Welcome to Book Reviews. In this series I will look to review any canon books that come out in the Star Wars galaxy as I work my way through them. I am no expert book critic or expert in writing (as you may be able to tell), so this is very much from a fan’s point of view. In each review, I will also try to point out a few “Moments in Canon” – moments that link into the wider canon and references to other canon stories. Today I will be looking at Rebecca Roanhorse’s Resistance Reborn.
As this is such a new story, I have tried to avoid any spoilers in this review and stuck only to talking about characters that were already known to be involved from promotional material prior to the story’s release. If you are looking to go into the book completely blind, this probably isn’t the review for you.
Released earlier this month as part of the “Journey to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” series, Resistance Reborn is the first Star Wars novel by Rebecca Roanhorse. It has been said that this was one of the stories that would be most beneficial to read ahead of seeing The Rise of Skywalker.
Picking up very shortly after the end of The Last Jedi, the story follows the remaining members of the Resistance as they look to regroup and recover from the Battle of Crait. While Leia looks to solidify a place to rebuild, Poe and many other members of the Resistance undertake a series of missions to give them the supplies they will need to continue fighting the First Order.
Poe wondered if they even had a brig, but certainly they could improvise, if necessary.
There are a number of POV characters in this book, with the main ones being Leia, Poe, Wedge Antilles, Shriv Suurgav and Winshur Bratt, a new character who works for the Firs Order on Corellia.
If you asked me to pick my top 3 Star Wars novels, I’m fairly certain that this makes the list! This was an absolutely beautiful story and I really hope that we get more from Rebecca Roanhorse in the coming years.
“Nothing’s changed,” Poe said automatically, but it was a lie, wasn’t it? After the Raddus, everything had changed.
When describing this book to one of my friends, I couldn’t help but call it the Avengers: Endgame of Star Wars novels, as it ties in so many separate stories from the Star Wars canon in a perfect way. As well as following close on the heels of The Last Jedi and setting up The Rise of Skywalker, the novel brings back characters from the Original Trilogy and works as a follow-on for Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath Trilogy, the Poe Dameron comic series, the story mode of Star Wars Battlefront II, and Claudia Gray’s novels Lost Stars and Bloodline – and those are just the ones I noticed! I think this story will definitely benefit from you having read the stories or at least having a general idea of the characters and events depicted (as is the case with me and the Poe Dameron series), but I also think that the story does a good job of giving you the important information that you need to know from these, so you can get away with reading this without having to take a deep dive into the preceding stories.
I really liked the way that the familiar characters were depicted in this novel. They all feel very faithful to what I have seen onscreen and in the wider canon. I love seeing Poe initially wracked with guilt for the way his actions in The Last Jedi cost the lives of a number of Resistance personnel, but having to grow past that and become the leader he has to be. Meanwhile Leia’s desire to fight on but desperation as she struggles to find support is so believable, as is her own guilt at putting more friends in danger by asking them to hide what remains of the Resistance. Finn is clearly still having to adapt to a life away from the First Order (and the new experiences that entails), while his enjoyment of the action and becoming a spy feels just like his reactions in the movies when you can tell that he is swept up in the moment fighting the First Order. While on the subject of Finn, I love seeing the continuation of his friendship with Poe, and anyone who ships the pair as either a bromance or a romance will have plenty of enjoyment from the moments they are together. Wedge has some fantastic moments and it is great to see him being drawn back into the fight and trying to find his place in this new Resistance, despite the close friends he has lost. Shriv was a standout for me in the Star Wars Battlefront II story mode, with his sarcastic and cynical personality, which transferred brilliantly into this novel, while also showing he really does have a good heat and cares about his friends.
“Then it’s over,” he said. “The Resistance is over. The First Order has won.”
I did struggle to get on board with new character Winshur Bratt, who is the main antagonist in this story, but I think that a large part of this was due to him being so thoroughly unlikeable that it felt unbelievable… or at least you’d hope nobody is that disgusting a person, but I suppose the First Order need to find supporters somewhere. I did also find it a little bit odd that Dio was not mentioned at all during the novel considering he was also with Zay and Shriv when Leia sent them off on their mission at the end of the Star Wars Battlefront II story, but both of these are minor quibbles and I would even argue that Bratt is just the face we associate as the antagonist, with the true antagonist being the First Order as a whole.
It was said that this story was as close as possible to required reading ahead of The Rise of Skywalker. While I don’t think there was anything in here that is vital to know in order to understand the movie, I certainly think that we will see some characters returning in Episode IX who we have either not yet seen in the Sequel Trilogy or have never yet seen in a movie, with this being an introduction for us as to how they joined the Resistance.
She smiled, fully confident that she could still call this man a friend. A friend that she was about to ask to risk his life, his home, and his very people. But she had no choice.
In terms of the story itself, I think it does a really good job and feels like a movie itself with its own distinct acts: Act 1 seeing the Resistance regrouping, Act 2 the beginning of their missions and Act 3 the resolution of these missions. This feels so much like an actual movie too with a real sense of fun and adventure balanced perfectly with more serious character moments, while it also does a good job of giving reason to some aspects of The Last Jedi, such as why nobody responded to Leia’s call for help on Crait.
This is a book that I can already see myself revisiting with some regularity, and even if there are no tie-ins to this novel at all in The Rise of Skywalker, then I still think I did the right job getting this book as soon as I can in order to read before I saw Episode IX.
Should I read it?
“Now let’s go save the galaxy.”
If you can’t stand the Sequel Trilogy then I very much doubt that this will change your mind. Otherwise, I think that this is a beautifully written story that is definitely worth your time, even if you haven’t experienced all the other stories that I mentioned earlier.
Moments in Canon
As many of these will refer to some of the links to other stories, if you do not want to see any of the characters in this story then it will be wise to skip this section.
- Like the Empire before it, the First Order has taken over the Corellian shipyards
- Wedge never fully recovered from the torture he suffered in the novel Aftermath
- Black Squadron’s mission to Ikkrukk and Poe’s rescue of them is a story documented in the comic Star Wars: Poe Dameron Vol. 5 – The Spark and the Fire
- Poe trained under Wedge at the New Republic flight academy
- Yendor and Leia refer back to Leia helping Ryloth deal with a criminal named Rinnrivin Di, which makes up an early part of the novel Bloodline
- Zay’s use of the line “A chance to be better” is echoing what Luke said to her father Del Meeko on Pillio
- The Scrappers Guild on Bracca is where the video game Jedi: Fallen Order begins
Have you read this book? What were your thoughts on it? Thanks for reading. May the Force be with you…