Star Wars: Resistance Reborn Review – Spoiler Warning!!!
In this pivotal prequel to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the heroes of the Resistance—Poe Dameron, General Leia Organa, Rey, and Finn—must fight back from the edge of oblivion.
The Resistance is in ruins. In the wake of their harrowing escape from Crait, what was once an army has been reduced to a handful of wounded heroes. Finn, Poe, Rey, Rose, Chewbacca, Leia Organa—their names are famous among the oppressed worlds they fight to liberate. But names can only get you so far, and Leia's last desperate call for aid has gone unanswered.
From the jungles of Ryloth to the shipyards of Corellia, the shadow of the First Order looms large, and those with the bravery to face the darkness are scattered and isolated. If hope is to survive, the Resistance must journey throughout the galaxy, seeking out more leaders—including those who, in days gone by, helped a nascent rebellion topple an empire. Battles will be fought, alliances will be forged, and the Resistance will be reborn.
As the summary states, the Resistance is in ruins, not a surprise if you’ve seen The Last Jedi, but that sets the stage for the latest entry into the “Journey to the Rise of Skywalker” series, “Star Wars: Resistance Reborn”
In what can only be described as “canon porn” this new book from first time Star Wars writer Rebecca Roanhorse, is the culmination of years of ancillary products, brought together in near perfect harmony. EA’s Battlefront II, Star Wars Rebels, The Clone Wars, Inferno Squadron, Poe Dameron, Aftermath Trilogy, Bloodline, Lost Stars, Return of the Jedi, Empire Strikes Back, there’s plenty of darts to throw in this thorny, but sometimes convoluted story. But it’s more than just a nest of scattered Easter Eggs however, Rebecca conducts this crowded field like a symphony orchestra, and the end result is near-perfect harmony.
Indeed, this all-star mash-up of previous books, novels, comic books, movies, and video games, features a line-up too rich for most any other story to make sense. But not only does Rebecca make sense of it, she crafts a comprehensible tale that will serve as a nice, albeit complex, introduction into the Star Wars universe, should this be your first book.
This story takes place shortly after the events in The Last Jedi, how long after, we don’t really know. But as seen in the Poe Dameron marvel series, Black Squadron is wrapping up things on Ikkrukk, while Leia and the remainder of the Resistance are on the Falcon, looking for respite.
But, with the First Order still on the hunt, the Resistance doesn’t have the luxury of time and are still short of many other equally vital things, including Starfighters, freighters, and frigates. With leads all over the map, this still vastly outgunned group of heroes, is immediately forced to split up in search of help.
So, while Leia looks for a safe place to lay low, Black Squadron and Inferno Squadron are combing the galaxy for recruits. What they find out, specifically Zay Versio, is that the First Order is one step ahead of them and potential Resistance sympathizers are mysteriously disappearing. But, between the two Squadrons, they manage to find a handful of allies and meet Leia and the rest at a temporary safe house, which we’ll get into in a bit.
The First Order, like all good reliable evil apparatuses, seems incredibly fastidious when it comes to bookkeeping, often to their own detriment. This rigid application of rules and discipline, and an aversion to chaos might seem logical, but ultimately it leaves a trail of breadcrumbs for others to follow.
So, because of this, the McGuffin in this case is the Star Wars version of a NOC list. A record of high value subversives, sympathizers, and revolutionaries who all survived the Hosnian Prime cataclysm, and that the First Order either has captive or intends to capture, or worse.
The Resistance learns of these lists from Maz Kanata who is taking a mini vacation at a spa on the planet Ephemera. Poe goes there hoping to convince Maz to join the fight, instead she gives Poe a lesson in humility and strength, intending to see Poe become the leader she knows he can be. Before he leaves empty handed, she tells him about the list, and the First Order’s newfound brazenness when it comes to rounding up sympathizers.
Fifteen already detained prisoners have been considered of the highest value and are being transferred to Corellia, forced into hard labor, never to be heard from again. They will be placed under the watchful eye of high strung First Order Executive Records Officer on Corellia, specifically Coronet, more on him in a bit.
And that’s where a good chunk of this story takes place, on Corellia. It seems the list has gone missing, thanks to an underground movement called “The Collective” and is being auctioned off at a private event.
So, two teams are being sent there, including hometown boy Wedge Antilles, (yes, that Wedge Antilles) to retrieve the list, rescue some prisoners, and hopefully steal some ships in the process. If you know your recent Leia history, then one of those prisoners they intend to liberate will be familiar to you, especially if you’ve read “Bloodline” by Claudia Gray. That’s right, once thought dead Ransolm Casterfo is indeed alive, albeit in rough shape after years of First Order incarceration.
