Force Collector was part of the line of books released leading up to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. But it was a good story that didn’t quite belong there.
Leading up to the release of each movie in the Star Wars sequel trilogy, Lucasfilm has implemented a publishing program including stories meant to prepare audiences for the road ahead. The “Journey to The Rise of Skywalker” line of books and comics, like the ones before it, included an adult novel, a young adult novel, and a variety of comics and children’s books.
The young adult novel meant to tie into The Rise of Skywalker, Kevin Shinick’s Force Collector, provided fans with a nostalgia-heavy journey through the universe we have all come to know and love. But some aspects of it raise the question of whether it belonged in this particular publishing program.
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The book tells the story of Karr, a Force-sensitive teenager who can see the history of various objects by touching them — similar to the way Rey sees key events from the past when she lays a had on Luke’s lightsaber in The Force Awakens.
Curious about his family history and the infamous Jedi themselves (it turns out he is related to one), Karr’s unique ability sends him on a journey to discover anything he can about the galaxy’s past.
And we, the audience, accompany him on this journey as we revisit places and events we have all likely witnessed at least a dozen times throughout our tenures as Star Wars fans.
Karr goes to Jakku. He travels to Utapau. The more objects he touches, the more pieces of the Skywalker saga he collects. Seeing so many familiar scenes through an unknowing character’s eyes is a delightful experience. He doesn’t understand any of the context.
But we do. We know things he doesn’t. He’s still learning what all this means. And we just get to sit back and watch him try to figure it all out.
This story actually touches on something we really haven’t seen enough of in Star Wars canon yet: The Force’s family connections outside the Skywalker bloodline. Karr and his grandmother have no connection to the Skywalkers whatsoever. Yet they descend from a former Jedi and are knowledgeable of the Force and the exceptional abilities that can manifest from it.
Now that the Skywalker bloodline no longer has to be the main focus of stories moving forward, it’s likely we are going to get more lore like this. We’ve recently been reminded it’s possible to be Force-sensitive and not know it. It’s also possible to be Force-sensitive and use it for purposes other than wielding a lightsaber.
In the end, our main character finally discovers his true purpose in the galaxy: To tell the stories of the heroes who came before him. This isn’t the ending we’re used to in Star Wars. Usually someone who discovers their strong connection to the Force decides they need to find a master and agree to train in the ways of the Jedi. But not this time. Not this protagonist.
The book ends with Karr officially beginning his journey as the galaxy far, far away’s historian of sorts: “A long time ago …”
That final line is the sentence that quite literally ties every film in this saga together. Every film begins with these words — even the most casual Star Wars fans out there can recognize them from parsecs away.
To me, it’s this moment alone that solidifies the belief that this book should have been released after The Rise of Skywalker came out instead of as part of the “Journey to” line that came before the film.
The Skywalker Saga fell prey to the same issues Force Collector did. It did its best to serve as a vital stop along the hype train leading up to the Skywalker saga’s conclusion. It would have been a much more powerful story to tell after that conclusion sank in for all of us.
Author Kevin Shinick has openly stated that he “accidentally” wrote part of The Rise of Skywalker while drafting the original version of this book. Having seen the film, we can now predict it had something to do with the Sith dagger or Wayfinder since both artifacts were not easily obtained and played major roles in the film’s story progression.
Whether or not the book originally connected more closely with the most recent film, we may never know.
Force Collector really doesn’t play directly into the film in a big way. But that’s OK. It could have something to do with the changes Shinick had to make after unintentionally copying TROS (oops!). It’s still a good book. It’s always nice to meet a new character in Star Wars canon, especially when they’re Force-sensitive but don’t necessarily plan on training as a Jedi. (Finn, anyone?)
It’s a fun story, it’s well-written, and it’s one of few that I personally can’t wait to read again having seen TROS just in case there are small details hiding within that went over all our heads.
I highly recommend reading Force Collector again, or even for the first time, now that the whole Skywalker saga is complete. This story does a great job of highlighting key moments from this 42-year-long story and hitting you with all that sweet, delightful nostalgia.
Don’t let the “young adult” classification steer you away. It’s admittedly an easier read language-wise due to the nature of the genre, but that doesn’t make it any less complex or worth checking out. It’s as “Star Wars” as it gets. And if you’re in need of some callbacks to trilogies past and present — in a good way — this is a great place to find it.
What was your favorite easter egg from Force Collector? If you haven’t read it yet, do you think you will now that the final film in the Skywalker saga is out in the world?