanded Edition and due out on Tuesday, March 17) we have an even better grasp on what the movie failed to show us. The novelization includes deleted scenes and expands on existing scenes in ways the movie doesn’t, offering a fuller picture of the final chapter in the Skywalker Saga. Check out the slideshow gallery below or scroll down to learn about all the new story elements included in the novel, from the secret of Emperor Palpatine’s survival to new scenes featuring characters like Leia, Lando, and Chewbacca.
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The opening crawl to Episode IX reveals the galaxy has been stunned by the sudden appearance of a message from Emperor Palpatine, spurning the Resistance to action and Supreme Leader Kylo Ren to seek out this new threat to his reign. Strangely, though, we never actually hear that message in the movie. You had to play Fortnite for that tidbit.
Fortunately, the novel includes Palpatine’s full message for posterity:
At last, the work of generations is complete. The great error is corrected. The day of victory is at hand. The day of revenge. The day of the Sith.
Leia’s Jedi Training
Sadly, the untimely death of Carrie Fisher meant director JJ Abrams had very little to work with when it came to giving General Leia her final sendoff on-screen. The novel is able to rectify that problem to an extent, showing more of Leia’s inner thoughts as she trains Rey on Ajan Kloss. As it turns out, Ajan Kloss was also where Luke trained Leia, with Luke referring to the jungle world as “Nice Dagobah.”
Most notably, the novel shows Leia reflecting back on her Jedi training with Luke even before that important flashback scene. Leia remembers the ways in which her brother used to antagonize her (a la Yoda) to bring out her full potential. Leia even remembers an incident where she managed to hover in mid-air, proving that she had access to powers even Luke didn’t.
Kylo Ren on Mustafar
One of the earliest scenes in the movie shows Kylo Ren slaughtering cultists on Mustafar as he seeks out his grandfather’s Sith Wayfinder. This scene is short, to the point where the movie doesn’t even make it obvious Ren is on Mustafar. But the book lingers longer at this familiar prequel setting. We learn the cultists are obsessed with the memory of Darth Vader and have made the pilgrimage to defend the ruins of his castle from outsiders.
After slaughtering the cultists, Ren meets a creature called the Eye of Webbish Bog, a spider-like being attached in a parasitic bond to a giant humanoid. The Eye directs Ren to Vader’s Wayfinder, telling him he passed Vader’s test by defeating the Eye’s guardians.
Some version of the Eye of Webbish Bog scene was actually filmed, so we may get to see this encounter play out at some point.
Palpatine’s Clone Body
Among the many unsolved mysteries in The Rise of Skywalker, perhaps none is more frustrating than the question of how Emperor Palpatine survived his apparent death in Return of the Jedi. The movie never definitively reveals whether Palpatine remains in his original body or cloned himself, as he created Snoke.
Luckily, the novel explicitly confirms Palpatine is inhabiting a clone body. Upon first meeting Kylo Ren, Palpatine describes his current body as “imperfect,” forcing him to strap himself to a mechanical exoskeleton previously used by an ancient, unnamed Sith Lord and rely on regenerative chemicals (based on Clone Wars tech) to stave off the body’s inevitable decay.
A later passage offers even more details about how Palpatine cheated death. He relied on the Sith secrets he stole from Darth Plagueis to create his clone body. Palpatine managed to tear his spirit out of his body before it was destroyed aboard the second Death Star and transfer it into the clone. But because the clone was unfinished, Palpatine has faced a ticking clock in finding a new and more permanent vessel. By the time of Episode IX, Palpatine’s clone body is seemingly days, if not hours, away from death.
In that sense, The Rise of Skywalker isn’t so different from Expanded Universe stories like Dark Empire and Empire’s End, which showed Palpatine relying on a series of increasingly unreliable clone bodies while seeking a more permanent host in young Anakin Solo.
Rey’s New Lightsabers
An early chapter of the novel lends more insight into Rey’s new gold-white lightsaber glimpsed at the end of the film. We learn Rey used the Jedi texts from Crait as a guide, first repairing Luke’s blue saber and then designing her own blade. Interestingly, the book reveals Rey has begun work on a third saber, one she hopes will better replicate the feel of her trusty staff. That third saber is a double-bladed design that can fold in half. In other words, the same saber seen in the “Dark Rey” vision almost became a reality. But by the end of the novel, Rey decides her gold-white saber is all she needs.
