What Rey's Jedi Books in 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' Mean for 'Episode IX'
One of the biggest surprises in Star Wars: The Last Jedi comes when a Force-ghost Yoda, returns in classic puppet form and brought to life by iconic voice actor Frank Oz. Yoda’s reappearance is a treat for fans, and ties the film directly to The Empire Strikes Back, another Star Wars middle chapter that finds a young and untrained Force-user seeking guidance from a Jedi master. From that glistening blue aura to John Williams’ iconic Yoda leitmotif, it’s hard not to get a little emotional during this reunion.
But the scene is also a bit of a trick. Luke, upset after Rey flies off to confront Kylo, and disenchanted with the Jedi doctrine housed in a mysterious and mystical Force tree, is about to burn it all down when Yoda manifests. Before Luke can light fire to the tree and the books inside, Yoda summons lightning from the sky and burns it himself.
"That library contained nothing that the girl Rey does not already possess," Yoda says. It sounds cheeky, but he’s being literal: as we see later, Rey snatched the books before fleeing Ahch-To and hid them in a drawer on the Millennium Falcon (we briefly see her store them as she takes off, and get a better look near the film’s end when Finn opens the drawer to get a blanket for Rose). So yes, in addition to Luke’s lessons that Rey no doubt took to heart, she also has the literal tools to reform the Jedi Order, something Luke failed to fully accomplish. That’s another lesson Yoda imparts on Luke: "We are what they grow beyond. That is the true burden of all masters."
It’s a lovely moment between student and teacher, and shows us that even forty-some years later, Yoda still has lessons to bestow on "Young Skywalker." Considering Luke’s fate by the end of The Last Jedi -- becoming one with the Force in a sacrificial moment of heroism -- it seems likely that he’ll become her Yoda. But for now, she’s fully on her own. And because of that, we have to wonder: what is in those books and how will they help?
Luckily, there’s some precedence for Jedi tomes in Star Wars canon.
The Jedi Archives on Coruscant
This particular Jedi library appears in Attack of the Clones and in The Clone Wars cartoon, as well as some tie-in comics. Situated on the core planet of Coruscant, it was the Jedi Order’s biggest archival repository. It held the remnants of whatever Jedi texts had once been stored in another library: the Great Jedi Library of Ossus, referenced in Star Wars: Complete Locations. The archives contained maps, scientific journals, records of the Jedi and Sith, and more. When the Empire seized control, they destroyed much of the Jedi-specific lore contained in the archives, altering history in the process.
It’s hard to say if the books on Ahch-To were always there, or if they’re the survivors of the Empire’s raid. If that’s the case, then they may be the only books left that carry the secrets and histories the Jedi hold dear. If that’s the case, we sure hope Rey finds a better storage space than the blanket drawer on the Falcon.
The Journal of the Whills
Probably the biggest book-related question we have about The Last Jedi relates to the text we first saw in the teaser trailer. We get a longer look in the film itself, when Luke runs his hand over a drawing of what looks like a glistening star. This is the classic Jedi insignia and this book isn’t the only place it pops up in The Last Jedi: it was also worked into the imagery of the teaser poster.
The appearance of the star in this particular book makes us wonder if it’s meant to be the Journal of the Whills, an ancient text that recalls the history of the Jedi. Though the Journal has become a canon text (it’s referenced in The Force Awakens novelization and in the Star Wars tie-in novel Aftermath: Empire’s Edge), the concept dates back to George Lucas’s early scripts for Star Wars 1977. In the annotated version of the script, released in 1997, Lucas wrote:
"Originally, I was trying to have the story be told by somebody else; there was somebody watching this whole story and recording it, somebody wiser than the mortal players in actual events. I eventually dropped this idea, and the concepts behind the Whills turned into the Force. But the Whills became part of this massive amount of notes, quotes, background information that I used for the scripts; the stories were actually taken from the Journal of the Whills."
The idea of the Whills also pops up in Rogue One: Chirrut Îmwe and Baze Malbus were known as Guardians of the Whills, a religious order of monks on the sacred desert moon called Jedha. It’s likely the Temple of the Kyber, the sacred space the Guardians protected, contained a copy of the journal.
One of the most curious things about the Journal of the Whills is a poem from its text that is directly quoted in The Force Awakens novelization:
"First comes the day
Then comes the night.
After the darkness
Shines through the light.
The difference, they say,
Is only made right
By the resolving of gray
Through refined Jedi sight."
That mention of "gray" is sure to perk some ears, as many fans have speculated that the concept of "gray Jedi" will be a direction the new films take. In old canon, Gray Jedi described Force users who used elements from both the dark and light side, and never swore themselves to any particular Force tradition. Given that this poem was specifically written for The Force Awakens, and that the journal was spotted in The Last Jedi, we have to wonder: is the plan in place for Rey to create a Gray Jedi Order?
It’s certainly possible. Remember that Luke warned Rey of the vanity of the Jedi thinking they had a monopoly on the light side. And in The Last Jedi, we see the conflict in Rey. Though she remains firmly light side in the end, she is temporarily swayed by the dark side cave on Ahch-To, is easily lured by Kylo Ren, and almost strikes down Luke when she learns more about his past. That conflict exists in both her and Kylo, two strong Force users -- a ying and a yang -- who can’t seem to find a middle ground. Will a Gray Jedi Order absolve that tension, and provide a safer environment for other Force-users looking for a less absolute path? Episode IX has set up that possibility.