Much has already been written about the Sequel Trilogy’s merits and how it concludes the stories of beloved characters who date back to 1977. Meanwhile, the years since the trilogy wrapped with 2019’s The Rise of Skywalker have been fertile ground for Disney to seed a more cohesive saga around those films. After all, when The Force Awakens launched a new era for Star Wars in theaters in 2015, it was with a rebooted timeline, meaning that fans didn’t know very much about what had happened to Luke, Leia, and Han in the 30 years between Return of the Jedi and the new film. That’s not quite the case anymore, with several TV series, books, and comics now fleshing out what happened before Luke went into exile, Leia formed the Resistance, and Han went back to smuggling.
The Mandalorian, for example, explores for Disney canon how the Imperial remnant continued to operate in the Outer Rim planets, even after the formation of the New Republic. The Book of Boba Fett gave us our first look at Luke’s new Jedi academy. Books like the Aftermath trilogy and Bloodline have explained how what was left of the Empire was reborn as the First Order, and Ben Solo’s fall to the dark side and the origin of the Knights of Ren are all chronicled in Marvel comics.
Now there’s also The Princess and the Scoundrel, a new novel by Beth Revis which, on top of serving as a bit of shameless marketing for Disney’s new (and exorbitantly expensive) Star Wars hotel, takes a deep dive into the minds of the heroic trio in the hours after the events of Return of the Jedi. The book’s central plot revolves around Leia and Han’s marriage on Endor and their honeymoon on the Galactic Starcruiser, but it also has plenty to say about what’s next for Luke.
In fact, one scene in particular, from an excerpt published by USA Today, shows Luke and Leia pondering big decisions that set up the roles they’ll one day play in the Sequel Trilogy, particularly Luke’s search for Jedi knowledge that will eventually lead him to the sacred texts and Ahch-To in The Last Jedi.
Revis writes from Leia’s perspective a beautiful passage about how Luke has changed over the course of the Original Trilogy, from the young farm boy in A New Hope to the powerful and wise Jedi Knight of Episode VI. Even hours after their big victory on Endor, Leia is worried that Luke has changed so much that his path now lies elsewhere instead of beside his newfound twin sister and the soon-to-be-formed New Republic.
“He was so different now from when she’d first met him. Years had passed, of course, but the boy she’d met on the Death Star, proclaiming he’d come to save her, had been boisterously excited, full of optimism and opportunities. This man before her now was the same Luke, but…calmer,” Revis writes. “He moved with purpose rather than crashing around, bursting through doors or bumbling across the galaxy. Leia almost mourned the change. She had seen it before, of course, over the years of the war — bright hopefuls who became jaded when they realized they were no longer shooting at inanimate targets. Luke held a deeper sort of stillness within him, like a tree growing on a moon with no air, no wind to shift the branches.”
And she’s right that soon Luke will have to go out on his own to not only learn more about the Jedi Order but to start his own academy for a new generation of knights. Unlike in the now non-canon Legends continuity, the Disney timeline sees Luke seemingly leave his family behind for much of the 30-year period between trilogies to search for artifacts, texts, and old temples. As far as we know, he largely spent that time alone or with his students at his new academy. He also took his nephew Ben Solo as his apprentice during that era. In The Book of Boba Fett, we also learn that he spent a little while with Ahsoka Tano, and even tried to train Grogu as an early student. He also worked with Lando Calrissian to try and find Exegol in the book Shadow of the Sith. Yet, it’s clear that when we reunite with Luke in the Sequel Trilogy, it’s been years since brother and sister last saw each other.
The Princess and the Scoundrel shows that Leia could already sense that this breaking of the trio was inevitable.
“I feel like that for all three of us. You, me, Han. This moment, right now, it feels like…It feels like one step, and we’ll all scatter in different directions,” Leia says to Luke on Endor. “Right now, we’re together. Right now, we’re safe.”
Of course, it didn’t have to be that way. In the scene, Luke makes Leia an offer. She can join him on his Jedi quest and learn the ways of the Force, too. He doesn’t need to be the last Jedi.
“I can help you learn,” Luke says to Leia. “After you’ve had some time with Han, you and I can start training. I have heard of places where I can find more Jedi lore. Yoda is gone, but I can train you as he trained me. And there’s so much I still don’t know. Yoda called me a Jedi Knight, but I know in the past, Jedi trained from the time they were younglings. There’s more for me to learn, too. We can do it together.”
Leia rejects his offer, choosing to stay with Han and help build the New Republic, although we do know she did eventually spend some time training to become a Jedi, even constructing her own lightsaber. The Rise of Skywalker features a post-Return of the Jedi flashback to the twins sparring on the planet Ajan Kloss, which would later become a Resistance base in the final Sequel Trilogy film. But Leia abandoned her training after receiving a vision that becoming a Jedi would mean the death of her unborn child. As Palpatine would say, “It’s ironic.”
Revis’ book makes it clear that whether Leia joins him or not, Luke has made up his mind about leaving.
“There’s so much left to learn and discover,” Luke says. “I don’t know where I’ll be going, but I do know I’ll be gone.”
It’s a bit of retroactive foreshadowing that points to Luke’s eventual disappearance from the galaxy after the rise of Kylo Ren and the First Order. Even at this moment of victory, he knows his new life as a Jedi will pull him away from his family, the New Republic, and send him to parts unknown. And he might not return.
Whether or not you believe Luke would leave the New Republic and his family behind once he became a Jedi Master and suffered his greatest defeat, this passage provides yet another piece of the puzzle meant to flesh out what it means to be the last Jedi.
The Princess and the Scoundrel hits shelves on Aug. 16.