Star Wars has finally given fans a look at the decisive moment when Ben Solo learned that his grandfather was Darth Vader. The connection between Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker and Luke and Leia Skywalker was the defining twist of the Star Wars Original Trilogy; however, the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy was a lot murkier when it came to explaining how the infamous path of the Skywalker bloodline affected Ben Solo and his transformation into Kylo Ren. Now, things to the new in-universe biography Skywalker: A Family At War, we get a lot more details on what happened when Ben Solo learned Darth Vader was his granddad.
The actual reveal of how Ben Solo learned his grandfather was Darth Vader has previously been explored in the 2016 Star Wars ST prequel novel Bloodline by Claudia Gray. In that book, we learn that Leia has chosen to keep her Skywalker heritage a secret, even from her son Ben. Luke respected her wishes and did the same, even as he began training Ben in the ways of the Force. However, Leia's choice backfires in a big way after the fall of the Empire; as the New Republic struggled to take shape, Leia's political rivals discovered and revealed her true bloodline to the galaxy in a broadcast - which Ben Solo sees along with everyone else.
Kristin Beaver's Skywalker: A Family At War now offers key insight into what happened to Ben Solo when that scandalous truth about his connection to Darth Vader was broadcast out to the galaxy:
"The revelation felt like a betrayal. Ben, who took after Anakin Skywalker in his powerful Force abilities and hot-headed nature, was crushed by the realization that his parents and his uncle had known the truth for decades yet had not seen fit to share it with him. He was incredulous that he had been left to discover the damning fact along with what felt like everyone else in the known galaxy. And the fact that his family had kept such a dramatic piece of information hidden seemed to justify every dark impulse and feeling of paranoia he'd entertained in his young life."
One of Bloodline's subplots was Leia's internal rumination on her connection to her father - and the realization of the many times her Force abilities (particularly the dark side) had come into play during her career as a rebel leader. It was the fear of that dark side power that kept her from revealing the truth to bend, but as Star Wars has revealed, that kind of choice - made out of fear - will only lead to the dark side. Family At War picks up that very baton and runs with it, helping to explain just why Ben Solo pushed into such an extreme fall into the dark side. Between Leia keeping his true family history a secret, and Luke being so scared of Ben's power that he almost killed him, any therapist in the known universe would understand why Ben Solo had serious family and/or trust issues.
This piece of canon also helps reinforce the poignancy of Kylo Ren and Leia's brief connective moments (and final reconciliation) through the Force, in both Star Wars: The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker.
Star Wars' new book Skywalker: A Family At War is now available to order HERE.