Since the end credits rolled on Star Wars: The Last Jedi back in 2017, that galaxy far, far away has been in limbo. Kylo Ren has become the new Supreme Leader of the First Order. Luke Skywalker's dead. The few remaining survivors of the Resistance are crowded onto an unlikely lifeboat, the Millennium Falcon. Some kid uses the Force to pick up a broom. And after that, nothing… The period between Episode 8 and the upcoming Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is the storytelling equivalent of the Unknown Regions. Well, that was the case for two years…
Star Wars: Resistance Reborn, a new novel by Rebecca Roanhorse (on sale now) picks up where The Last Jedi left off, and finds the Resistance fighting for its very survival –and to find new recruits. A flagship title in the so-called The Journey to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker initiative, it’s official canon and helps set the scene for the hotly anticipated final movie in the Skywalker Saga. Unsurprisingly, director J.J. Abrams and co are saving the biggest revelations for Episode 9 itself, but the book is packed with plenty of clues about the state of the Resistance, and how we’ll find General Leia Organa, Rey, Finn, Poe Dameron, Rose Tico, Chewie and the rest after we hear John Williams’ famous fanfare later this month.
GamesRadar+ has read the novel and picked out 20 things we've learned from Resistance Reborn that you need to know before you watch Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. And it goes without saying that if you haven’t read the book yet, spoilers lie ahead…
There are more Resistance survivors than we thought
At the end of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, it looked like the entirety of the Resistance was squeezed inside the Millennium Falcon. Luckily, there were a few more survivors, as Poe Dameron’s Black Squadron – including Temmin “Snap” Wexley (played by Greg Grunberg) and Jessika Pava (Jessica Henwick) – were off on another mission while the First Order were slowly picking off their colleagues. The Resistance also managed to hang on to 10 X-Wing fighters, an A-Wing and a small number of civilian ships. It’s better than nothing…
There are reasons the galaxy didn’t come to the Resistance’s aid
When the Resistance were holed up on Crait, Leia sent out a desperate call for help, and yet nobody in the galaxy answered. It wasn’t simply a case of cosmic indifference, however. On top of Leia’s suspicions that the First Order have found a way to block Resistance transmissions, the bad guys have been systematically “disappearing” former members of the Rebellion and others they suspect of being Resistance sympathisers.
Leia still has friends in high places
The New Republic may be gone, but General Organa can still call in a favour from acquaintances she’s made during a lifetime of service. Thanks to her relationship with retired Twi’lek pilot Yendor, she’s able to find sanctuary from the First Order on the planet of Ryloth – albeit briefly…
Rebuilding the Resistance is the priority
Having spent The Last Jedi losing people and ships at a mind-boggling rate, the Resistance is in a period of consolidation. To have any chance of defeating the First Order, Leia realises she has to make sure she keeps the resources she already has – and that recruiting new members (whether they’re soldiers, engineers or military strategists) and acquiring new spacecraft is essential for their survival.
The First Order keeps a list of its enemies
The main MacGuffin in Resistance Reborn is the First Order’s list of political prisoners – in other words, it’s a handy recruitment guide for the Resistance. Expect the Resistance’s numbers to have swelled significantly by the time the opening crawl rolls on The Rise of Skywalker.
The First Order isn’t sitting still
The Galactic Empire spin-off hasn’t been content to simply rest on its laurels, even though its Starkiller Base has wiped out the New Republic’s centre of government in the Hosnian system – it’s making a concerted effort to take over as many worlds as possible. Many governments fall into line out of fear for what will happen if they don’t – which is fair enough, seeing as the First Order has no qualms about taking worlds by force. Or blowing them up entirely.
Leia doesn’t know why her son turned to the Dark Side
Leia made reference to Supreme Leader Snoke tempting Ben Solo to the Dark Side in The Force Awakens, but she still has no idea what it was that tipped him over the edge (that Luke was tempted to murder him one evening). “I think you would have to ask Ben what happened to him,” she tells Rey.
…but she knows Rey is a big deal
Rey’s having “feelings”, which isn’t something to be brushed under the carpet when you’re Force sensitive. Leia senses that Rey’s powers may be greater even than Luke’s, but that she needs someone more powerful than her to help her fulfil her destiny. Could that someone be Kylo Ren or even Emperor Palpatine?
…and she’s still not sure about Finn
The former Stormtrooper is a confusing one for General Organa. Poe vouches for him – which helps his cause – but she’s not sure his heart's truly with the Resistance. Maybe the fact he’s unstoppably loyal to his friends, Rey, Poe and Rose, is enough…
Rose Tico can’t have been too badly injured
Rose wasn’t in a good way after crashing her speeder to save Finn during the battle on Crait. But she’s walking and talking a few days later in Resistance Reborn, so her injuries can’t have been that bad. Phew!
