The Clone Wars didn’t retcon the Ahsoka novel — it made it more impactful


Parts of the Star Wars Ahsoka book are slightly different than in the Siege of Mandalore, but this doesn’t make the story weaker. It actually makes it stronger.

The end of The Clone Wars has come and gone, and Star Wars fans are almost all in agreement that the half-hour-long finale is one of the most beautiful endings we’ve ever seen. Heartbreaking, but satisfying all the same.

Believe it or not, the Siege of Mandalore arc that served as the four-part finale for this beloved series did stir up one minor source of backlash, if you can even call it that. When you compare the flashback scenes in EK Johnston’s Ahsoka novel with these four episodes, they don’t line up.

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The overall events are the same, and they lead to the same outcome. But seemingly small details like the color of Ahsoka’s lightsabers (they were green in the book), as well as the dialogue she exchanges with Maul, are different than in the show.

This has led to many criticizing the show for “retconning” the book. Which, if we’re talking about what the term retcon actually means, isn’t technically wrong. The implications of the word swing far into the negative, though, as if the show somehow cancels out the few flashback scenes we get in the book.

That’s not the case at all, though. In fact, when you go back and read the book knowing what you know now, these scenes and their context aren’t pointless or meant to be dismissed. They actually drive home the story’s message even more strongly now, despite the fact that the book was released in 2016 and the Siege of Mandalore aired in 2020.

The book takes place a year after the events of Order 66. Ahsoka is still avoiding anyone even remotely associated with the Empire … until she finds she can no longer escape it.

Throughout her struggle to figure out who she is and her place in this new version of the galaxy, she periodically remembers the day her life changed forever. The day depicted in “Victory and Death.”

These flashbacks reveal more of her painful past as the story progresses. They’re her way of coming to terms with the tragedy. But they’re not word-for-word identical to the dialogue or details shown in The Clone Wars. Maybe that’s intentional.

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We don’t talk enough about trauma in Star Wars, but it’s easy to spot once you start looking for it. There’s no doubt Ahsoka is traumatized by Order 66. She not only had to survive being targeted by the very clones she once considered family, but she also had to bury them, as well as her past.

She can bury it, but she can’t forget it. The novel makes that very clear — it’s all she can think about. And if we’re seeing things through the eyes of a character still living in the aftermath of trauma, we can easily assume her memories aren’t fully reliable.

It’s possible that her memory of confronting Maul has been tainted by the memory of him leaving her to die, and so the dialogue she remembers is cold, mean, and self-deprecating.

You could even reach and say that the reason she remembers her lightsabers being green is because she is trying to block out painful memories of Anakin. Since he turned her lightsabers blue, and she left them behind, maybe remembering them as their original color makes that memory easier to acknowledge.

Ahsoka’s story is just as heartbreaking — maybe now even more so — having seen what Order 66 put her through. Her memories depicted throughout the book highlight her trauma as well as her journey toward healing from it.

Yes, this book was written years ago, likely with only a loose outline of what would have been planned for the end of the show at the time to go off of. What we got in this final arc was never going to follow those small parts of the book exactly. EK Johnston wrote a fantastic novel, but she’s not Dave Filoni. No one knew the story and its full intentions better than he did.

But it does still fit, if you look at it through this particular lens.

Ahsoka’s memories are different because remembering hurts.

Many years after both these stories take place, she will face the source of her greatest pain again. That time, though, she’ll have no choice but to acknowledge him.

Until then, she has an unexpected but familiar ally to rendezvous with near the end of the story.

You’ll just have to check out the novel for yourself to figure out who that might be.

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Will you pick up EK Johnston’s novel now that The Clone Wars are over? If you’ve already read it, what did you think?