'Star Wars' Speed Read: How the First New Novel Ties In to 'Force Awakens'

Darth Vader - Getty (Non Film Still)
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It's not just the remains of the Empire that might cause trouble for Luke, Leia et al. in the future.

Those looking to discover more about the forces of darkness in this winter's Star Wars: The Force Awakens should pick up the newly released Star Wars: Aftermath, the first canonical release to reveal what happened after the events of 1983's Return of the Jedi. It turns out, there's more than just the Empire for the good guys to worry about. Spoilers follow.

Aftermath, the first of a trilogy of prose novels by Chuck Wendig, doesn't just feature a meeting of surviving Imperial officials trying to decide the fate of the Empire following the fall of the Emperor — a discussion that includes one participant suggesting that the remaining Imperial Forces go in search of the origins of the Dark Side of the Force, fascinatingly enough. It also introduces a group calling themselves the "Acolytes of the Beyond."

The Acolytes appear in one of many interludes showing what's happening throughout the galaxy in the book, with others including the creation of the New Republic, as the Rebel Alliance try to fill the vacuum left by the Empire, as well as scenes set on planets where natives are attempting to overthrow Imperial rule. Amongst those planets, NabooCoruscant and Kashyyyk — that last planet being the home planet of Chewbacca, meaning that both Chewie and Han show up in the book, preparing for a fight.

Other movie characters making appearances include Admiral Ackbar and Mon Mothma from Return of the Jedi, and Wedge Antilles, an ancillary character played by Denis Lawson in every movie of the original trilogy that gets bumped up to a leading role this time around... unfortunately for him.

In their debut appearance, the Acolytes are seen purchasing what is claimed to be a lightsaber once owned by Darth Vader. Their reason for wanting it? "We will destroy it," one of the Acolytes explains, "so that it can be returned to its master in death."

That's worth noting because, in a recent interview, Star Wars: The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams revealed that Kylo Ren, Adam Driver's villain in the new movie, isn't a Sith and asked the tantalizing question, "Could Vader by a martyr?" To some, it seems, the answer would appear to be yes. The only question now is, what will the Acolytes get up to next?

Star Wars: Aftermath, one of the Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens titles, is available now.