We now know Palpatine was a clone in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

The novelization, explaining everything the movie didn't, will be available for purchase at a store near you.

Jennifer Bisset Former Senior Editor / Culture
Jennifer Bisset was a senior editor for CNET. She covered film and TV news and reviews. The movie that inspired her to want a career in film is Lost in Translation. She won Best New Journalist in 2019 at the Australian IT Journalism Awards.
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Jennifer Bisset
2 min read

Rey meets Palpatine. That is, a cloned Palpatine containing his spirit.

Walt Disney Pictures

Star Wars : The Rise of Skywalker left many lingering questions. Specifically: How did Emperor Palpatine survive Return of the Jedi? Those loose ends, like Finn's confession of Force sensitivity to Rey, are slowly being sewn up. Enter Disney with a novelization of The Rise of Skywalker.

Written by Star Wars universe writer Rae Carson, the novel explains the Emperor's spirit was transferred into a clone of his body. In Return of the Jedi, Darth Vader throws Palpatine down a reactor shaft after the Emperor tortures his son Luke Skywalker.

On the planet Exegol where Kylo Ren encounters Palpatine at the beginning of The Rise of Skywalker, he inspects all that machinery. According to the book, he recognizes it from his studies of the Clone Wars:

"All the vials were empty of liquid save one, which was nearly depleted. Kylo peered closer. He'd seen this apparatus before, too, when he'd studied the Clone Wars as a boy. The liquid flowing into the living nightmare before him was fighting a losing battle to sustain the Emperor's putrid flesh."

Ren then realizes the cloned body is housing the Emperor's "actual spirit." But the body won't last.

"'What could you give me?' Kylo asked. Emperor Palpatine lived, after a fashion, and Kylo could feel in his very bones that this clone body sheltered the Emperor's actual spirit. It was an imperfect vessel, though, unable to contain his immense power. It couldn't last much longer."

The book won't be available in bookstores until March 17, but early copies were sold at this weekend's "pop culture event" C2E2 in Chicago and passages surfaced online.

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Watch this: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker - Official Trailer (2019)