Some Initial Impressions of The Last Jedi Novelization

Jason Fry’s novelization of "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" is an "Expanded Edition" – written with input from director Rian Johnson.
The long awaited novelization and junior novelization of The Last Jedi released today and I picked it up for Kindle last night. Although I haven’t had time to read it all, I have looked through it and a few things caught my eye. Spoilers for the adult novelization follow.

Overall, the book stays faithful to the movie and generally doesn’t go much beyond what’s shown in the film (with the exception of a number of new scenes). Whereas the junior novelization tried to explore what was going on in the character’s heads, the adult version generally sticks to what they’re doing, although Fry does a good job describing their emotional reactions. Where the book does suffer is in the inherent difficulty of translating film to text, particularly one that takes full advantage of all of the tools available to it as TLJ does (the mirror scene doesn’t quite translate for example).

Personally, I’m not a huge fan of adaptations of movies, particularly ones that are part of ongoing stories. The main issue is the novels are expected to only interpret the movie in the context of what’s been revealed in other sources, whereas the movie is free to be based on information that hasn’t been revealed yet. Therefore, while they won’t technically be contradictory, the interpretations found in the novelizations are highly likely to become obsolete as more information is released. What is of great interest, is information that couldn’t have originated with the author.

With that in mind, here are some things I’ve found interesting so far:

  1. The prologue is a dream that plays out as an alternate universe where Luke turns the droids over to the Empire and spends the rest of his life on Tatooine. Luke is married to Carnie (from ANH deleted scenes), but they never had children despite wanting them:

There’d never been children—a pain that had dulled to an ache they no longer admitted feeling—but they’d worked hard and done well, building as comfortable a life as one could on Tatooine.

Fry, Jason. The Last Jedi: Expanded Edition (Star Wars) (p. 8). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Owen and Beru are (or were) alive, but everyone else important to Luke in the real world is either dead or he never met them. The Empire has won and there is a peace of sorts, but he always feels like he was destined for something else. What’s particularly notable about this scene is the passage from after he wakes up:

That was no ordinary dream, and you know it.
Luke raised the hood of his jacket with his mechanical hand, stroking his beard with the flesh-and-blood one. He wanted to argue with himself, but he knew better. The Force was at work here—it had cloaked itself in a dream, to slip through the defenses he’d thrown up against it.
But was the dream a promise? A warning? Or both?

This passage suggests the dream – which, in many ways, is a mirror of reality – is highly significant (as far as I can tell, it’s never brought up again). Also of note is it directly corresponds to Rey’s dreams and backs my long held theory that Rey herself has been subconsciously blocking the Force.

2. Just before Rey meets Snoke, there’s a giant exposition dump (pp 216-18):

Snoke knew he himself was an unlikely fulcrum, just about the furthest thing from what the tattered remnants of Palpatine’s Empire had imagined as a leader. The admirals and generals who’d survived the fury of the Empire’s implosion and the New Republic’s wrath had envisioned being led by someone else, anyone else: pitiless, devious Gallius Rax; dutiful, cautious Rae Sloane; the slippery political fanatic Ormes Apolin; or even an unhinged but ambitious military architect such as Brendol Hux.

All of those would-be leaders had been co-opted, sidelined, or destroyed, leaving only Armitage Hux, the mad son of a mad father. And that one was but a mouthpiece, a miscast tinkerer whose rantings could only persuade the sort of rabble who blindly worshipped rage and lunatic certainty.

Though galactic history would record it differently—Snoke would see to that—the evolution of the First Order had been more improvisation than master plan. That was another element visions tended to miss.

A few of things here. First, the initial First Order leadership did not know of or anticipate Snoke and he took full advantage. Second, Snoke appears to have been one of a number of people jockeying for power and took over from the inside. Finally, Ormes Apolin is someone we haven’t heard of before.

Palpatine had engineered the Contingency to simultaneously destroy his Empire and ensure its rebirth, ruthlessly winnowing its ranks and rebuilding them with who and what survived. The rebuilding was to take place in the Unknown Regions, secretly explored by Imperial scouts and seeded with shipyards, laboratories, and storehouses—an enormously expensive effort that had taken decades, and been kept hidden from all but the elect.
But the Imperial refugees’ military preparations had been insufficient bulwarks against the terrors of the Unknown Regions. Grasping in the dark among strange stars, they had come perilously close to destruction, and it had not been military might that saved them.
It had been knowledge—Snoke’s knowledge.
Which, ironically, led back to Palpatine and his secrets.

Palpatine’s true identity as Darth Sidious, heir to the Sith, had been an even greater secret than the Contingency. And the Empire’s explorations into the Unknown Regions had served both aspects of its ruler. For Sidious knew that the galaxy’s knowledge of the Force had come from those long-abandoned, half-legendary star systems, and that great truths awaited rediscovery among them. Truths that Snoke had learned and made to serve his own ends.

I’m pleased to see this all strongly backs my own background theories regarding Palpatine, Snoke and the First Order (in fact, only my Fall of Ben Solo theory suffered much from The Last Jedi).


3. This is technically part of the last section, but it has direct baring on our Case for Rey Skywalker:

One obstacle had stood in his way—Skywalker. Who had been wise enough not to rebuild the Jedi Order, dismissing it as the sclerotic, self-perpetuating debating society it had become in its death throes. Instead, the last Jedi had sought to understand the origins of the faith, and the larger truths behind it.

Like his father, Skywalker had been a favored instrument of the will of the Cosmic Force. That made it essential to watch him. And once Skywalker endangered Snoke’s design, it had become essential to act.

And so Snoke had drawn upon his vast store of knowledge, parceling it out to confuse Skywalker’s path, ensnare his family, and harness Ben Solo’s powers to ensure both Skywalker’s destruction and Snoke’s triumph.

This directly supports a key argument of ours regarding Luke: he had already gone well off course before the academy massacre. Luke started out forging a new path for the Jedi, but had fallen back on the old doctrine by the time of Ben’s fall. Something or a series of something led him to abandon what had allowed him to triumph over Vader.
I’ll have more in depth discussion of these points later and plan to revisit my background theories.

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