- "Brutish and terrible, but one of the few groups of dark side practitioners left after Palpatine's purges. And perhaps the only ones sufficiently proud, strong and foolish…to directly defy the Sith."
- ―The Archivist, on the Knights of Ren
The Knights of Ren were an enclave of masked dark side warriors that adhered to the ways of the Ren, a religious philosophy epitomized by the lightsaber. A band of marauders from the Unknown Regions, the Knights roamed the galaxy causing wanton destruction. Imbued with the power of the Force, they were devotees of the dark side which they referred to as "the shadow." In addition to their inherent abilities, the Knights of Ren were armed for ranged and close-quarter combat, making them fearsome opponents in battle.
The Knights of Ren were active during the Galactic Civil War between the Alliance to Restore the Republic and the Galactic Empire. They were one of the few remaining Force-sensitive groups by the time of the Imperial Era, the Empire having purged the galaxy of the Jedi Order and other Force-based organizations. Their leader, a warrior known by the name of Ren, personified the Knights' creed. At one point, they were allied with Lady Qi'ra, the head of Crimson Dawn. As such, the Knights supported her goal of reshaping the power structure of the galaxy by overthrowing Darth Sidious, the Dark Lord of the Sith and Galactic Emperor.
After the Empire fell, the Knights of Ren remained active and continued traveling across the galaxy, raiding worlds, hunting for artifacts, and searching for prospective recruits during the era of the New Republic. Ben Solo—the nephew and Padawan of Jedi Master Luke Skywalker—destroyed the new generation of Jedi and subsequently joined the Knights by killing Ren. Assuming the new name of Kylo Ren, the fallen Jedi became a warlord of the First Order and the apprentice of Supreme Leader Snoke. Under Kylo's leadership as master of the Knights of Ren, the Knights of Ren filled the vacuum caused by the destruction of the Sith. Unlike the Knights of Ren who lacked training in the ways of the Force, Kylo was the grandson of the Sith Lord Darth Vader, and was gifted with the raw power of the bloodline. Unbeknownst to him, the Knights of Ren true loyalty was to Sidious who had been secretly resurrected on the planet Exegol.
During the First Order-Resistance War, the Knights of Ren became Kylo's personal bodyguards after he usurped Snoke's rule as Supreme Leader. In addition to enforcing Kylo's reign, they served as trackers during the hunt for Rey, a Jedi apprentice who fought for the Resistance and shared a unique bond with Kylo. Following Ben Solo's return to the light side of the Force, the Knights confronted their former master during the Battle of Exegol and were slain in battle against him.
- "Just because we use the shadow doesn't mean the Sith are our friends. It's just that the Emperor's been dealing with other problems first—the Jedi, the Nightsisters…we're small fish in comparison. I realize that doesn't fit with how we see ourselves…but that's what it is."
- ―Ren, to the Knights of Ren
The Knights of Ren were an enclave of masked elite warriors wielding distinctive weapons for ranged and close-quarters combat, making them the elite and fearsome enforcers of Kylo Ren's will. The Knights hailed from the galaxy's Unknown Regions where their name and reputation inspired centuries of cautionary tales about the dangers lurking in uncharted space. Though local folklore warned of the marauders known as the Knights of Ren, the exact origins of their modern incarnation remained mysterious, for they were either directly connected to that ancient tradition or wrapping themselves in the legacy of legends. Nevertheless, the New Republic-era Knights of Ren were a force to be reckoned with. Their martial prowess was without equal, and they thrived in violence and strife.
The Knights of Ren were neither Jedi nor Sith, but a new generation of warriors imbued with the power of the Force, though not to the extent of the aforementioned Jedi or Sith. The master of the Knights of Ren, Kylo Ren, was the archetype of this new generation of dark-side devotees that emerged to fill the void left by the Sith's demise.
The Knights' lack of formal training hindered their connection to the Force, whereas Kylo himself had the potential for limitless power, being gifted with the raw strength of his bloodline. Nevertheless, the Knights had a connection to the dark side of the Force. As such, other Force-sensitives could sense the cold presence of the dark side when in close proximity to the Knights of Ren. Despite their untamed state, the Knights were considered comparable to the Galactic Empire's Inquisitorius, a past generation of dark-side wielders and Jedi hunters.
In combat the dark side surged through the Knights despite possessing only slight Force abilities. Jedi Master Luke Skywalker was unimpressed by their battle skills and basic use of the dark side. Skywalker saw the Knights as a clumsy and untrained group after besting six of them with the Force. He compared their use of the dark side to the way one used a hammer, whereas Skywalker, the last fully trained Jedi Knight, wielded the light side as a blade. The Sith Lord Darth Sidious concurred with Skywalker's assessment of the Knights' skills, but he defended them as well, stating that some tasks required a "blunt instrument" rather than a precision based weapon.
The Knights were served by Albrekh, an eccentric Sith alchemist and metalsmith known for his dexterous, steady hands. An alien whose sensitive ears could tell the heat of metal from the tone it made when struck, Albrekh made use of an ancient Sith forge for the purpose of repairing and improving the Knights' battle gear. His additional equipment included a series of four poseable arm mechanisms with magnetic forceps and reverse-repulsorlift grav-focused bases. The device was used in conjunction with a compressed air cooling nozzle and a molten Sarrassian iron application tool.
The Knights traveled aboard a customized starship known as the Night Buzzard. A modified Oubliette-class transport manufactured by Osseriton Assemblages, the Night Buzzard was originally a dungeon ship from Osseriton, a penal world in the Unknown Regions. The Knights appropriated the transport for their personal use and altered its appearance to fit with their dark style. Additionally, they made crude modifications to the vessel's engine systems, generating greater thrust but at a cost to its insulation baffles. This resulted in the Night Buzzard spewing a trail of thick, noxious smoke.
The Knights of Ren became Kylo Ren most mysterious and deadly servants. Despite Kylo's ties to the First Order, the other knights were not aligned with it, as Kylo and Supreme Leader Snoke were the only Force-sensitive members of that regime. They were an independent, mobile group whose aim was to spread chaos and violence wherever they went. After Kylo killed Snoke, the Knights appeared more often within the First Order's ranks. Where they once traveled the galaxy as marauders and mercenaries, the Knights became enforcers of Kylo's reign as the new Supreme Leader. However, only Kylo had the authority to command them, as the Knights would answer to no one else. This singular devotion to one individual created friction between the Knights and the members of the Supreme Council. After Kylo was redeemed to the light side of the Force and became Ben Solo once more, the Knights did not follow him. In spite of the fact that he had come to view the Knights as his faithful brothers, they had never truly been loyal to their so-called master because, while they were not Sith themselves, they had become servants of Sidious before he even met them.
Qualifications for knighthood
- "The Knights of Ren could be your first step on that path. They always seek powerful people to join their ranks. But be warned…the price of admission is steep."
- ―Snoke, to Ben Solo
Membership in the Knights of Ren was gained through ritual sacrifice; the prospective Knight had to choose a "worthy target" to kill. The completion of this rite was referred to as "a good death." Force-sensitivity was another qualification for joining the Knights, who only accepted Force-sensitive beings due to their inherent ability to connect to the dark side of the Force. Even if a non-Force user was more inclined to their way of thinking than a potential recruit, the Knights would sooner kill them than accept one who could not feel the Force.
The death requirement for joining the Knights could be either a personal sacrifice, such as the killing of a family member, or a victory over an opponent in battle. The Knights also stipulated that the recruit had to willingly kill their target; therefore, they rejected deaths that occurred by accident or through hesitation. The Knight known as "Ren" once asked a prospective member to kill his own brother, and Snoke warned Ben Solo that he would pay a steep price in order to join the Knights of Ren. Eligible candidates who paid that price became part of the group; whereas those who failed would be killed. Snoke stated that it was rare for others to seek out the Knights of Ren, and that doing so often led to regret.