As for the remainder of the names on the “SUBERVERSIVES” docket, Leia sees them as potential allies and recruits that need protection. Problem is they are spread out around the galaxy; they’ll need more ships to cover that much territory.
So, a third mission is put together led by Shriv Suurgav to the planet Bracca, a junk and salvage planet, and home to newcomer Pacer Agoyo. Pacer already has a sister on the planet and knows his way around, stating there’s plenty of ships there, ready for the taking.
Three missions, three teams.
Apart from these missions, the core group of Leia, Rose, Rey, C-3PO, R2-D2, and Chewbacca monitor things from a secret location on the planet Ryloth. This is where the book more or less starts, as the Resistance, what’s left of it, goes there to lay low for a bit while they gather more recruits and come up with a plan, which we mentioned at the top.
This is all made possible thanks to an old friend of Leia’s, a Twi’lek name Yendor, who if you remember appeared in Lost Stars, Aftermath, and Bloodline. He’s an ambassador now and has two kids of his own, Charth and Hahnee, and is mostly consumed with keeping Ryloth a neutral planet, having been mostly ignored by the Fist Order. Nobody is thrilled that the Resistance is there during delicate times, but they do this for Leia, someone they respect.
The timing isn’t great however, as the First Order, unaware of the Resistance, chooses now to pay a visit to Ryloth and extort them. Things get complicated in a hurry and with the help of the Ryloth Defense Authority; they are able to keep the First Order at bay, allowing Leia and the gang to escape, but not without two key losses.
In the end, things go mostly according to plan and our heroes are sort of back where they started, just in greater numbers. They still don’t have a home base, or even a reliably safe location where they can operate out of, but, for the first time in a while, they feel rejuvenated. It’d been a while since they’ve tasted victory, even a small one, but they have here, and they like it. The Resistance, but perhaps more importantly Poe Dameron, has been reborn.
Rey has her own path for the most part, so, when it comes time for a star war, it’s vital the Resistance has a commander they can look to in their time of need, and they finally have that in Poe Dameron.
Okay, believe me when I tell you, that’s the Cole’s notes of Cole’s notes when it comes to this book. There’s much more happening, including lots of great name drops, emotional reunions, and daring missions, but you’ll have to read it to get the complete picture.
There’s no question that the stars of the book are Poe Dameron and Leia Organa, especially Poe who not only commands the most screen time but is also the largest floating head on the cover. But is it time well spent? Yes.
Like in Justina Ireland’s “Spark of the Resistance”, Poe is suffering from some PTSD after the events in The Last Jedi, but with the help of Leia and his Black Squadron, he’s slowly putting it back together. But at the start, Poe Dameron is still in his chrysalis stage and his growth and differentiation is slow going, the new Poe has yet to be realized. But you can see that with each passing moment, his metamorphosis is progressing in the right direction, so much that, by the end, he’s reborn.
The Leia we meet at this stage, while still managing to make the tough decisions and influence those around her, is showing her age. If you remember in The Last Jedi, she was blasted out into space and I don’t care who you are, when that happens, you feel it. And she is, feeling it, both physically and emotionally.
After decades fighting the good fight, she’s not only suffered through years of physical pain and torture, but deep tissue emotional pain as well. This is a woman who has given everything, and gained virtually nothing, comparatively speaking. Sure, she’s led rebellions, but she’s lost nearly everyone close to her, including her fathers, mothers, husband, son, brother, and close friends.
Yes, she’s been able to find solace in friends both new and old, but let’s not dismiss the hefty burden she’s carried for so, so long. Any other person would have crumbled long ago, no one else could have done it and function as well as she has. But she’s not normal; she’s incredibly powerful and unique.
It’s amazing we can draw all that from this book with very little page time for Leia. Her moments, while kept to a minimum, are resoundingly impactful and when she does speak, you listen. Poe may be the one out in the field executing, but make no mistake, Leia is the one pulling the strings. It’s her vision they are fulfilling and the connection her and Poe share is ubiquitous at this point, beyond even quantum entanglement.
Leia is the most self-aware person in the room, every single time. Because of this, there’s a sense she understands that her time is running short, and she’s running out of room to move. So, if the Resistance is going to not only survive, but thrive, it’ll be because Poe Dameron played a huge part in it. She knows Poe better than Poe knows Poe, so she’s using every opportunity as a learning one. Ensuring that he plays a role in the decision making process, even if he’s not actually making any of the decisions.
Part of this of course is by design, as she’s not looking to build Poe back up to the man he once was, but to something different, something better. Someone the rest of the Resistance would see as the spark that will light the fire that burns the First Order down. Someone they would follow into the sun. He’s already got Black Squadron with him, now he just needs to convince the rest.
