O

chi of Bestoon. He was carrying a clue that could lead to a wayfinder. We followed his ship halfway across the galaxy here. And when we got to his ship, it was abandoned. No clue, no wayfinder.

With those few sentences on the sands of Pasaana, Lando Calrissian set Rey, Finn, and Poe on the path to the next step of their journey to defeat Emperor Palpatine, but he also opened up a giant story in the history of Star Wars.

Lando Calrissian has been involved in a hunt. A hunt for a hunter. He traveled with Luke Skywalker, unearthed secrets of the ancient Sith, and almost three years later…Adam Christopher has told that story.

Shadow of the Sith follows Calrissian and Skywalker on a quest of discovery across the galaxy. A shadow has begun to fall of the Force, itself, and the longer and deeper that darkness gets, the more its ability to cloud the mind and feelings of Jedi Master Luke Skywalker increases. The duo’s desire to find the source of this shadow becomes infinitely more complicated when their travels end up enmeshing them with the fate of a family on the run from cultists of the Sith Eternal.

While seemingly unimportant to the galaxy at large, this family is made up of a man trying to escape his past, a woman who will sacrifice everything to protect those that she loves, and their six year old daughter who loves her parents more than all the stars in the sky.

Her name is Rey.

Throw in a reformed member of the Acolytes of the Beyond, an ancient Sith Lord with a conduit of incredible power, an overeager bounty hunter with immortality on the mind, and much, much more, and you can see why this book clocks in just under the massive page count of Thrawn Ascendancy: Lesser Evil. While Shadow of the Sith could have skimmed a few pages off the top to aid with clarity and direction, Adam Christopher succeeds in crafting an original, pivotal story that not only supplements the Sequel Trilogy in an entirely new way, but also stands on its own as a critical expansion of dark side lore and familial love.

Buy This Book
ebay button that takes you to ebay.com

Plot

Shadow of the Sith never lets you forget that you are on the run. 

From the opening chapters, the necessity of the chase is felt as Dathan and Miramir (Rey’s newly named parents) flee from the unrelenting grasp of Palpatine’s demonic flock. This sense of fear they have if they are captured is balanced exquisitely by the beauty of the love the couple have for each other and their daughter, but these quiet moments seldom give way to moments of real peace as the next nefarious obstacle obscures their path to a new life.

This same sense of urgency is showcased through Luke and Lando’s introduction to the story as terrifyingly dark and exquisitely written Force visions propel the pair through the galaxy, and as their story becomes intertwined with that of Dathan and Miramir, the stakes get even higher. There is no time to rest and refocus, because Ochi of Bestoon, the Sith Eternal, the newly reinvigorated Kiza (shoutout to all of the Aftermath fans out there), and more could be around the next corner.

Fear and desire can be outstanding motivators, and although the beginning of the novel thrives on every character group exploiting this sense of momentum to guide them through the galaxy as well as the literal chapters, the second act of the story somewhat falters under the weight of constant location changes, near misses, and enforced narrative points based on lore set up by The Rise of Skywalker.

Shadow of the Sith cover featuring Lando Calrissian, Luke Skywalker with lightsaber ignited, and a mysterious villain with a red lightsaber
Image Credit: Penguin Random House

When Christopher is able to fill the plot with original ideas like the history of the Sith as well as the internal struggles of the characters, the book absolutely sings as the reader is sucked into the extremely personal and exquisitely described settings and character beats. Rarely has a Canon novel taken the time to explore the complexities of kyber crystal lore or the true power of the ancient darkness quite like this book, but the fascination with those bits of the story tend to cast their own shadow over moments that don’t quite hold that same level of gravitas as characters find their way through a slightly less interesting moon or shipyard.

Additionally, a sense of predetermination near the end of the book slightly erodes the climactic events of the final chapters purely based on the knowledge imparted by the Skywalker Saga. While the original story beats and brand new ideas really do shine through the solidified plot points of places like Jakku and Pasaana, you can’t help but wish that Christopher was able to expand upon them even more within these pages (and will hopefully be able to do so in the future!).

Nonetheless, the story provides critical context to the understanding of some of the more perplexing moments of the Sequel Trilogy’s final entry, and Shadow of the Sith sets a new marker for not only dark side lore expansion within Canon storytelling, but also for the visceral descriptions of parenting in a galaxy that won’t let you have the one thing you want most:

Your family.

Characters

Since his fateful turn at the end of The Force Awakens, fans of the Sequel Trilogy have wanted to know more about Master Luke Skywalker. While Mark Hamill’s incredible performance in The Last Jedi showed us the evolution of Luke as a man grappling with failure and loss, the years between the warm smile at Anakin’s force ghost and Luke’s self-imposed exile have largely been left untold in the Canon.

