The recently-published novelization of Star Wars: The Last Jedi contains several reveals that enhance our understanding of the film. Released late last year, Episode VIII proved to be one of the most divisive entries in the franchise, unpacking a dense and loaded narrative that fundamentally changed the course of the saga while broadening the mythology and lore. It's a film people will continue to debate for a long time - at least until Episode IX his theaters and wraps up the sequel trilogy. Arguably, only then will audiences be able to properly evaluate The Last Jedi's contributions to the saga.
Given how polarizing The Last Jedi was, there was hope the book would be able to improve upon its more controversial aspects and sway the naysayers back to the light side. Lucasfilm actually billed Jason Fry's adaptation as an "Expanded Edition" of the movie, as it goes into greater detail than possible in the film medium. With the novel now hitting shelves, we're taking a look at the biggest revelations within its pages and what it means for canon.
The Skywalker Twins' Tragic Lives (This Page)
Luke Skywalker's Dream
The book begins with a prologue, depicting Luke dreaming of an alternate life he could have lived if he chose a different path. In this hypothetical reality, he never left Tatooine, giving the droids up to the Empire so he could stay on the Lars family homestead and be a moisture farmer. Luke grew old on the desert world with his wife Camie (a character from A New Hope's deleted scenes) by his side, but sometimes wonders how things would have turned out if he took Princess Leia's pleading message to heart and answered the call. As it stands, the Empire still reigns over the galaxy, having eliminated the Rebellion long ago. When Luke wakes from his sleep on Ahch-To, he realizes this was the Force's doing and isn't sure how to interpret it.
A key part of Luke's arc in the sequel trilogy is the regret he feels over how things turned out, so it isn't surprising to see him imagining a more peaceful existence where he never learned the harrowing truth about his family, became a Jedi, or failed his own nephew in training. In his youth, Luke was eager to leave Tatooine behind and go on daring adventures, but as an elderly man, his mindset is much different. That he would dream of this adds layers to his character and makes his fall even more depressing.
The Reason for Luke's Costume Change
At the end of The Force Awakens, Rey finds Luke standing atop a cliff on Ahch-To in white Jedi robes, but immediately after rejecting the lightsaber, he goes back to his hut to change into a different outfit. This sudden shift in attire seemed odd, but there's an in-universe explanation behind it. The robes from Force Awakens are ceremonial Jedi robes that appear to be connected to the ritual of burning down the library with the original Jedi texts. It's for this reason Luke is back in his Force Awakens clothes during the scene with Yoda.
The book mentions Luke had gone to destroy the library multiple times before, but could never bring himself to do it. In fact, when Rey finds him in Episode VII, Skywalker is brooding after another failed attempt. Despite his feelings that it was time for the Jedi to end, Luke was still sentimental about the Order. This isn't entirely surprising, seeing that he spent decades on missions with R2-D2 collecting various Jedi artifacts around the galaxy. To burn the library would be burning his life's work. Yoda, of course, had no such qualms.
Luke Was Going To Go Back With Rey
For much of The Last Jedi, Rey fruitlessly tries to convince Luke to rejoin the Resistance and help in the fight against Kylo Ren. But Luke is convinced the galaxy is a better place without him and repeatedly refuses to get involved. In the movie, Skywalker's change of heart is spurred by Yoda's final lesson, but in the novel it takes place a little earlier. Luke originally intended to physically leave the island with Rey.
This scene in the book happens shortly after Luke reawakens the Force inside him, and he realizes Rey was right all along. Knowing Leia and the rest of his friends are in grave danger, Luke recognizes the galaxy's need for a spark of hope and is willing to go back. However, he changes his mind when he sees Rey communicating with Kylo Ren in her hut and the two have their fight. Luke knows what Rey did not. Ben Solo was forever lost, and Rey had to learn things were not going to the way she thought on her own. One has to wonder how Luke's last stand on Crait would have played out if he left Ahch-To, but that's something we'll never know for sure.
A Funeral for Han
Audiences bid a tearful farewell to Han Solo in The Forces Awakens. While Last Jedi didn't have much time to harp on the loss, the novel includes an additional scene where the Resistance holds a memorial service for the late hero. Leia, of course, says some kind words, remarking how Han "hated bullies and injustice" all throughout his life - from his youth on Corellia to his final moments on Starkiller Base. It's possible this passage contains clues about Han's characterization in Solo: A Star Wars Story.
It's becoming more apparent that Han's tough, roguish exterior was nothing more than a facade. In Solo, he's far more of an idealist than we're accustomed to seeing and is out to prove himself in the galactic underworld. He wants to be one of the leading criminal figures, but has too big a heart to fully go down that path. Leia hinted as much in her speech saying, "Han fancied himself a scoundrel. But he wasn't." It'll be interesting to see how Alden Ehrenreich's version is portrayed.
Leia's Medical Condition
The Last Jedi made waves by introducing several new Force powers, and other than Luke's astral projection, the most notorious was "Leia Poppins." By now, the image of Leia floating through space is well-known, as the General channeled her Force abilities in a last-ditch effort to stay alive. She stayed in a coma recovering for a good stretch of the film, but viewers didn't learn much about her condition. The book, however, reveals a little more.
When Poe Dameron goes to check on Leia, C-3PO mentions things about ebullism (formation of gas bubbles in bodily fluids due to reduced environmental pressure), hypoxia (insufficient oxygen reaching tissues), and solar radiation exposure to the pilot. As we know, Leia awoke from her coma and survived the film's third act, but it will be interesting to see if these effects have anything to do with the character's absence in Episode IX. Leia was originally meant to be at the forefront of the sequel trilogy finale, but following Carrie Fisher's passing, those plans changed and J.J. Abrams will have to explain what happened to Leia.
Leia's Moment With Chewie
In perhaps the book's most emotional scene, Leia has a private moment with Chewbacca in the Millennium Falcon cockpit. She tells the Wookiee Luke sacrificed himself so the Resistance can live. As Chewie mourns the death of another friend, the grief Leia has been holding inside becomes to much for her to bear. Embracing Chewbacca, Leia finally allows herself a chance to weep for all she's lost over the years, including Han, Luke, and her son. She would never allow herself to be seen in such a way in front of the Resistance members she's supposed to lead, but in the company of an old friend, things are different.
The death of Fisher makes this passage much more tragic in our world. Leia's final words to Chewie are, "It's just us now, but we'll find a way." Of course, Chewie will sadly have to soldier on all on his own, as his trio of faithful companions will all be gone by the time Episode IX picks up. It's true the lovable Wookiee is close with Rey and knows Finn (plus, Artoo and Treepio will always be there), but there's no denying it just isn't the same. In the original trilogy, Luke, Han, Leia, and Chewie became a family, and now there's only one left.
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019