The marauding knights
- "Each of the Knights of Ren harbors the shadow of the dark side within them. But unlike the Sith, they are not trained to harness that connection to its fullest potential."
- ―Darth Sidious
Under the leadership of Ren, several knights—Cardo, Marinda, Vicrul, Bazzra, Fyodor, and Massif—served in the group during the Imperial Era. In addition to Ren and later Kylo Ren, the Knights of Ren of the New Republic Era consisted of six members: Vicrul, Cardo, Ushar, Trudgen, Kuruk, and Ap'lek. Ren was known for his "viciousness" as a leader. After Ren's death, the remaining Knights recognized Kylo as their new master, with Kylo also taking on the title "Ren" like the former masters before him.
Vicrul was the self-styled "harvester," the "reaper of the fallen," and the "targeter of souls." Though he lacked training in the ways of the Force, his connection to the dark side increased with each victim that he killed. He also relied on his hatred to fuel his dark-side powers. Yet with each strike his hate grew, allowing the dark side to surge through him. His latent connection to the Force granted him heightened reflexes and the power to induce fear in his opponents. However, he lacked control over his abilities.
Cardo was considered a "walking arsenal" who lived for creating wanton destruction, unlike his fellow Knights who favored precision in their combat styles. Possessing an obsession with weapon modification, he spent years tinkering with weapons which made him the Knights' best armorer. As a result, Cardo was responsible for repairing the group's equipment after each mission.
Trudgen was a collector of trophies from fallen conquests. He incorporated said trophies into his existing armor, weapons and equipment, part of which included a fragment of death trooper armor. As such, his armor was therefore a record of his victories.
Ushar had a reputation for forcing his prisoners to grovel for mercy. He would take his time with the victims who whimpered for help, believing they deserved a slow punishment. While those who fought back earned his respect, Ushar would kill them all the same, but faster as they had earned a swift death in his view.
Kuruk was the most solitary of the Knights. In addition to his role as the group's rifleman, he served as the pilot of the Night Buzzard. Noted for his precision marksmanship, he could be found perched on a high vantage point, covering an assault conducted by his fellow Knights. While Kuruk's helmet was designed to focus his attention on his target, his aim was further sharpened by concentrating on the Force.
Ap'lek reveled in deception and strategy, employing feints and misdirection to trap an opponent. In this he differed from the other Knights, who preferred a straightforward and violent approach to eliminating their targets. His nascent Force abilities allowed Ap'lek to peer through the smoke screens that he would create to obscure an enemy's vision and disrupt sensors. As a warrior, his preferred lethal weapon was an ancient Mandalorian executioner's vibro-ax.
- "The price to join their fabled ranks is simple: Choose a worthy target, and give them "a good death." This cost was one young Ben Solo paid in full when he struck down the group's master and assumed leadership of the Knights of Ren himself."
- ―Darth Sidious
Prior to the rise of Kylo Ren, the Knights followed the leader who was also known by the name of "Ren," with that man even revealing he had been preceded by another Knight who used that name. Despite being recognized as the master of the Knights, Ren insisted that the group did not follow him but rather their way of life. Nevertheless, Ren was the spokesperson of the group, as he would introduce them by name to enemies and potential allies alike. A devotee of the dark side, he followed the Knights' guiding principle, the Ren, and believed in it on a personal level. Whilst Ren and his Knights showed no loyalty to Sidious during the Imperial Era, they eventually came to serve under the Sith Lord.
Having rejected the Jedi way, Kylo Ren adopted the title "master of the Knights of Ren" after taking control of the group. His ability to use the Force granted him many impressive combat skills. Despite his Jedi training and knowledge of arcane dark-side lore, Kylo was neither Jedi nor Sith. Instead, he personified the teachings of both orders. The combination of Jedi and Sith philosophy created an imbalance within him, however. Though gifted with the raw power of his grandfather, the Sith Lord Darth Vader, Kylo struggled to overcome the light side within himself. Following his ascension as Supreme Leader of the First Order, Kylo called on his Knights to serve as his personal bodyguards in the same way that the Elite Praetorian Guard protected his predecessor, Supreme Leader Snoke.
- "The Ren doesn't stop to worry about what it's burning or the right or wrong of it, or the goals it might achieve. The Ren just is. It lives, and it consumes, and it doesn't apologize. It is its nature and nothing else."
Darth Sidious stated in his book, The Secrets of the Sith, that the Knights of Ren did not adhere to a code. They were willing to do anything to prevail; as such the Knights lived a flexible lifestyle, doing whatever they pleased. They believed that everything they gained was given to them by the dark side. The Ren, a lightsaber possessed by Kylo Ren's predecessor, also known as Ren, epitomized the Knights' belief system. The nature of the Ren, according to Ren, was that it just existed. It had no conscience, neither acknowledging or expressing concepts such as morality, regret or concern for what it might destroy. Ren believed in this principle on a deep, personal level to the point where he did not consider himself the Knights' leader. All of the Knights, including Ren himself, followed the lightsaber and what it represented in their view.
Their devotion to the way of the Ren was matched only by their allegiance to the shadow—the dark side of the Force. The Knights did not search for just any Force-sensitive individuals to join the ranks; they wanted those who had a strong affinity for the shadow. This led Ren to consider a mass murderer and a child for membership, having sensed the shadow's presence in both of them.
The Knights believed that they had a right to take anything and everything they so desired, particularly Jedi artifacts. As such, they held no regard for Luke Skywalker's claim on all properties of the Jedi Order. Ren's understanding of the Jedi Code was limited, though he suspected that the ideological differences between his Knights and the Jedi were severe, making coexistence impossible in his view. Although their ways failed to impress Skywalker, their lawlessness and power appealed to his young apprentice, Ben Solo, who thought of the Knights for years before ultimately leaving the Jedi Order to join their ranks.
- "The kid looks like trash. An actual pile of garbage. Find him some clothes. I mean… We're the Knights of Ren. We have a reputation."
- ―Ren, to Kuruk, on Ben Solo's Jedi attire
The Knights of Ren wore battered, hand-crafted armor that, combined with their weapons and battle helms, added to the aura of dread surrounding them. Being well acquainted with violence and strife, they wore the scars and implements of such on their armor. They appeared intimidatingly unified at first glance, but on closer examination each Knight was distinct, expressing preferences in combat style and tactics. All of their gear was custom, created through a combination of originality and heavy modification upon capture.
Ap'lek wore lightweight plastoid armor beneath his tunic and a water-shedding oiled cloak. His gauntlets and greaves featured raised teeth to assist in parrying and pinning edged attacks. He also wore a smoke canister on his belt. Cardo's coat was flame resistant and made from the hide of riftiaworm. His accessories included a blaster pistol holster on his left leg, tri-braced plasteel-armored greaves, a chest strap to carry concussion grenades, and plasma bolt shells on his lower chestplate. Kuruk's attire was made of a sound-dampening susurra-weave fabric. He had soft-soled boots for silent tread and collar rings to carry his plasma bolt shells. Trudgen's robes consisted of a heavy weave tabard and hood. It was accessorized with armor plates that were taken from his fallen enemies. Ushar wore ironweave vambraces, which made for a crushing backhand. Vicrul's coat was made from the skin of an unknown, monstrously large reptile.
