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'Star Wars: Shadow of the Sith' review

Star Wars

‘Star Wars: Shadow of the Sith’ review

Adam Christopher successfully fills in the plot holes introduced by ‘The Rise of Skywalker’.

When The Rise of Skywalker was released back in 2019, many plot points were introduced that seemed to stem from nowhere and at the time were never addressed. TROS reveals Lando’s daughter being kidnapped, which somehow ties into Luke and Lando being on the trail of Ochi of Bestoon, who somehow has ties to Rey’s missing parents, which relates to Rey being related to Palpatine, all the while there’s an ancient looking Sith dagger with ancient writing on it that somehow shows the way to a space station that crashed only a couple of decades prior, and on top of that there’s the unanswered question from The Force Awakens, of why was Rey abandoned on Jakku.

Enter Adam Christopher’s Shadow of the Sith, which aims to answer many of those questions. Christopher got his start in the Star Wars universe writing a short story in the From a Certain Point of View anthology, another entry in the From a Certain Point of View: The Empire Strikes Back, as well as a comic story in IDW’s Star Wars Adventures line, but this is his first full novel within the universe.

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There is some serious heavy lifting that this novel needs to do to answer these questions. And, to put it shortly, it does. Adam Christopher manages to provide plausible explanations for all of these plot holes while also providing an entertaining read. He also is able to tie in references to events and characters outside of this timeframe, providing a cohesive universe feel to his writing. Some of the myriad of references include the current volume of the Darth Vader series, the original Lando comic series, the old Lando Calrissian Adventures trilogy, the Aftermath trilogy, and more (there’s even a quick reference to the Errant Venture from Legends).

It has been 17 years since the Death Star II blew up over Endor (that’s 21 ABY for those timeline geeks like myself), and Lando is super down on his luck. His daughter had been kidnapped six years prior and all efforts to find her, along with any help his friends could give, has been for naught. But he happens to be at a bar when he overhears news of a planned kidnapping and decides that this is his first big break in years. The kidnapper, Ochi of Bestoon, is directed by Palpatine to bring him Rey – after which the majority of the story unfolds. Ochi tries to track down Rey and her parents, who end up staying one step ahead of him, all the while Lando (with the aid of Luke), remain one step behind the parents as well.

The story ends up being a game of leap-frog with Rey’s parents, Dathan and Miramir, usually one step ahead of Ochi. And while this game could get old after a while (and it does by the end), there is the addition of other Sith elements that make the story take interesting and intriguing twists with the inclusion of a Sith mask and a possessed Sith Acolyte, Kiza. Kiza is determined to find a way to Exegol, which coincides with Ochi’s own hunt for Exegol, and drags in Luke’s hunt for Exegol as well. With everyone trying to find a way to the same place, they all seem to happen upon crisscrossing story paths, all leading to Rey’s parents.

The story ends up being extremely fascinating, with Sith lore sprinkled throughout, and potentially some tidbits that might be hinting at what we will see in the upcoming Acolyte Disney+ series. But it also becomes rather repetitive. Not only do we play a constant game of catch, but the author also sets up scenes in similar ways. Ochi is introduced no less than three times by a description of him as if we don’t already know who he is each and every time. I can see the first time, but by the third time it was old.

Christopher was also given a problem in that the majority of the characters that he needed to work into the story were male. But he did balance it out by creating several new characters, most of whom were female and provided some of the best characters of the story. Komat, a former Sith Acolyte, was probably my favorite character in the book, who not only had an interesting backstory, but her present story was extremely fascinating with how Christopher presented her personality and her outlooks on life. He also managed to mix in her backstory in similar ways to how he mixed in the backstories that we already know, so it had me questioning whether we had actually gotten her backstory in other media (we hadn’t – she’s new to this story).

The character work throughout was great. Ochi was a sniveling weasel, which is the impression from the comics that I got, and Luke and Lando generally felt like Luke and Lando. Rey was mostly non-existent, while her parents got most of the family’s screen time. I would have liked to see Miramir take more of a center stage, however with Dathan being the actual descendant of Palpatine, I can understand the general focus on him. The new characters, Komat and Kiza really did steal the show and make the story worthwhile.

The audiobook was read by William DeMeritt, who is new to the Star Wars audio game, and I thought he actually did a fantastic job. All of his characters were generally recognizable and his speech was smooth and easy to understand. I greatly enjoyed listening to him. The audio production on this entire book was great except the times that the droid’s alarm was continuously going off and so we got to hear it in the audio version, non-stop. That part could have been adjusted.

So while this was a super fun novel, it could definitely used the benefit of a stronger editing hand. We could have gotten the same plot line with a far shorter story. The basis of the story also has a super big flaw (in my opinion), which is not the problem of the author, but the premise. We know that Ochi and Rey’s parents die in the end, and Rey remains on Jakku. So the entire principle plot line of “almost got to them” that Luke and Lando are doing, we know throughout the entire story that they never end up getting there in time, and it impacts my reading of the story. If I didn’t know any of that beforehand, if the events of The Rise of Skywalker were unknown to me, my feelings for this book would be completely different. The story is heartbreaking as it is, but it would have been tenfold worse had the ending been a mystery. The addition of Kiza and the mask was, in my opinion, entirely meant to give the reader a satisfactory conclusion to a story that we already knew wouldn’t have one. And while it worked on that level, it didn’t fix the initial fruitless feeling of the story.

Overall, I would say that the story was a lot of fun, if a bit too long for the amount of content that it included. Christopher manages to tie together a LOT of seemingly loose threads from The Rise of Skywalker and make them make sense, making this story a “must read” for Star Wars fans. The new characters were a great addition and they fit in well alongside Luke and Lando, who we know very well by this point. The story also included tons of lore, old and new alike. Christopher managed to pull in from many, many different source materials to make this story fit in very well with established continuity, as well as sprinkle his own lore seamlessly alongside it so that even as well read a Star Wars aficionado as I claim to be, I still wasn’t sure if some of the references were previous stories or new additions.

'Star Wars: Shadow of the Sith' review
‘Star Wars: Shadow of the Sith’ review
Star Wars: Shadow of the Sith
The story was a lot of fun, if a bit too long for the amount of content that it included. Christopher manages to tie together a LOT of seemingly loose threads from The Rise of Skywalker and make them make sense, making this story a "must read" for Star Wars fans.
Reader Rating1 Vote
8.7
Provides satisfactory answers to many plot holes from The Rise of Skywalker
Gives us many new characters that were all really fascinating
Gives a lot of new Sith lore and backstory
Many of the plot points became repetitive over time
Some of the sound design in the audiobook got to be obnoxious
The premise of the book is known from the movies and ends up making the book feel partially fruitless
7
Good
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