Following Darth Vader was never an easy task, but Kylo Ren is well on his way to rivaling the iconic villain. Although we didn't get to see much of him in [Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens](tag:711158), Kylo Ren's character certainly is intriguing. He might be an imposing figure, but as soon as Ren removed his helmet we were confronted with the fact that he was more than a "creature in a mask."
It is the human element of Kylo Ren which makes him so engaging, and it's honestly difficult to predict which way his character development will go in [Star Wars: Episode VIII](tag:711868). But before going forward we must look back, as Kylo Ren's childhood holds plenty of secrets which explain his fall to the Dark Side.
We've already got some hints about this from the official The Force Awakens novel, and a new Star Wars book promises to reveal even more about Han and Leia's fallen son...
The official Star Wars 7 novelization contains a lot of details that were left out of the movie, including the fact that Supreme Leader Snoke was watching and manipulating Ben Solo from his childhood.
"He knew our child would be strong with the Force. That he was born with equal potential for good or evil... In the beginning, even before I realized what was happening, he was manipulating everything, pulling our son towards the Dark Side."
So says General Leia Organa to Han Solo, in a crucial revelation which was cut from the film. This gives us a fascinating insight into Kylo Ren's motivations, and particularly his obsession with Vader: it could be that he's trying to become Darth Vader because his own identity was stripped from him.
But aside from Kylo Ren's identity crises, this long term manipulation also explains a lot of his behavior. Ren is prone to tantrums, destroying parts of the Starkiller Base in bursts of outrage. This is evidence of his volatile and impulsive personality, but also hints that Snoke's manipulation of him could have caused some mental distress (there's even a theory that Kylo Ren has PTSD).
Clearly, a lot of Kylo Ren's secrets lie in his past, and offer crucial insights when we consider whether he'll be redeemed or become an even more terrifying villain in Star Wars 8. To answer all our questions about Kylo Ren, we have to go back to where it all began, which is exactly what the new book Bloodlines intends to do.
Leia's Biggest Mistake
Bloodlines is released in May, and will follow General Leia Organa as she helps found the New Republic after the end of the Galactic Civil War.
Author Claudia Gray explained in the press release that Bloodlines details how Leia Organa went from one of the leaders of the Rebel Alliance to establishing a new era of peace in the galaxy.
"This novel isn't fundamentally just about Leia as a wife, sister or mom; this is about the role she's created for herself since the fall of the Empire, and the one she takes up by the time of The Force Awakens."
Obviously, most of this book will explore Leia's life after Return Of The Jedi, which is very exciting. After becoming a Senator at age 17, within a year Princess Leia was working as a double agent for the Rebellion. Her bravery and tenacity was hugely instrumental in winning the war against the Empire.
And yet, while Leia was busy organizing the New Republic and dealing with the aftermath of the war, she may have made her biggest mistake by allowing her son to train with Luke Skywalker. Isolated from his parents, Ben Solo was more vulnerable to Snoke's manipulation. We don't know how Snoke managed to communicate with and corrupt Ben; hopefully Episode 8 or Bloodlines will reveal this.
The most intriguing thing about the revelation that Snoke was watching Ben from birth is that Leia knew about this: Han Solo is shocked when she reveals this to him in The Force Awakens novel. Of course that's not to say that Kylo Ren's fall to the Dark Side is Leia's fault. She probably thought that by allowing Ben to train with Luke, he would be able to resist Snoke better.
It's difficult to deduce Leia's intentions, and how she could possibly have known about Snoke, and his interest in her son. Because Bloodlines will examine her life before The Force Awakens, it's possible we'll finally get some insight on this.
Kylo Ren's backstory is crucial to his development in Star Wars 8: does he deserve redemption? Or are his actions truly evil? Ben Solo's agency may have been stripped from him, but as an adult Kylo Ren does understand the difference between the Dark and the Light, and has chosen to side with Snoke. Learning more about his past is fascinating, and we can't wait to discover more about Kylo Ren before Episode 8.