Fans of Kelly Marie Tran’s Rose Tico were disappointed to find the character barely appeared in Episode IX. While Rose still plays a small role in the novel, she does factor more prominently into the early Ajan Kloss scenes. In particular, the novel fleshes out the friendship between Rey and Rose that’s developed in the year between Episodes VIII and IX.
Lando’s Missing Child
Among the many plot details we only learned after the fact, Naomie Ackie’s Jannah was confirmed to be the daughter of Lando Calrissian. Like the movie, the novel never goes as far as to confirm this relationship, but it is much more blatant about raising the possibility. When Lando first appears on Pasaana, he reflects on his years spent hiding out on the remote desert world trying to forget the tragedy of losing his daughter to the First Order. And though Lando doesn’t seem to recognize Jannah at the end of the book, seeing her is enough to instantly convince him that his remaining years are better spent traveling the galaxy and trying to reunite kidnapped children with their parents than returning to a life of obscurity on Pasaana. There’s a distinct impression Lucasfilm wants to leave the door open for a Lando/Jannah spinoff of some sort.
The Source of Force Healing
Force healing is definitely the most significant new Jedi power introduced in Episode IX (though it technically first appeared in The Mandalorian). The novel is able to go into greater detail in terms of how Force healing actually works. When Rey first uses the ability to heal the vexis snake, she notes that most powers involve her drawing on the Force for her personal benefit, whereas healing involves her giving her essence to the Force. Rey realizes this give and take creates a necessary balance in the Force, in what is perhaps the clearest example of what makes her different from traditional Jedi.
Chewie’s Memories of Ben
Chewbacca is pretty inscrutable as far as Star Wars characters go. One of the more unexpected benefits of the novelization is that we get a much clearer sense of how Chewie feels about Ben Solo’s downfall. When Chewie is brought aboard the First Order Star Destroyer after being captured on Pasaana, Kylo Ren visits his old friend and attempts to pull information from his mind. In the process, he sees images of a younger Chewbacca and Han Solo in their glory days, before stumbling across memories of Chewie’s days bonding with young Ben. Coming so soon before Ren’s fateful battle with Rey on Kef Bir, this encounter probably played a key role in pushing him back to the light.
Later in the book, Lando boards the Millennium Falcon as he and Chewie prepare to rally the Resistance’s allies. As he explores his old ship, Lando visits Chewie’s cabin and stumbles across a holo recording of Chewie and young Ben. Even now, it’s clear Chewie still loves Ben like a nephew and pines for the boy that Snoke stole away.
Finn’s Force Sensitivity
Finn spends much of Episode IX trying and failing to tell Rey an important secret. We never actually learn this detail in the movie itself, but Finn was trying to reveal he’s Force-sensitive. The novelization also stops short of revealing that information, but it does hint at this reveal more strongly. Finn is able to sense Kylo Ren’s arrival on Pasaana. During his meeting with Jannah, the book emphasizes the fact that a connection to the Force is what allowed both characters to resist their First Order conditioning.
In general, the book fleshes out Finn a bit more than the movie. Rey notes he seems to be “more comfortable in his own skin” now that he’s spent a year away from the First Order’s influence. Even his longer hair is meant to be an act of defiance and individuality. Funny enough, another passage has General Hux ruminating on his desire to take control of the First Order and force Kylo Ren to cut his hair to regulation length.
Luke’s Unseen Presence
After playing a pivotal role in The Last Jedi, Mark Hamill only has a few minutes of screen time in what we assume is his final live-action Luke Skywalker performance. Luke has a slightly bigger role in the novel, however. In addition to the aforementioned Luke/Leia training material, Leia is shown to hear her dead brother’s voice at several points. Leia is depicted as being in poor physical health, and Luke urges her to let go of her attachments to her Resistance comrades and prepare for the final ordeal she knows is coming.
Interestingly, the book also reveals it isn’t just Luke who contacts Leia from beyond the grave. Prior to the events of Episode IX, Leia has communed with both Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda. That probably explains how she was able to manifest as a Force Ghost at the end of the movie.
