I recently read Shadow of the Sith, and it was honestly a fantastic book. It provides a LOT of context for the new things that we see in The Rise of Skywalker, and honestly makes me view not only that movie, but the whole trilogy through a different lens. Not only that, but it makes me appreciate The Rise of Skywalker more than I already did. Even without how it fills in some knowledge of the sequel trilogy, the book is a really fun, layered adventure with characters both new and old. I found myself getting really invested in some of the characters, even though I already knew their fate. I'd highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to get a deeper understanding of the sequel trilogy, and especially The Rise of Skywalker.
Spoilers ahead for Shadow of the Sith by Adam Christopher.
Luke and Lando are definitely a highlight of this book for me. They're both such fun characters even if we don't see them together too much in the movies, so getting to see them really interact here is so much fun. They're such a dynamic duo, and everything I could have hoped for when Lando mentioned some adventures the pair had in The Rise of Skywalker. Luke's optimism coupled with Lando's sense of humor is just really fun. On a not-so-fun note, it is really sad to get more details about Lando's lost daughter and his search for her. Seeing a Lando that has gone through something so devastating is really hard at moments, especially knowing that he still hasn't found her by The Rise of Skywalker. Getting to know a little bit more about that, and how the other original trilogy heroes tried to help him as much as they could is really sad, and I really hope we can see that plot thread resolved in the future. My heart just needs it.
A cool character that I met in this book was Kiza, a member of the Sith-worshipping cult. She was first introduced in interludes in the Aftermath trilogy, though only with a very small part compared to those books as a whole. She makes a fantastic villain (one of many, honestly) in this book. She's a tortured young woman that has given into the powers granted to her by the mask of a long-dead, ancient Sith Lord. Seeing her loyalty to the Dark Side and how she finds herself drawn to the power of it is so interesting, and something that really engaged me throughout the book. Her fights with Luke were really cool to read, not to mention the curved scimitar-like red lightsaber she used. She's a character I'd definitely love to see more of in comics or other mediums.
Another of the primary villains in this book was Ochi of Bestoon. He's a character so pivotal to the plot of The Rise of Skywalker, yet that film only scratches the surface of who he is. We see in this book his hunger for power and how much he longs to join Palpatine at Exegol, though it's ever out of his reach. He plays dirty as he tries to hunt down Rey's family for Palpatine, yet oddly he's still very funny sometimes. The drunk Ochi chapters are pretty great. But I can never really get behind him, because he's so mean to poor little D-O! I can tell why that droid is so nervous in the movie, he just kicks him around and yells at him all the time! I'm glad BB-8 is able to power him up so D-O can have a real family with people who are nice to him.
Rey and her family are easily my favorite part of this book. I hadn't been particularly curious about them after seeing The Rise of Skywalker, but I realize now I so should have been. I already knew that Rey's father, Dathan, was a Palpatine clone, but learning that he was born (created?) on Exegol but hated Palpatine and Exegol and escaped to try and live a life in the light was just pretty cool, and a story that I think we can parallel to Luke and Rey herself. Miriam, Rey's mom, is such an awesome, badass lady. She's a pilot, mechanic, a great mom, and a super cool person. Seeing how hard Dathan and Miriam fought to keep Rey safe, how hard it was for them to leave her with Unkar is so sweet, and I almost felt like they could succeed until the book reminds me of what really happens. Regardless, spending time with them was really nice, and knowing who they are makes me know for sure that they're proud of Rey from beyond the Force.