As for the remainder of the line-up, you’ll find that the bigger the part in this book, the smaller the impact they’ll likely have in The Rise of Skywalker. For some, I suspect this is their Episode IX. But that’s okay, because their moment in the sun isn’t fleeting or wasted, it’s often vital and impactful. And there is one in particular who, for me, made this book truly special.
I’m a pretty big fan of Inferno Squadron, and the decision by the story group to have Shriv Suurgav and Zay Versio not only appear, but play significant roles in the story, made my heart grown a size or two. They share some truly wonderfully heartfelt exchanges, moments I myself have spent many hours thinking about.
In fact, here’s the book for me…
“The medic had dosed him with so much antivenin that he had felt like he was melting, flesh dripping off bone to puddle like wax at his feet. Not exactly that bone-crushing feeling of stepping onto a high-gravity planet for the first time unsuspecting, but the drag and the pull and the pain…what was the same.”
Pretty good use of language right there by Rebecca.
Shriv left a rather large impression on me ever since my first time through Battlefront II, and I’ve been waiting for more ever since. So, Rebecca gets my eternal gratitude for what she’s done with Shriv (and Zay), who not only gets to lead one of the three primary missions, but he gets his own squad as well, Dross Squadron!
And that’s all well and good, Shriv getting to flex the leadership muscles we suspected he had, but there are some quieter, emotional beats mixed in as well. Moments that remind you of that soft inflection he gets in his voice when he temporarily casts aside his snarky nihilism, in exchange for sensitivity and truth. On one such occasion, he’s asking Zay to stay behind with the ship on Bracca in case things go south and he doesn’t make it back from the mission…
“He couldn’t shake the feeling that he should have said more. Said something about how she meant the world to him, and maybe he was protecting her, but he was allowed to do that, right? He was allowed to protect his kid.”
This is preceded by some tender moments where Shriv and Zay discuss her mother and father as well, and how proud they would be. Ugh, my heart!
Yes, there is no doubt these chapters with Shriv, Zay, and the rest of Dross Squadron are some of my favorites. And there’s even an insanely good moment of sacrifice during the Bracca escape sequence involving Shriv and one of the new characters that will leave your heart thumping.
The emotion I felt, reading about Shriv, is the feeling you’ll likely get when you come across a character you’ve been wishing for. Whether it’s Nora Wexley, Wedge Antilles, Ransolm Casterfo, General Rieekan or Yendor, you’ve spent a considerable of time wondering what they’ve been up to. And the answers to those questions will most likely satisfy your pondering soul as Rebecca handles each one with care and respect.
Another enjoyable part of this book for me was getting more time with Black Squadron. Suralinda, Jessika, Snap, and Karé are keen and ready for action, having gone through some serious stuff lately. As mentioned, if you’ve read the Poe Dameron comic book series then you know exactly what they’ve been up to but seeing them back with Resistance is great. We know Snap Wexley (Greg Grunberg) is in The Rise of Skywalker, as for the rest? We’ll see but like I said, for many of these characters, this is their Episode IX.
As for the sequel regulars, Finn, Rose, Rey, and Chewbacca, well, they aren’t given much to do, but that’s because this isn’t their story, it doesn’t belong to them. Other than Finn hanging around with Poe, the rest stick close to Leia and the Falcon. Like I said, they’re about to get their moment as the headliners, on December 20th.
But, it’s not all familiar faces and names; we get some new ones as well to round out the cast. My favorite of greenhorns is the punch first; ask questions later type, Teza Nasz…
“The woman was imposing, unusually tall and rippling with what seemed to be hard-won muscle.”
Nasz is an ex-Imperial strategist turned Rattatak Warlord who doesn’t mess around when it comes to getting the job done. She was stationed on board the Ravager and was presumed dead after the Battle of Jakku, she’s been underground ever since. Having had a change heart, she came to realize she was on the wrong side and like many ex-Imperials, never developed a taste for the First Order’s directive.
She’s tough, smart, and resourceful and is looking to atone for the sins she committed. Because, Teza is not an innocent, she’s got blood on her hands and getting the others to accept her will ultimately decide her fate within the Resistance. In the end though, for her, it’s more cathartic than that, as Poe says about her journey, “Not redemption…penance.”
Lucky for us, bringing Nasz into the fold produces one of the books most entertaining moments. When Suralinda and Jessika go to Rattatak to recruit her, before they can speak with her, she forces them into a gladiatorial ring, where they must defeat her best warriors. It sounds more serious than it’s played in the book and is absurd as it sounds, but it’s funny as hell, and is one of those bizarre Mad Max type moments you wish was on film.
