How do a legendary general and a hot-shot pilot take a couple dozen allies on one ship and rebuild a fighting force that can take on an ever-growing army of unoriginal evildoers? The new book Star Wars: Resistance Reborn by Rebecca Roanhorse (published by Del Rey) answers that question. Both General Leia Organa and Commander Poe Dameron have their hands full, as their Resistance (as we last saw it in Star Wars: The Last Jedi) is not doing very well. They need allies, they need ships, and they need them now.
The book takes place very close to the ending of The Last Jedi, so there's plenty of room for things to develop by the time we get to the saga-capping Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. While the book does set some things in motion for the new film (why it's not going to be just the Millennium Falcon fighting an entire First Order fleet, for example), it mostly serves as a round-up of almost every character from the canonical books, comics, and games that are still alive in the sequel era.
Resistance Reborn pretty much goes through the last few years of canon and asks, "who do we have left?" Every now and then, we also get a character from the films who may still have a fate left up in the air, and it's very welcome. That said, the book makes no promises (none whatsoever) that the returning characters on display will appear in the new movie. Just because a beloved character from the movies (and books) plays a major role here, it's not a promise they will pop up in The Rise of Skywalker... the new film takes place years after this book, and a lot of things can happen.
There's a lot of teasing going on but it's not annoying. Far from it: The book opens up all kinds of possibilities for the canon, it adds to the lore, and it really makes you want to see the new film immediately... though, admittedly, that was already the case. We've gone as far as we can go without hitting the spoiler hyperdrive... now it's time to get specific.
**WARNING: From this point forward, there will be spoilers for the book Star Wars: Resistance Reborn. The spoilers will be massive, as that is the entire point of this article. We absolutely encourage you to read the book before you read any of this if you don't want to be spoiled.**
ALL FAMOUS HANDS ON DECK
As the cover suggests, the book definitely focuses on Leia and Poe. The former is still healing from the events of The Last Jedi, and the latter is dealing with his massive guilt regarding his mutiny against Vice Admiral Holdo. Whether or not Poe is ready to be a leader doesn't matter, he has to be, and he gradually steps up in fantastic fashion. Leia continues to be the beating heart of it all, but even she knows that she won't be around forever. She's pretty much all that's left of the Resistance leadership — though we never saw it, we get confirmation that Admiral Statura (Ken Leung in Star Wars: The Force Awakens) died in the same scene that Admiral Ackbar did.
For the record, Rey, Finn, Rose, Connix, all three droids, and Nien Nunb are also present in the book. It's one of the first times we've gotten to read Rey on the page (aside from movie adaptations) and it's a treat.
Leia (and the book) wastes no time in rallying whatever forces she can from every corner of the canon. Shriv Suurgav and Zay Versio of Inferno Squadron (Star Wars: Battlefront II) check in early on, and they both become major players. Black Squadron from the Poe Dameron comic run also has a big part to play — Snap Wexley has already appeared in books (and the films, played by Greg Grunberg), and Jess Pava did appear in The Force Awakens, but other characters (Karé Kun, Suralinda Javos) that have only ever been seen in those comics hit the novelized page for the first time.
Vi Moradi (Star Wars: Phasma, Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge: Black Spire) doesn't appear, but she gets a mention regarding the Resistance actions she's coordinating out on Batuu. The crew of the Colossus from Star Wars Resistance also gets a small inclusion, as a First Order list of "subversives" (which is pivotal to the plot) includes a group of rebels that were last seen on the planet Castilon.
There are major ties to other Star Wars books, as Snap is set to recruit his mother, Norra Wexley, who is now married to original trilogy legend Wedge Antilles. The tale of Wedge and Norra (and the origins of Snap himself) were a huge part of the Star Wars: Aftermath book trilogy, and "Phantom Squadron" from those books also gets a shoutout. Ransolm Casterfo from Claudia Gray's Star Wars: Bloodline makes a return, as does Yendor, a character Gray created for Star Wars: Lost Stars, who has since reappeared many times.
In terms of characters from the films? General Rieekan (Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back) makes a welcome return to action, and a legend from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi finally enters the new canon in a grand way. I am speaking of "Prune Face," who was named "Orrimaarko" years ago by Pablo Hidalgo. The eye-patched Dressellian worked on the intelligence side of things for the Rebellion during the Battle of Endor — that's why he was there during his blink-and-you-miss-it appearance in ROTJ. That's the skillset he is ready to bring to the Resistance. Welcome back, Orrimaarko!
THERE'S SCRAP FOR THAT
People are going missing left and right, and potential allies are vanishing constantly. That's because the First Order has the aforementioned list of subversives and known troublemakers. Leia and Poe decide that they've got to get this list, and then use it to recruit new members and protect old friends.
Along the way, they've gotta get their hands on more ships — stealing one during a main mission to Corellia helps (it's a classic Blockade Runner!), and Shriv's team boosts some X-Wings that were set to be scrapped from the junk planet Bracca. There's plenty of talk about salvaging old ships for new purposes, so that one shot of the rag-tag Resistance armada from the final Rise of Skywalker trailer instantly comes to mind.
