[Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens](tag:711158) may well be the most eagerly anticipated film of 2015, and with new hints and toys and photos coming out almost daily, it's hard not to get caught up in the hype. There are still plenty of puzzles to solve though, and we'll have to wait until December to get answers to our most pressing questions. But in the case of the most enigmatic character, Kylo Ren, the more we know, the more the mystery deepens.
Originally considered a Sith thanks to his red lightsaber and Darth Revan like appearance, Kylo Ren was recently confirmed NOT to be a Sith follower, though he does have an obsession with Vader and the Dark Side of the Force. So who is he, really? And does the new book Star Wars: Aftermath hold the secrets to the Knights of Ren origins?
The Man Behind The Mask
Before we get into the newest information, let's glance back over what we already know. Kylo Ren, played by Adam Driver, looks to be the main antagonist of Star Wars 7, wielding that impressive cross-guard lightsaber. He's in league with the new Stormtrooper army The First Order, and answers to Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis). Snoke's role is unknown, but as he is the one talking about the Force in the trailer, many fans have concluded that he has a connection to the Dark Side.
Kylo Ren is already shaping up to be one of the most interesting characters in Star Wars 7. Abrams is making sure the bad guys in The Force Awakens aren't your typical black-hat villains: we've already talked about how The First Order will change how we see Stormtroopers forever, so will Kylo Ren have a sympathetic side? Abrams seems to think so.
"He is not your prototypical mustache-twirling bad guy. He is a little bit more complex than that, and it was a great joy to work with Adam Driver on this role, because he threw himself into it in a deep and remarkable way."
Empire Strikes Back and The Return Of The Jedi writer Lawrence Kasdan agreed, explaining that Kylo Ren has an emotional complexity that sets him apart from any other Star Wars antagonist.
But the most intriguing revelation about Kylo Ren has to be that this name is actually an inherited title, as Abrams teased...
"He is a character who came to the name Kylo Ren when he joined a group called the Knights of Ren."
This is huge. A whole new faction, presumably Dark Side aligned, that we never heard of before? Oh, the speculation! And thanks to the new book Aftermath, we might finally have some information on how the Knights of Ren began!
A New Dark Side Order
Let me set the scene. The war is over, the Empire in tatters. With only a handful of ships left, and one Star Destroyer, the Emperor's forces are desperately trying to regroup, though there is much debate about what their next move should be. In the confusion, we have turncoats and scavengers galore, one of whom has managed to acquire Darth Vader's missing lightsaber (lost along with his hand in the final battle with Luke Skywalker). The lightsaber is highly sought after, and the merchant in question sells the weapon to 3 mysterious figures, cloaked all in black (hmmmm). Who are they? Their answer is as ambiguous as you'd expect...
"We are adherents. Acolytes of the Beyond. We are not violent. Not yet...”
They are apparently seeking to destroy the lightsaber, so that it can join its master in death.
So far, so mysterious. As the story unfolds, there are more hints about who the Acolytes are. According to Tashu, the Emperor's advisor, the best thing for the Empire would be to retreat beyond the reaches of the galaxy, out into unchartered space. Here they might regroup and study the Dark Side further...
"Palpatine felt that the universe beyond the edges of our maps was where his power came from. Over the many years he, with our aid, sent men and woman beyond known space. They built labs and communication stations on distant moons, asteroids, out there in the wilds. We must follow them."
His suggestion is ignored, and laughed at, but in the second and third books of the trilogy, the Empire's remaining forces may be forced to follow Tashu's lead and retreat.
So How Does This Fit Into Star Wars 7?
Well, it's not too much of a stretch to speculate that these mysterious Acolytes may indeed be the beginnings of the Knights of Ren. They clearly revere Darth Vader, as Kylo Ren does, and have some kind of cultish obsession with preserving his memory. They are also hinted to have a connection to the Force, but as they claim to be non-violent then perhaps they are more concerned with balance... for the moment.
Maybe Aftermath's plot will reveal how the Acolytes got embroiled in the conflict, or how a splinter faction turned into the vicious Knights of Ren? And what about these people that Palpatine sent beyond the galaxy: could they return in Star Wars 7 to attack the New Republic? Are the Acolytes the first of these people to return?
The possibilities are endless, so stay tuned for more information. If you want to pick up a copy of Star Wars: Aftermath it's available in stores now. Remember to comment with your own theories about the new book!