CNET logo Why You Can Trust CNET

Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement

'Star Wars: Shadow of the Sith' Sends Rey's Parents on an Unforgettable Journey

Spoiler-free book review: Luke Skywalker and Lando Calrissian's epic adventure links the Original Trilogy to the sequels beautifully, giving us a story we've craved since 2015.

Sean Keane Former Senior Writer
Sean knows far too much about Marvel, DC and Star Wars, and poured this knowledge into recaps and explainers on CNET. He also worked on breaking news, with a passion for tech, video game and culture.
Expertise Culture, Video Games, Breaking News
Sean Keane
4 min read

Cast your mind back, if you will, to the joyous era of Star Wars fandom that followed the release of sequel trilogy opener The Force Awakens in 2015. It felt like everyone was dying to know about mysterious new hero Rey's parents and what kinds of adventures Luke Skywalker had been on in the decades since the original trilogy.

Lando Calrissian holds a blaster, Luke Skywalker wields his green lightsaber and a masked holds a red lightsaber on the cover of novel Star Wars: Shadow of the Sith

The sight of Luke Skywalker wielding his green lightsaber on the cover of Star Wars: Shadow of the Sith is ludicrously exciting, and Adam Christopher's novel lives up to its potential. 

Penguin Random House

Star Wars suddenly mattered again; the excitement was glorious and the storytelling possibilities seemed endless. The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker (the second and third movies in the sequel trilogy) answered some of the mysteries with varying degrees of success, but didn't dive quite as deeply as many fans would've liked.

Adam Christopher's novel Star Wars: Shadow of the Sith, which comes out in print, digital and audiobook form on Tuesday, is the deep dive I've wanted since 2015. Taking place 17 years after Return of the Jedi (and 13 years prior to The Force Awakens), we're introduced to Rey's parents as they flee across the galaxy with their young daughter. The couple were seen briefly in a flashback in The Rise of Skywalker, but this is their first major appearance. Their names are revealed almost immediately, but we won't spoil their names in this review since Christopher builds up to them beautifully. 

Unable to trust anyone with the agents of the resurrected Emperor Palpatine hot on their trail, the trio's situation feels desperate. Given the glimpses we got of Rey's parents in The Rise of Skywalker, this plot thread has a sense of dark inevitability. That doesn't stop Christopher from infusing these characters with emotional depth; you'll find yourself wholly invested in their quest for safe haven despite knowing how it ends. 

Rey's parents in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

The novel offers answers about Rey's parents, after our brief time with them in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.


The family has a glimmer of hope in Luke Skywalker, whose efforts to train the next generation of Jedi Knights are hampered by his visions of a sinister presence at the edge of the galaxy. This novel presents the original trilogy hero in his glorious prime -- exactly how many fans wanted him to appear in the sequels -- but Christopher deftly drops hints of the emotional state he's reached by the time of The Last Jedi.

He's joined by fellow classic hero Lando Calrissian, who's in bad shape due to his stalled search for his kidnapped daughter. This vulnerable state allows Christopher to explore the smooth gambler's inner life to an unprecedented degree; it draws from the cocky young man seen in prequel spinoff Solo, the self-assured hustler of the original trilogy and the haunted older warrior we met in The Rise of Skywalker.


Lando, seen in The Rise of Skywalker, goes on an epic emotional journey.


Luke and Lando's mission to save Rey's family is complicated by nasty assassin Ochi of Bestoon (another character who made a blink-and-you'll-miss-it appearance in The Rise of Skywalker), who's been tasked by members of a Sith cult with hunting down the parents and child. He's a loathsome but compelling presence and grows increasingly unhinged as the tale progresses.

Ochi's story here cleverly picks up plot threads from writer Greg Pak's recent Darth Vader comics, but Christopher includes enough detail that those shouldn't be considered required reading before diving into this book.

Rounding out the villainous side is a mysterious warrior empowered by the dark side of the Force. This side of the story leans into creepy arcane Sith lore and proves to be the novel's most fascinating element. It gets surprisingly dark and weird, and hopefully hints at avenues that Star Wars will explore in future.

Ochi of Bestoon's face in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Ochi of Bestoon has a tiny role in The Rise of Skywalker, but we learn all about him in Shadow of the Sith.


Once our heroes and villains cross paths, Christopher's cinematic writing shines in some epic action sequences that will delight those wanting to see the extent of Luke's power. The author sets him up with a worthy adversary, and it's fun to see the threat escalate to a level reminiscent of the old Legends continuity stories.

However, at 496 pages, Shadow of the Sith loses steam a few times. An extended sequence on a mining space station comes to an epic conclusion, but there's a little too much jumping between characters and wandering around before getting to it. 

Watch this: Disney's Galactic Starcruiser: What It's Really Like Inside the Star Wars Hotel

One extended cameo from a baddy seen in The Rise of Skywalker also feels extraneous to the main narrative thrust even if they're fun to spend time with. Thankfully, the other cameos are better judged, fitting nicely into the story and staying exactly as long as they're needed. 

Despite these minor issues, Adam Christopher's Shadow of the Sith is the best kind of Star Wars novel and acts as an essential link between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. It explores ambiguous aspects of the movies cleverly, tying up loose ends and adding emotional resonance while opening up a bunch of exciting new storytelling possibilities. After more than half a decade, the mystery of Rey's parents is solved in style.

Every Star Wars Movie, Ranked

See all photos