Warning: This article contains spoilers for the Star Wars: The Last Jedi novelization.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is packed to the brim with details for fans to pick apart, and now they have another version of the story to dive into—one with even more layers to explore.
On the surface, the The Last Jedi novelization (which is now available) relays the major events of the film. But at times author Jason Fry goes even further as the novelization switches between multiple narrators, some of whom may come as a surprise. You get to stay with the characters, dissect their thoughts, and catch a glimpse at what some might have been thinking during important moments. As Last Jedi director Rian Johnson and Fry noted in January, the book includes a mix of deleted scenes, expanded sequences, and entirely new scenes written explicitly for the novelization.
How much of this should we carry on into the Star Wars canon? Per Star Wars publisher Del Rey, the books are canon as long as they don’t contradict whatever happens in the movies or any of the Star Wars TV shows. For example, The Last Jedi (the film) made Rey and Poe Dameron’s somewhat awkward meeting in The Force Awakens novelization no longer canon. In The Last Jedi novelization, the narrator plays off their new introduction scene by mentioning the two chatting, but not what they say to each other.
1) Luke had an ominous dream—and a life we don’t recognize
Prior to the publication of The Last Jedi, the first page of the novelization leaked online. It included a line about Luke Skywalker’s wife, which fueled plenty of speculation about who she was and what had happened to her since we never saw Luke get married in the films. We don’t have to wait long to get an answer, and as it turned out, the reality is both sadder and crueler than we could have imagined.
The prologue of The Last Jedi is a dream, Star Wars’ version of a what if question. It’s what might have happened had Luke not been attacked by Sand People and brought R2-D2 back to Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru’s farm. But on a much bigger scale, it’s what would have happened if Luke had never found Obi-Wan Kenobi and answered Leia Organa’s call for help.
Sure, Luke would have stayed on Tatooine, married Camie (a character cut from A New Hope), and grown old on the moisture farm he inherited. He would know peace, or something close to it. But it came at a cost, one Luke still didn’t quite understand the full scope of until decades later. Luke couldn’t get Leia (who was executed by the Empire) out of his head or escape the feeling that he still had something important to do.
After Luke wakes up on Ahch-To, he’s troubled by his dream; he knew that the Force got past the barriers Luke put up around it. He doesn’t know what exactly the Force wanted to tell him but sensed things would soon change. And soon enough, another young woman would arrive in his life and ask him for help.
2) Han Solo is hastily laid to rest
In one of the novelization’s new scenes, The Resistance finally has a chance to honor Han Solo and all of the pilots killed during the battle on Starkiller Base. But it’s far more chaotic than the average funeral. The battle left no bodies to bury—something that’s pretty common for starfighter pilots or those on a destroyed planet—but the entire thing happened in the middle of the Resistance’s evacuation of D’Qar.
Leia knew that the First Order would soon discover their base and that it would be only a matter of time before ships arrived on her doorstep, so her one condition on speaking at Han’s funeral was if it wouldn’t interrupt plans to evacuate. Most of the people who remained in the Resistance watched from their ships as she spoke about Han, noting that he would’ve hated the whole thing. She kept some things close to her chest, such as the fact that their son was the one who killed Han, but her memories revealed a glimpse into the years they spent together. (For instance, Leia kept a carving Han made of her before the Battle of Endor that he had thrown away because she accidentally mistook it for an Ewok.)
The speech is short but gets to the heart of what the Resistance must do: keep fighting to save the galaxy from the First Order, even in the face of unspeakable grief. It’s something Leia, who suffered so many losses in her lifetime, knew better than anyone.
3) The fates of two familiar Resistance pilots are revealed
Poe Dameron’s fellow X-wing pilots—some of whom we get to know better in the Poe Dameron comic—played a role in bringing down Starkiller Base in The Force Awakens, but Snap Wexley (Greg Grunberg) and Jessika Pava (Jessica Henwick) are nowhere to be seen in The Last Jedi. Their absence led some fans to fear that they had perished off-screen during the Resistance’s evacuation or at some point during the First Order’s attacks. And while The Last Jedi visual dictionary hinted at their survival, noting that most of the pilots who survived Starkiller Base “have since scattered to other evacuation points, or been assigned to other missions,” the novelization is more explicit about what they’ve been up to.
In the aftermath of the battle and the First Order’s destruction of Hosnian Prime, Leia sent Snap, Jess, and numerous other pilots on a mission to gather the commanders from the New Republic who had survived the First Order’s attack after it sent the galaxy into chaos. Since we don’t hear from them in the novelization it’s unclear how that mission went or if they were successful, but since they’re not confirmed dead, both Snap and Jess would be able to return to the fight in Episode IX.
