Along with the tidal wave of Rogue One tie-ins and easter eggs, the movie novelization gives fans new scenes and a new way to enjoy the first Star Wars standalone film. The novel by Alexander Freed includes some scenes written especially for the book, as well as some new background details on many of the characters. It’s an all-around expanded version of the movie, worth reading in order to see how the character arcs are handled. Some of the details on this list are also corroborated in the Rogue One Ultimate Visual Guide.
Here are the significant additions the Rogue One novelization made to the Star Wars canon:
Galen and Krennic
In the very beginning of the movie, the novel shows a longer version of the scene where Galen joins the Empire against his will. Galen and Krennic are on board the shuttle, with Lyra’s body, and Krennic thinks about what he has done in forcibly recruiting his old friend. Krennic believes that any friendship he and Galen had is gone, and that it’s Galen’s fault that Galen sees Krennic as a person without morals. Therefore Krennic is willing to “play the monster to ensure his cooperation.”
The novel reveals a scene in which a member of Saw’s rebel group recognizes Jyn during the Rebel mission on Jedha. Jyn doesn’t remember her specifically, but her appearance does jar Jyn’s memory of other revolutionaries, including people named Codo, Staven, and Maia. The woman doesn’t give her any information and there isn’t any warmth between them, but the scene gives a little glimpse into Jyn’s history.
We also find out a little bit more about the alien who shares a jail cell with Jyn. That’s Nail, also known as Kennel. Neither Jyn nor her captors know Nail’s real name, and Jyn isn’t sure of Nail’s actual gender. Being rescued by the Rebels also saved Jyn from a fight: before they left for the work camp, Nail had promised that she would kill Jyn the next night.
Krennic and Tarkin’s rivalry is even more evident in the novel. Krennic suspects that Tarkin might sabotage the Death Star before it is tested over Jedha in order to make sure that Krennic isn’t favored by the Emperor. Krennic makes sure to check for potential problems, but doesn’t realize that Galen put a flaw in the system until just moments before Krennic’s death.
The novel adds several new scenes to show the lives that were taken when the Death Star fired on Jedha City. These include Pendra, the little girl Jyn rescued from the square, and her father, as well as an old woman named Meggone. Not all Imperials fare well either: it is revealed that Krennic found it acceptable to fire once 97 percent of Imperial forces were evacuated form the city. A squad of stormtroopers lead by JN-093 also perish in the attack.
In order to keep all the myriad parts of the finale in order, Freed wrote it from the perspective of General Raddus. The Mon Calamari Rebel commander is essentially an Admiral Ackbar-lite, but as well as providing a perspective on the space battle, he offers some interesting ideas about the difference between humans and aliens in Star Wars, too. Humans seem over-invested in battles to him, which he theorizes might be due to humans having children relatively rarely compared to his species, and therefore prizing life more highly.
The novel gives each character his or her own perspective on the finale, as well as going into some more detail on their backgrounds throughout. We learn more about how Cassian grew up during wartime. Bodhi remembers his mother, as well as his first encounter with Galen Erso – their sabotage of the Empire started with a meeting in an Imperial lunch room. Baze and Chirrut’s roles as Guardians of the Whills are joined by brief mentions of other Force-using cults, such as the Children of the Esoteric Pulsar.
One of the additions from the novel is a slight change from the film. The films generally win out when it comes to a conflict of canon, but the novel changes the gender of one of the Rebels who make up the chain that gives the Death Star data to Leia at the end of the book. Instead of one of the male Rebels as it was in the film, it’s a middle-aged woman with a burned face who hands the data to Captain Antilles just moments before the beginning of A New Hope.
Megan Crouse is a staff writer.