Like the other Knights, Kylo Ren was dressed in black robes and armor. His cowl was a remnant from his early training, the attached cape was singed from multiple battles, and the robes concealed his padded armor. He later replaced his old cape and cowl with a hoodless cape that was made of static-dampening fabric, grounding electrical interference. After seizing control of the First Order, Ren donned a treated cloak that was flame retardant.
- "Here, relax. The mask's kind of intense—that's the point—but you and me, maybe we're gonna be friends. Snoke thinks so, anyway."
- ―Ren, to Ben Solo
The Knights concealed their faces beneath ominous masks, echoing the helmet of Kylo Ren himself. The Knights purposely shielded their features with masks and battle helms, using theatricality to enhance their fearsome appearance and generate greater levels of terror in their opponents. They believed that anonymity equaled intimidation, for their victims would project the most terrifying nightmares into the absent faces of the Knights who struck them down. The purpose of their masks predated Kylo, as the Knights had been concealing their faces since the time of Ren, their original leader. In situations where intimidation did not suit their purpose, the Knights would remove their helmets, as Ren did for Solo, who, later as Kylo, revealed his own face to the scavenger Rey. General Armitage Hux hated that the Knights covered their faces with masks, but speculated it was to hide that they were hideous and scarred beyond recognition.
Each helmet was unique to the individual Knight. Cardo's helmet was the most basic of the Knight helms; it was a blast furnace plate molded into a mask and included a neck protector. Ushar's helmet featured an impact crumble left by an opponent, and had breathing tubes as well as anti-ox filters suggesting that Ushar or his mask was of non-human origin. Vicrul's case-hardened helmet was made of pastillion ore and featured synth-leather ear flaps to conceal its opening seam.
The patchwork helmet of Trudgen, the Knight who collected trophies from his victims, incorporated a fragment of a death trooper's helmet into its design. Kuruk's helmet had a breath screen and vocoder grid as well as blinder flannels designed to focus his vision forward and recesses cut for peripheral line-of-sight. Ap'lek wore a patchwork mask that he created by cobbling together pieces of broken armor. The faceplate was molded into the shape of an unsettling, sinister face of a trickster.
Like his fellow Knights, Ren wore a helmet that concealed his features. Red markings adorned the helmet's faceplate.
Kylo Ren's helmet was patterned after the battle gear of the Knights of Ren; it served the twofold purpose of concealing his identity and enhancing his imposing demeanor. Servomotors were attached to the helmet, controlling articulated arms that separated the face mask from the helmet, which allowed Kylo to remove his helmet revealing the uncontained malice in his expression. The silver inlay visor radiated from the eyes as a symbol of power, and the helmet's integrated vocabulator projected Kylo's voice. Beneath the mask's theatrics, however, he was still Ben Solo—son of Han Solo and Princess Leia Organa. In a fit of rage, Kylo smashed the battered combat helmet until nothing but shards remained.
Once free of Snoke's rule, however, Kylo reclaimed his shattered helmet and gave the fragments to Albrekh so that it could be reconstructed. The eccentric metalsmith applied his skills in Sith alchemy to fuse the shards back together. The reforged helmet symbolized the breaking and rebuilding of Ren's own identity. It was also stronger than before due to the alchemical lattice of Sarrassian iron that Albrekh painstakingly applied throughout the helmet's cracks. As a side effect, the helmet now featured a webwork of luminous red Sarrassian iron holding the shards together.
- "Blasters don't make a scratch!"
"Good thing I've got a lightsaber."
"Yeah, but we don't, and there's a lot more of them than there are of you."
- ―Vicrul and Ren
Each Knight was armed with a unique and lethally effective weapon, suited to both close-quarter and long range combat. Ushar and Ap'lek favored primitive melee weapons, such as weighted clubs and axes, with crude technological enhancements. The muscle-power of their wielders alone was enough to ensure that these weapons delivered crushing blows. However, with the flick of a switch or the twist of a dial, they took on additional attributes that could make the difference in battle. Ushar's war club had a kinetite charged end with concussion vector vanes and was held with a firm grip on the blunt, studded end. The war club had a studded pummel and a concussion absorption head. Its ability to build up a concussion charge in a kinetite generator could be released in a sudden shockwave. In addition, Ushar carried a vibromachete in an inverted sheath on his torso as well as three thermal detonators. Ap'lek's long ax was an antiquated executioner vibro-ax of Mandalorian origin. The weapon was modified with various upgrades, such as an ultrasonic generator cable, making it a conduit for ultrasonic energy, and therfore, vibrating its sharpened end to enhance its cutting power through armor and bone. It was also equipped with vibro-insulator plates to protect the handle. The blade was made from beskar with gore channels cut into the surface.
Vicrul and Trudgen wielded blade weapons, both of which featured ultrasonic vibro-tech settings that increased their lethality to the point where even glancing hits could cause fatal lacerations. The blades were made of crucible steel saturated with phrik or beskar filaments, granting them considerable strength and durability. Though a lightsaber could cut through these weapons, it required a greater application of pressure from the wielder.
Vicrul's scythe featured an annealed phrik vibro-scythe blade, with carved ultrasonic echo channel along the chine of the blade, and was shaped into a sawtooth crook for catching enemy blades. The blade was connected to the ultrasonic generator chamber on the opposite end by an insulated handle. Trudgen's vibrocleaver was his signature weapon. Though the enormous vibrocleaver was a traditional, primitive weapon, its add-on modification caused the blade edge to rapidly vibrate through ultrasonic technology, granting it extra cutting power. Trudgen also carried a secondary blade.
Unlike the other Knights who favored melee weapons for closequarter combat, Kuruk and Cardo brandished blaster weaponry—heavily modified and customized to their personal preferences. As such, Kuruk's blaster rifle and Cardo's arm cannon were unique hodgepodge constructions. The blaster rifle had three firing modes across two barrels, including a pump-action plasma bolt launcher that fed specialized ammunition into the larger firing chamber. It had a rapid-fire barrel with a cooling sheath, an upper sniper barrel with a direct line-of-sight feed to the macroscope, a pump-action bar, a vented stock for recoil reduction, and a tibanna bulb spikes laser output.
Cardo's over-powered arm cannon made him the equivalent of a one-man turret. The weapon pod's uppermost barrel was a rapid-fire repeating laser cannon. The same channel was also capable of launching plasma bolts, which were hand-fed into a receiver. The bolts were primed by a separate trigger, allowing the next trigger-pull to release it. The lower barrel was a flammable gel projector. The laser cannon featured an air-cooled barrel; its front view had piezoelectric flame projectors flanking the recessed gel spinneret and a forward handgrip and trigger selector. The weapon's bolts had casing to contain the plasma charge and rifling grooves for increased accuracy.
In addition to their primary weapons, Vicrul and Cardo had holstered blaster pistols that were almost standard with the exception of the removal of safety circuitry, allowing them to expend their ammunition more quickly and dangerously. The pistols' accessories included a backflash suppressor housing, power level indicator lights, and a stun setting toggle.
The warrior known as Ren carried a red bladed lightsaber during his time as the original leader of the Knights of Ren. Ren's saber was equipped with a kill switch that would, when activated, cause the weapon to detonate if it left his hand. According to Ren, the resulting explosion was strong enough to destroy everyone and everything within its proximity.
Kylo Ren's lightsaber evoked an ancient feel, though its components—a harmonic energizer conductive plate, a power cell focusing shunt, a power cell brace, power field conductors, a central diatium power core, exposed power rod terminals, a reserve power cell, an inert power insulator, and cooling vanes—were modern. Its crude appearance suggested it was constructed by an inexperienced hand. However, Kylo preferred its unstable, volatile nature and could have repaired his lightsaber if he so wished. Its partially exposed inner workings allowed for easy modification and upkeep.
