Written for and published by Forces of Geek November 2019
We’re about forty days away from Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker hitting theaters. The conclusion of the Skywalker Saga has everyone wondering about his or her favorite characters.
Author Rebecca Roanhorse is new to a galaxy far, far away, but that doesn’t stop her from producing a tale that firmly outlines the grim state of affairs for the Resistance led by General Leia Organa.
Resistance Reborn starts days after the Resistance’s harrowing escape from Crait, seen in The Last Jedi.
Once the band of wounded soldiers, led by Leia Organa, find shelter, three simultaneous missions commence to not only restock on weapons, ships, and supplies but to gather soldiers and leaders to take the fight to The First Order.
The ending of Episode XI made it abundantly clear our heroes have their work cut out for them. Rebecca Roanhorse, however, fills in the details on how far the Resistance is behind the eight ball.
The First Order expeditiously took over the galaxy due to star systems hoping to avoid the same fate as the Hosnian System. There is no narrative jump between episodes seven and eight, so this horrendous act of murder is still fresh in everyone’s mind. One of the little nuggets of information revealed in the book is why Leia’s message on Crait went unanswered. It’s a logical explanation, which I’m not going to spoil here.
Roanhorse does a fantastic job outlining how demoralizing it is for the Resistance to start from scratch. No world is willing to take them in, and anyone even allowing them to land will face deadly reprisals as The First Order is everywhere. Shelter is eventually found on the Twi’lek homeworld of Ryloth. However, the Resistance is on the clock as the longer they stay; the more likely The First Order is going to find out. Leia struggled with this because of the substantial risk involved, showing the real sign of a leader.
Finn, Rey, Rose, and Chewbacca all have roles in the book to varying degrees. However, this is Poe Dameron’s story.
Poe is haunted by the lives lost at his command during the evacuation of D’Qar, and his defiance of Vice Admiral Holdo aboard the Raddus. Poe doesn’t want their sacrifices to be in vain, and it fuels him to become a better leader. Learning to think things through makes Poe realize he must be more than a hotshot pilot who blows things up. This comes with its own set of challenges as Poe learns and grows throughout the story. By the end of the book, Poe has a better handle on what leadership truly means; however, there is still some emotional baggage, which could be part of Poe’s character arc in The Rise of Skywalker.
Leia and Rey have some short but sweet moments together. While Rey’s time in the story is limited, there’s a sense that she’s still trying to “find her place in all of this” as she put it when training with Luke Skywalker on Ahch-To. Leia can’t put her finger on it, but she knows there is something special about Rey beyond the obvious. Leia urges Rey to embrace what makes her unique. In many ways, their developing kinship with one another provides Rey with the solace she hoped to obtain with Luke. There are some allusions to Leia’s medical condition, due to her time spent in the vacuum of space, which could be expanded upon further in the upcoming film, giving readers a trail of bread crumbs regarding a possible narrative fate.
One of the criticisms of the new Star Wars canon is that the connection between films, cartoons, comics, and books that were promised is few and far between…Not this time!
Rebecca Roanhorse produces a full-on love letter to the current canon with significant connective tissue to various forms of content. Poe’s journey picks up directly after the Poe Dameron comic book series. Zey Versio and Shriv from the Battlefront II video game serve as major characters coming off their mission at the end of the game’s single-player campaign.
They are also connections to previous novels, most notably, Bloodlines. Roanhorse incorporates these elements to create a story that is full of well-executed fan service that augments the book. Readers will appreciate the story, whether they’re familiar with these characters or not. This is where a large part of the narrative’s strength lies. Zey and Shriv’s bond is explored without exposition, which will ensure the uninitiated won’t feel left out.
While I mentioned earlier that Poe is the main protagonist, the returning Wedge Antilles is very much the heart of the story. Wedge and his wife Norra Wexley are retired and everyday farm life suits them well. Wedge recognizes he’s was lucky enough to survive the galactic civil war while so many of his brothers in arms paid the ultimate price. Duty calls Wedge back into the fight, and this is done with a delicate sense caution since Wedge has earned his rest. Wedge is a character fans have been hoping to see in the sequel trilogy. His inclusion and the way his story ends suggest he could make an appearance in Episode IX.
There is one thing in the book that’s disappointing while another was kind of boring. The Maz Kanata we got in The Force Awakens, and The Last Jedi came off as two different people. Unfortunately, we get the Rian Johnson version of the character who is more zany than wise and does something rather disgusting with cat feces. Yep, you read that correctly. We also meet a new character who is an administrative records keeper for The First Order. The whole getting to know him phase was a chore to read since there were way more exciting things happening elsewhere. Things pick up with his story once it’s revealed how he tied into the overall plot.
The three Resistance missions are fantastic, and I couldn’t get enough of them. Two of them occur on Corellia, with teams led by Poe and Wedge. The third mission is led by Shriv and takes place on planet Braka, which will play a large role in the upcoming video game Jedi: Fallen Order. Roanhorse goes back and forth between missions seamlessly as each one has its own highly satisfying stakes.
If less is more, Rebecca Roanhorse didn’t get the memo as she packs a lot of content in a rather short book of 298 pages. Nothing about the narrative felt rushed, and every story, subplot, and character got ample time to marinate.
The events of the book occur the week following The Last Jedi, which means there are still 51 weeks of Resistance activity that we don’t know about leading up The Rise of Skywalker. This week was hell for Leia and company, and it will give readers more of an appreciation for how the Resistance can rebuild their ranks come December 20th.
I wouldn’t call this a must-read book to get ready for the upcoming movie. I would, however, call it the book you’ve been waiting for if connections to the overall canon is something you crave. While this was Rebecca Roanhorse’s first step into a larger world, I hope it’s not her last. It’s obvious she has a lot of love for Star Wars, and I’d be interested to see some of the other stories she might tackle in the future.