Though the upcoming novelization of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker isn’t officially on sale for a couple more weeks, advanced copies of Rae Carson’s book were sold at this weekend’s C2E2 in Chicago. And already, passages from the novel are beginning to emerge online, including an excerpt recently shared by ScreenRant that confirms a popular fan theory about Emperor Palpatine.
Despite being the most hyped-up development of the Sequel Trilogy finale, Palpatine’s comeback gets only the briefest and vaguest of justifications in the film itself. Fans have therefore had to rely on the movie’s spinoff material to learn more about how the villain survived his fate in Return of the Jedi, and in the space of two paragraphs, the novelization offers perhaps the most developed explanation yet:
“All the vials were empty of liquid save one, which was nearly depleted. Kylo peered closer. He’d seen this apparatus before, too, when he’d studied the Clone Wars as a boy. The liquid flowing into the living nightmare before him was fighting a losing battle to sustain the Emperor’s putrid flesh.
“‘What could you give me?’ Kylo asked. Emperor Palpatine lived, after a fashion, and Kylo could feel in his very bones that this clone body sheltered the Emperor’s actual spirit. It was an imperfect vessel, though, unable to contain his immense power. It couldn’t last much longer.”
Even before The Rise of Skywalker reached theaters, there was much speculation that cloning technology played a role in Palpatine’s return, and this short passage seems to confirm just that. Specifically, it sounds like Palpatine’s spirit was transferred into a clone of his original body, though this new body’s physical decline makes it necessary for Sheev to find another vessel.
It’s strange to think that such an important detail was revealed in a few lines of a tie-in novel, and yet the film itself couldn’t put aside 20 seconds for an explanation. What’s more, this seems to be a recurring pattern for J.J. Abrams’ latest feature.
For example, while the movie never clarifies where the Emperor’s enormous fleet came from, the film’s Visual Dictionary tells us both who built Palpatine’s ships and where they got the parts from. We can expect the novelization of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker to fill in a few more blanks when the book hits shelves on March 17th.