Hello, everyone! Today I’m reviewing Shadow of the Sith by Adam Christopher. I was so excited for this book because there’s been a dearth of sequel/sequel-adjacent era content since that trilogy ended. I’m also always down for more Luke and Lando. So, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. Unfortunately, it was a bit of a let down for me.
Luke Skywalker and Lando Calrissian return in this essential novel set between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens.
The Empire is dead. Nearly two decades on from the Battle of Endor, the tattered remnants of Palpatine’s forces have fled to the farthest reaches of the galaxy. But for the heroes of the New Republic, danger and loss are ever-present companions, even in this newly forged era of peace.
Jedi Master Luke Skywalker is haunted by visions of the dark side, foretelling an ominous secret growing somewhere in the depths of space, on a dead world called Exegol. The disturbance in the Force is undeniable…and Luke’s worst fears are confirmed when his old friend, Lando Calrissian, comes to him with reports of a new Sith menace.
After his daughter was stolen from his arms, Lando searched the stars for any trace of his lost child. But every new rumor only led to dead ends and fading hopes–until he crossed paths with Ochi of Bestoon, a Sith assassin tasked with kidnapping a young girl.
Ochi’s true motives remain shrouded to Luke and Lando. For on a junkyard moon, a mysterious envoy of the Sith Eternal has bequeathed a sacred blade to the assassin, promising that it will give him answers to the questions that have haunted him since the Empire fell. In exchange, he must complete a final mission: return to Exegol with the key to the Sith’s glorious rebirth—the granddaughter of Darth Sidious himself, Rey.
As Ochi hunts Rey and her parents to the edge of the galaxy, Luke and Lando race into the mystery of the Sith’s lingering shadow and aid a young family running for their lives.
My thoughts on this book could probably be wrapped up in one statement: There were plenty of great moments and characters, but the writing was a sloppy mess. I honestly feel this describes my feelings about Star Wars in general lately, except for the Mandalorian and The High Republic. The plots of many recent Star Wars projects, especially the sequels, have been plagued by poor writing with vague mystery boxes and unsatisfying resolutions. This book was no exception to that trend.
Even though I think the story of the sequel trilogy is a mess, I still have a lot of fun watching it and love so many of the characters. So, I was excited to get a new book that could potentially have a positive impact on my sequel re-watch experience by explaining some of the more annoying plot holes. Unfortunately, I think this book did the opposite. It tied heavily into the Rey Palpatine storyline from The Rise of Skywalker, which shouldn’t come as a surprise given the blurb. However, it didn’t answer that many questions, and the ones it did answer felt incredibly unsatisfying. To make matters worse, now I have even more questions than before. I think it is safe to say that you probably shouldn’t waste your time on this book if you don’t like The Rise of Skywalker, but even if you do, prepare to potentially come away underwhelmed.
The plot and pacing were all over the place. It took 16 chapters to get back to the characters from the first chapter. There was so much set up in the first 150 pages that it felt like the story took forever to go anywhere. To make matters worse, a lot of the setup felt unnecessary to this story because its only purpose was to fill holes in The Rise of Skywalker. For example, there was quite a bit of stuff during the first part of the book involving the Sith Eternal, but then they were absent for the rest of the book. There were so many different story threads mashed in here that it felt like they were competing with one another rather than telling a cohesive story. That being said, many of those individual story threads were extremely cool and would have made great books on their own. The way they were forced together just didn’t work for me at all.
The characters were definitely the bright spot of this book. It was so much fun to read about Luke during this time period. The snapshots of his temple and his relationship with Ben were worth the price of the book. Lando was definitely the heart of the novel, though, and his turmoil over losing his daughter injected a great deal of raw emotion into the story. It was also interesting to see them, especially Lando, coming to terms with being middle-aged since I’m rapidly approaching that phase of life myself. The rest of the characters were fascinating, as well, but there were so many POVs they just sort of got lost in the shuffle. Of note, Rey’s parents were a huge part of the story, but I didn’t find their inclusion added much to this story (other than being an unnecessary secondary impetus to action for Luke to investigate the Sith) or Rey’s overall journey. It didn’t help that their fateful decision to abandon Rey was incredibly illogical due to the need to conform to the ridiculous constraints created by The Rise of Skywalker.
The other thing I really liked about this book was all of the Sith content. There was a lot of information about Sith relics and history that was super fascinating to read. I honestly wish the book had leaned into this aspect of the story even harder. I would have loved a tight story about Luke chasing down the ghost of a renegade Sith lord while struggling to balance his role as Master of his temple. It is one of the many story threads in this book that I enjoyed a lot but couldn’t really get into because of all the jumping around. ***SPOILER ALERT*** I also think it was a huge missed opportunity not to involve Palpatine in a bigger way because this would have been a great time to show how he began rebuilding his power. It was odd to showcase the chase to get Rey without including him and his machinations more prominently. I also don’t understand why the renegade Sith would be helping Palpatine by giving away the secret to Exegol to Ochi while they were searching for a way there on their own. It just didn’t really add up. ***END SPOILER*** So, despite a lot of cool stuff about the Sith being included, the plot involving them didn’t make a whole lot of sense.
Overall, this book was a pretty big disappointment despite having some really great moments with Luke and Lando. It also included some pretty cool Sith artifacts and abilities even though I didn’t particularly care for how they were used in this story. Ultimately, it was just too many different stories forced into one that was also heavily constrained by the nonsensical plot of The Rise of Skywalker. Therefore, I rate this one 3 out of 5 stars.