We don’t know much from The Force Awakens. But there’s a few things we can discern.
We’re not entirely in the dark about the Knights of Ren. But there are some continued questions.
Kylo Ren is their “Master”
“Even you… Master of the Knights of Ren… have never faced such a test.”
This was in reference to Kylo Ren / Ben Solo being seduced by the light – his father (and mother) to reject the dark side. This seems a bit dramatic – lots of bad guys did this more or less successfully.
So what does this say of the rest of the Knights of Ren? Not a whole lot. If there were a Power Ranking of bad guy organizations, they wouldn’t be near the top. I mean, Tarkin destroyed Aldaraan right in front of Princess Leia when he implied he wouldn’t if she told him where the rebels were (and before he knew she was lying).
So they knights of Ren aren’t particularly accomplished, then.
They’re Either Not Old or not terribly Powerful
If they’re a new group, then it’s most likely that they’re a band that Kylo Ren formed. I don’t think this is the case for the primary reason that we were told (in the earlier EW article):
“He is a character who came to the name Kylo Ren when he joined a group called the Knights of Ren,”
This articulation doesn’t give us much to go on. It’s possible that Kylo Ren created the Knights of Ren and gave himself the name Kylo Ren. But how then does Snoke’s presence play into all of this?
If we’re just speculating here (we are) then there’s perhaps two apparent options (in addition to all the other options, I guess):
1) that the Knights of Ren were a group formed out of another group of warriors who believe in power – in the vein of Death Watch, Black Sun, or the like. Kylo Ren proved himself to them (defeated some of their warriors?) and became their leader.
2) Snoke oversaw the Knights of Ren (from whatever Snoke has been hiding) and made Kylo Ren defeat them to prove his worth.
In either case, Kylo Ren probably shouldn’t be powerful enough to become their “master” at a young age. Without knowing more about Kylo Ren’s power (which seemed strong, but limited and undisciplined) that’s hard to speculate on.
No Light Sabers
In the single image we (presumably) have of the Knights of Ren, only Kylo Ren has a light saber. This seems a bit strange and it’s not clear what it means in the context of the rest of the picture. They do seem to have other manual weapons. Does this lack of light saber mean they’re not necessarily Force sensitive? Perhaps. I think that could be a very distinct possibility.
We know from episodes of The Clone Wars and Rebels that building a light saber is a critical part of both Jedi & Sith developments. Could they be Force sensitive but not use light sabers? Sure, but why bother otherwise? Meaning, being great with a blaster doesn’t really give a Jedi a real tactical advantage. Instead of one shooter they’re the equivalent of, say, 10 shooters. But a light saber – especially for those perhaps not that strong in the force – gives a distinctly different tactical advantage (deflections, destroying physical property, etc).
There’s a lot we don’t know about this image either. It’s not clear it’s a flash back or a premonition of the future (though we presume it’s a flashback). We don’t know who the dead bodies belong to – we presume it’s the Jedi apprentices from Luke’s academy.
My guess is that the Knights of Ren are modestly old group of moderately force-sensitives that has been hiding wherever Snoke has been hiding. They’re perhaps assassins and observers who endeavor to lay low. They remained hidden out of fear of The Emperor. They emerged along with Snoke who took over The First Order. They were the group sent to hunt down Skywalker, only to be unsuccessful. Only in recruiting Kylo Ren was Snoke and The Knights of Ren able to destroy the Jedi Academy.
What is the objectives of the KoR? I mean, why do they exist? Who are their adversaries?
Why would they want Kylo Ren as their Master?
Where are they? Esp when Kylo Ren is running around at Starkiller or The Finalizer? Do they have other day jobs?