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Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker prequel Resistance Reborn brings our heroes together

Book review: Rebecca Roanhorse's first Star Wars novel is a beautifully written adventure with a wide cast of characters.

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Poe Dameron, Leia Organa, Finn, Rey and Wedge Antilles grace the cover of Star Wars: Resistance Reborn.

Penguin Random House

Whether you love or hate The Last Jedi, there's no denying it left the heroes of Star Wars in a dire situation -- the First Order slaughtered all but a few of the Resistance, leaving the survivors fleeing for their lives aboard the Millennium Falcon. That's where we meet them in author Rebecca Roanhorse's new novel Resistance Reborn, which fills in some of the time between The Last Jedi and the upcoming Rise of Skywalker

Out Nov. 5, Roanhorse's first Star Wars book proves to be a well-written adventure that'll draw you in.

We rejoin the surviving Resistance members in the days following the Battle of Crait, with Trail of Lightning writer Roanhorse capturing the voices of Leia Organa and Poe Dameron beautifully through dialogue that stays true to Carrie Fisher and Oscar Isaac's Last Jedi performances. Leia's emotionally and physically exhausted, while Poe's shaken but endlessly charming (partially because of that exceptional hair).

The 295-page narrative unfolds primarily from their perspectives as they organize missions to gather new leadership, rescue political prisoners and acquire ships, with Rey, Finn and Rose serving as secondary characters. It makes sense to reserve Rey's development for The Rise of Skywalker, in theaters Dec. 20, but getting Leia's point of view on her is fascinating. 

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It's also great to see Poe and Finn's heartwarming bromance continue from The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, even if Finn isn't given quite enough to do here.

Fans of the Original Trilogy will be thrilled that retired rebel pilot Wedge Antilles, last seen in Chuck Wendig's Aftermath trilogy, is back in action too. He played a huge role in the old Legends continuity novels and has been underused in the current canon, so any Wedge adventuring is welcome.

Looking beyond movie characters, Resistance Reborn also picks up plot threads from Claudia Gray's excellent Bloodline novel, Charles Soule's Poe Dameron comic series and video game Battlefront 2 -- these will resonate more with people who've read or played them, but Roanhorse smoothly fills in the gaps for those who haven't. It's satisfying to see elements of the canon united as we approach the end of the Skywalker saga.

The villains aren't quite so well represented; the First Order is largely faceless. Instead, we get an insecure middle-manager trying to ingratiate himself with the totalitarian regime on Corellia (Han Solo and Wedge's homeworld). This isn't as intriguing as hearing from Kylo Ren or General Hux would be, but the greasy banality of this evil offers a fun contrast to the good guys' nobility.

Roanhorse cleverly builds up all these plot threads before intertwining them through the Resistance's various missions -- you'll likely care more about what major movie characters are up to, but we know they'll survive. At least the others' fates are uncertain, so that adds a nice layer of tension when the action starts.

You probably shouldn't go into Resistance Reborn expecting too many clues about The Rise of Skywalker, but it serves as an exciting epilogue to The Last Jedi and a fun reunion of characters from across the Star Wars universe.