book review: aftermath: empire’s end by chuck wendig

Aftermath: Empire’s End is a canon novel written by Chuck Wendig and the final volume in The Aftermath Trilogy. It was first published by Del Rey on February 21, 2017. The novel features the Battle of Jakku, the final engagement of the Galactic Civil War.

Category:  Fantasy/Sci-Fi

Publisher’s Summary:  Following Star Wars: Aftermath and Star Wars: Aftermath: Life Debt, Chuck Wendig delivers the exhilarating conclusion to the New York Times bestselling trilogy set in the years between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens.

As the final showdown between the New Republic and the Empire draws near, all eyes turn to a once-isolated planet: Jakku.

The Battle of Endor shattered the Empire, scattering its remaining forces across the galaxy. But the months following the Rebellion’s victory have not been easy. The fledgling New Republic has suffered a devastating attack from the Imperial remnant, forcing the new democracy to escalate their hunt for the hidden enemy.

For her role in the deadly ambush, Grand Admiral Rae Sloane is the most wanted Imperial war criminal—and one-time rebel pilot Norra Wexley, back in service at Leia’s urgent request, is leading the hunt. But more than just loyalty to the New Republic drives Norra forward: Her husband was turned into a murderous pawn in Sloane’s assassination plot, and now she wants vengeance as much as justice.

But Sloane, too, is on a furious quest: pursuing the treacherous Gallius Rax to the barren planet Jakku. As the true mastermind behind the Empire’s devastating attack, Rax has led the Empire to its defining moment. The cunning strategist has gathered the powerful remnants of the Empire’s war machine, preparing to execute the late Emperor Palpatine’s final plan. As the Imperial fleet orbits Jakku, an armada of Republic fighters closes in to finish what began at Endor. Norra and her crew soar into the heart of an apocalyptic clash that will leave land and sky alike scorched. And the future of the galaxy will finally be decided.

Review:  Norra Wexley’s singular need to find her husband Brentin and Grand Admiral Rae Sloane leads her and her crew to the planet of Jakku, where they discover the majority of the remnants of the Imperial fleet orbiting the planet.  Ordering her son Temmin to return to Chandrila to raise the alarm, Norra and Jas Emari use an escape pod to reach the planet’s surface.  Temmin orders his battle droid Mister Bones to take care of his mom and sends him in a second escape pod before he and Sinjir Rath Velus escape enemy fire and return to Chandrila.  And we’re off.

I’ll be honest.  There was hardly a page of this book that I didn’t enjoy.  It’s by far the best of the Aftermath trilogy and it’s portrayal and description of the battle of Jakku was fantastic.

The relationship between Rae Sloane and Brentin Wexley as they attempt to help each other achieve the same goal of capturing Gallius Rax while on opposite sides of the conflict was interesting.  Their interactions with Niima the Hutt, who I realized a couple of chapters after she first appeared has to be the namesake of the Niima Outpost Rey mentions in Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens, were very funny and action-packed, and when Norra and Jas ended up tangled up with Niima as well, the levels of comedy and action rose more.  Niima was a very different kind of Hutt to Jabba personality-wise, and it was a contrast that I really enjoyed.  Mister Bones reuniting with Norra was an emotional scene for many reasons, and even though I started out being really annoyed by that droid, I’ve grown to really love Mister Bones.

Political conspiracies were circling back with the New Republic as elections drew near, and this is an example of Star Wars politics done right.  I didn’t find any of these plotlines boring and tedious the way that thinking about the prequels from the opening words of the Phantom Menace‘s crawl does.  While the New Republic come to terms with how to deal with what’s happening at Jakku and how to proceed, our characters there face different points of decision when it comes to their future, and I thought that each decision was made in a way that I understood and that didn’t seem forced.

When the battle finally commences, the action is well-written and the various storylines that are occurring throughout it are weaved together seamlessly.  You get the points of view of people in orbit above the planet, and in the air and on the ground on the planet, and Wendig switches between them in a way that doesn’t seem like he’s trying to squeeze in too much for the scenes to handle.  There were moments that surprised me, character deaths and sacrifices that I didn’t see coming, and I really enjoyed Wendig’s writing.

That’s not to say that everything was perfect.  It doesn’t exactly explain why Jakku was so important to Palpatine that he would have Gallius Rax cause the final battle to occur in the planet’s atmosphere.  It becomes very clear throughout flashbacks that Palpatine knew that the battle he would have Rax stage there would be the final destruction of the Empire because Palpatine believed that the Empire should not outlive its Emperor, but as to why that battle needed to happen at Jakku, we’re still in the dark.  The interludes again mostly fell flat for me.  The ones with the Acolytes of the Beyond are the only memorable ones, and they have me questioning whether or not the Acolytes are the beginnings of the Knights of Ren.

Recommendation:  This book is fantastic.  It’s a great finish to a trilogy that didn’t start out the greatest but built momentum and turned into one of my favorite trilogies I’ve read in awhile.  I think that if you’re at all interested in how the final battle between the Empire and the New Republic played out you need to read this book.  I would suggest reading the entire trilogy to get a better grasp on the characters and where they are at the beginning of this one.  But definitely, read this.  I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

1 Reply to “book review: aftermath: empire’s end by chuck wendig”

  1. This novel’s greatest achievement though, is character development. Norra, Temmin, Jas, Sinjir, and Jom went from a jumble of names I could barely remember to the heroes that I enthusiastically cheered for in this final showdown between the New Republic and the Empire. And of course we mustn’t forget about Mr. Bones, who has been a favorite since the beginning. Over the course of the trilogy, this crew of ragtag rebels has become a real family.

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