A new excerpt from author Adam Christopher's Star Wars: Shadow of the Sith reveals a new adversary for Luke Skywalker -- one certain Star Wars fans actually already know (whether they realize it or not).
Slated for release on Tuesday, June 28, Shadow of the Sith is a canon Star Wars novel set between the events of the 1983 film Return of the Jedi and the 2015 film Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The book chronicles Luke Skywalker and Lando Calrissian's efforts to locate the hidden Sith planet of Exegol. While Ochi of Bestoon from 2019's Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker has a major part to play in Shadow of the Sith, he isn't the only dark side acolyte Luke and Lando have to deal with.
The official cover art for Shadow of the Sith, which was revealed back in March, features Luke, Lando and a masked figure wielding a red lightsaber. In addition to the new excerpt, io9 has unveiled a new piece of official artwork by Voodoo Val, which offers a closer look at this mysterious new villain, who is confirmed to be female.
The artwork will be available as a poster in the Barnes & Noble exclusive edition of the book. Furthermore, io9 confirms that "if you've been reading the canon Star Wars novels, the true identity of this masked figure will be a familiar face to you."
io9's exclusive excerpt from Star Wars: Shadow of the Sith can be read below:
THE SEPULCHRE, COORDINATES UNKNOWN
Something moves in the darkness—a shadow, cast long, crawling through the abyssal night. The shadow is a thing apart: neither alive nor dead.
It is a relic. It is an . . . echo. A presence from an older time, a malignancy that somehow survived, somehow found a way.
Found a path.
She can see it now. Black and blacker still, moving, always moving. An intelligence, yes. A mind, but one without form or substance.
She closes her eyes. It makes no difference. There is nothing to see but a gulf, a nothing, where the shadow lives.
Where the shadow thrives.
In the darkness, in the forever night inside her head.
And the void is not silent. It is anything but. It is a cacophony, a sound so loud it lights up every nerve fiber of her entire being, even though she knows there is nothing to hear, physically.
It is the sound of pain. The sound of death. The sound of a thousand thousand thousand souls crying out in sorrow and agony before they are snuffed out in an instant. Brothers and sisters. Sons and daughters. Mothers and fathers. Podlings, branchlings, kithkin. Sporechilds and denmothers; space fathers and their brethren, and their gene-clusters and their shoots. Spawn, and offspring. Children.
Entire generations of the living, consumed, their dying cries absorbed and left to reflect forever, trapped inside a dark vessel crafted centuries ago by a power uncommon, inhuman.
By a darkness.
By a shadow, cast long.
And there is another sound. A voice, from the ancient past. It is far distant, a call echoing across a huge valley of space and time.
The voice is terrible.
The voice is as familiar as her own.
She opens her golden eyes. The room is bright and, mercifully, silent. Her ears ring like a bell, the sudden absence of screams almost as painful, the echo of the voice still reverberating in her mind.
Slowly, slowly, she remembers where she is. As she lies on the floor and blinks the world into existence around her, she pulls up a hand and touches her face. It is warm, and wet, the blood on her fingertips the bright blue of the Pantoran sky.
The place is lit by flickering flame, and the flickering flame lights the plinth of meteoric iron, and beside the plinth lies the mask made of the same starstuff. The mask faces away from her. It rocks, gently, like it has just been thrown.
She stares at the back of it, the curve of nothing, of darkness, of deep shadow.
And she hears the voice again.
She closes her eyes, and she sleeps, exchanging one nightmare for another, in the dead of night, in the dead of space. She wakes to another sound, one technological, modern. She lifts herself from her nest, ignoring the throbbing in her head, the ache of her limbs.
Because she can’t keep them waiting. They are patient, yes. Infuriatingly so.
But they are also quick to anger, and if there is one thing she dares not do, it is make them angry.
She agreed to help them. They agreed to show her the way.
This is how it was.
And she would do nothing to jeopardize that.
Standing, she activates the communicator, and her nest is lit in the sudden electric blue of a hologram. The image shimmers and pulses, tinged with the same static and interference that protects the caller’s point of origin.
She kneels before the figure, cloaked in darkness, the hood barely concealing a face that is wrapped tightly in heavy black bandages, in the manner all cultists of the Sith Eternal hide their features.
She doesn’t know why. She doesn’t care.
But she does obey.
“What is thy bidding, my Master,” she intones, repeating the litany that echoed through time like the screams inside the mask she knew she would have to put on again, soon.
The looming figure speaks, and she listens, and she wonders whether this will be the last time or whether they will ever honor their promise.
Perhaps one day, they will ask too much.
Star Wars: Shadow of the Sith by Adam Christopher goes on sale June 28.