Like all Jedi lightsabers, Kylo's saber was powered by a kyber crystal but one that was damaged, making the weapon dangerously unstable. The stressed, bifurcated crystal was located within the shaft and could barely contain the power of the weapon, necessitating the lateral plasma vents that produced the crossguard blades or quillons as tributaries of the central blade. The quillon blades vented the kyber crystal's excess power. The resulting weapon was a crossguard lightsaber, modeled on an ancient design dating back thousands of years to the Great Scourge of Malachor. The primary plasma blade and quillons in the kyber field matrix had the appearance of serrated blades due to the cracked kyber crystal.
The crossguard blades emerged soon after the main blade snapped into existence, helping to balance the power of Kylo's lightsaber. Its unstable serrated plasma blade left a trail of embers with each swing. The quillons were created through an array of focusing crystal activators served to split the plasma stream into perpendicular blade energy channels. The emitter shrouds on the crossguard protected the bearer's hand from the smaller blades. The kyber crystal was located atop the crystal cradle; the vent iris opened just after the ignition of the primary blade.
- "Those who dwell in the Unknown Regions have long whispered legends of the Knights of Ren. This band of marauders was said to have burned their way across worlds, consuming everything in their path. In recent years, an enclave of warriors stepped from the darkness to claim that name—and the fear it instilled—as their own."
- ―Darth Sidious
The Knights of Ren were marauders who pillaged worlds, leaving a trail of destruction in their wake. Their exploits were legendary by the time of the New Republic, particularly among the disparate settlements of the Unknown Regions where the Knights became mythologized over the centuries. By the time of the Imperial Era, a group of masked warriors emerged claiming to be the fabled Knights of Ren, a name that became synonymous with fear. Like their ancient namesakes, the modern Knights of Ren were marauders who acquired their possessions through force, including a prison ship that they confiscated during the raid on Osseriton. The Knights had been hired to attack the penal world of Osseriton; they released the prisoners and claimed one of the transports as their own. The ship was modified and christened as the Night Buzzard.
Aside from the Sith, the Knights of Ren were one of the few groups of "dark side practitioners" during the Imperial Era. While the dark side gave them strength, their ability to harness its power was severely limited in comparison to the Sith, largely due to their lack of training or knowledge unlike the more established orders of the Sith or Jedi. However, according to "the Archivist" the Knights were the only beings whose strength and pride emboldened them to openly contend with the Sith. The Archivist shared what she knew about the Knights of Ren with her benefactor, Lady Qi'ra, the leader of Crimson Dawn who would use the information to recruit the Knights as part of her plans against the Sith.
Alliance with Crimson Dawn
- "In a galaxy of countless living, unique beings, one man decides how we all live or die. A Sith. He will take what he wants from us. Now and forever. He stole your pride, your ambition."
"Damn right he did."
- ―Qi'ra and Ren, referring to Darth Sidious
During the Galactic Civil War between the Alliance to Restore the Republic and the Galactic Empire, the Knights of Ren were allies of the Crimson Dawn crime syndicate. Seeking to recruit Force-sensitives, Qi'ra approached the Knights and their leader on the planet Varnak in the Mid Rim Territories, where she proposed an alliance with the goal of ending the Sith hegemony over the galaxy. After the fall of more powerful Force-sensitive groups such as the Jedi Order and the Nightsisters, Ren was certain that the Sith would eliminate the Knights of Ren unless they struck first by following Qi'ra's plan.
Following the auction for Han Solo and the battle over Jekara, the Knights joined Qi'ra and her other allies aboard the Crimson Dawn flagship, the Vermillion, where she told them of how she masterminded a conflict between the Empire and Hutt Clan had risen. Though she admitted she had hoped Han Solo, then trapped within carbonite, would be regained by the Rebels, she did not allow their loss—as the bounty hunter Boba Fett had reclaimed the smuggler instead—to hinder their plans, telling the Knights and her other allies that the reign of Crimson Dawn was to begin.
The Knights of Ren, having survived the Empire's purge of Force-sensitive groups in the galaxy, were utilized by Qi'ra who schemed to overthrow Dark Lord of the Sith Darth Sidious and his student Darth Vader. The leader of Crimson Dawn revealed the origins of her organization to her allies, including the Knights of Ren, beginning with her predecessor Maul, whom she learned was a former Sith apprentice of Sidious. Knowing that Sidious was the Sith and real name of Galactic Emperor Sheev Palpatine, Qi'ra came to realize that the Sith ruled the galaxy through the Empire. As such, she believed that no other group could grow more powerful as long as the Sith maintained their galactic hegemony. Qi'ra therefore recruited the Knights of Ren, the Orphans, Deathstick, Ochi of Bestoon, and other allies to overthrow the Emperor and defeat Vader, convinced that Crimson Dawn and their allies would prosper in a galaxy without the Dark Lord of the Sith or his current student.
Infiltrating Fortress Vader
Journey to Mustafar
- "This is the biggest job we'll ever pull, no question about it. Fortress Vader. We'll be legends. I just don't know how we'll do it."
Qi'ra's plan appealed to the Knights of Ren, whose leader, "Ren," concurred with her statement that Sidious had "stolen their pride and ambition." With the Sith and the Empire distracted by a syndicate war that Qi'ra started, the Knights agreed to steal the Screaming Key from the vaults of Fortress Vader on Mustafar. Their compensation would be anything that they could steal for themselves. Ren accepted the mission, believing that Vader's castle was a site worth looting. Marinda agreed with Ren's assessment of the target's worth, preferring it to their usual activities such as scavenging for kyber crystals in ancient ruins.
Ren and Marinda sparred on the Night Buzzard while en route to their destination. Ren confessed to being impressed by Qi'ra's resourcefulness, despite her lack of Force-sensitivity, as she had provided the Knights with access codes along with a map of the fortress. Though they lacked a plan, Ren was confident that his Knights would become living legends for infiltrating Vader's stronghold.
The Knights of Ren landed the Night Buzzard in the Gahenn Plains of Mustafar and proceeded toward Fortress Vader from the south, avoiding the Imperial garrison on the far side of the fortress. They also used signal jammers on their speeder bikes to evade Imperial sensors as they approached the fortress' location. The Knights entered the fortress through an old unguarded entrance that led to the Sith cave upon which Vader's castle was built. The entrance to the cave was blocked by lava, but the Knights were able to create an opening with their combined use of telekinesis. They encountered an apparition of the Mask of Lord Momin inside the cave. Startled by the sudden movement of Darth Momin's mask, the Knight known as Bazzra shot it. Ren however was less concerned about "dead things" haunting a Sith castle, and warned Bazzra to be more concerned about the fortress' occupants who were still alive.
Theft of the Screaming Key
- "And, lest we forget, the theft of the Screaming Key from your fortress on Mustafar…your own stronghold…by the Knights of Ren. Weaklings who can barely use the dark side…and yet somehow they were brazen enough to attack you directly."
- ―Darth Sidious, to Darth Vader
The Knights of Ren successfully infiltrated the castle proper through the cave that was part of its foundation. The route to the castle's vault passed through a storage room where the Knights discovered an army's worth of bacta. The Knight known as Fyodor took the opportunity to spit in Vader's bacta supply before continuing toward the vault with his companions and their leader.
Ren warned the Knights to exercise caution while passing through the most exposed area on the route. By then, however, they were discovered by Vader's attendant, Vaneé who summoned the fortress garrison's Lava Troopers to kill the intruders. The Knights killed a large number of Imperial troops while Ren moved to complete the mission, using the Force to locate the vault that contained the Screaming Key. Upon acquiring the item, however, the remaining troopers fell back as Vader arrived to deal with the Knights himself. The Knight known as Fyodor was killed by the Dark Lord, causing Ren to order his Knights to retreat. He covered their escape by dueling with Vader who considered his opponent unworthy of wielding a red lightsaber, and his followers nothing more than a "pathetic rabble." Ren nonetheless survived the duel and escaped with his remaining Knights and the Screaming Key.
