Aftermath: Empire's End, appropriately enough, concludes Chuck Wendig's post-Return of the Jedi-era trilogy that began with 2015's Aftermath and was followed-up by last year's Aftermath: Life Debt. Opening with a dedication to a certain Jedi, "To Luke S. wherever you are", it continues with a brief recap of events from the previous book followed by a prelude that centres on a meeting between Emperor Palpatine and Gallius Rax aboard the second Death Star.
As with Life Debt, Empire's End is divided into five parts and picks up soon after where the previous book left off, with Norra Wexley and her son Temmin, along with Sinjir Rath Velus, Jas Emari and Temmin's re-conditioned Battle Droid Mister Bones continuing their pursuit of former Admiral Grand Rae Sloane, whose fortunes haven taken a turn for the worse. Having teamed-up with Norra's husband, Brentin, who was involved in the Liberation Day attacks against the New Republic, both seek vengeance against Gallius Rax, who has gathered what remains of the Imperial forces at Jakku as he seeks to fulfil his destiny and bring to fruition the plans set in motion by Palpatine.
Building towards the Battle of Jakku, the pace of Aftermath: Empire's End is rather frenetic, and does a fine job of maintaining a level of suspense as to the fate of many of the characters to whom readers of the trilogy will undoubtedly have formed an attachment. The book also proves to be quite graphic in a few places, with a number of characters meeting a rather grizzly demise, though given what happened to Jom Barell's eye in Life Debt, this is nothing particularly new.
As with the previous books in the trilogy, the main story in Empire's End is broken-up by a number of interludes, some of which feature characters from both the prequel and original trilogies, most notably Jar Jar Binks and Lando Calrissian respectively, while others take place on familiar planets such as Devaron and Christophsis. While many of the interludes are somewhat tangential to the core story, several have a more direct bearing on it, ultimately tying into the main thread towards the end.
There are nods to elements from The Force Awakens, with Armitage Hux, whose first name was revealed in Life Debt following in his father's footsteps in training young children who will ultimately go on to serve in the First Order. As it turns out, Niima Outpost is so-named because of a Hutt that has a significant role to play in the book, while Doctor Kalonia also makes an appearance as Leia's personal physician, with the birth of Ben Solo rapidly approaching. There are also tie-ins to Marvel's Star Wars comic series, where the concept of Palpatine's sentinel droids were first introduced in Shattered Empire, as was the Imperialis in the Lando Calrissian mini-series, while the SSD Annihilator, which was formerly the flagship of Grand General Tagge in the Darth Vader comic, is mentioned under its new name of Liberty's Misrule. Wendig also maintains the naming convention for Abednedo when Brentin is telling Sloane of one he worked with by the name of Awls Ooteek.
Aftermath: Empire's End is a satisfying conclusion to a series that began with great anticipation when the original Aftermath was announced, but then met with mixed reviews following its release, while Life Debt received a more positive response. Personally, I have enjoyed all three books and would recommend the series to anyone interested in following the canon and knowing more about the events that led to the end of the Empire and that hint at the beginning of the First Order.
Aftermath: Empire's End by Chuck Wendig from Del Rey Books is available now online and from all good bookstores, priced $28.99 in the U.S. and $36.00 in Canada.
A big thanks to Del Rey Books, and for all of your monthly roundup of Star Wars publishing news, commentary, and discussion on the latest releases in the realm of novels, comics, and magazines, don't forget to listen to Jedi Journals.
And if you want a taster of Empire's End before you buy, check out an excerpt on the official site, where you will also find six reasons to get excited for the book!
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