Shadow of the Sith changes that by allowing Jedi Master Luke Skywalker to shine at the possible peak of his power and influence. A teacher of Padawans and an ally to the New Republic, Luke spends this book learning about the Sith, aiding his friends, and offering salvation and a path back to the light to those shrouded in darkness.

This iteration of Luke pairs fascinatingly with a Lando Calrissian who is consistently coping with the loss of a daughter while simultaneously attempting to stop the same events from scarring another family. While this pair can be seen occasionally in Legends entries like the original Thrawn trilogy, their time together in recent storytelling has been practically nonexistent, so their chemistry and clashing ideologies are a true joy to read. However, due to the breakneck speed of the narrative evolutions, you can’t help but feel left wanting for a bit more of a real connection between the two.

Scenes of emotional breakthrough and wartime comradery showcase the trials and rewards of growing old alongside someone with whom you saved the galaxy, but these moments are a bit too seldom to fully satiate those wishing for a story with these two truly at the center.

Nonetheless, there are a number of additional astounding characters that beautifully flesh out this massive tome of a novel. Chief amongst them are Dathan and Miramir who transition from a pair of silent actors in a microscopic flashback to possibly the most loving parents in any galaxy. The way that Christopher molds the internal monologue of both Dathan and Miramir as they gaze longingly at each other during space flight or watch Rey begin to form an understanding of the real danger that surrounds them is simply masterful. Despite knowing the fate to which they are racing all too quickly, their scenes stand out as some of the most powerful in the entire book - especially for any parent finding themself immersed in this story.

The masked villain Kiza holding an ignited red lightsaber amidst a swirl of red crystals
Image Credit: Penguin Random House

Another standout performance lies within the mysterious mask of Kiza. While we won’t spoil any of her fascinating backstory and excessive trials within this review, the way that Christopher molds her into a villain almost tailored exactly to fit Master Luke Skywalker is impeccable, and if there’s any doubt about the amount of pain that can be held within the dark side of the Force…she puts those thoughts to rest. On the other side of the coin lies Komat. A redeemed Acolyte that plays a pivotal role in Luke and Lando’s quest, Komat showcases just how different two seemingly identical paths can become because of a single act of mercy.

Finally, a fairly massive space in the book (and the back cover) is occupied by none other than Ochi of Bestoon. Tasked with making life difficult not only for our beloved protagonists, but also for all those unfortunate enough to work alongside him, Ochi spends the book violently dismissing everyone that would keep him from his ultimate task. This unflinching determination crafts him as one of the most viciously driven villains we’ve seen in quite a while. But for some, Ochi’s inability to elicit any form of compassion may have you wishing for the deserts of Pasaana to appear sooner rather than later.

On the whole, it’s rare for so many characters to leave such solid impressions in a book driven so intensely by the machinations of its plot, but there are enough individual moments and revelations to make this cast one you’ll want to revisit in many projects to come.

Buy This Book
ebay button that takes you to ebay.com

Originality

Despite its lack of use in the modern Star Wars Canon, there is something incredibly apt about the phrase Expanded Universe. The best books and comics in our favorite fictional galaxy do just that, after all: they clasp onto minor events, characters, or strands of mythology and expand them with new stories, ideas, and, well…certain points of view.

Shadow of the Sith does precisely this as it expands both the lore of the Sequel Trilogy as well as the history of the Sith in a more comprehensive way than any other book in quite some time. Christopher expertly borrows characters and artifacts from a number of Star Wars works throughout the novel and elevates them in a way that feels as though he’s coloring in the pre-established lines.

Why was Rey left on Jakku?

What is hidden behind Kiza’s mercurial mask?

How did Ochi get that dagger in the first place?

Ochi of Bestoon with his back turned as he holds a Sith dagger
Image Credit: Penguin Random House

All of these questions and more are answered within Christopher’s pages, and you can almost feel his authorial glee as each piece of a previous work receives new life. What may have accounted for a single interlude in Aftermath or a split-second prop in The Rise of Skywalker can lead to chapters of intrigue and exploration, and it’s within this type of worldbuilding that Christopher’s best work is shown.

The worldbuilding, however, is showcased not only within preexisting forms, but also in Christopher’s magnificent attention to detail within his own creations. Every ship, creature, weapon, and artifact is described with such detail that you can’t help but assume you’ve seen them all on screen at some point. These relics are so real within the eye of Christopher’s mind that they practically jump off the page, and their retroactive importance within the story of the Skywalker Saga can’t help but enhance your memory of the films themselves.

Writing

Adam Christopher’s love for Star Wars is gloriously evident throughout Shadow of the Sith. His desire to flesh out a story that lived between the spaces of lines spoken in the final moments of the Skywalker Saga bleeds through the page, and this passion starts the book with some of the more gripping chapters in recent memory.

