Author: Chuck Wendig
Published By: Del Rey Books
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
When I first started reading this trilogy, I wasn’t sure I was going to like it, but after the first novel, I had changed my tune. I really liked the characters in the book and I enjoyed Chuck Wendig’s writing style. It’s taken me a while, but I’ve finally gotten around to collecting the rest of the Star Wars Aftermath series. Next up: Life Debt.
As we reunite with our heroes, we learn that Norra Wexley has been given a new assignment by the newly formed New Republic – to hunt down various members of the Empire for information as well as to bring them justice for their actions. Joining her on these missions is former Imperial Loyalty Officer Sinjir Rath Velus, bounty hunter Jas Emari, commando Jom Barell, her son Temmin and his reconstructed battle droid, Bones. Their missions have been mostly successful, but they are about to head out on a mission of a lifetime.
Han Solo and Chewbacca have gone out on a mission not sanctioned by the New Republic government – to liberate Kashyyk. Unfortunately, Han has been double-crossed by one of his contacts. Chewbacca has been captured and the last transmission sent to Leia ended with Han under attack by an unknown assailant. In desperation, she seeks out Norra and her team, hoping that they will take this unsanctioned mission – to find her husband and his wookiee best friend.
Meanwhile, Grand Admiral Rae Sloane continues her pursuit to unite the various factions of the fractioned Empire under her command…well, hers and that of Gallius Rax, the mysterious Imperial war hero who pulls the strings behind the scenes. Right now, Rax appears happy to take a backseat to Sloane, giving her the credit for any job well done, but Sloane doesn’t trust him and inquiries she has made into his past reveal nothing…as if he is a ghost. Still, Rax’s plans have worked out well, so when he reveals that he is prepared to strike out against the heart of the New Republic, Sloane plays along. Could she be playing into a trap, or is Gallius Rax the genius Imperial strategist that will unite the galaxy under the Empire’s reign once more?
Once again, Chuck Wendig had my full attention with his captivating writing, interesting characters, awesome storyline and interesting interludes. Sure, parts of his tale change the timeline of the Star Wars universe that I once knew, but I can’t blame him for this – it’s what the powers who now own the rights to the Lucas empire want. And it’s not just that Wendig has an interesting cast of new characters, but it’s just as important that he has a handle on older Star Wars characters like Wedge Antilles, Princess Leia Organa, Mon Mothma, Admiral Ackbar and, of course, Han Solo and Chewbacca.
The adventure involved in finding Han Solo, the action involved in rescuing him and Chewbacca and in liberating Kashyyk makes for a fun-filled adrenaline ride. The intrigue behind Sloane’s search for answers to Rax’s true identity was quite interesting. I also enjoyed the various moments of soul-searching in some of the main characters, increasing the interest in each as they struggle to discover what they are really about in this new stage of a world no longer under Imperial rule. Once again, I loved the interludes that gave us a look at what is going on in various parts of the galaxy that are not involved in this storyline, like Ryloth, Corellia, Takodana (where we meet Maz Kanata again), Tatooine (where we run across Jabba’s Rancor trainer again), Hosnian Prime and more. The surprises along the way, especially one that takes place during the Chewbacca rescue mission, make for interesting plot twists and the unsuspecting attack orchestrated by Rax is great, though not so unexpected (I kind of guessed this from the moment they rescued Chewbacca).
What I am trying to say is that Star Wars: Aftermath: Life Debt is a terrific sequel to the original novel! I can’t wait to read the trilogy finale, Empires End!