The Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi novelization, written by James Kahn, is the official novelization of the film of the same name. Its first edition was published on May 12, 1983.

Publisher's summary[]

It was a dark time for the Rebel AllianceHan Solo, frozen in carbonite, had been delivered into the hands of the vile gangster Jabba the Hutt. Determined to rescue him, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Lando Calrissian launched a hazardous mission against Jabba's Tatooine stronghold.

The Rebel commanders gathered all the warships of the Rebel fleet into a single giant armada. And Darth Vader and the Emperor, who had ordered construction to begin on a new and even more powerful Death Star, were making plans to crush the Rebel Alliance once and for all.


Author James Kahn's manuscript included a chapter about Leia Organa's backstory on Alderaan, but George Lucas removed it as he had his own ideas for the character.[3]


Differences from the film[]

  • Several characters such as Emperor Palpatine and Mon Mothma have elaborate backstories provided for them.
  • Several of the red-robed Imperial guards are already present on the Death Star before Emperor Palpatine arrives, although more arrive with him later.
  • Luke Skywalker constructs his new lightsaber in Obi-Wan Kenobi's hut.
  • Jabba converses with Leia (who is in disguise as Boushh) in Boushh's native tongue of Ubese. However, his Ubese isn't very good, so he still requires Threepio to translate. Interestingly, the novel earlier asserts that Jabba speaks only Huttese "as a point of honor."
  • After Han Solo is thawed from the carbonite, the disguised Leia catches him in her arms instead of him simply falling to the floor.
  • When Leia is enslaved by Jabba, she is brought to him by Ishi Tib, who is described as a "Birdlizard," in addition to the disguised Lando Calrissian, instead of a Gamorrean guard.
  • Jabba responds to Leia's threats by saying, "I'm sure, I'm sure. But in the meantime, I will enjoy the pleasure of your company." Instead of attempting to lick her, he kisses her on the lips.
  • Jabba boasts of having killed many Jedi before Luke.
  • Threepio is prevented from telling Luke about the trapdoor because a guard covers his mouth, instead of being interrupted midsentence by Jabba.
  • When Luke falls into the Rancor pit, the guard who falls in with him is the same guard he uses the Force to grab a blaster from, and he is an individual whose name and species aren't identified (although it's possible it is Nizuc Bek), rather than the Gamorrean Jubnuk. While in the pit, the guard grabs the dropped blaster and uses it to shoot at the Rancor, but this only enrages the beast and it eats him.
  • Luke attempts to escape from the pit by jumping up and grabbing the bars on the viewing grate. Two Jawas try to make him fall back down by hitting his fingers with the butts of their blaster rifles, but he refuses to be dislodged. When he does eventually drop back down it is of his own accord, hitting the Rancor in the eye as he does so. The Rancor, flailing, blindly smacks against the side of the pit, giving Luke time to hide.
  • While en route to the Pit of Carkoon, Ephant Mon gets into a fight with Ree-Yees aboard the sail barge. Threepio attempts unsuccessfully to mediate.
  • Jabba forces Leia to drink a disgusting beverage from a glass.
  • Hermi Odle sits on Threepio while Salacious Crumb attempts to rip out Threepio's eyes. When coming to Threepio's rescue, Artoo zaps Hermi, causing him to fall out of one of the sail barge's windows.
  • After killing Jabba and destroying his sail barge, the Rebels have to fight their way through a devastating sandstorm to reach the Millennium Falcon and Luke's X-wing.
  • Kenobi's account of Luke's parental history is expanded; Obi-Wan states that Owen Lars was his brother, and that Luke and Leia's mother died when they were four. He also describes his final battle with Anakin before Anakin became consumed by the dark side of the Force: "When I saw what had become of him, I tried to dissuade him, to draw him back from the dark side. We fought…your father fell into a molten pit. When your father clawed his way out of that fiery pool, the change had been burned into him forever—he was Darth Vader, without a trace of Anakin Skywalker. Irredeemably dark. Scarred. Kept alive only by machinery and his own black will."
  • Threepio's story alone does not convince the Ewoks to help the Rebels. Han attempts to persuade them by telling them the Empire is draining Endor's resources, but also fails. Luke succeeds in acquiring their aid when he talks about the stars above being vanquished if the Death Star is finished, and Wicket gives a rousing speech in their support (translated for the reader's benefit by Threepio).
  • After sensing Luke, Darth Vader attempts to see Palpatine only to be turned away at the door by an Imperial officer, who tells him he cannot enter. Vader attempts to force his way in by using the Force to choke the officer, but the officer manages to gasp out "It is the Emperor's command!" A reluctant Vader releases him and agrees to return at a more convenient time.
  • When the captured Luke is turned over to Vader, rather than an Imperial officer, it is a stormtrooper (referred to as a "stormtrooper captain") who addresses Vader and turns over the young Jedi's confiscated lightsaber.
  • There is an expanded version of the initial conversation between Palpatine and Luke. It includes Palpatine questioning Luke about who instructed him after Obi-Wan's death; upon discovering that it was Yoda, Palpatine proceeds to mock the late Jedi Master by mimicking his object–subject–verb style of speech.
  • There is an extended sequence involving the Rebel strike force entering the shield generator bunker, wherein they exchange fire with a group of stormtroopers. Also, Han Solo doesn't kill an officer by knocking him over a railing.
  • The AT-ST walkers are piloted by stormtroopers. Han is still described as dressing in the outfit of an "AT-ST pilot" to deceive the Imperials inside the bunker, even though since the novel establishes that stormtroopers pilot the walkers, Han could just be described as dressing as a stormtrooper.
  • To goad Luke, Palpatine instructs Moff Jerjerrod to use the Death Star to destroy the moon of Endor if the Rebel strike force is successful in disabling the shield generator.
  • Vader is described as very elderly and looking very similar to Kenobi, though he has been established as about forty-six when he died in later continuity.
  • Vader engages in a monologue about whether he should kill Palpatine or let Luke die, which he does not do in the film (although his hesitance regarding the choice was nonetheless made clear).
  • When the order is given to break off the initial attack because the Death Star's shield is still up, several X-wings are unable to pull away in time and collide with the shield, which destroys them.
  • Green Leader doesn't destroy the Super Star Destroyer by crashing into its bridge. Instead, he blasts it with his proton torpedoes. Unable to veer away, he perishes when the starfighter flies into the resulting explosion. Although the Super Star Destroyer crashes into the Death Star as a result, Admiral Piett's death isn't explicitly described.
  • As the tide of battle turns against the Empire, a disillusioned and misanthropic Jerjerrod orders his aide to turn the battle station around and destroy Endor, but the battle station is blown up before he can finish his task.

Differences from later works[]

  • The planet Endor is said to have long since been destroyed in a cataclysm, leaving only the moon.
  • Ishi Tib is an individual rather than a species.
  • The Rancor is explicitly called a mutant.
  • Obi-Wan describes Owen Lars as his brother, and says that Padmé Amidala died when Luke and Leia were four. He also tells Luke that Anakin fell into lava, clawing his way out as Darth Vader. All of these would be retconned by the prequel trilogy.
  • Vader, when hesitating on whether to kill Palpatine or let Luke die, mentions that Palpatine was beloved by most of the galaxy, and that killing him would most likely leave the galaxy in horror. This was supported in Coruscant and the Core Worlds, which mentions that the people of Coruscant had immense loyalty to Palpatine and even considered him to be a demigod, although this is contradicted in the Special Edition of the film, with the montage depicting various worlds celebrating in addition to Endor, including Coruscant.



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