Fiction Reviews

Star Wars Rise of Skywalker – Expanded Edition

(2020) Rae Carson, Century, £20.00, hrdbk, 252pp, ISBN 978-1-529-12456-9


NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER - Witness the epic final chapter of the Skywalker saga with the official novelization of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, including expanded scenes and additional content not seen in theatres (sic)!

The Resistance has been reborn. But although Rey and her fellow heroes are back in the fight, the war against the First Order, now led by Supreme Leader Kylo Ren, is far from over. Just as the spark of rebellion is rekindling, a mysterious signal broadcasts throughout the galaxy, with a chilling message: Emperor Palpatine, long thought defeated and destroyed, is back from the dead.

Has the ancient Lord of the Sith truly returned? Kylo Ren cuts a swath of destruction across the stars, determined to discover any challenge to his control over the First Order and his destiny to rule over the galaxy - and crush it completely. Meanwhile, to discover the truth, Rey, Finn, Poe, and the Resistance must embark on the most perilous adventure they have ever faced.

Featuring all-new scenes adapted from never-before-seen material, deleted scenes, and input from the filmmakers, the story that began in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and continued in Star Wars: The Last Jedi reaches an astounding conclusion.

Ta da da da da da! Cue that stirring music, you know the parts I mean. Like the best blockbusters, Star Wars movies and books are critic and review-proof. Audiences will see the films, readers will read the books. A good review is probably not going to sway the non-believer into buying the book or seeing the film, and on the other hand, a bad review is not going to stop a fan buying this book, and I have to confess I didn’t go to see this, nor did I see The Last Jedi either, but like it says on the tin: “New York Times Bestseller” there is enough of a proportion of the Star Wars fans out there who will buy this and turn it into a best seller, and already have, regardless of what I write here. Whether or not they like it is a moot point, they are collectors, completists and want to get their hands/claws/tentacles on the book if only to read those expanded scenes and additional content and dream… “if only” that had made it on to the big screen.

Perhaps it did – was written down in the script, and even filmed, but discarded on the cutting room floor, but some scenes clearly weren’t shot, and here I refer to the extended/expanded scenes involving Princess Leia. Sadly, the death of Carrie Fisher shortened her role in the proceedings and here we are even treated to some flashback scenes involving training in the ways of the Force with Luke. We are also treated to some flashback sequences showing Kylo Ren as a boy, just to prove that he wasn’t all bad, and has possibly forgotten how much he was loved as a boy. There are practically little extra nuggets involving all the major characters to show their concerns about their loved ones, and things that were glossed over and didn’t make sense on the big screen are expanded and explained here, heck, even those annoying Ewoks get a look-in.

What we get here is a pretty straightforward - or played with a straight bat - novelisation of the film with some added extras. It’s pretty A-to-B stuff, and pretty short, broad-brush stuff, that lacks details, but it’s the characters that count rather than the hardware surrounding them. Star Wars fans are no doubt delighted, have read it already, been thrilled by the additional scenes, and slotted it away referentially between the spines of the other books in their collection.

Ian Hunter


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