Vader reported to his master, the Emperor, at the Imperial Palace on Coruscant, in the wake of the Knights' theft of the Screaming Key. Sidious berated his apprentice for not preventing the Knights from stealing the key. He regarded the Knights of Ren as weaklings with a modicum of ability to use the dark side, and was confounded by the brazenness of their attack on Vader within his own stronghold. However, after conferring with Director Bashrar of the Imperial Security Bureau, Sidious sensed that Crimson Dawn was responsible for certain events in the galaxy, including the Knights' heist on Mustafar as well as the Syndicate War, the Grand Hutt Council's attack on the Executor, and the assassination of the Emperor's Royal Guards. The two Sith Lords also deduced that the Knights' benefactor, Lady Qi'ra was mentored by Sidious' former apprentice, Maul, given her knowledge of the Teräs Käsi fighting style.
Protecting the Archivist
- "Hold them off! This shouldn't take long!"
"If it does, we'll feed you to these things to buy us time to get away. I'll make it real simple for you, lady. We are done dying for Qi'ra."
- ―The Archivist and Ren
At the behest of Lady Qi'ra, the Knights of Ren accompanied the Archivist to a place where no one had been for thousands of years. Their research of the location indicated that the chamber had to be activated in order to use the Screaming Key that they stole from Fortress Vader. The Knight Massif voiced his reservations about disturbing areas that were strong in the dark side, notwithstanding the Knights' record for looting similar locations, but nonetheless proceeded with the mission, preferring its risks over living in fear of the Sith.
Due to the Archivist's limited attunement to the Force, she was unable to wield its powers apart from sensing its presence. As such, she directed Ren to harness the energy of the dark side around the Screaming Key. As a result, they were attacked by a several creatures that were awakened by Ren's use of the dark side. The outnumbered Knights fought to protect the Archivist while reaching the center, where they could use the key, but in the process Bazzra was crushed to death by one of the creatures. Although Ren blamed the Archivist for the death of one of his Knights, he allowed her to complete the mission. Having lost another Knight during his partnership with Qi'ra, Ren threatened to sacrifice the Archivist if she took too long to use the key.
New Republic Era
Searching for recruits
- "Didn't work out?"
"No, Trudgen. But that's all right. If it were easy to join us, everyone would do it. The master will find us someone else soon enough."
- ―Trudgen and Ren
At some point, the Knights of Ren became secret servants of Lord Sidious and his Sith Eternal cult, and became aware of his dark side servant, the genetic strandcast Snoke. The knights once sought out Karrst and his younger brother Filin, both of whom were wanted for murder by the Sector Security organization. Having learned of Karrst through a friend of the Knights, they spent some time looking for the siblings, who were almost captured by Sector Security when the dark gang found them. The Knights immediately descended on the lawmen, pushing them back and establishing a secure perimeter around the brothers. Using their weapons and Force abilities, the six Knights slaughtered the SecSec team while their spokesman, the warrior known as "Ren," approached the would-be prisoners. Ren assessed the situation and concluded that SecSec was determined to apprehend Karrst and Filin, who were responsible for killing at least a hundred people. Though the Knights were also after them, they did not wish to capture or kill them. Instead, they wanted Karrst to join their ranks.
Karrst was like the Knights, possessing an inherent sensitivity to the Force or "shadow" as the Knights referred to its dark side. Karrst was able to demonstrate his natural ability with telekinesis. His talents impressed Ren and demonstrated what the Knights learned about him from their contact—that Karrst could touch the shadow. Filin pledged his allegiance and that of his brother to the Knights, promising to follow Ren if the Knights helped them to escape from the SecSec forces. However, Ren clarified that it was not he whom the Knights followed, but rather his lightsaber and the way of life that it represented.
Ren devoted his life to living by the Knights' code; immersing himself in the shadow, he fought its battles, preserved its artifacts, and consumed the power it gave him. He invited Karrst to do the same, but first they required a sacrifice—the murder of his brother. Before Karrst could make his choice, Filin fatally shot his older brother. In doing so, he believed the Knights would let him join their ranks in Karrst's place. While Ren applauded Filin's actions, respecting his willingness to commit fraticide in order to survive, he ultimately killed Filin, who was not born with a strong connection to the Force. Trudgen noted that the mission did not go as planned, but it was of little consequence to Ren, who believed that their master would eventually find someone else for them to recruit. In the meantime, they sought to cause destruction elsewhere, leaving the ground littered with the corpses of the entire SecSec team and those of the now dead siblings.
Battle of legends
- "This is Jedi Master Luke Skywalker. He is a legend!"
"Yeah? Well, I'm Ren. These are the Knights of Ren. And we're legendary.'"
- ―Ben Solo and Ren
The Knights of Ren ventured to the Outer Rim world of Elphrona and found an ancient Jedi outpost dating back to the time of the High Republic Era. The Jedi of the time used it as a storage site, and having never returned to gather their items, it was more of a treasure trove than an outpost. Among its artifacts were Jedi holocrons and exotic weapons. Ren and his Knights intended to raid the outpost and take everything of value. However, the outpost was also visited by Jedi Master Luke Skywalker, his young apprentice Ben Solo, and the explorer Lor San Tekka. In addition to mentoring his nephew in the ways of the Force, Skywalker scoured the galaxy searching for arcane lore that could aid his quest to rebuild the Jedi Order. Shortly after entering the outpost, Skywalker and Solo both sensed the the Knights of Ren emanating with the cold presence of the dark side.
Skywalker claimed the outpost and its treasures as the property of the Jedi Order, which, at the time, consisted of himself as the last Jedi. Notwithstanding his claim to Jedi artifacts, Skywalker had no intention of allowing them to fall into the Knights' posession, having sensed the dark side in all of them. Ren regarded Skywalker as an old fool, believing that a single Jedi was no match against the combined power of his Knights. When Solo stepped forward, introducing his master and calling him a legend, Ren simply introduced himself and the warriors under his command as the legendary Knights of Ren.
His warnings ignored, Skywalker instructed his apprentice to protect San Tekka while he personally dealt with Ren's Knights. As the Knights and Skywalker prepared for battle, Ren was musing on how it would almost be a shame to kill the last Jedi, as it would be the first and only Jedi he would ever get to kill. Regardless, he gave the order to attack, causing the Knights to spring into action. With the exception of Ren himself, the other Knights charged in unison, assuring themselves that one man who stood alone against six warriors could not win. Though Skywalker conceeded that he was indeed one man, the Jedi knew that he was not alone with the Force as his ally. Despite their efforts, none of the Knights' attacks connected, as Skywalker either blocked their weapons or evaded them entirely. Knowing they could not defeat him, he used his green lightsaber only as a means to defend himself and was content to defeat the Knights but without killing them.
With the Knights incapacitated and their weapons destroyed, Ren stepped forward to confront Skywalker himself. Ren activated a kill switch on his lightsaber and revealed that it would explode if the weapon left his hand. However, after observing the last Jedi in battle, Ren concluded that the Force was strong with Skywalker and was no longer certain that he could prevail. Unwilling to die for the artifacts inside the outpost, Ren chose to stand down and retreat with his Knights, leaving the Jedi to claim their prize. Before departing, Ren turned his attention to Skywalker's young apprentice. He sensed that, like themselves, Solo had the presence of the shadow within himself. Ren also removed his helmet and threw it at Solo's feet, telling the boy to seek him out when he was ready to join the Knights of Ren.
