Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker Novel Reveals Exactly How Palpatine Survived His Death

Palpatine Star Wars

Fans were left scratching their heads after Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker failed to deliver any real kind of explanation for how Emperor Palpatine was still alive, after he’d both fallen to his apparent death in the Death Star and had been inside it when it exploded. In the run-up to the release of the film’s novelization though, we at least learned a partial explanation, with his decrepit form in TROS clarified to be a clone body.

The novelization, from author Rae Carson, officially came out this week and now we’ve discovered a fuller explanation for Darth Sidious’ survival. When Rey is feigning obedience to her evil grandfather during the Sith ritual at the story’s climax, though she’s really planning on turning against him, she receives visions of Palpatine’s past. Here, the book reveals exactly how he managed to escape his certain doom back in Return of the Jedi, and you can read the relevant passage below:

“Plagueis had not acted fast enough in his own moment of death. But Sidious, sensing the flickering light in his apprentice, had been ready for years. So the falling, dying Emperor called on all the dark power of the Force to thrust his consciousness far, far away, to a secret place he had been preparing. His body was dead, an empty vessel, long before it found the bottom of the shaft, and his mind jolted to a new awareness in a new body – a painful one, a temporary one.”

So, there you have it. Sidious was wise to Vader’s wavering loyalty all along and knew he might ultimately turn against him. It’s not outright stated where he sent his essence, but we can presume this “far, far away” place was Exegol and the “painful,” temporary body he transmitted himself into was one of his clone forms. We know he attempted to create the perfect body himself, including a cast-off imperfect clone that would become Rey’s father. In the end though, he decided Rey’s form would be the best body for him to possess. But, as we know, that plan backfired massively.

Now that we’ve got this information, it remains to be seen whether it’ll ever be explored in a fuller way in some other form of tie-in media, maybe as its own novel or comic book series. For now, however, the Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker novelization is your best bet to find the answers that were frustratingly left out of the film itself.