Biweekly Book Review: Shadow of the Sith

I knew this one would be difficult. Nearly three years removed from The Rise of Skywalker and there are plot points presented in that movie that I just can’t reconcile. It seems wildly unfair to judge a book by the story told in a different medium by a different writer but when the two are so inextricably linked, it becomes a bit of a hurdle. While I did try to give this one a fair shake, if you’re not here for TROS negativity, then I won’t be offended if you stopped reading right here.

All that said, I’ve got a bit of a twisted relationship with this book. I will say from the outset that it’s extremely well-written, and has in no way put me off from wanting to read anything Adam Christopher chooses to write in the future, for Star Wars or otherwise. But enough talking around it. This is Shadow of the Sith by Adam Christopher.

The Story

Shadow of the Sith follows Luke Skywalker and Lando Calrissian as they embark on two separate, yet related quests across the galaxy. The unlikely pair are searching for a young couple, Dathan and Miramir, inexplicably on the run from the Sith along with their daughter, hoping to bring them to safety and maybe get some answers as well.

But this is not Luke’s only concern, as Sith artifacts have started to surface, leading him to have visions of a mysterious Sith temple on the world of Exegol. Couple that with a mysterious, masked Sith warrior and suddenly Luke is in just a little over his head.

Meanwhile, Dathan and Miramir are in just a little over their heads as they try to escape Jakku with their daughter Rey. Unable to get help from Miramir’s family, and fleeing Dathan’s past – as well as fleeing Ochi of Bestoon – the two of them go to great lengths to keep their family together and Rey safe.

What Worked For Me

The parts that worked for me were all those that were original to Shadow of the Sith. What I mean by that is all the parts that were not setting up a future plot point for The Rise of Skywalker. This meant that the Sith plot, concerning Luke, the acolyte Kiza and the Sith artifacts were thoroughly enjoyable to me.

There really isn’t enough Freaky Force Stuff in Star Wars for my taste, at least outside of the High Republic. And the concept of the Sith Eternal was something I found to be woefully underused in The Rise of Skywalker. So Christopher doubling down on it here was very welcome. I hope this isn’t the last we see of Kiza’s mask or of the legendary lightsaber she wields.

It was also great to see Luke Skywalker in a little over his head. For all that he’s held up by Star Wars audiences as one of the great Jedi, his own formal training was so abbreviated that he is mostly self-taught. He learned to be a Jedi under the most life-or-death circumstances, and the only time he’s had for these great moral reflections on the Sith and all they do has been through books. He’s too busy running his temple to get out in the world for prolonged periods of time.

Speaking of running his temple, the book gives us two — count ’em, two — chapters with a teenage Ben Solo. He’s all awkward, and gangly, and shaggy black hair, and teaching a kindergarten class, and walking the line between being Luke’s apprentice and his nephew. I’m not even going to wish we got more because it’s not his story, so what we got what just enough and a delightful surprise.

Now comes the part where I get a little torn. While I’m going to get into my issues with Rey’s parent’s storyline below, I will say this: as characters on their own, Dathan and Miramir are extremely compelling. This doomed story of a young couple who fell in love when he sought work and freedom among her people? All the hallmarks of a story I enjoy. I enjoyed the tragedy of Dathan being a Palpatine strand cast with no fixed place in the universe and longing to be free. I even found myself rooting for them to make a clean getaway and to live their lives in peace somewhere. But then, I would remember…

What Didn’t Work For Me

Like a bucket of cold water, every single time I was reminded by the story that Dathan and Miramir were not just a young couple on the run but were Rey’s parents, if felt like a rude awakening. And it’s not even a problem I can attribute to Adam Christopher. He didn’t choose for the movie to write it that way. Nevertheless, it was the major thing that stopped me from going all in on their story.

Getting firm, written, canonized proof that every aspect of Rey’s power and resourcefulness is genetically attributable to someone else is not what I wanted for her. She deserves more than that. She resonated with me, and with many I’m sure, because of how she rose, and learned and grew in spite of the odds stacked against her. The Force manifested in her because of who she was herself. It awoke in her hour of need, and became strong enough to wield. I’m going on a tangent, suffice to say, but it’s just sad that for as well written as this is I know we’re never getting the old Rey back. Little Rey is a sweetheart. Anything we got from her was delightful in a vacuum. But when you consider where it all ends up? Is it any wonder I find it hard to talk about?

Further to that is Lando’s plot. I loved the adventure side of things with Luke. We don’t really get to see the two of them interact much in stories before this one, but if they were close enough friends to go out adventuring together? Then we were long overdue for a story of this kind, and I really enjoyed this aspect of it.

However, his subplot of wanting to find his daughter…because as of right now there’s no resolution, the whole thing just felt tragic through and through. Perhaps this was the intention? Perhaps it was meant to show the side effect of all the First Order has done. I can appreciate that. But it’s very hard to read about a story you know is destined to fail when the character at the heart of it all is meant to be one of the heroes. Unrealistic for them to always succeed? Sure. But Star Wars is meant to be a fantasy. A fairy tale. I can handle a little bit of unrealistic.

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