Escape From Kijimi
The movie leads viewers to believe Zorii Bliss and Babu Frik are killed when Kijimi is destroyed, right up until the point both show up to help the Resistance on Exegol. The book, however, lingers on Kijimi a while longer. Several pages follow Zorii as she evades the First Order and makes her preparations to escape the planet. Babu Frik is still in his workshop when the Star Destroyer fires its planet killer cannon, but he’s rescued at the very last second by Zorii.
The Final Order and the Sith Eternal
The movie leaves fans with a lot of questions surrounding the Final Order and those mysterious Sith cultists on Exegol. How did Palpatine find the soldiers necessary to staff his massive fleet? Are the Sith cultists flesh and blood beings or simply ghosts of dead Sith Lords?
Here, too, the novel is able to lend some much-needed detail. It confirms the Sith Eternal are living beings devoted to ushering in a new era of Sith rule under Palpatine. As for the Final Order, most of its members are people who were born and raised on Exegol or the surrounding area of the Unknown Regions, preparing for decades to serve in Palpatine’s military. Palpatine also drew from the ranks of the First Order, with many of the most promising child recruits handpicked to become Final Order Sithtroopers instead.
Rey being revealed as Emperor Palpatine’s granddaughter dredges up the frankly unsettling image of Palpatine being romantically involved with someone. Gross.
Thankfully, the novel reveals this isn’t so. Rey’s father isn’t actually Palpatine’s son, but his clone. That clone was meant to be a more permanent replacement body for Palpatine, with his “imperfect” body merely being a stopgap. Unfortunately for Sheev, Rey’s father proved to have no Force abilities whatsoever. Palpatine rejected his “son,” eventually tasking the Sith assassin Ochi with hunting down and killing his offspring. But once Palpatine realized he had a granddaughter with enormous Force potential, turning Rey to the Dark Side became his number one goal.
Why Palpatine never attempted to create more than two clones is unclear, but we can probably infer that the process was difficult and time-consuming, and that Rey offered a more direct solution to the problem of extending his unnaturally long life.
The Force Dyad and the Rule of Two
The novel doesn’t have a great deal more to add on the subject of Rey and Ben Solo being linked in a Force Dyad, though the text does reiterate the concept of true balance in the Force being a process of both giving and taking power. However, there is one interesting detail to be gleaned from the book. It seems the Sith Rule of Two was instituted in an attempt to create a Force Dyad between master and apprentice. However, it was never more than a failed copy, as a true Force Dyad requires a degree of openness and empathy Sith Lords simply can’t handle.
Rebel Heroes Return
Various heroes from the Rebel Alliance return to play a part in the Battle of Exegol, but the novel is able to shine more of a spotlight on these characters. For example, whereas The Ghost (of Star Wars Rebels fame) has a visual cameo in the movie, in the book the ship’s pilot reports for duty over the intercom. It’s not clear if the speaker is meant to be Hera Syndulla, but we like to think so. This segment also includes cameos for Alphabet Squadron and Star Wars: Battlefront II protagonist Iden Versio.
Rebel hero Wedge Antilles is also name-dropped during the Battle of Exegol. In fact, we learn that Poe’s friend Snap Wexley is Wedge’s nephew, which lends an added dose of tragedy to the battle given that Wedge survives and Snap doesn’t. In another tragic reveal, we learn that Lando’s old copilot Nien Nunb perishes along with the rest of the crew of the Tantive IV.
The book even takes a moment to flesh out that brief Wicket W. Warrick cameo, as Wicket reflects on fatherhood and the struggles the Ewoks have faced in battling first the Empire and then the First Order.
Leia’s Three Names
The novelization is able to give Leia fans one last parting gift before the Princess of Alderaan dies. As Leia readies herself for the end, she reflects on her legacy and the fact that she’s passing each of her three surnames onto a different heir. As the first of a new generation of Jedi, Rey is the heir to the Skywalker name. As the reluctant leader of the Resistance and the new government to come, Poe inherits the Organa mantle. And finally, her son Ben is able to reclaim the Solo name by returning to the light, even if the name also dies with him.
What do you think of the reveals from the book? Let us know in the comments section below.