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The Rise of Skywalker will always divide fans, just like Star Wars in general creates several different viewpoints in the fandom. But the new novelization of the film is turning heads with what it adds to the story. For one, Palpatine’s a clone. And Rey and Ben Solo’s kiss might mean something different than the movie suggested. Plus, a new revelation affects Rey’s father. 

[Spoiler alert: Spoilers ahead for The Rise of Skywalker.]

A hologram of Rey greets resistance fighters during Rise of the Resistance at Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge inside Disneyland in Anaheim, California.
A hologram of Rey greets resistance fighters during Rise of the Resistance at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge inside Disneyland in Anaheim, California. | Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG

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The new ‘Rise of Skywalker’ novelization revealed Palpatine was a clone

It was revealed on Feb. 29 that the new novelization of The Rise of Skywalker confirmed how Palpatine survived the Death Star’s explosion in Return of the Jedi. That body actually did die, but the version of Palpatine in The Rise of Skywalker is a deteriorating clone. During C2E2, a comic and entertainment convention in Chicago, fans were able to get an early copy of the book even though it’s not publicly available until later this month. 

As the YouTube channel Star Wars Theory reported, the book confirms the emperor is a clone. The passage describes the scene as such:

All the vials were empty of liquid save one, which was nearly depleted. Kylo peered closer. He’d seen this apparatus before, too, when he’d studied the Clone Wars as a boy. The liquid flowing into the living nightmare before him was fighting a losing battle to sustain the Emperor’s putrid flesh.

It also notes that Kylo Ren can “feel in his very bones that this clone body sheltered the Emperor’s actual spirit.” Resistance fighter Beaumont Kin, played by Dominic Monaghan, stated earlier in the film that cloning could be a possibility as to why he’s back now, in addition to dark Sith powers. It’s a storyline straight out of the Legends comics, Dark Empire.

It also was revealed that Rey’s father was a failed Palpatine clone

Even more out of this world is Rey’s father is also a clone of Palpatine’s. The way this clone business worked in the Dark Empire comics and in The Rise of Skywalker novelization is Palpatine had clones made already. At the time of Return of the Jedi, Palpatine had contingency plans that involved these manufactured beings that were ready for him to send his soul into if he were to die (which he did). 

So the novel states that when he transferred his essence into one of these clones, it was “imperfect” and didn’t land correctly, according to Screen Rant. Supposedly, one of the clones was “a useless, powerless failure” who was “not-quite-identical.” For whatever reason, it couldn’t hold Palpatine’s soul and power.

But when he transferred himself into another body, the previous clone went on to become Rey’s father. This implies that, somehow, the Sith Eternal let this clone leave, grow his own conscience, fall in love, and start a family. This all, of course, didn’t end well. And it’s unclear whether Palpatine let him go on purpose to father a child. 

So what does that make Rey?

This is tricky. With this new canon fact, Rey isn’t necessarily Palpatine’s granddaughter as was revealed in The Rise of Skywalker. Instead, she’s Palpatine’s clone’s daughter. So she was actually fathered by the emperor in a roundabout way. 

This opens even more questions. For one, how did Rey inherit Palpatine’s Force abilities? That was a major selling point for director and co-writer J.J. Abrams, who said her bloodline was a reason she was so strong in the Force. If the Emperor’s soul left the clone, the clone didn’t really have any Force abilities, right? Even the active Palpatine in The Rise of Skywalker didn’t have the full power of the emperor. 

It’ll be interesting to see whether future movies or novels give more insight into this notion. Or they might just drop this and not return to it again. Time will tell. But at least this eliminates the question of who would have kids with Palpatine, right? We have that relief off our chests now.