One of the most memorable new assets to the Resistance is Teza Nasz, a former Imperial-turned-warlord from the barbaric planet Rattatak. She can fight, she can banter, and she generally gives no kriffs. Many of the new recruits are people who have made mistakes or were formerly enemies... now, they are trying to make amends. Poe counts himself among this group, Finn obviously does, and Suralinda does too. As if that's not enough, Leia herself among them, reminding everyone at one point that she herself, their leader, is the daughter of Darth Vader.
There are more and more former Imperials joining the new cause, either because they've seen the errors of their ways or they just don't like the spiffy and idiotic First Order. Whatever their reasons, Poe sums it up the best. At the end of one of his inspirational speeches (which become a thing), he says that they are all making "a choice to be better."
Does the book have any romance in it? Any sex? Any hot shipping action to report? Well... not really... but we can make some educated guesses about what's to come based on certain scenes and interactions.
We'll say this first: Kylo Ren is not in the book. He is briefly mentioned during an early talk between Rey and Leia, but that's it. Not that it's shipping related, but Leia is still missing Han. Though they find a temporary base on Ryloth (which they lose by book's end), she stays on the Falcon because it reminds her of him.
It's a little conversation that Finn has with Poe about his love life that gives us some clues as to where love will be written in the stars. Poe walks in on Rey and Finn having a very deep talk, their body language very, very intimate. Poe doesn't want to interrupt, but he does. Thanks, man.
Rey leaves, so Poe asks the question that we all want to ask Finn at this point: What's going on with him and Rey? Are they... you know? Finn's response is: "No, nothing like that. Just friends."
Because Poe is pretty much all in (and a full audience surrogate at this point), he has the balls to go one further and ask Finn about Rose. Finn reacts differently here — he's thrown off, blushes, but ultimately says, "Crait... was a moment. But that's it. Friends there too."
Poe slaps him on the shoulder and says, "I can't keep up with your 'just friends' man."
Based on this exchange (and some other moments from recent issues in the comics), we are going to presume that everyone should prepare for Finn and Rose to be an endgame couple in the final film. Poe and Finn are very close in this book, but it is not romantic in any way... we imagine Zorii Bliss will fill that void for Poe. As for Rey? She likely has a destiny in store that goes far beyond shipping... or it could involve... you know.
Thus ends the shipping report.
THE FIRST ORDER: NEVER STOP SUCKING
Ever since the destruction of the Hosnian System in TFA, the First Order has spread across the cosmos like a disease. They descend on planets (such as Corellia) and take over, commandeering any and all resources. There's no one to stop them.
General Rieekan calls them "a movement with no official government," but Norra Wexley quickly tells him, "I think you underestimate how massive they've become." Indeed, the First Order is everywhere, but we get a look at how they work on a more intimate level through the truly awful Winshur Bratt.
Bratt works in the Executive Records office on Corellia, and like the rest of the First Order, he acts like he values discipline and order above all else. This is proven to be false, because when things go wrong for him (he is mostly responsible for the list of subversives getting out in the open), he just turns violent. All of his high-minded ideals go right out the airlock, and he speaks with his fists instead. He kills a superior officer (who was probably intending to kill him), and severely beats his assistant, Yama Dex.
It is because of the beating that Yama sees the light and realizes that everything the First Order "stands for" is poodoo. She helps the Resistance in the end, and Bratt ends up with a blaster bolt through his chest, courtesy of Teza Nasz. As he dies, Bratt's thought process tells us all we need to know about this silly bunch of Neo-Imperials: "It was violence that had lied to him. It had made him promises of power, but in the end, it had not saved him." Snokes for the memories, Winshur.
TO THE FAR CORNERS OF THE GALAXY
By the end of the book, the Resistance is in better shape, but they're still flying on fumes. The new collective is broken up somewhat, with all of the various teams being sent to all corners of the galaxy to find and recruit allies that appear on the list that the Resistance has successfully gotten ahold of.
Meaning, just when we were getting used to our new group of heroes, they split up.
Yes, Wedge Antilles is still alive at the end. Does this guarantee Denis Lawson will reprise the role in the new movie? Absolutely not. Teza Nasz is a great addition to the canon, but do her actions here secure her a spot? They do not. Jess Pava of Black Squadron was already in TFA, and she survives here — but Jessica Henwick is not a sure bet, and neither are book/comic-centric creations like Suralinda Javos.
Would we love to see all of these characters appear in the new movie? Absolutely, but this isn't an Avengers: Endgame situation where everyone is going to be recognized coming out of a portal. General movie-goers aren't going to know who the hell Shriv Suurgav is, and they likely wouldn't even recognize Wedge. It would be a mighty bit of fan service to include any of these characters, and we'd welcome it... we just wouldn't bet on it.
This joyous gathering of heroes from all corners of the books, comics, and games does very well for this book — it gets the Resistance up and running in a satisfying way, and it makes every little corner of this interconnected canon matter. That is not a guarantee that anyone here will appear on our screens in a couple of months, but there's also nothing stopping them from living on in more books, comics, and games.
Who will appear in The Rise of Skywalker without question? Rey, Finn, and Poe... who literally end this book with their arms around each other as Poe says, "Now let's go save a galaxy."
Leia looks at them, smiles, and is filled with hope. The spark has most definitely not gone out.
Star Wars: Resistance Reborn is on shelves right now.