Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker (Expanded Edition) – Rae Carson (Century)

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Love it or hate it, the Skywalker saga was brought to a dramatic end this past December with the cinematic release of The Rise Of Skywalker. Vital questions were answered and some new ones were posed. For instance how in the name of Obi Wan Kenobi, is Emperor Palpatine still alive? We all witnessed Darth Vader’s dramatic face turn at the end of Return Of The Jedi and can probably agree that, it was a pretty big hole he was chucked into, combusted in an apparent nuclear reaction which was followed by the minor inconvenience of the Death Star exploding. But who is that we see wobbling out of the shadows, held up by a crane, not five minutes into the movie? Why, that would be Old Palpatine. Or is it?

Given the daunting task of putting the movie to page and piecing together the missing bits, was  New York bestselling author Rae Carson. The Girl Of Fire And Thorns writer has dipped her toes into the Star Wars universe before, the highlight being her short story in Star Wars: From A Certain Point Of View, but the filling in the blanks of the final chapter of such a beloved saga is an entirely different beast. Of course the written word has no time limit, so Carson is allowed the freedom to embellish on pivotal, and some not so important, scenes, which gives them the depth they needed to flourish.

The relationship between Rey and angry goth wannabe-overlord Kylo Ren was particularly interesting to me, as we see his emergence from the dark side back to plain old Ben Solo. This was played out beautifully on screen but, there’s so much more in the book, that it really enhances an already epic bit of storytelling. More light is shed on Rey’s lineage and the Palpatine question is examined in more detail, satisfying this Star Wars veteran at least. The real talent lies in the way Carson has delivered the story, making sure that it’s not just the film in word form, but that the beauty and the tragedy within it, is explored.

Star Wars is such a polarising subject that it was a near certainty that The Rise Of Skywalker was never going to satisfy everybody and if you part of the ensemble that gathered under that Force sensitive umbrella, then you need to read this book. If you don’t fall into that category and loved the movie, then indulge in the end game again, because quite honestly any self respecting Star Wars fan cannot afford to be without this book. And as we’re at the mercy of a global pandemic, what else are going to do? Chris Andrews

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