In Return Of The Jedi Vader read Luke's mind and found out he has a sister. Luke was not able to prevent this, despite being very strong in the Force.

Before in A New Hope Vader was obviously not able to read Leia's mind, to find the Rebel base.

So how was Leia able to resist Vader's mind-reading and Luke was not, despite Luke being much stronger in the Force than Leia? And if it has to do with Force ability, Vader should have noticed (and wondered and mentioned) when failing to read her mind ("the Force is strong with this princess, she hides her feelings very well").

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    “despite Luke being much stronger in the Force than Leia” — well, if Leia can resist Vader’s mind-reading and Luke can’t, maybe she’s stronger in the Force. Or maybe “strength in the Force” isn’t the primary determinant of resistance to Force mind-probes — maybe Leia is just more strong-willed than Luke. Dec 18, 2015 at 10:42
  • After Ben and Yoda's (incomplete) training, Luke seems to be leaking thoughts out of his head. Without training, Leia's thoughts stay firmly inside her cranium.
    – Valorum
    Dec 18, 2015 at 10:44
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    A. Because the buns on the side of her head are filled with tinfoil.
    – Valorum
    Dec 18, 2015 at 10:45
  • 1
    @Richard - Junior novelization or regular? Dec 18, 2015 at 12:41
  • @DVK - Which junior novelisation? There are two now :-P
    – Valorum
    Dec 18, 2015 at 12:45

1 Answer 1



To address your actual question: He was not able to read Leia's thoughts because she was not in the same state of emotional turmoil, AND not emotionally suffering because of specific information about specific person - which is what enabled him to read Luke's mind.


One does not simply walk into Mordor read someone's mind with the Force. There's no generic "Force Mind Read" ability I'm aware of in canon (at least pre-TFA).

Instead, you can get a glimpse, in very specific circumstances.

ROTJ novelization by James Kahn explains what happened when Vader sensed about Leia, and it was not nearly as straightforward as "read Luke's mind and found out he has a sister": he was sensing things associated with strong feelings Luke was experiencing at the time. Extremely amplified by Leia being shot at just that time, which Luke sensed:

He was picking up additional feelings from Luke, now, new crosscurrents of doubt. Remorse, regret, abandonment. Shades of pain. But somehow not directly related to Vader. To others, to … Endor. Ah, that was it—the Sanctuary Moon where his friends would soon die. ...

Note that he reads emotions, not thoughts, and then logically deduces which thoughts they came from based on circumstances. Then:

“Give yourself to the dark side, Luke,” he entreated. “It is the only way you can save your friends. Yes, your thoughts betray you, son. Your feelings for them are strong, especially for — ”

But... we just saw in the last paragraph, he did not sense Luke's thoughts. Just feelings. Vader simply misspoke.

Vader stopped. He sensed something.

Luke withdrew further into shadow. He tried to hide, but there was no way to hide what was in his mind—Leia was in pain. Her agony cried to him now, and his spirit cried with her. He tried to shut it out, to shut it up, but the cry was loud, and he couldn’t stifle it, couldn’t leave it alone, had to cradle it openly, to give it solace.

Vader’s consciousness invaded that private place.

“No!” screamed Luke.

Vader was incredulous. “Sister? Sister!” he bellowed. “Your feelings have now betrayed her, too … Twins!” he roared triumphantly. “Obi-Wan was wise to hide her, but now his failure is complete.” His smile was clear to Luke, through the mask, through the shadows, through all the realms of Darkness. “If you will not turn to the Dark Side, perhaps she will.”

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    Ok. Thats the answer I was looking for. But for the record I want to add, that Leia (being tortured, people she knows onboard her ship killed, uncertainty what happened to the droid with the plans and later her entire home world blown up) was in a much worse situation, even if it was not portrayed very well (her reaction to the destruction of her homeworld was more like if you shot her pet). Her willpower is really much stronger than Lukes. Perhaps she would have been the better force user and jedi.
    – Hothie
    Dec 18, 2015 at 13:05
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    @Hothie - she didn't have any active specific emotional upsets. E.g. nobody she knew was currently hurt and in active danger. Also, C-canon novel detailed that she was actually trained to resist torture and interrogation as a Princess. Dec 18, 2015 at 14:07

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