4) The First Order’s capital is constantly moving
Leia’s Resistance is tiny compared to the Rebel Alliance of old, a faction that was reduced enough that by the end of The Last Jedi, all of its surviving members on Crait could fit on the Millennium Falcon. It’s almost a speck in comparison to the size of the First Order, as the Resistance discovered to its detriment.
The Last Jedi unveiled the Supremacy, the First Order’s flagship which Supreme Leader Snoke calls his home, but it’s more than that. It serves as the First Order’s capital, holding “more than a million crewers,” according to Finn. It had more than enough stormtroopers, ships, and weapons at its disposal, a strategy that was completely by design.
General Armitage Hux’s reason for keeping everything on a mobile capital ship was pragmatic. He determined that having a fixed place for the government and military supplies was a weakness, and by keeping the capital mobile it allowed him and his army access to weapons at any time. On the other hand, it might not be such a good idea to have most of your arsenal on a single ship when another ship can plow straight into it while heading into hyperspace. While Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo’s sacrifice didn’t destroy the Supremacy or stop the First Order from chasing the Resistance on Crait, she made a rather large dent in the heart of the First Order.
5) Paige and Rose Tico’s close relationship
Paige Tico’s death early in The Last Jedi clearly devastated Rose, and it’s evident that the two sisters were close. The novelization expands on their relationship.
Aboard the Cobalt Hammer before it made its fateful journey to aid the First Order, Paige and Rose say goodbye to one another in one of the book’s earlier chapters. The two spent most of their lives together enduring one hardship after another—the longest the sisters had been apart at one time was a couple days—and as Rose noted in the novelization, the crew aboard on the Cobalt Hammer “accepted that the Ticos had a bond that would have been extraordinary even between twins.”
Rose didn’t join Paige on what turned out to be her final mission after volunteering to help demonstrate how other Resistance ships could incorporate technology to mask ships. That technology came into play later on as the Resistance used 30 transport ships with Rose’s baffler technology to escape to Crait. Paige was a constant presence in her mind as Rose started to become the hero they both dreamed about during her mission on Canto Bight and even with her evolving perception of Finn. And the Rebellion ring that Rose gave to a stable boy to gain his trust on Canto Bight also had a connection to Paige. She was given the ring after Paige’s death by the only other person from the bombing squadron who survived to commemorate Paige’s sacrifice.
6) What Leia knew about the Force
Though Leia was Force-sensitive like her brother, she never became a Jedi. But he made sure that she at least knew her potential and how to access it.
The Force helped Leia throughout her career, even if her uses of it were far less showy than Luke or Rey’s demonstrations (or her son’s destruction). After the evacuation from D’Qar, she could read the room and sense what people around her were feeling, ranging from elation and fear to dread, pride, and the thirst for revenge. She could feel out others on the ship and beyond it and even encountered her son Ben in the midst of a battle as they both recalled memories of the past in those fleeting moments.
And when the Raddus’ bridge was destroyed, sending Leia and the other commanders into the vacuums of space, she used the Force to bring herself back inside. The novelization described her path back into the ship formed by Force energy as “a tenuous ladder,” one that she climbed (or flew up) because Leia knew that her job wasn’t done yet.
7) What The Last Jedi reveals about the Force
The Force is everywhere in the galaxy, and it’s never more apparent than when reading the viewpoints of those who can wield it. At times, the Force feels like it’s its own character.
By getting into the heads of Rey and Kylo Ren, there’s a bigger sense about the extent of their connection; they can experience aspects of the other’s surroundings. Beyond what we’ve seen in the film, Rey can also feel Kylo Ren’s face being stitched up by a droid. At one point, Rey compares his presence before her to “a change in the weather.” They can sense one another when they’re next to each other, and Kylo Ren could feel Rey’s pain as Snoke tortured her on the Supremacy.
When Luke taps back into the Force, he is able to sense everything around him on Ahch-To including Rey, which the novelization characterizes as “burning so brightly that everything around her seemed attuned to her.” And he accessed different parts of the Force, including one part that had been quiet since the fall of the Galactic Empire. Afterward, he briefly considered joining Rey and the Resistance, but that thought went out of his mind after seeing Rey and Kylo Ren touch hands and Rey’s assurance that Kylo Ren could be turned.
