Note: Contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker brought back the Knights of Ren, but still left us bemused about who they were and how they were connected to Kylo Ren.
It was assumed that the Knights were the fellow Jedi students that teamed up with Ben Solo after he destroyed Luke Skywalker's Jedi temple, and The Rise of Skywalker didn't teach us anything new about them.
Other than the fact that they are a bit useless, failing to capture the rebels and getting bested in a six-on-one fight with Ben, that is.
However, much like the mystery of Palpatine's fleet on Exegol and that whole Force dyad thing, we now have some answers about the Knights of Ren from a Star Wars source outside of the movies. Enter prequel comic book series The Rise of Kylo Ren by Charles Soule and Will Sliney. The first issue of the four-part run revealed that the leader of the Knights of Ren was a man called... Ren. (His lightsaber is also called "the Ren", so that's a bit confusing.)
We're introduced to him as he tries to recruit two brothers to his group, but it ends with one brother killing the other, and Ren killing the survivor. It's fine though as Ren tells his Knights that "the master" will find another candidate to recruit soon.
"I wanted him to read like a charming Darth Vader," Soule told StarWars.com. "A Vader who is charismatic and who is appealing. That's why [Ren's] skin is burned and he sort of looks the way that he does. He's embracing the seductiveness and the damage that the dark side does."
We didn't hear from them again in the first issue which ends with Ben Solo destroying the Jedi temple and fleeing to the embrace of Snoke, telling him that he's been thinking about the Knights of Ren.
Why were they AWOL? Well we find that out in issue two, which features a flashback to when Ben, Luke and Lon Sen Tekka (the guy who gave Poe the map fragment at the start of The Force Awakens) travel to a Jedi outpost on Elphrona which contains a "treasure trove" of artefacts.
On Elphrona, the trio come into contact with the Knights of Ren – who are called Trudgen, Vicrul, Cardo, Ushar, Kuruk and Ap'lek, by the way – who want the artefacts for themselves.
Luke bests them all in a seven-on-one battle (we told you they were useless) and Ren decides to leave with his knights, but not before he has a word of warning for Luke.
"You said you could sense the shadow in all of us – that's right. We've all got it. But you know your apprentice does too, right? Powerful. Can feel it. Better be careful, Jedi man," Ren states and tells Ben to "look us up" if he ever wants to "try something a little different." Ren leaves his helmet behind and, years later, it's what Kylo Ren uses to contact the Knights and he's told where to find them at the end of the second issue.
"I think the key to writing Ben Solo is to write him as a lost teenager who is deeply in touch with emotions that teenagers often feel. He feels like no one understands him, no one sees him the way he actually is, he's utterly alone and there's no one else out there in the universe," Soule explained.
"So when he sees Ren, he's like, 'Wait a minute — maybe there is somebody like me in the universe. Maybe there is a path for a guy like me. Look at the choices he's made. I could make those choices, too, and I could be cool.'"
We'll have to wait until the other issues to fill in the gaps between Kylo Ren meeting the Knights again, and then assuming the leadership of them.
But it seems as though Snoke–a puppet of Palpatine, as we discovered in The Rise of Skywalker–is the "master" as he urges Kylo Ren to seek out the Knights again.
That means that Palpatine has been controlling Ben's life for longer than we ever thought, although as we know from The Rise of Skywalker, it didn't end well for the Sith Lord.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is out now.
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