Colleen’s Book Corner: Aftermath: Empire’s End
Author: Chuck Wendig
Published February 2017
Set after Return of the Jedi 5 ABY
A Little Mad
Okay. So. Chuck Wendig is on my shit list. Let’s just say someone’s fate should NOT have shaken out like that! I hate when an important character’s arc ends off-page, explained by someone else. I’M NOT ABOUT THAT LIFE, CHUCK! Ahem. On to the review.
We’ve Come to the End
This was an excellent finale to the Aftermath trilogy. The characters (MOST OF THEM) got satisfying endings and left me wishing I had more time with them. Much like Rebels, Aftermath had to rely on new characters to carry the narrative weight. While we got Leia, Han, and other favs, most time was spent with Norra’s crew and Rae Sloane. This book did a great job adding more depth to the main heroes, particularly Norra and Sinjir. Norra’s quest for revenge may have been done before, but she was such a refreshing character that it worked. And Sinjir ran away with the entire trilogy on the strength of his sarcasm and paralyzing insecurities. Jas and Jom didn’t get enough to do, and I wanted way more from their relationship story. The sexiness from Life Debt was missing from Empire’s End, which was too bad. It added a nice zest to the story.
Villain Problem and Anti-Hero Solution
I was less impressed by Gallius Rax. He's a generic villain. Wendig could have done a lot more to flesh out his backstory and arc. The fact that he was an orphan who broke bad – unlike most plucky literary orphans – could have been really interesting. But he and his past didn’t get enough page time. As a friend said, he's just a watered down version of Thrawn. Nobody wants that. Also throw a little KRENNIC in there because of the stupid cape.
Rae Sloane was the perfect anti-hero/antagonist, so it was really depressing that we didn’t see her in the films. Showing a powerful woman of color in live action would have been amazing, but I suppose I could settle for her excellent depiction in these books. I will give it to Wendig: he writes women well! The central relationship was between two women: Norra and Sloane, which was great to see. Leia and Mon Mothma continued to be badass boss women, and all the female characters had diverse agendas and motivations. I need a Kyrsta Agate show NOW. I would also settle for a West Wing type show with Mon Mothma on Chandrila…
Move It Along
I wanted the plot to move a little quicker; for Wendig to get us to Jakku faster. The last chapters with the battle were electric, and I tore through them. He’s also worryingly good at brutal fight scenes. Some of the interlude chapters were less inviting this time, mainly because I wanted to get back to the action. Some of them were fun, but once you hit book three in a trilogy, readers might be less inclined to go down these little rabbit holes that have no payoff. Some of the stories were probably covered in other media, but some of them felt odd when the main plot was put on hold.
Grade: 8/10 Lightsabers
I really enjoyed these books. I found them entertaining but not as strong as Zahn’s work. So, keep on reading those Thrawn books!
NOTE: Luke doesn’t appear AT ALL in this trilogy. I wonder what he’s up to…
NOTE 2: If you’re wondering about Jas’s aunt Sugi, who she mentions often, you can watch her in Clone Wars. She’s seen helping out people in need, just like Jas remembers.