One of the best things about Star Wars’ galaxy far, far away is how expansive its menagerie of characters, stories, and locations are. Few entries in the expanded universe better illustrate this point than the From a Certain Point of View books. With short stories written by a variety of well-known and up-and-coming science fiction and fantasy authors, From a Certain Point of View retells the stories of the films from the perspectives of non-leading characters.
Now, the long-awaited reframing of Return of the Jedi will be hitting booksellers as the final volume within A New Hope’s 40th-anniversary celebration collection. In similar fashion as its two preceding companion books, From a Certain Point of View: Return of the Jedi includes stories from beings typically seen as supporting cast members.
Like any war real or imagined, however, taking stock of multiple perspectives complicates seemingly straightforward surface narratives. Here are some of the most compelling characters that will be included in this particular compendium.
Whatever your personal feelings about Ewoks, their contribution at the Battle of Endor was critical for the Rebel Alliance’s victory. Played in the film by Warwick Davis – the actor that also brought George Lucas’ Willow and Harry Potter’s Professor Flitwick to life – Wicket serves as the de facto liaison between the indigenous Ewoks and Leia Organa.
The Ewoks are one of the rare Star Wars species that seem fairly disconnected from the rest of the galaxy. As a result, the little bear-like creatures are fascinated by “modern” technology and even revere C-3PO as a prophesied golden god in Return of the Jedi. It is the Ewoks’ guerrilla warfare strategy, though, that makes them a formidable foe against the Empire. Using hand-crafted gliders and catapults, the Ewoks assist the Rebels with destroying the Empire’s shield generator, which in turn gives the Alliance an opening to take down the Second Death Star.
Although Endor exists within a fictional universe (albeit one with a huge following and massive cultural footprint), the story of Wicket and the Ewoks carries themes familiar to many colonized societies within aggressively oppressive and racist systems. As Master Yoda says, “size matters not,” and the Ewoks, as silly and huggable as they may seem, certainly exemplify that statement.
Featured in some of the more recent Star Wars series to come out on Disney+, Mon Mothma has always been an influential, somewhat behind-the-scenes figure in the Rebel Alliance. An undercover operator in the Imperial government, Mon Mothma gathers intelligence and strategizes for the Rebels right underneath Palpatine’s long, controlling shadow. Some books within Disney’s Star Wars canon portray her as a beloved mentor of Leia Organa, who eventually leads her own band of motley rebels against the New Order.
In the streaming series Andor, viewers are introduced to Mon’s family life and bear witness to her fraught relationship with her daughter, Leida. It’s not a far stretch of the imagination to see Mon’s training of Leia in the art of secret warfare as a stand-in for her own self-perceived failures as a mother (also ‘Leida’ sounds and is spelled very similar to ‘Leia’). Witnessing Mon’s transition from secret agent to Rebel commander from her own perspective would place additional attention on this popular yet rarely explored character.
The most villainous character in the Star Wars universe is, without a doubt, Emperor Palpatine. Although the non-canonized novel, Darth Plagueis, delves into young Sheev Palpatine’s backstory, the post-Disney acquisition era hasn’t given fans quite the same level of insight into the Sith Lord’s past.
In Return of the Jedi, Palpatine is perhaps at his most sinister as he brutally pits father and son against each other on the Second Death Star. It’s only through Luke’s strength in the Force and belief in Anakin’s inherent goodness that the Emperor is finally defeated. Or is he?
In The Rise of Skywalker and Adam Christopher’s excellent book Star Wars: Shadow of the Sith, fans get glimpses into Palpatine’s plan for cloning himself and growing (yes, in test tubes) replacement bodies that can channel his evil spirit from wherever it resides after his death. Perhaps author Olivia Blake will lay the groundwork for Palpatine’s ultimate return in her short story about the man. Did the Emperor sense his imminent demise and plan to cheat death via cloning technology? Was he really just that paranoid? Maybe From a Certain Point of View will give us some answers.
The patriarch of the Skywalker legacy, Anakin’s dance between the Dark and Light side of the Force is a consistent theme throughout six of the nine existing films. From his roots as an enslaved human boy on Tatooine to his rise as the powerful Darth Vader, Anakin’s narrative arc is that of a fallen hero, the savior predestined to save the galaxy whose hubris nearly destroys it instead.
Mike Chen, author of Star Wars: Brotherhood, has already produced an action-packed deep dive into Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin’s fraught relationship. As a contributor to From a Certain Point of View, Chen offers a “gripping tale” of Anakin becoming one with the Force.
The process of how certain Force wielders extend their spirit lives after death is a mysterious one. It doesn’t seem to be an intuitive ability for most, as evidenced by Palpatine, who literally kills his master and takes over the galaxy in pursuit of immortality. Chen might finally offer a peek under the veil of this oh-so-coveted power, though. Return of the Jedi fans know that Anakin does indeed become a Force ghost when he appears to Luke during the celebration after the Battle of Endor. But how his twisted soul made this transition – and gained a coveted spot next to the likes of Master Yoda and Obi-Wan – is currently just speculation for Star Wars theorists.
In Christopher’s Shadow of the Sith, Luke actually receives help from his father’s spirit after accidentally teleporting to Exegol. In the ensuing battle with the Sith Eternal – in short, the group actively working to bring the Emperor back to life – Anakin’s spirit literally weakens as he defends his son against the darkness. Although it’s not clear why this happens, one thing is for sure: the events of Return of the Jedi are a direct correlation with those in The Rise of Skywalker. For that reason alone, the new From a Certain Point of View holds immense promise.
Or, if you’re looking for something a little less heavy, the story about the sarlacc will likely be good too.
Star Wars From a Certain Point of View: Return of the Jedi releases on August 29, 2023. You can pre-order it below: