I am not an authority on Star Wars extended universe novels. I’ve read a couple, I’m sure. I read the Timothy Zahn Thrawn trilogy for sure, as most Star Wars nerds have.
The release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens wiped out the continuity of all the previous licensed novels in the SWU. Since I wasn’t deeply embedded in that continuity, it didn’t really bother me that much. I was open to whatever came next.
Or, as in this instance, before.
Star Wars: Aftermath takes place after the Battle of Endor. The second Death Star has been destroyed, Emperor Palpatine is dead, and the empire apparently lies in ruins. What happens next?
I have to admit that I picked up Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath trilogy out of order. The first paperback I chose out of the rack was Star Wars: Aftermath: Empire’s End. I think it was at a grocery store. I don’t know what I was thinking. The Star Wars universe is about trilogies. When I picked up Empire’s End, I thought it was a one-off. It turns out it was the conclusion of a trilogy. Rather than writing it off as a loss, I picked up the first two entries to the trilogy at a Books-a-Million store, a birthday gift to myself. Star Wars: Aftermath was the first of these.
Chuck Wendig tells a good story. I wonder if this is a pseudonym, since “Wendig” is very close to “Wendigo.” But, that doesn’t matter. Aftermath suffers from some of the same problems that Rogue One: a Star Wars story does. It introduces a new cast of characters into a milieu that is undoubtedly Star Wars. We immediately recognize the Star Wars universe in the novel, but we are slow to accept characters that aren’t Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia, Lando Calrissian, or Chewbacca. That’s the main problem with the beginning of this novel.
Yes, Wedge Antilles is introduced early on. He’s the Hero of the Rebellion. I know that. But, I’ve never read any of his further adventures, so he’s a cipher to me. And then Admiral Ackbar is a character later on in the novel. I know who the admiral is. He’s a strategic genius, not just someone who says “It’s a trap!” Mon Mothma is also represented.
In spite of this grounding in the Star Wars universe, we are introduced to many new characters. Norra, a former Y-Wing pilot, is a central character, but her role in the story is bolstered by the presence of her son, Temmin. Sinjir, a former Imperial loyalty officer, is now a disaffected Rebel and hard-drinking alcohoic. And Jas is a bounty hunter. All of these disparate characters (ala Rogue One) are brought together, along with a psycho B-1 droid (think “Roger-Roger”) named “Mister Bones” and we have a new Star Wars adventure. It is very nearly a serialized adventure at that.
I enjoyed reading this novel. It definitely put me in a Star Wars frame of mind. I’m also interested in where the story is heading. Norra Wexley and her son, Temmin, interest me a lot, as do anti-heroes Sinjir and Jas. I feel at a disadvantage when reading some of Wendig’s stuff, since I don’t always know what all of the alien races are. For instance, I didn’t understand that Jas the bounty hunter was a member of the same race as Darth Maul, the Zabrak, until I was nearly finished with the novel. But, I feel comfortable that Wendig understands all of this.
I realize that some emphasis may be placed on the fact that Sinjir is a gay character, but that doesn’t seem to bear any influence on the course of this novel. The characters are all reasonably developed (if not well-developed) and seem to fit in with the Star Wars Universe.
In closing, I have two novels left to read in this trilogy, and, at this juncture, I’m looking forward to them.