Seeing Leia train as a Jedi was undoubtedly a highlight of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Leia and Luke running around the forest and fighting with lightsabers behind blast shields was undercut only by the fact that we didn’t get to see more of it. However, in the novelization of the film, it seems that backstory is much more prominent, and here’s one example of just how incredible that becomes.
The official Star Wars website posted a long excerpt from Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Expanded Edition by Rae Carson, and it reveals much more about Leia and Luke training. One bit in particular stands out as insanely awesome and we’ve included an excerpt below. Head to the above link to read the rest.
Many years ago, not long after the Battle of Endor, she’d discovered the meditative power of sound. She and Luke had stolen away for some training, and somehow she’d ended up standing on her hands while Luke slung good-natured taunts her way. Even with help from the Force, her shoulders had started to burn, her arms wobble. They’d already spent the last hour sparring with their lightsabers, and her body was exhausted.
“You know,” Luke had said, his voice smug, “when I did this on Dagobah, Yoda was sitting on my feet.”
He said that a lot back then. When I did this on Dagobah . . . It was obnoxious and completely unhelpful. So Leia reminded him, “You’re being obnoxious and completely unhelpful.”
“I also did it one-handed,” he added
He was trying to provoke her, to teach her a lesson about anger and impatience, and all that nonsense. Luke had forgotten that his student was a superb strategist who’d already benefited from a royal education. Leia would not be provoked.
Instead, she considered. She reached out to the Force, let it flow through her like blood in her veins. A tiny insect began rubbing its mandibles together, whistling a sweet, high song.
Some instinct guided her, and Leia focused on the sound. It was beautiful, pure, ethereal—completely untethered to the worries of leadership and teaching, failure and learning.
With focus, and with delight, Leia raised herself off the ground.
She floated upside down, feet pointed to the sky. After a moment, she lifted her arms and held them parallel to the ground.
But she was just a student, new to the ways of the Force, and when she came back to herself, fully realized what she’d done, she whipped her hands back down lest she fall.
She did it just in time. Her form collapsed, and she found herself kneeling in mud. No matter. She’d do better next time.
Leia looked up to find Luke staring at her, mouth open.
“Did you ever do that with Yoda?” she couldn’t resist asking.
He shook his head wordlessly.
“I can do better,” she insisted. “Float longer.”
Luke found his voice. “You’re going to make me a better teacher,” he said.
Not the response she’d expected. “What do you mean?”
He reached down, helped her up. “Your footwork is terrible,” he said. “Don’t get me wrong, your lightsaber craft is coming along, but . . . you do other things. Naturally.” His face turned apologetic. “What I mean is, you’re exceptional. Just . . . different.”
Then he had smiled, with that wide farm-boy grin that had stayed with him all the way up until the night of Ben’s betrayal.
Yup. Luke thought he was cool because he balanced on one hand with Yoda on his feet. Leia was like, “Oh yeah, how about no hands, twin bro?”
This short excerpt feels like a perfect example of the many potential gifts of the book adaptation. Carson wasn’t held back by the fact that Carrie Fisher passed away; in her book, Leia can be everything J.J. Abrams’ film only hints at. Her full training with Rey, how she gave her life to bring Ben back to the light, maybe even her becoming a Force Ghost by the end. Either way, though, if you read the rest of this excerpt, you get a strong sense of how Leia’s differences from Luke and the traditional Jedi path made her the perfect master for Rey, and why she succeeded where Luke failed.
Selfishly, I also just love getting a glimpse of a Star Wars sequel we never could have had—one hypothetically filmed in the late 1980s with all the original actors. That was never in the cards or anything but reading scenes like this surely spark your imagination of what that could have been.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Expanded Edition by Rae Carson is out March 17.
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