The Star Wars series trilogy ended the Skywalker saga, but Anakin Skywalker – who has appeared in all six previous installments by that name or as the alter-ego Sith Lord, Darth Vader – has never been seen. That seemed a strange move to some. We know that Anakin is able to appear as a power phantom because he does so at the end Star Wars: Return of the Jedi,. Why, then, is Yoda visiting Anakin’s son, Luke Skywalker, in Star Wars: The Last Jedi Instead of Anakin, would such an appearance have been welcomed? We may now have an answer.
The new novel Star Wars: Shadow of the Sith Written by Adam Christopher is kind of a prequel to the supplemental trilogy, providing a backstory to some of the characters and plot devices that were added to the universe only in the last chapter of the saga, Heavenly Rise. It may also provide an explanation for why Anakin is not seen in supplements. [SPOILERS follow.]
Shadow of the Sith Luke sees Skywalker investigating the mysterious Sith planet Exegol. He and Lor San Teka tried to do so by searching but only came so far. As the next step, Luke visits Tython, a planet sacred to the Jedi, and uses the Planet Vision Stone to enter into a deep state of meditation. This allows Luke to drop himself on Exegol, similar to what he did in him star Wars: last serious To counter Kylo Ren.
But Exegol is different. The planet is deeply saturated with dark side energy that affects Locke, even in this spectral state. Even more dangerous are the ghostly characters, who appear to be spirits of the Sith, who attack him. The scene plays out like the Star Wars version of the Ringwraiths attacking the Hobbits on the Weathertop in the Lord of the Rings. Instead of Strider, Anakin Skywalker plays the savior.
In the form of the Power Ghost, Anakin intervenes to defend his son from ghosts, but Exegol’s dark nature affects Anakin as much as it does his son. Anakin uses his last strength to help Luke escape from Exegol. Upon returning, Anakin changes form from that of the younger man to the older man that Luke saw under Vader’s helmet in Return of the Jedi. It is clear, then, that this trip cost Anakin:
“The look on Anakin’s face made Luke’s blood run cold. His father seemed sore–no, worse, in agony–and Luke didn’t know if that was possible. Anakin was one with strength now. Yet… he was in trouble. His soul flickered, Faded, flashed.”
After that, Anakin’s Force ghost disappears. Reading this scene, it feels like a dangling plot thread that will be revisited before the end of the novel, but it is not. Alternatively, whatever damage this skirmish with ghosts has done may be to explain why Anakin Locke doesn’t appear in the sequel trilogy, providing the information he has about the Exegol and Palpatine cloning process, which we know he knows.
This is the first conversation between Luke and Anakin after that Return of the Jedi to appear in the new Star Wars canon. This may also be the first time Anakin has reappeared to his son since that night he died as Luke initially mistook Anakin for Obi-Wan Kenobi, indicating that he wasn’t expecting to see his father. We know that Anakin hasn’t completely disappeared because he provides words to Rey during her fight with Palpatine in Heavenly RiseHowever, it seems that his abilities have been weakened by this battle.
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