As the scope of the story emerges, the chapters become more and more visceral as the true villain within the shadow becomes clear. And when the levels of fear, vengeance, wonder, and heartache are at their highest, Christopher absolutely shines. The first half of the novel is filled with these moments, and the rate at which they fly by are reminiscent of childhood nights sneaking a flashlight under the covers to finish just one more chapter.

Christopher’s employment of shorter chapters also aids this pacing by making the reader feel as though they are within the book's central chase themselves. Each new chapter and planet flies by with intention and purpose, and for hundreds of pages, you can’t help but feel a sliver of the momentum being experienced by the characters.

This momentum does shift, however, near the second act of the book as an increased amount of locations and a slight lessening of the book’s overall stakes decrease the immediacy of the reading experience. While tonal shifts are a natural part of any book’s grand story, there are times within Shadow of the Sith where the length of the novel feels a bit noticeable before ramping up to the next climactic event.

Where this book additionally showcases Christopher’s massive talent is in his ability to create meaningful departures outside the main story with his use of flashbacks and visions. These somewhat ethereal interludes allow him to introduce elements of the story that both enhance the dramatic tension of the “modern day” scenes but also add context to the backstories of our featured heroes and the galaxy at large.

Without providing any spoilers, there is definitely a book set within the ancient times of the Sith within Adam Christopher’s soul, and we desperately hope he has the opportunity to write it.

Shadow of the Sith harnesses Adam Christopher’s ability to isolate the most passionate parts of the love and the most depraved elements of darkness at the same time, and while the final page count may be a little hefty, there are more than enough moments of rabid intensity to keep you hooked. For more about his process in writing this novel and his entire writing career, be sure to check out our chat with him over on The Living Force!

Entertainment

Shadow of the Sith contains some of the most exhilarating chapters of the Star Wars year. There are scenes of mayhem and malice, chaos and calamity, blasters and blades. The visceral nature of these chapters can produce the most powerful chills you’ve ever encountered while reading a Star Wars book, and especially as the book begins, those scenes of wonder thrust you right back into your seat back when you saw a Star Destroyer for the first time.

This excitement also lends itself to the wealth of Easter Eggs and references that are scattered throughout this book. It’s always fun to notice the subtle (and not so subtle) nods to previous books and comics, but rare is the novel that’s able to cobble together looks at every era from the High Republic all the way through Episode IX…and even some looks at Legends of old.

The thrilling exuberance of pacing through these scenes of engaging battles and emotional turmoil, however, is occasionally curtailed by some sections that pause the thrilling heroics for a bit too long. While expansion of the universe is generally encouraged as we stated before, Shadow does sometimes fall into a trap of slight over-explanation that creates an urge to return to the high stakes the book otherwise produces brilliantly. While these detours never rip away knowledge that this story is an absolutely necessary narrative in the grand scheme of the universe, the momentary lapses in the sense of urgency may add a few extra days to your reading time in total.

By the end of the book, though, Christopher is able to bring together some of his most thrilling lore expansions and his most climactic duels to create a thrilling finale that entertains just as much as it emotionally devastates…a true feat for any novel.

Buy This Book
ebay button that takes you to ebay.com

Our Verdict

For three years, the time surrounding the Sequel Trilogy has been a mystery. So many books have expanded the Rise of the Empire, the Clone Wars, and of course, The High Republic. But now, Shadow of the Sith has broken ground on a brand new era of storytelling by introducing us to the era of Master Luke Skywalker and the precursors to Rey’s journey.

Adam Christopher kicks off this new age with a story that reaches mind blowing highs filled with some of the most brutal dark siders in the galaxy’s history, right alongside the most intimate tales of fatherhood and partnership the saga has ever known. Although there are occasional elements that pull away from the excitement of new character relationships and shocking revelations, Sith sets up so many new stories within the Star Wars universe, and we desperately hope Adam Christopher is given the chance to write them all very soon.

Shadow of the Sith is available now wherever books are sold, as well as on Audible where it is narrated by William DeMerritt.

This is some text inside of a div block.
This is some text inside of a div block.
This is some text inside of a div block.
Plot
This is some text inside of a div block.
This is some text inside of a div block.
This is some text inside of a div block.
Characters
This is some text inside of a div block.
This is some text inside of a div block.
This is some text inside of a div block.
Writing
This is some text inside of a div block.
This is some text inside of a div block.
This is some text inside of a div block.
Entertainment
This is some text inside of a div block.
This is some text inside of a div block.
This is some text inside of a div block.
Originality
amazon button that takes you to amazon.comebay button that takes you to ebay.com
Eric has been with Youtini since the beginning. As President, he oversees coordination of all book reviews and hosts The Living Force Podcast. On the rare occasion when he’s not geeking out about a galaxy far, far away, he loves playing video games, hanging out with his partner and pets, and hopelessly watching the Dallas Cowboys.