In the leadup to The Rise of Skywalker, Lucasfilm could have been concerned with a number of things. After all, the promotion of any major motion pictures always brings with it countless trials and obstacles, and why would Episode IX be any different?
Not only did they have to deal with the pressure of wrapping up a 42 year old story that single handedly changed the landscape of modern cinema, but they also had to decide what to put in the trailers, how many tv spots to run, which press interviews to give.
The logistics had to be maddening, to say the least.
With so much weight to carry on the backs of those involved with the film, itself, another responsibility appeared to fall to our friends at Del Rey, Disney Lucasfilm, Insight Editions, and more: Just how do we catch everyone up?
If you’re reading this article, you likely revisit the films from time to time and have even cracked a book or two, but what about the fans that don’t want to watch The Clone Wars before they walk into the theater? What if they don’t want to spend hours scrolling through Wookieepedia for updated Force lore?
Lucky for them, and for all of us, we have The Secrets of the Jedi.
Marc Sumerak’s latest Star Wars reference book from Insight Kids compresses the entirety of the Skywalker Saga as well as the history of the Jedi Order into segments of thorough narration from Jedi Master Luke Skywalker as he contemplates the history of the Force on the island of Ahch-To. Luke’s observations range from his own shortcomings to the wonder of the Jedi of years past to the unique powers that can only be discovered through the dark side of the Force. Luke has not only become our teacher, he has also become a student once more, and his findings are endlessly fascinating.
Once we make our way through the beautifully introspective introduction from Master Skywalker, our lessons begin with a look at the very nature of the Force. This section is ripe with lore and ideas about how the Force balances the universe, how different factions attempt to control it, and ultimately how we can learn to live within it. Many of Luke’s lessons in The Last Jedi are echoed here, and outside of pure Star Wars excitement, this section and others like it also carry a number of lessons all readers can carry into their everyday lives.
“Those who can’t resist channeling the power of the Force in aggressive ways are embracing its dark side, whether they intend to or not.”
This theoretical study quickly turns to delve into the history of the Jedi Order beginning with the Old Republic. In a succinct yet impactful fashion, Luke weaves through the history of the Republic through the Clone Wars and the rise of Darth Vader to bring the readers, his students, up to speed on what he has learned. After years and years of watching the Skywalker Saga on the silver screen, I was surprised at how excited I was to look at the events of my favorite story through yet another unique lens.
After the history of the Galactic Republic and subsequent Empire comes one of my favorite parts of the book: the Jedi, themselves. A number of famous Jedi each receive a spotlight from Yoda to Obi-Wan Kenobi to animated favorites like Ahsoka Tano and Kanan Jarrus. No matter their point of storytelling origin, each character is treated with the same reverence and respect, and that equality of character is so refreshing to see as a fan of every Star Wars medium.
After all, Luke had no idea who originally came from a book or a tv show; they are all a part of the Living Force.
All of these bios of both light and dark side heroes are accompanied by positively breathtaking portraits illustrated by Sergio Gómez Silván, and I am ashamed that I haven’t mentioned him until now. His art style is simultaneously ethereal and literal, and it feels as though the Force itself manifested within his brush as he painted the faces of Jedi and Sith long gone. Recognizable actors and computer generated characters live alongside one another seamlessly thanks to his artistic merit, and with every turn of the page, I got a little flutter knowing that I was about to experience even more of his creations.
After perusing the histories of some of our favorite canon characters, you’ll find yourself examining the finer points of both the light and dark side philosophies. This includes the specific powers available to each side (including the revelation of the Force Bond similar to the one shared by Kylo and Rey originating from the Dark Side), the evolution from Padawan to Jedi Knight, and my personal favorite...the construction of a lightsaber.
The Secrets of the Jedi wouldn’t be too comprehensive at all without a look at the fundamental weapon of a Jedi, would it? Sumerak’s words and Silván’s illustrations show us every part of a lightsaber in breathtaking detail, explain the different styles of saber, and illustrate the various forms of lightsaber combat. We have always known that the followers of the light side fought in different ways than those that subject themselves to the dark, and now we have it fully in writing.
Obviously, The Secrets of the Jedi is composed of a wealth of additional information and tidbits that I don’t want to spoil for you in this review, but looking back on the book as a whole, I want to highlight how impressed I was with the message of a reference book of all things.
Star Wars has always been about the battle between good and evil both in the galaxy at large and within the soul, and through the voice of Luke Skywalker, himself, we are treated to the importance of both. The Last Jedi showed us the significance of balance and trust in the Force through Rey’s lessons, and this book picks up that baton beautifully. Any young readers that flip through these pages will not only witness the gorgeous drawings and fascinating storytelling, but they will also experience the most important lessons that Star Wars has to offer in a brand new medium.
“Perhaps the innate neutrality of children can teach us all a valuable lesson.”
After all...the greatest teacher, failure is. And failed, so many have. But as Luke discovered, all those Jedi who came before never stopped fighting to understand what was right, and even if they faltered, they got back up and tried again.
And sometimes, they just needed to listen more. Regardless of your age, isn’t that one of the greatest lessons of all?
The Secrets of the Jedi is available now from Insight Kids. Order your own copy and help Youtini out in the process with our Amazon affiliate link.