Book Review | Star Wars: Shadow of the Sith
Star Wars: Shadow of the Sith was very enjoyable to read. It’s not mandatory reading but a fun adventure nonetheless.
I was very excited when I learned Adam Christopher was penning the Star Wars: Shadow Of The Sith novel. His short story in the A Certain Point of View: Empire Strikes Back volume was by far the best. Disney thought so as well because they hired him back to write an entire novel this time. He was scheduled to write a novel based on The Mandalorian, and I could not contain my excitement as it was two great things coming together. Then it was canceled, and I was so upset. I didn’t get my Adam Christopher book!
SHADOW OF THE SITH
However, Disney is a tough bird and managed to give him Shadow of the Sith, a pre-The Force Awakens novel that would explore one of the biggest untold plot points that The Rise of Skywalker gave us. Years before Rey found the sunken spaceship in the Forbidden Valley with a de-activated D-0 and the corpse of Ochi of Bestoon; Lando and Luke had embarked on a grand adventure to investigate the resurgence of the Sith. This is a VERY important story, so Christopher had a lot riding on this going well.
Thankfully, he is a great writer and knows how to write Star Wars, so it was not disappointing. However, what we got was NOT at all what was expected, leaving me scratching my head slightly. The book does, however, flesh out Rey’s parentage and gives us a first-hand account of the horrific dark childhood of Palpatine’s “son.” Who is finally given a name. Dathan. The book starts with Dathan and his wife Miramir fleeing from unknown assailants with their 6-year-old daughter Rey.
SUSPENSE & DANGER
Adams does an excellent job building up a feeling of suspense and danger for this simple family. Especially as they were forced to quickly leave their piss-poor lives on Jakku and become hunted fugitives. Rey is a very young 6 and does not say much. This may be somewhat the reason why her memories of her parents were very faint when she was in her late teens. Speech is often connected to memory. Dathan and Miramir are very sympathetic characters. And it amazes me how the “pseudo-clone” of Emperor Palpatine was portrayed so differently than his evil father.
Dathan is incredibly loving and affectionate to his wife and daughter. More so than the average man. He truly idolizes his wife for her smarts as a pilot and engineer and feels perpetually guilty for putting them in danger. They just want to escape and live their lives without being hunted by the Sith. And you feel a lot of worry for them because they have no weapons or combat abilities. The book switches back and forth from their view, Luke and Lando’s view, and Ochi’s view in a very crisp and well-ordered way.
I enjoyed it much more than Aftermath’s interludes or Thrawn’s memory section, and the story always felt like it was flowing very naturally. I was surprised that Luke had such an extensive relationship with Lor San Tekka, as they explored the galaxy together to find Sith and Jedi artifacts. Tekka, while not Force-sensitive was a member of the Church of the Force. So you can imagine him as a Catholic priest or a Jewish rabbi. Luke is very much Luke. And when he teams up with Lando, you see a strong friendship that you never knew existed.
LUKE & LANDO
Lando’s daughter was kidnapped 6 years prior. And he struggles to put on that Calrissian charm and bravado, as he struggles with this devastating loss. All efforts to find his daughter failed, so he is full of pain and also sympathy for the family on the run with a young girl. Lando and Luke’s foil is very reminiscent of Luke and Han in A New Hope. Though it can be said that Lando is a bit smoother. Luke is calm, patient, reserved, and easy to handle while Lando is more ruled by his emotions and street smarts. Yet, they both truly care about each other and make a pretty decent team.
Ochi of Bestoon is perhaps the vilest, evil character I’ve read in a long time. And he takes such a sickening pleasure in killing others. His skills as an assassin are legendary and even show us that even the experienced Jedi during The Clone Wars is not safe from him.
OCHI OF BESTOON
The Sith Eternal chooses him to find Rey. And they give him a creepy, evil Sith knife that literally feeds on the blood of its victims. Right up Ochi’s alley. The battle sequences were done relatively well in this book and Christopher showed an excellent handle on Star Wars lore and dialogue. He even invoked a line from The Revenge of the Sith novelization (one of the best Star Wars books of all time in my opinion) in describing how people “felt” in the Force. Their presence. Their being.
In this, Luke remembers his father felt like a white-hot sun due to his rage and Palpatine was cold as an iceberg. This is a very interesting metaphor as Dooku was described as icy in ROTS, Ventress fire, and Palpatine a freaking black hole. Perhaps to be truly evil is to feel cold while those who have been wronged or angry feel hot. My favorite throw-back to the original series is a sequence where Lando saves Luke in a very much similar fashion to The Empire Strikes Back, where he gets Luke at the top of a hatch on his ship.
Lando is flying the Lady Luck these days, and die-hard Legends fans will certainly remember this ship. This novel would almost be perfect except it presents a threat that is not quite what you would expect. Palpatine does make an appearance and yes, it does feature a disembodied Sith. But it’s not Palpatine, just a random new one. I really don’t get how this is prudent, as I assumed the novel would end with Luke finding out Palpatine was still out there and becoming super-depressed that he couldn’t stop him. That event happens later, and this book is a bit of a red herring for this tale. Oh well. Another day.
This book was very enjoyable to read and I hope that Adam is brought back for future projects. My last note is my perception of a teenage Jedi apprentice Ben Solo. It’s super creepy to see him so chummy with his uncle, and you have to stop and wonder how he went bad. He even interacts well with Lor San Tekka and we all knew how that was going to end….. All in all, I feel this book is not mandatory reading but a fun adventure nonetheless.
Star Wars: Shadow Of The Sith is published by Del Rey and will release on June 28. Pre-order your copy here.
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Max Nocerino is a regular Staff Writer for The Future of the Force. He is a passionate Star Wars fan and loves the literature of the galaxy far, far away. Follow him on Twitter where he shares his love of the Force frequently!