Star Wars: Aftermath takes place some months after the fall of Palpatine and Darth Vader. The Empire is fractured and the New Republic is trying to gain control. Matters are difficult as the New Republic is dealing with riots, Stormtroopers, failure of infrastructure, and difficulty reinstating a democratic government.
All these issues culminate on the backwoods planet of Akiva. There, the pieces of the Empire are trying to fit themselves back together while the citizens attempt to free themselves from the oppression of a corrupt ruler.
Our heroes: An assassin hired by the New Republic, an ex-Imperial Officer, a Rebel pilot and her son, and a battle droid named Mr. Bones.
The ragtag team comes together to fight against the Empire and save one of Rebels who’s been captured. Their story is a small one in the grand scale of the Galaxy, but it’s important all the same as they may be integral to stopping the Empire from reuniting its forces.
With Star Wars: Aftermath, Chuck Wendig manages to keep the action, humor, and heart of the films. While the characters are mostly new, they fit into the universe seamlessly. Temmin has the sass and gumption I’d imagine a young Han Solo to have and his droid buddy, Mr. Bones, is hilarious in a dry, death-machine sort of way. Sinjir is snarky and world-weary and I’d especially love to see more of him in future books. What’s especially great about the characters, though, is the sheer amount who are female. There’s Jas, Norra, and Rae for main characters and many other minor characters who are also women. Aftermath beats the films by far for having women in speaking roles–let alone the number of women who are integral to the plot. Hopefully, this trend will continue on in the new films.
As for the plot, I enjoyed the beginning of the novel especially since it dealt with the everyday life of those affected by the fall of the Empire. The quiet stories of brother against brother, children fighting back during the riots, and individuals just trying to survive while everything goes to pot were fascinating. It was a little disappointing when the novel diverged from those stories and towards the grander plot of defeating the Empire on Akiva. Not that that story was bad. It was exciting and fun and full of little cliffhangers, but there was something about the character-focused beginning of the novel that was much more memorable than everything that came after.
It should also be noted that there were many “Interludes” in the novel that took place off Akiva. Those interludes had tons of little hints about what happened to the heroes (and villains) after Return of the Jedi. There were a few that I found especially interesting, but I won’t spoil them here. Suffice it to say that if you want to know what happens to characters after the films, this book isn’t entirely without information.
Star Wars: Aftermath is a promising introduction to the canon of the new films. The unstable world that’s set up here gives interesting hints at what’s to come, and I have to say that I’m excited to see where the story goes from here.
The book as a whole was very enjoyable. I found the story thrilling, the humor refreshing, and the characters lovable. What more could you really want from a Star Wars novel? If you’re a fan of the films, I’d highly recommend giving it a try.
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