The First Order has a surprising amount of middle management
The Star Wars movies showcase the Stormtroopers and the crazy military leaders (stand up General Hux!), but rarely the middle-ranking officers who make the whole sinister operation tick. The book gives time to First Order operatives outside the spotlight, some of them driven by ambition, others just wanting to keep their heads down and not be noticed – though thankfully there’s no time for spreadsheets.
Poe is a broken man
Turns out that Poe Dameron’s inspiring speech about being "the spark that’ll light the fire that’ll burn the First Order down" was just a front. He’s riddled with guilt for his actions in The Last Jedi, from the deaths in the assault on the First Order dreadnought, to his mutiny against Vice-Admiral Holdo. (For the record, though, he still thinks the attack on the Dreadnought was a good idea.)
There’s still hope for a Finn/Poe romance
Feelings for Rey? “Just friends.” In love with Rose? “Friends there, too.” When Finn confirms there’s nothing going on with either woman, it leaves the door open for Star Wars to send the internet into a shipping frenzy. Will Finn and Poe get together? We’ll have wait and see…
Maz Kanata is still reluctant to choose sides
Okay, you’d forgive Maz Kanata for being a tad miffed that a Resistance/First Order skirmish had destroyed her castle on Takodana. But she’s so clearly one of the good guys that it’s surprising that she’s reluctant to fully sign up to the Resistance cause. Luckily Poe can still call her an ally, because she supplies information crucial to the recovery of the First Order’s list of enemies – and she surely has a big part still to play in the Skywalker Saga before it wraps up.
Wedge Antilles is back
What honour does Wedge Antilles share with Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia, C-3PO, R2-D2, Chewbacca, Darth Vader and (in the Star Wars Special Editions) Boba Fett? They’re the only characters to appear in all three movies of the original trilogy. Strong rumours have been circulating for weeks that Denis Lawson (real-life uncle of Obi-Wan Kenobi himself, Ewan McGregor) is reprising his role as the ace X-wing pilot in The Rise of Skywalker, and they’re backed up by Wedge’s return to the fray in Resistance Reborn.
Having lived a quiet life with his wife Norra Wexley (mother of Snap, and a retired Rebel pilot herself) on the world of Akiva, the pair join the Resistance in its time of need, bringing their own Phantom Squadron colleagues to the cause. They go their own way at the end of the novel, but you should have no doubt they’ll be on standby if (and probably when) Leia calls.
Top fact: Wedge was the instructor who taught Poe Dameron how to fly.
More old faces have rejoined the fight
Before you get too excited, you’ll have to wait until The Rise of Skywalker to see how Lando Calrissian and Emperor Palpatine come back into the fray – there’s no way characters of that magnitude were going to be reintroduced in a mere novel! But there are a couple of treats for fans of the original trilogy, as General Carlist Rieekan, the guy in charge of Hoth’s Echo Base in The Empire Strikes Back, joins Leia’s backroom staff, along with Orrimaarko. Don’t recognise the name? He appears briefly (and barely in focus) during the Rebel briefing in Return of the Jedi, and is perhaps better known as Prune Face – he even had a figure in the original 1980s Kenner range, a fact referenced by this brilliant Robot Chicken sketch.
There’s also a nod in Resistance Reborn to Hera Syndulla, the ace Twi’lek pilot in Star Wars Rebels – seeing as her ship, the Ghost, has been sighted in the most recent Rise of Skywalker trailer, she could be out there somewhere…
R2-D2 is mourning Luke
You’ve got to feel for the astromech droid. After Luke Skywalker ran off to Ahch-To, R2-D2 went into low-power mode for years, until the map to his old master’s whereabouts was completed. Then, within days of being reunited with his best mate – sorry, C-3PO – the last Jedi becomes the late Jedi. So it’s not surprising R2’s making himself a bit scarce in Resistance Reborn – and Leia is wisely giving him some space.
Leia has recorded her memoirs
Standby for the biggest bestseller in that galaxy far, far away… Leia has been busy laying down her life story, in the hope that the new generation may learn from the mistakes of the past.
Leia is passing the baton
Who knows what Star Wars: Episode 9 would have looked like if Carrie Fisher hadn’t passed away in 2016, but there’s a definite sense of a baton being handed over in Resistance Reborn – that Poe, Rey, Finn and Rose will be taking the lead in the final fight against the First Order, as the older generation steps aside.
The Millennium Falcon’s new radar dish is still to come
And the biggest takeout from Resistance Reborn… The Falcon lost its square radar dish in during the Battle on Crait. It has a round radar dish in the trailers for The Rise of Skywalker. It’s still missing in Resistance Reborn. At some point between the novel and the movie, someone is going to attach a new dish to the Falcon roof. Maybe someone can write a comic about an event even more momentous than C-3PO getting a red arm.
Get to further grips with the galaxy far, far away by reading our comprehensive article on the Star Wars timeline. And, if you fancy re-watching the series, then you here's how to watch the Star Wars movies in order (there are seven different ways...)