The fall of Ben Solo
Descent into the shadow
- "When you do find them, my friend, you must not fail. You will join the Knights…or you will die."
- ―Snoke, to Ben Solo
After Solo destroyed his uncle's Jedi temple, killing all who were present at the time, he fled from the survivors who confronted him and traveled to a space station, where Snoke awaited him with open arms. Solo struggled with feelings of betrayal, believing his uncle tried to murder him in his sleep. That turn of events, combined with the expectations of being the nephew of the last Jedi and the grandson of a prophesied Chosen One, left Solo disillusioned with both the Jedi Order and his own family.
Having renouncing the ways of the Jedi, Solo confided in Snoke his interest in joining the Knights of Ren. Snoke showed his approval and encouraged Solo to seek out the Knights, telling the young boy that he would not have to keep his power in check like he did while training with the Jedi. When he warned Solo that the Knights of Ren would not accept a recruit who was on the path to becoming a Jedi Knight, Solo revealed the hatred he harbored for his own identity and the legacy attached to it. By joining the Knights, Solo not only saw a chance to learn new things about the Force, but also an opportunity to reinvent himself by adopting a new name.
Solo asked for Snoke's guidance to locate the Knights of Ren; though the elder Force wielder decided that Solo's first step in his new path should be to find the group on his own, he advised Solo to start where he last encountered the Knights. Snoke also warned Solo that the Knights would exact a heavy price in exchange for admission into their ranks, but Solo did not care and was willing to pay any cost in order start his new life. At the time, however, he was unaware that he would be expected to undergo a particular Sith trial of ascendancy—the sacrifice of someone he cared about.
Ben Solo's trial run
- "It's a death—but not a good death. Not good enough."
"I killed him. I killed Hennix. A Jedi."
"Yeah. But you didn't really want it. But Snoke vouched for you, and you're strong in the shadow, and that's not nothing. Let's spend some time, see if you like us, see if we like you. Maybe you'll find that good death after all."
- ―Ren and Ben Solo
Solo departed for Elphrona, returning to the abandoned Jedi outpost where he first encountered the Knights of Ren. Snoke also urged him to succeed, for the price of failure was death. Using the helmet that Ren left behind years past, Solo was able to establish a direct line of communication with the dark warrior, who invited the fallen Jedi to join them on the Mid Rim world of Varnak. Before Solo could leave, he was confronted again by his fellow Jedi students Hennix, Tai, and Voe. As the duel progressed, Tai infiltrated Solo's mind and thereby discovered the latter's intention to seek out and join the Knights of Ren, believing he would find his own path by learning from them.
When Solo attempted to kill Voe by hurling her off a cliff, Hennix did not notice when Solo changed his mind and tried to save her; believing that Solo had murdered her, Hennix sought vengence and threw his lightsaber at Solo. Distracted as he tried to keep Voe from falling, Solo repelled the lightsaber, and Hennix was inadvertently killed by his own blade. After subduing Voe and Tai, Solo continued on his journey to Varnak and approached the Knights, who were waiting for Solo in a cantina. Ren commented on the young Jedi's disheveled appearance, to which Solo explained his encounter with the other students on Elphrona, claiming that he had killed one of them. Intrigued, Ren asked Solo to recount the duel while the Knights listened, but also inquired as to Solo's individual relationships with each of the students and why Solo was no longer among them in order to determine if the Jedi who was slain was a sufficient death.
Solo told Ren that he was no longer a student of Skywalker's temple because he had destroyed it, and he explained the origins of the three fellow students. Voe considered Solo her rival, yet always failed to reach Solo's level of power, whereas Hennix was known for his humor and intelligence. However, Solo was more cryptic about Tai, who empathized with Solo's internal struggle over his heritage as a Skywalker. Ren nonetheless had a clearer understanding of the three Jedi who confronted his latest potential recruit. Returning to the fight on Elphrona, Solo presented Hennix's death as killing a Jedi.
Ren, however, was not convinced that Hennix's death satisfied the Knights' qualifications, knowing that Solo had not meant to kill his fellow Jedi. Yet he also took Solo's inherent strength into consideration, as well as the fact that Snoke had vouched for the young boy. Although he agreed to allow Solo to accompany the Knights on their adventures, Ren found Solo's appearance intolerable for a potential Knight, going so far as to compare his tattered Jedi robes to garbage. Turning to Kuruk, he instructed his fellow Knight to provide the fallen Jedi with a fresh set of clothes. Solo's new attire was an all-black outfit that more closely resembled the group he sought to join.
Accompanied by Solo, the Knights then went to Minemoon, one of the moons of Mimban, to steal the Mindsplinter in exchange of payment. When the Mimbanese miners refused to cooperate, Solo performed telepathy on one of them to discover that the relic was three levels down in a chamber with a red snake. While Ren praised Solo's Force abilities, he nonetheless executed the miners despite his promise to release them and announced to the other Mimbanese present on the chamber his intentions to take the Mindsplinter, ordering the Knights to chop all the miners down. While the Knights jumped towards the chamber to fight the miners, Ren stayed behind with a reluctant Solo. However, Tai and Voe arrived to the scene, with Tai facing Solo whereas Voe jumped to the chamber to rescue the Mimbanese and fight Ren and the Knights.
While Tai fought Solo, Voe rescued a Mimbanese woman from getting killed by Ren before lunging at Cardo and facing Vicrul. Meanwhile, Ren went to see how Solo was doing in his fight with Tai and snapped Tai's neck before determining that Solo was not one of them and that he would eliminate him for his weakness. However, thanks to the murder of his dear friend, Solo gave in his inner darkness and attacked Ren. As his fall to the dark side was felt across the galaxy by his mother, Rey, Snoke, and Sidious, Solo bested Ren and killed him with Tai's lightsaber. He then took the Ren and used it to murder Voe. Having lost their leader to a "good death," the Knights of Ren knelt before Solo, accepting him as their new leader. As the knights traveled away from the Minemoon on the Night Buzzard, Solo bled his kyber crystal, reforged his lightsaber, and took on a new name, Kylo Ren.
The rise of Kylo Ren
Champion of the First Order
- "Even you, master of the Knights of Ren, have never faced such a test."
"By the grace of your training, I will not be seduced."
"We shall see."
- ―Snoke and Kylo Ren
Kylo Ren became Snoke's apprentice as well as a warlord and champion of the First Order. Snoke used his apprentice and the Knights as a tool for the dark side within the First Order. Together with General Armitage Hux and Captain Phasma, he formed part of the vanguard of First Order leadership which was strikingly young. This new generation of adherents to the ideals of the old Empire carried a zeal that made up for their lack of experience. Ren also adopted the Knights' taste for theatricality, using a shrouded and masked visage to impose fear in the tradition of his ancestor, Darth Vader.
Ren's rise to power filled the void left by the Sith Order's destruction. While the thousand-year Sith lineage of Darth Bane perished with Vader, the last Sith Lord in the ancient tradition of the Rule of Two, the dark side of the Force remained strong in Ren as well as his Master. His modified lightsaber channeled dangerous amounts of power through its cracked kyber crystal. Ren's reputation would spread across the stars as he led the armies of the First Order in his master's name. Through Eila, a child who escaped from the First Order, the Resistance spy Kazuda Xiono learned about Ren's involvement in the massacre on Tehar.