And that’s part of the reason she’s such an attractive character. She’s equal parts intellectual and brute who clearly embraces violence as a sport on one hand, but then a tool to contest evil on the other. Her reaction to the abuse of a 15-year-old girl is in line with someone who lives by a certain moral code, not a warlord who requires a pound of flesh as payment for a face-to-face. Wonderful.
Of course, you can’t have the Resistance without the First Order, who are present and accounted for, and it’s here we meet Winshur Bratt, the Executive Records Officer in Coronet City on Corellia. He’s a snob of the highest order, and unfortunately for those around him, completely self-aware. He started out with the Corellian Engineering Corporation and found a place for his kind of snake oil in the First Order after they assumed control.
And like many First Order officers he’s ambitious to a fault, and when he’s placed in charge of this high-value prisoner transfer, he seizes it as a means to an end, a way to expediate his rise to power.
He’s a real peculiar fellow, and uses his childhood bullying as an excuse to abuse his underlings at every opportunity. Like most folks with these types of behaviors, it’s unsustainable, and in the end, he self-destructs as his walls come crashing down around him. In a lot of ways, his undoing started years before the First Order showed up on Corellia, years before he took the job.
This self-destruction, fortunately for the good guys, doesn’t happen before things are set in motion which can’t be undone. Indeed, this portion of the story involves conspiratorial shenanigans, bureaucratic espionage, and underground militias, which all play a key role in the Corellian leg of this story.
And by moving the prisoners into Bratt’s powder kegged purview and onto Corellia, the First Order has unwillingly done the Resistance a huge favor, gifting them the respite of having to locate the HVP’s themselves. I told you this thing was complex.
But that’s the rabbit Rebecca has pulled out of this hat. She’s taken a clearly complicated, sometimes overtly intricate story, and made it a very palatable easy-to-understand account. By using her own gift with language, she’s managed to take all the complexity out of it. And she’s not byzantine about it either; it’s all there on the page, she’s just great at prose.
So, after all that, what are we left with?
I think I’ve made my point that this is a character dense, exposition heavy novel that never sacrifices story for personal sentiment, struggles, or unresolved fear and anger. Nor does it shy away from being saccharine when the right moment presents itself. These are weighty themes, especially when mixed in with the auspicious undertaking of having to set up the final film in the Saga, but Rebecca doesn’t shy away from it, she charges head-on like a warrior.
Speaking of Episode IX, with “The Journey to the Rise of Skywalker” splayed across the front cover, top-center, the story by design should give us a few hints as to what we can expect. In the case of “Resistance Reborn”, I would say most of the payoff will appear in the form of the armada money shot from the trailer, doubtful we’ll see some of these surprise characters show up. But it looks like we’ll finally see some live-action T-85 X-Wings!
With so much to resolve from the main characters in the films, there’s just no room for all these side characters to show up, let alone have an impact. But the movie is nearly 3 hours long, so you never know!
The personal struggles and uber-idiosyncratic relationship foibles are of interest to me personally and Rebecca really manages to capture the voices from some characters that I happen to be very fond of. She takes special care not to box them into a corner either, rather gives each one enough resolve to create a fair and balanced result, that leaves the door open for more storytelling opportunities.
This is my first Roanhorse read and it’s easy to see why she was gifted a Star Wars novel. Her writing style and ingenuity seems inherently trouble-free and doesn’t use an overabundance of text to get her point across. It’s very clear, and very concise. I understand, that to some, it may read slightly foreign, but that’s just Star Wars vernacular which for first timers, may seem undecipherable on occasion.
I think many Star Wars folks will cite this novel as one of their favorites for these reasons; it’s a simple concept to grasp and delivers on what it promises. And when you combine that with a ton of fan favorite characters from the past and present and white knuckled action, well, you’ve got a winner on your hands.
The book services both newbies and dedicated canon enthusiasts, but ultimately favoring the later, rewarding those that have done their homework. So, having said that, would I suggest this to someone who’s never read a Star Wars book before? Probably not, but that’s looking at it through my lens, I’m jaded and cynical, it’s why I read Star Wars, for hope!
Joking aside, that would be a nightmare scenario for my idiosyncrasy, feverishly having to seek out the source material, but I can understand the point of view. The truth is, the perfect entry point into the world of Star Wars publishing is the spot YOU choose to enter the world of Star Wars publishing.
In the end, it doesn’t matter when you choose to play your hand, so as long as you do. And as first looks go, "Resistance Reborn" plays out in such an amiable pleasing fashion; you’ll want more Star Wars right away, and after all these years, I know I did.
The Resistance is indeed reborn, and we have Rebecca to thank for that.
Until next time…MTFBWY.
"Star Wars: Resistance Reborn" is published by Penguin Random House/Del Rey Books and is available now wherever you buy your books. Run, don't walk, and get your copy today!
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