Although Star Wars: The Last Jedi came out last December, the canon of the Sequel Trilogy continues to grow with this week’s release of the film’s excellent novelization. The Last Jedi novelization by Jason Fry is marketed as an Expanded Edition and was written with the help of conversations with director Rian Johnson. Fry was granted access to “six or seven versions of the script” as part of his research, a dream for a Star Wars fan — and a challenging prospect for an author who needs to choose some ideas and not others.
Some of the biggest changes include restoring deleted scenes and adding some entirely new ones. Like other Star Wars novelizations, The Last Jedi also adds the author’s own take on some of the characters’ reactions and emotional states.
Fry also used his expertise in Star Wars lore to incorporate parts of other canon stories. Here are the major new facts or insights that were added in the novel:
Luke’s Alternate History
The book’s surprising opening turns out to be a dream, but it’s no less interesting for being a fantasy within a fantasy. The dream (or vision from the Force?) is of an alternate universe where Luke Skywalker never left Tatooine. He married Camie, his friend from Tosche Station who can be seen in deleted scenes from A New Hope, and inherited his aunt and uncle’s moisture farm. He sometimes gets the feeling that things might have gone differently but is thankful for his peaceful life. The dark side of that peace? The Empire has subjugated the galaxy.
One of the most emotional scenes in the novel is also a natural follow-up on The Force Awakens. Leia takes time out from her many duties within the Resistance to hold a funeral for Han.
“Han would hate this ceremony,” she says, but she praises the difference he has made in the galaxy with his love of freedom and willingness to fight for others — no matter the odds. Without a body to bury, Leia centers the ceremony around a wooden figure Han carved for her on Endor.
Rose and Paige
Having worked on Bomber Command, one of the two tie-in books devoted to the Tico sisters, Fry already had a good background to write about Rose when he started The Last Jedi. The scene which introduces them matches one found in Cobalt Squadron by Elizabeth Wein and establishes the sisters’ relationship before the battle that will take Paige’s life. While Paige and Rose’s medallions show how close they were in the film, the extra scene gives Rose a stronger point of view and ensures Paige has a presence in the novel even though she dies early on in the film.
Luke and Rey Dance
One of the deleted scenes that might have made a big impact on Luke and Rey’s relationship in the film was the arrival of boats on the island. It spurs a conversation about when Jedi should help people and why Luke is reluctant to try to make a difference in the galaxy.
In the novel, it turns out there aren’t actually any raiders: the ships belong to the peaceful Lanais, some of whom had been away at sea. Astonished by how quickly Rey moved to help, Luke catches up with her and the two talk and dance. It’s a sweet moment of friendship between people who are otherwise mostly shown clashing with one another.
What Luke Was Doing in The Force Awakens
When Luke Skywalker appeared at the top of the hill on Ahch-To at the very last scene of The Force Awakens, fans thoroughly speculated about what he had been doing while he was there. Some proposed that he was visiting the grave of his late wife, although the stone marker supposed to be the grave turned out to be just a stone.
While the idea of Luke being married does appear in The Last Jedi novelization, it turns out he was on the hill for a different grim reason. Luke had wanted to destroy the Jedi temple many times before Yoda finally burned it down in The Last Jedi. When Rey found him, he was on his way to the temple to destroy it.
Of course, some of the Jedi knowledge was saved: Rey took some of the books from the temple when she left Ahch-To.
Finn and the Dreadnaught
Finn’s status as a former stormtrooper touches every aspect of his characterization, from his naiveté about Canto Bight’s corruption to the specialized knowledge that allows him, Rose, and DJ to sneak onto the First Order Dreadnaught. On approach to the gigantic ship, Finn thinks about why he never told the Resistance leadership about the Dreadnaught. There was hardly any time between his arrival at the Resistance base and the evacuation, but he feels guilty about never telling Leia. This neatly covers a potential question fans might have about why Finn never mentioned the First Order fleet’s flagship before.
Finn’s Former Friend
On the Dreadnaught, a stormtrooper recognizes Finn, prompting panic among the undercover Resistance members. This is based on another deleted scene, and it’s played mostly for comedy. The trooper congratulates Finn on his promotion based on the rank markings on his stolen uniform.
However, Johnson pointed out that this scene is also a dark reveal of how tightly the First Order controls information and spreads propaganda. They didn’t let the other troops know that one of their own had defected, hoping to prevent anyone else from following. This lays to rest a popular fan theory that Finn became an inspirational figure among disillusioned stormtroopers.
Ben Solo Was Luke’s First Student
One of the few bits of information The Force Awakens gave us about Luke Skywalker’s life after Return of the Jedi was that he taught a new generation of Jedi, only for them to be cut down or turned to the dark side by Kylo Ren later. The novelization reveals that Luke was hesitant to become a teacher until he noticed Ben Solo’s strength in the Force. The potential for Ben to be powerful either with the light side or the dark spurred Luke to create the academy in an effort to guide him down the right path. Still unknown: who the rest of those Jedi students were and where Luke found them.
Rey Considers Kylo
In the movie, General Hux stands over the unconscious Kylo Ren, planning to kill his rival for the newly-vacated throne of the Supreme Leader. In the book, we see that Rey also considers killing Kylo while he lay unconscious. Instead of giving in to her hatred, the scene shows that Rey takes this as a moment to solidify the new sense of purpose she found in the throne room.
While her feelings about her Force connection to Kylo are complex, she ultimately decides that she has to set aside her own feelings, opinions, knowledge, and confusion and let the Force guide her actions.
Leia and Chewie Mourn
Another emotional scene parallels Han’s funeral, as Leia and Chewie feel the full weight of being the last surviving members of the group that fought on the Death Star with Ben Kenobi so long ago. Leia and Chewie hug as the reality sets in: Luke Skywalker is dead, but he has given the Resistance everything it needs to fight back now that they have survived Crait.
The scene also emphasizes the bond between Rey and Leia. Rey presents Leia with the broken halves of Luke’s lightsaber, and Leia encourages her to have hope.