Though Skywalker retreated from the known galaxy, choosing to live out his remaining years as a hermit in exile on the forgotten world of Ahch-To, his continued existence as the last Jedi was a threat that Snoke could not ignore. The Supreme Leader therefore sent his apprentice on a mission to locate and destroy Skywalker after word reached him that the Resistance was attempting to find the last Jedi as well. This led to a confrontation with Lor San Tekka, an old acquaintance who knew the dark warrior when he was still Ben Solo. In order to find Skywalker, Ren tracked San Tekka to a village on Jakku, knowing the old explorer harbored a clue to the Jedi Master's location. However, San Tekka would not cooperate, and told the former Ben Solo that he could deny the truth that was his family. As a result, Ren killed San Tekka with his lightsaber.
- "Show me again, the power of the darkness, and I will let nothing stand in our way. Show me, Grandfather, and I will finish what you started."
- ―Kylo Ren, to the mask of Darth Vader
As the Resistance grew closer to locating Skywalker, Kylo and Snoke sensed an awakening in the Force. When the Supreme Leader learned that Kylo's father Han Solo became involved with the Resistance, he warned his apprentice that he would soon face his greatest challenge yet.
Kylo assured his master that his training had fortified him against the light and he would not give into feelings of sentiment like his grandfather before him. Nevertheless, he was conflicted. While meditating with one of his trophies, the melted mask of Darth Vader, Kylo beseeched his grandfather to help him resist the pull to the light, so that he might fulfill their destiny and kill the last Jedi in Vader's name. But as before, when Kylo attempted to commune with the spirit who once inhabited the mask, he heard nothing from the charred helm, despite his frequent and intense meditations.
During the waning hours of the Cold War, the scavenger Rey traveled from her homeworld of Jakku to Maz Kanata's castle on Takodana. Guided by the Force, she found the Jedi lightsaber that once belonged to Anakin Skywalker and his son Luke. Through her dormant connection to the Force, Rey experienced a series of Force visions by touching the lightsaber. Among the things she saw were the Knights of Ren and their master, the dark warrior Kylo Ren.
Shortly after Kylo captured Rey and brought her to Starkiller Base, he was confronted by his estranged father Han Solo. He knew the time had come to complete the Sith trial of ascendancy; at the time he did not know if he could actually do it. Han beseeched his son to abandon the path of the dark side and come home, telling Ben that his parents missed him. Kylo heard his father's appeal, but there was to be no reconciliation. Kylo ultimately made the sacrifice by murdering his own father. However, this act of patricide did not make the former Ben Solo feel more powerful—he felt weakened, and the conflict in him continued to grow, leaving him more lost than ever before.
- "You think you can turn him? Pathetic child, I cannot be betrayed. I cannot be beaten. I see his mind. I see his every intent! Yes, I see him turning the lightsaber to strike true. And now, foolish child, he ignites it, and kills his true enemy!"
- ―Snoke's final words, to Rey and Kylo Ren
As the Supreme Leader's apprentice, Kylo Ren came to see himself as "the heir to the Force." He envisioned a future in which the Jedi were extinct, leaving no challenger to his status as a claimant to the power of the Force. Despite his master's promises, Snoke consistently held his apprentice's power in check, as Luke Skywalker did with Ben Solo. In the aftermath of Starkiller Base's destruction, Snoke scolded Kylo like a child for becoming unbalanced by patricide, leading to his defeat by an untrained girl. He also said that Kylo was nothing like his grandfather, Darth Vader, who would have been ashamed of him, according to the Supreme Leader.
Infuriated by Snoke's repudiation of Kylo's status as the heir to Vader's legacy, Kylo's aggression overcame him, leading to the destruction of his helmet. Though the helmet had marked his status of leadership in the Knights of Ren, it was also molded in the image of his grandfather's mask, making it a reminder of the past that Kylo loathed. The revelation of his master's opinion of him caused Kylo to doubt Snoke's intentions toward him; with his father's warning in mind, Kylo came to see his master's gifts as symbolic shackles anchoring him to the past and keeping him subservient while Snoke reigned as Supreme Leader. The realization of his place as a servant fostered in Kylo a new destructive worldview.
Though Kylo initially resolved to prove his worthiness as an apprentice, he had grown resentful at having spent most of his life apprenticed to powerful masters of the Force. Outwardly he remained Snoke's loyal acolyte, but his true motive was the desire to control his own life. Unbeknown to Kylo, his path as a fallen Jedi and servant of the dark side was influenced by his master's secret creators, the Sith Eternal cultists. Having long worked toward the day of the restoration of Sith rule throughout the galaxy, the Sith cult utiilzed Snoke as a tool through which they could groom Vader's grandson into an heir that was strong, cunning and worthy of the new empire that they had built in the Unknown Regions.
When Rey sought him out, believing he could be redeemed with her help, Kylo used her arrival as an opportunity to assassinate Snoke. Their unique bond as a Force dyad amplified their powers, making them stronger together. Wanting to rule the galaxy with Rey by his side, Kylo invited her to join him, but the Jedi apprentice would not turn against her allies. They became sworn enemies again, with Rey rejoining the Resistance while Kylo seized control of the First Order as Snoke's self-proclaimed successor.
The reign of Kylo Ren
Supreme Leader of the First Order
- "He's gone mad. Flames of rebellion burn across the galaxy and Ren chases a ghost."
- ―Armitage Hux
Having usurped the title of Supreme Leader with his killing of Snoke, Kylo Ren gained unprecedented freedom and power. Though he now commanded a vast military, including legions of First Order stormtroopers, Kylo still felt shackled to a fate that he was only beginning to understand.
While the galaxy was in a state of open war between the First Order and the Resistance, a message of revenge broadcasted across the stars by Darth Sidious in 35 ABY. Unwilling to suffer any threat to his reign, Kylo made it his mission to personally investigate the mysterious message. Through the Force Kylo knew that he had to find the Sith world of Exegol; he succeeded through the use of his grandfather's Sith wayfinder which he obtained on Mustafar in 35 ABY.
Kylo ultimately learned that the former Emperor had in fact returned, despite his demise at the hands of his own Sith apprentice, Kylo's grandfather. He also discovered that Sidious' followers had created the Final Order, a fleet comprising planet killer Xyston-class Star Destroyers and an army of elite Sith troopers. Sidious offered control of the Sith Eternal's military forces to Kylo, which would give the Supreme Leader the resources he needed to complete his conquest of the galaxy. Additionally, the Sith Lord designated Kylo as his successor, making the grandson of Vader the heir to the new Sith Empire formed in the Unknown Regions. As a condition, however, Kylo had to kill Rey—thereby destroying the last remnant of the Jedi Order—in order to assume command of the Sith fleet as the new Galactic Emperor.
Kylo considered his alliance with the Sith Eternal a means to an end; he did not feel indebted to the cult, despite learning of their role in his ascension through the dark side. While he accepted his role as Vader's heir, resolving to fulfill his grandfather's legacy by restoring the Sith to power and turning the First Order into a genuine empire, Kylo vowed to never serve another master.
Summoning the Knights of Ren
- "Knights of Ren."
- ―Two stormtroopers
Kylo's return from the Unknown Regions bolstered the First Order Supreme Council's faith in him, having learned from their Supreme Leader about the military assets on Exegol. Despite their militarization efforts, the First Order's forces were much smaller than those of their predecessor, the Imperial Military. By augmenting their military with the Sith Eternal's troops and warships, the First Order would have the means to rule the galaxy as a true Empire.
However, the Supreme Council was agitated by the presence of the Knights of Ren, who were summoned by Kylo to enforce his rule as Supreme Leader. In this regard, they were Kylo's equivalent to the Elite Praetorian Guards who served as Snoke's personal bodyguards. The Knights acknowledged Kylo as the only one with the authority to command them, much to the Supreme Council's displeasure. General Hux especially hated the Knights. As a First Order officer who favored protocol and had exacting standards about his hair, Hux despised the Knights' unkempt appearance and how they treaded dirt into the polished halls of the First Order's capital ships.
