The new junior novelization for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker finally gives us the story behind the Sith fortress on Exegol.
As it came to pass in the last movie of the Skywalker Saga, Palpatine survived his fall at the end of Return of the Jedi and returned to haunt the galaxy once again. We learned that Snoke and the First Order were just the first steps in his plan to revive the Galactic Empire. This time, the Sith cultists on the planet Exegol helped the former Emperor rebuild his fleet; a massive armada of Star Destroyers all equipped with planet-killing weapons.
Since this final chapter also marked the definitive end to the conflict between the Jedi and the Sith, we’d expected the last battle to take place on familiar terrain. If it’s a Sith homeworld that you’re looking for, the perfect choice would be Korriban aka Moraband. But ultimately, J.J. Abrams decided to go with a place unheard of until now, an ancient Sith temple housing statues of some of the greatest Dark Lords to ever live.
Much like every other plot element in Episode IX, though, the movie didn’t go out of its way to explain the significance of Exegol or its history in the world of that galaxy far, far away. At least, until now.
The junior novelization of The Rise of Skywalker briefly touches on the subject of Exegol by having Rey read about it in one of the ancient Jedi manuscripts. Here’s an excerpt from the book:
“The Prime is One, but the Jedi are Many. The Sith were Many but often emerge Ruled by Two. The Seeds of the Jedi have been Sown throughout the Galaxy, on Ossus, Jedha, Xenxiar, and Others. The Sith have no Seeds, since what they Bury does not Grow. They are the Despoilers of Worlds, and have Laid to Waste once Fertile Habitats such as Korriban, Ziost, Ixigul, Asog, and Others.”
This essentially means that Exegol – once known as Ixigul in the early drafts of the film – was a fertile world before the Sith Empire came along and laid waste to the planet, creating the stronghold we see in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Of course, there are some other names from the Expanded Universe, now known as Legends, in there as well, all of which relate to the Sith Empire of yore.