The novelization of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, written by Rae Carson, released for the first time this past weekend at C2E2 confirms that Palpatine was a clone.
Marketing for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker had emphasized the unexpected return of Emperor Palpatine, and moviegoers were eager to learn how Darth Sidious had survived his death in Return of the Jedi. Remarkably, the film avoided explaining it at all; the Emperor hand-waved the question away with a quote from Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith. “The dark side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities some would consider unnatural,” he observed. It’s generally been assumed Carson’s novelization will shed a little more light on matters.
Although the novelization isn’t officially on sale until March 17, Lucasfilm Publishing decided to sell advance copies at this weekend’s C2E2 in Chicago and passages have begun appearing online. The book does indeed confirm that the Emperor’s spirit has been transferred into a clone body. When Kylo Ren arrives on Exegol and encounters Palpatine, he looks closely at the machinery the Emperor is physically attached to, and recognizes it from his studies of the Clone Wars. He then deduces Palpatine’s dark side spirit is too strong for the clone body, and is causing serious degeneration to it.
“All the vials were empty of liquid save one, which was nearly depleted. Kylo peered closer. He’d seen this apparatus before, too, when he’d studied the Clone Wars as a boy. The liquid flowing into the living nightmare before him was fighting a losing battle to sustain the Emperor’s putrid flesh.
“What could you give me?” Kylo asked. Emperor Palpatine lived, after a fashion, and Kylo could feel in his very bones that this clone body sheltered the Emperor’s actual spirit. It was an imperfect vessel, though, unable to contain his immense power. It couldn’t last much longer.”