Traveling aboard their private transport, the Night Buzzard, the Knights and their master arrived on the Resurgent-class Star Destroyer Steadfast, flagship of the First Order leadership. Before his meeting with the Supreme Council, Kylo gave the fragments of his shattered helmet to Albrekh, who reforged it by using Sith alchemy to hold the shards together. Kylo redonned his helmet, marking himself once more as a Knight of Ren, but this time on his own terms.
The Knights accompanied Kylo as he made his way to the Supreme Council's chamber, tracking dirt through the polished corridors of the Steadfast. Their presence was noticed by several onlookers, including one stormtrooper who referred to the Knights of Ren as "ghouls" to a fellow trooper.
Hunting the last Jedi
- "Prepare to crush any worlds that defy us. My Knights and I are going hunting for the scavenger."
- ―Kylo Ren, to the Supreme Council
To consolidate his rule, Ren instructed the Supreme Council to crush any worlds that dared to defy the First Order, preparing the galaxy for his anticipated ascension as the new Emperor. Another objective of the Supreme Leader was to find Rey, a task he personally executed alongside the Knights of Ren. He traveled to the desert planet Pasaana with his Knights after learning that Rey was there through the the bond that bridged their minds. Sensing Kylo's presence nearby, Rey confronted him while her comrades attempted to escape on the Bestoon Legacy. During the Knights' hunt for the scavenger that vexed their master, Ap'lek stalked his prey, an unsuspecting Chewbacca, who was subsequently captured by the First Order.
Rey and her remaining companions managed to escape from the First Order's forces on Pasaana. But while traveling to the occupied world of Kijimi, they were once again pursued by Kylo and his Knights, who went to extraordinary lengths in their determination to capture the scavenger. The First Order's forces also arrived on Kijimi and worked in unison with their leader's subordinate warriors, searching for leads on the scavenger and her Resistance allies. Unbeknownst to the Knights who combed through the Thieves' Quarter of Kijimi City, their targets mounted a rescue mission to save Chewbacca, who was held prisoner aboard the Steadfast.
The Force connected Kylo and Rey, but as before neither of them could see the other's surroundings. Kylo urged Rey to tell him where she was, wanting to see her in person, but Rey was not willing to give up her location. As Kylo began revealing what he discovered about Rey's origins, the scavenger attacked him, resulting in a lightsaber duel being fought across space and time. During their battle, Vader's mask was teleported to Kylo's location, revealing to the Supreme Leader that Rey was on board his flagship. When he returned to the Steadfast, he told Rey that she was in fact the granddaughter of Darth Sidious. In addition, Kylo had learned that he and Rey were a prophesied dyad in the Force. Believing they could overthrow Sidious and claim the Throne of the Sith together, he tried to convert Rey to the dark side, but once again she refused.
Kylo would not relent, however. Tracking Rey to Kef Bir, he found the scavenger in the Emperor's Throne Room aboard the ruins of the DS-2 Death Star II Mobile Battle Station. Due to their heritage as the descendants of the last two Sith Lords, Kylo believed that the dark side was part of their nature, making it futile to resist its temptations, though Rey refused as she feared of becoming ruthless like her grandfather. He destroyed the Emperor's wayfinder to prevent her from reaching Exegol and confronting Sidious without him, causing Rey to attack Kylo. They dueled across the wreckage of the battle station, but as Kylo gained the upper hand, his dying mother called out to him through the Force. Rey capitalized on Kylo's distraction by wounding him with his own lightsaber, until she too sensed Organa's death across the galaxy. Using the Force to heal Kylo's injury, she confessed that the person she wanted to join was Ben and not Kylo.
After Rey's departure, Kylo found himself conversing with a memory of Ben Solo's father, the late Han Solo. Moved by his parents' and Rey's compassion for him, Ben threw Kylo's lightsaber into the ocean. The dark Knight known as Kylo Ren was no more and Ben Solo, the last Skywalker, was reborn.
The redemption of Ben Solo
- "I miss you, son."
"Your son is dead."
"No. Kylo Ren is dead. My son is alive."
- ―Ben Solo and his memory of Han Solo
After the loss of their master, the remaining Knights gathered on Exegol while the Final Order fleet prepared for departure. During the Battle of Exegol, the former Kylo Ren returned to the Sith redoubt but this time as Ben Solo. He entered the Sith Citadel with the intent of protecting Rey from the reborn Emperor, but his path was blocked by the Knights who once followed him. Solo initally believed that the Knights were still loyal to him, until he sensed their hatred toward him, leading Solo to realize that their true allegiance was to Darth Sidious. For Solo, who had trained with the Knights whom he regarded as his brothers-in-arms, it was the last breach of faith in a succession of betrayals. From the perspective of the Knights, their former master was no longer worthy of leading them; they saw Kylo Ren as having regressed to the persona of Ben Solo, whom they regarded as a weaker version of Ren. As such, the Knights of Ren believed they were capable of defeating Solo.
Solo struck first using his Force abilities to attack the Knights. However, he was surrounded by the same warriors who had trained alongside him, providing them with knowledge of his fighting style. He was further disadvantaged by his lack of a lightsaber, and for a moment Solo regretted discarding his crossguard lightsaber on Kef Bir. After subduing Solo with their weapons, the Knights drew back to prepare another attack, yet were unaware that Solo was in secret communication with Rey, his other half in the Force dyad. Sensing each other's intentions, Rey passed the Skywalker lightsaber to Solo through their bond. Armed with his grandfather's lightsaber, Solo overpowered his former servants before proceeding to the Dark Lord's throne room to assist Rey in defeating her grandfather. The resulting deaths of Ap'lek, Cardo, Kuruk, Trudgen, Ushar, and Vicrul marked the end of the Knights of Ren.
Behind the scenes
- "They're characters that, when we came up with them in Force Awakens and had very brief sighting of them, it was something that we had a lot of ideas of sort of further adventures with them, backstory, you know, and all sorts of things that were not the focus of the central story, and never made it into the movie."
- ―J.J. Abrams
The Knights of Ren were created for the 2015 film Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens and appear through Kylo Ren. They were based on rejected designs for Kylo Ren. The Knights later appeared in the 2019 film Star Wars: Episode IX The Rise of Skywalker, where they were portrayed by Martin Wilde, Anton Simpson-Tidy, Lukaz Leong, Tom Rodgers, Joe Kennard, and Ashley Beck.
During the Director commentary of The Force Awakens, director J.J. Abrams noted that the Knights had backstory, but it was not revealed at that time. While fleshing out the Knights of Ren for the Star Wars: The Rise of Kylo Ren comic book series, Charles Soule took inspiration from motorcycle gangs, classic Westerns and Samurai tales to dramatize some of the lore behind the Knights.
According to Rian Johnson, writer and director of the 2017 film Star Wars: Episode VIII The Last Jedi, the reason why the group do not appear in the film is that the movie was already full and there was no room for them. Johnson mused that they could have been used in place of Snoke's Elite Praetorian Guards, but it would have been a waste because all the guards had to die and Kylo's connection to the Knights would have added unwanted complications to the scene.
In May 2019, Vanity Fair revealed that the Knights of Ren would finally appear in The Rise of Skywalker. The article also featured a photograph of the Knights during filming at Jordan, alongside director J.J. Abrams. Vanity Fair described the Knights as "masked warriors with specialized weaponry who add an element of chaos to the war between the Resistance and the First Order" and compared their brutish look to those of the characters from the Mad Max films.
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