One of the books in the “Journey to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” line released last month is Resistance Reborn by author Rebecca Roanhorse, a writer new to the Star Wars universe. Resistance Reborn is set between The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker and helps us to bridge the gap between the two movies.
As announced at D23 over this last summer, it is assumed that The Rise of Skywalker will take place one year after the end of The Last Jedi. This leaves us with a lot of ground to cover before we see “the end of the Skywalker saga”. Within that time period we also have the Galaxy’s Edge theme park, along with the two associated rides, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run and the newly opened Rise of the Resistance, and the tie-in novels, Pirates Price, Black Spire, and A Crash of Fate.
The Galaxy’s Edge tie-ins and theme park likely take place a few months after the end of The Last Jedi. Resistance Reborn though, takes place within a few days of the end of the movie, with nearly the entire Resistance on the Millennium Falcon needing to find shelter and fuel. As we are building towards The Rise of Skywalker within this novel, so are we building towards Galaxy’s Edge.
Before I can break down the novel, I need to illustrate the level of incorporation that Roanhorse managed to pull off within this novel. Either she seriously did her homework on many, many other pieces of Star Wars literature currently within canon, or she had great guidance to make sure she got what she needed. Here is a list of the materials that had either characters or locations mentioned within the book, and were integral to the plot.
- The Battlefront II campaign
- Battlefront II – Inferno Squad
- Jedi: Fallen Order
- The Poe Dameron comic series
- The Aftermath trilogy
- The Clone Wars TV series
- The Rebels TV series
- The Legends Genndy Tartakovsky Clone Wars TV series
- Lost Stars
This likely isn’t even a complete list, as I am sure I missed some tie-ins as well. The plot of the story felt like Roanhorse went through the current canon and plucked Rebellion and Resistance fighters who could potentially be around and used them within the story. The thing is though, it didn’t feel forced. They had story-based reasons for being in the novel and their inclusions felt entirely natural.
As mentioned above, we are within a few days of the devastation of the Resistance over D’Qar and Crait. The Resistance is decimated and we are left with only a handful of Resistance fighters including Leia, Rey, Poe, Finn, Rose, and Black Squadron. Leia needs to work through everything that had happened to her, with not only losing the vast majority of the Resistance but also her brother, Luke. Poe also has issues he needs to work through with the repercussions of his actions during The Last Jedi, including causing the deaths of an entire bomber squadron and his failed mutiny.
It’s from these grounds that we start the novel. The Resistance is on the lookout for some leadership and it is the job of the remaining Resistance fighters to find who can help out. They are tasked with not only finding leaders, but also building the ranks, and finding a fleet of ships. It is definitely a daunting task for Leia, but she is more than up to the challenge.
The story weaves in a near countless number of characters from the many sources listed above including fan favorites, from the original trilogy’s Wedge Antilles to all of the members of Black Squadron, which had been so thoroughly fleshed out in the recent Poe Dameron comic series. The best part about the characters is that they felt genuine to their roots and genuine to where they are in life at this point in the timeline. Many of them are old — the Rebellion was a long time ago (over 30 years), and they were battle worn then. So, characters like Wedge, and his wife Norra Wexley of the Aftermath trilogy, are tired but looking to contribute in whatever way they can.
Resistance Reborn also provides readers with the much needed third chapter to the Battlefront II campaign. At the end of the campaign, Iden Versio’s daughter, Zay, is sent off to find allies of the Resistance. We are left with a cliffhanger without a conclusion in sight, until now. This book picks up shortly after the end of the campaign mode with Shriv and Zay Versio still on the lookout for Resistance sympathizers to join in the fray.
Roanhorse also manages to bring a rather large diversity of characters into the novel, including characters with a diverse variety of skin tones, genders, sexual orientations, and one rather prominent non-binary character. Was the inclusion of these characters enough to counterbalance decades of straight-white-male dominance in the Star Wars media? No, of course not. We still have a long way to go. But with inclusions like these, we are definitely moving in the right direction to get to what is known in the Star Trek universe as “Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations”.
Looking at the story itself, this is a nonstop action fest, with rarely a moment to take a breath. Roanhorse writes in such a way that the text flows smoothly and easily. The characters’ speech is natural and their actions make sense. The manners of speaking are also unique to each character. You can often pick out who is speaking just by how they are speaking without even a need to denote the character.
There is actually very little for me to nitpick about in this book. I would say my biggest issue was a dropped plot thread with Poe and a fellow pilot, Stronghammer, which could have been resolved with one quick line towards the end of the novel. There is also a significant character that we know is in The Rise of Skywalker that I spent most of the book waiting for, just to be disappointed towards the end by the lack of his inclusion. But that is more a result of my expectations than any shortcomings of the novel.
Topping off this fantastic novel is the marvelous voice performance by veteran Star Wars audiobook narrator Marc Thompson. Generally, Marc Thompson has been on point. He has been the primary Star Wars audiobook narrator for a very long time now, and he only seems to get better. In previous reviews, I had issues with his female characters, but now I think he has solved that problem to the point that nothing within his narrative takes me out of the story and I can’t wait to get back to it when I’m away. He has truly taken an already exceptional book to new heights.
Overall, this novel manages to tie in characters from earlier in the canon from a wide variety of media including the movies, TV shows, books, comics, and even video games. And the best part about that is that Rebecca Roanhorse manages to do it in such a way that feels natural, not only for the plot, but also for the characters. The plot is a nonstop roller coaster that helps propel us into The Rise of Skywalker and I recommend anyone with deep connections to the Star Wars saga to dive in without hesitation.