And Snoke, one of the many narrators of The Last Jedi, knew a thing or two about making the Force bend to his will. Knowing the dangers of future visions, he manipulated Rey and Kylo Ren with results exceeding anything he could hope for. Right before he was about to die, he closed his eyes so he could experience Rey’s execution within the Force—but the decision would lead to his doom.
8) Luke’s missing “lesson”
One of the many deleted scenes The Last Jedi home release will include is a look at a cut lesson from Luke. It occurs directly after Rey learns Luke’s version of Ben Solo’s betrayal. Although it’s been referred to as Luke’s “third lesson,” it’s probably closer to being the second one.
After seeing fire coming from the Caretaker village, Rey is told by Luke that a neighboring clan is attacking them and that she should do nothing because that’s what the Jedi would do. Rey doesn’t listen and bolts over with her lightsaber only to find out that the Caretakers are having a party and both Chewbacca and R2-D2 have joined in on the festivities. It turns out Luke was joking.
The point of the lesson, Luke tells her while they dance together, is that the ways of the Jedi are outdated for today’s fight. Someone like her who wants to help is “what the Resistance needs.” But Rey is pissed and leaves him with plans to leave the island.
9) Rey’s parentage is made more concrete through Rey’s thoughts
The Last Jedi revealed that Rey’s parents were nobodies. For Rey, it was the worst answer she could’ve been given—and it drove a lightsaber into all of our fan theories. There is the potential that it could change with Episode IX, but the novelization cements it further instead of second-guessing it.
Kylo Ren had accessed Rey’s memories by the time he noted that her parents threw her away “like garbage.” Rey called herself an orphan on multiple occasions as she remembered the nights she spent alone on Jakku and the rituals she did there. But the biggest indication is when she and Kylo Ren finally address her parentage.
Rey tried to find the strength to deny him, to shove him away. But he was right. She did know the truth—and it was the same as her greatest fear, the one that had haunted her for so long
A truth she could find no refuge from.
10) Luke’s many attempts to destroy the ancient Jedi texts
After starting his exile on Ahch-To, Luke attempted to burn the ancient Jedi texts contained within the uneti tree that served as a library. He wanted to end the Jedi religion by burning its history. He tried a lot over the years, each time donning the white Jedi robes he meant to wear for the ceremonial burning of the books, but he faltered each time. He couldn’t do it. A recent attempt occurred shortly before Rey arrived on Ahch-To and even after Rey left the island he couldn’t make himself do it.
So Master Yoda stepped in to finally pull the plug, reassuring Luke that Rey had everything she needed. As we learn by the end of the movie (and novelization), Rey has everything she needs because she managed to swipe the ancient Jedi texts from the island before she left. Those books are, for now, safely stowed away on the Millennium Falcon.
11) Rey (and the Resistance) have some concerns about the porgs
Chewbacca’s first encounter with Ahch-To’s native porg population was purely instinctual—he was hungry and porgs looked like food—so he captured one and roasted it like a chicken. He attempted to eat it, but another porg’s sad stare made him feel bad about it. From there, Chewie and the porgs form a relationship.
The cute creatures soon took over the Millennium Falcon, and as exasperated as the porgs made Chewbacca, he either couldn’t (or wouldn’t) remove them from the ship. Rey wasn’t sure what to make of it, thinking that he was only keeping them there until he could cook them.
“Treating tomorrow’s meal as today’s pet struck Rey as a bit odd, but then it was a big galaxy, and every species was entitled to its quirks,” the narration stated about Rey’s thoughts on the matter.
And while we saw at least one porg make it off the island as he screeched during the Battle of Crait, the novelization confirms that even more porgs got away. As the last of the Resistance settled into the Millennium Falcon, they found that the ship was full of them: There were porgs in wires, in hatches, and near the gaming table, which led Leia to ask Chewbacca when the Millennium Falcon had turned into a “birdcage.”
12) The Caretakers really didn’t care for Rey
Rey didn’t have to speak the native language of the Lanai, the Caretakers of Ahch-To, to know that they didn’t like her much. Rey made their job difficult as she kept destroying ancient Jedi ruins and making a mess of things; the head Caretaker, Alcida-Auka, called her Luke’s “rude, destructive apprentice.” Luke told the Caretakers that she was his niece.
But taking care of Rey and Luke and anybody who found Ahch-To was part of their lives. Normally whoever found the island kept to themselves, but Luke had been much more immersive as he learned the Lanais’ language and participated in monthly celebrations when the male Lanai returned to the island. We only catch a glimpse of the Caretakers’ lives as they clean up everything Luke left behind, but there’s sure to be a fascinating story contained there—particularly if someone else finds the island someday.