‘Star Wars: Shadow of the Sith’ Makes Luke Skywalker the ‘Most Powerful Person in the Galaxy’

‘Star Wars: Shadow of the Sith’ Makes Luke Skywalker the ‘Most Powerful Person in the Galaxy’

The novel Star Wars: Shadow of the Sith shed light on one of the most fascinating eras in the timeline when it came out on Tuesday, bringing us on an epic journey with Jedi Luke Skywalker, war hero Lando Calrissian and Rey’s mysterious parents in the period between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens.

The novel also dives in to some surprising ancient Sith mysteries and sets up new potential threats to the galaxy. If you were intrigued by the mysteries hinted at in The Rise of Skywalker, this is an essential read. It’ll answer many of your questions and open up a bunch of exciting storytelling possibilities for the future. 

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It’s written by New Zealand-born author Adam Christopher, whose previous work includes superhero-noir adventure Empire State, the sci-fi horror Spider War series and Stranger Things tie-in novel Darkness on the Edge of Town.

I got to take a deep dive into Shadow of the Sith with the UK-based Christopher during a lengthy Zoom interview, where we discussed naming Rey’s parents, defining Luke as a Jedi master, exploring a new side of Lando and establishing new Sith threats to the galaxy.

Full SPOILERS for the novel lie ahead, so I’d recommend waiting until you’ve finished the book to proceed. Here’s a transcript of our conversation, lightly edited for clarity.

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spoilers-starwars

Tell me your Star Wars origin story.
Christopher: I’m a classic child of the ’80s; I’m exactly the right age to have grown up with the movies, the action figures and the toys. It’s largely down to my dad because he was a big science fiction fan; he took me to see Star Wars in 1978. 

He worked in advertising and he used to do business trips to Asia and Taiwan, and bring back loads of toys that you couldn’t get in New Zealand. So it was a totally privileged Star Wars childhood.

And I would watch the Original Trilogy on VHS; we used to rent it from the video store, like every weekend for five or six years and I would watch nothing else. I can still recite those movies off by heart — I’m sure a lot of people my age can.

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Lando Calrissian holds a blaster, Luke Skywalker wields his green lightsaber and a masked figure holds a red lightsaber on the cover of novel Star Wars: Shadow of the Sith.

Shadow of the Sith came out on Tuesday.


Penguin Random House

How did you end up writing Shadow of the Sith?
Christopher: I had done two short stories for the From a Certain Point of View anthologies — these were for the 40th anniversaries of Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back — and I’d done a backup comic in IDW’s Star Wars Adventures. I was going to do a Mandalorian novel a couple of years ago, but that didn’t go ahead.

They invited me to do another book instead in early 2021 and were like, «Well, we’ve got this story about Lando and Luke when they go chasing Ochi of Bestoon, how about you do that story?» And I was like, «Yeah, of course» — I couldn’t believe it. I don’t think I’ve ever replied to an email faster than that. 

I remember hearing the line in The Rise of Skywalker when Lando alludes to that adventure, and «Oh, I’d very much like to get more on that.»
Christopher: I saw Rise of Skywalker probably four or five times when it was released. When Lando says that to Rey, my reaction was, «What do you mean Lando and Luke went off on this adventure? What a strange pairing.» Long before I was gonna do the book, I thought what a cool story that would be. Then I get to write it years later, which is kind of weird. As a Star Wars fan, I’m just geeking out because I get to do that story.

I treated it like Episode 6.5 — this story is set between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens — this needed to be a cinematic epic adventure. It was a joy to write because I love Star Wars, but it was also a responsibility because I had to link the original trilogy and the sequel trilogy.

Shadow of the Sith reveals that Rey’s parents are called Miramir and Dathan. Where did those names come from?
Christopher: So, this is a deep, secret, magic in-depth look at the writing process: I had a friend at school called Dathan. And I just thought it was a cool name. I think it’s a more common name in the States, but I wanted something that was not super common, but also like an earthy name. Star Wars is that magical thing where there’s a mix of kind of strange alien names and then you’ve got Luke and Ben. And when you dig into the books and the comics, you find even more examples.

Rey's parents in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

The book reveals that Rey’s parents, previously glimpsed only in flashback in The Rise of Skywalker, are called Dathan and Miramir.


Lucasfilm

With Miramir, I wanted a kind of fantasy name, because in the book we see her home planet — it’s not magical, but it has a twilight forest and is very mysterious. There’s a place in Wellington in New Zealand called Miramar, which is where Weta Studios, who made Lord of the Rings, are based.

I just typed it in, switched some of the letters and I was like «Well hang on — that sounds really cool.» It had a kind of magical quality, it sounds almost Elven. It was also a contrast to Dathan, which is relatively simple. Whereas Miramir sounds a little bit otherworldly.

Right. Even though Dathan is sort of a clone of an evil space wizard, he’s a relatively ordinary guy. But I got the sense that maybe Miramir has Force potential. 
Christopher: Well, she’s definitely got talents. And Dathan recognizes that; she’s the one that gets them out of a few scrapes in the book. Her family, which we get hints of in the book, would be quite interesting to explore.

Palpatine greets Queen Amidala on Naboo in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace

Palpatine works his charm in The Phantom Menace


Lucasfilm

It seems like Dathan shares some of Palpatine’s attributes. «A glib tone and a charming smile,» I read that and thought «sounds a lot like his dad.»
He’s had an unusual childhood on Exegol, but he’s still Palpatine in a way. Not a clone, but a genetic strain cast, because Palpatine was experimenting with trying to find the perfect vessel [for his spirit to inhabit]. But yeah, you think back to Senator Palpatine and the way he manipulates the entire prequel trilogy [where he wipes out the Jedi and declares himself Emperor], which is amazing.

