Literacy 2023: Book 18: Shadow of the Sith

An interim Star Wars story in which Luke and Lando try to protect Rey’s family from a sinister Sith plot.

Shadow of the Sith by Adam Christopher

Set between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, the story begins with Luke Skywalker training the next generation of young Jedi while Lando Calrissian is searching the galaxy for his kidnapped daughter. Their paths cross when Lando overhears a plot from an evil bounty hunter assigned to track down a young couple and their daughter, which ties in with sinister plans from Sith cultists and Luke’s own nightmarish visions of a dark planet called Exegol.


  • A team-up of two characters I rarely see in Star Wars stories, during a time period that we haven’t yet seen much of.
  • Carefully connects the dots between ideas and events mentioned in the sequel trilogy, or shown briefly in flashback.
  • Gives more characterization of Rey’s parents, and offers an explanation of the events that led to her being left on a desolate planet at the start of The Force Awakens, as well as an explanation for how Emperor Palpatine had a son that no one knew about.
  • Some of the locations are as evocative and imaginative as Star Wars at its best, like a ghost planet bleached of color by radiation, and a world covered in diamond “frozen” over a treacherous ocean. Their descriptions suggest classic concept art from the films and TV series.


  • The dialogue is pretty clunky, even by Star Wars standards.
  • Trying to justify some of the decisions in The Rise of Skywalker is a thankless job, and I don’t think the book quite manages to live up to the challenge. In particular, the end of Rey’s family’s story to set up the first sequel is still unsatisfying.
  • The back stories for some of the characters are too complicated with a few too many names of characters involved, implying to me that they’re attempting to piece together threads from the comics or from other novelizations that I haven’t read.
  • Tries to split the difference between science fiction and Star Wars fantasy, which works sometimes, but often feels like unnecessary explanations for things the reader would otherwise just accept and run with.
  • Related to the above: because it’s essentially a chase story, so much of the story involves characters trying to track each other down across the Galaxy. The book tries to offer a pseudo-sci-fi justification, which just draws attention to how much of the plot is characters just knowing things “because reasons.”
  • An entire storyline of the book consists of characters trying to avoid a fate that we already know is unavoidable, and our main protagonists have no real agency in affecting it.
  • As it’s trying to fill in the gaps between existing stories, it’s obligated to leave most of its threads unresolved. This results in our main characters having no real arc; they end the story pretty much exactly how they began it.

I didn’t enjoy this one, but honestly it’s as much my own fault as it is the fault of the book. It’s not my preferred “flavor” of Star Wars, but as it’s got “Sith” in the title, I should probably have predicted how much of it feels like “Star Wars For Goths.” (That still somehow manages to turn into a scene that reads like the goofy-but-horrifying-to-a-kid climax of Superman 3). I’m also realizing that I’m no longer the same kid who freaked out over Splinter of the Mind’s Eye; I just can’t get into the novelizations anymore, since they too often feel like trying to explore the inner minds of characters who, by design, are only just as deep as they need to be to drive pulp fiction.

It’s an unenviable job to have to connect the dots and provide depth and nuance to things that screenwriters only intended as Macguffins, or as puzzle boxes deliberately left for someone else to open and explore. Shadow of the Sith feels weighed down by too many franchise requirements to ever get the chance to go off on interesting tangents and tell its own story.