Dathan doesn’t really really know the Emperor but he knows where it comes from. He’s not Force sensitive at all, but he doesn’t know what else Palpatine has planned or engineered for him. So he’s kind of a bit angsty about his own background. But yeah, that line is a reflection of where he comes from — that’s what Palpatine had. A charmer and a manipulator.

Palpatine’s presence in the novel is really fascinating — he’s barely in it, but there’s an eerie sense that he’s always in the background.
The scene where Ochi is given the knife and his eyes turn off … and he hears the voice in the blackness — that’s a big, cinematic moment.  If it was a movie, the screen goes black, you get the voice of Palpatine echoing and then the searing red of a lightsaber. That was the first thing that came to my mind, so I wrote it first.

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The Emperor, seen in The Rise of Skywalker, operates from the shadows in Christopher’s book.


Lucasfilm

Palpatine is dead, but he’s not dead; things are moving in the background that nobody knows about, his plan to survive beyond the end of the Original Trilogy is underway. And nobody knows. He’s a great character, he’s only in the book for a handful of lines, but that’s enough.

It was fascinating to look back at the flashbacks of Miramir and Dathan in The Rise of Skywalker after reading the novel — I’ve seen that movie multiple times and I don’t think I ever noticed the goons in the background.
Christopher: I watched The Rise of Skwalker frame by frame to really understand it — the flashbacks are really important because it’s the only time we ever see Miramir, Dathan and Ochi; it’s only for a few seconds.

During the outline, I was like, «There’s people behind them in the ship! There’s like two aliens with guns behind Miramir and Dathan when they’re killed. I need to explain that.» I found a way for it all to fit together. 

My favorite thing in The Empire Strikes Back as a kid was the bounty hunters, because you see them for 20 seconds. We have no backstory, no dialogue, no names even, until the action figures. Those are the ones I played with, because I could tell their story — we didn’t see it in the movie, so I could create it. The great thing about the sequel trilogy is that it continued that tradition of amazing background characters and details you see for, like, five seconds. Those are the kinds of things that fascinate me.

You got to define Luke Skywalker in his prime. Did you feel pressure with that?
Christopher: I definitely felt the kind of responsibility to do him properly. But also, this is a Luke Skywalker that we haven’t really seen before. In the original trilogy, He goes on his whole emotional journey; becoming a Jedi, coming to terms with his past and his family and the redemption of Anakin.

So, to have him nearly 20 years later was really interesting — what was he going to be like at that point? We see in the end of The Mandalorian season 2, when he comes in to rescue Grogu, he’s a Jedi warrior — doing awesome things with a lightsaber, which was amazing. And then you get to The Book of Boba Fett, where we see him starting to train Grogu — he’s the peaceful Jedi master, serene and calm. 

Ahsoka Tano and Luke Skywalker in The Book of Boba Fett.

The Book of Boba Fett presented us with a «serene and calm» Luke.


Lucasfilm

There’s two elements to his character at that point, post-Return of the Jedi. He is basically the most powerful person in the galaxy at that point.

The key to his character for me was that he’s aware of the power that he has. Which means that everything he was doing, he was carefully judging and balancing. At every point, he’s thinking what could he do and what should he do? He’s got the ultimate first-hand knowledge of what the Dark Side can do and what the Force can do if it’s misused.

He’s rebuilding the Jedi Order, he’s training his nephew — he’s aware of that responsibility as well because of the  family history. He’s a Luke Skywalker we can recognize, but it’s also a new Luke Skywalker, because he’s moved on.

He’s trying to be always aware, but it disconnects him slightly from others. Which is where Lando comes in, bringing back a bit of that human touch. Because Lando is very much on the moment and trying to help Rey’s family while Luke is looking at the bigger picture. They work well to balance each other.

Anakin Skywalker, Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi appear as Force ghosts in Return of the Jedi

Anakin Skywalker (seen as a Force ghost with Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi in Return of the Jedi) makes an appearance in Christopher’s novel.


Lucasfilm

The scene where Anakin speaks to Luke is pretty powerful, another meeting of father and son — is that definitely Anakin? I wondered if it was Palpatine being a rascal.
Definitely Anakin. I was like «What’s possibly the biggest thing I could do?» Have Luke meet his father. Which [Lucasfilm] let me do. They trusted me enough for the story, which is great.

Lando in Shadow of the Sith felt like a version of the character we hadn’t seen before.
Christopher: We know Lando as the playboy, the gambler, the businessman who’s maybe slightly shady sometimes — a man with a plan. So what would happen to a person like that when he goes through the personal tragedy of his daughter being kidnapped? That would turn anybody’s life upside down. 

Especially since the book is set six years after she was kidnapped, and he hasn’t found her — all the leads have gone cold and he’s drifting. 

When we first meet him in the book, he’s in a cantina — he’s gambling and having a drink. It’s very easy for him to go back to those old habits because that’s the situation where he’s in control.

Lando piloting a spaceship.

Lando Calrissian, seen in The Rise of Skywalker, gets a new opportunity for an adventure in the novel.


Lucasfilm

In the bigger picture, his life is out of control. So when he overhears Ochi talking about the Sith and this whole plot of kidnapping, that galvanizes him and reignites the fire. He’s been looking for some way of picking himself up and getting back on his quest. 

He’s the Lando we know, but there’s something fundamentally different about him. It’s rare for a book to be able to develop one of the main…

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