It is a dark time for the Empire…
The Emperor is dead, and the remnants of his former Empire are in retreat. As the New Republic fights to restore a lasting peace to the galaxy, some dare to imagine new beginnings and new destinies. For Han Solo, that means settling his last outstanding debt, by helping Chewbacca liberate the Wookiee homeworld of Kashyyyk.
Meanwhile, Norra Wexley and her band of Imperial hunters pursue Grand Admiral Rae Sloane and the Empire’s remaining leadership across the galaxy. Even as more and more officers are brought to justice, Sloane continues to elude the New Republic, and Norra fears Sloane may be searching for a means to save the crumbling Empire from oblivion. But the hunt for Sloane is cut short when Norra receives an urgent request from Princess Leia Organa. The attempt to liberate Kashyyyk has carried Han Solo, Chewbacca, and a band of smugglers into an ambush—resulting in Chewie’s capture and Han’s disappearance.
Breaking away from their official mission and racing toward the Millennium Falcon’s last known location, Norra and her crew prepare for any challenge that stands between them and their missing comrades. But they can’t anticipate the true depth of the danger that awaits them—or the ruthlessness of the enemy drawing them into his crosshairs.
Author: Chuck Wendig
Cover artist: Scott Beil
Publisher: Del Rey
Release date: July 12th 2016
Media type: Hardcover
Aftermath: Life Debt is the second chapter in Chuck Wendig’s epic Aftermath trilogy. We catch up with Norra Wexley, her son Temmin (Snap), and their motley crew as they continue their hunt for Imperials. Life Debt has a broad storyline which eventually works up to the liberation of Kashyyyk and concludes with setting the stage for The Battle of Jakku. Along the way we witness the political intrigues of the New Republic and the remains of the Empire. While the New Republic is looking to demilitarize, the latter is caught in a power struggle but planning a strategic takedown of their foe.
Some criticism for the first part of the trilogy involved the lack of main characters appearing in the novel. In Life Debt, we catch up with some of the major characters in the saga: Han Solo, Chewbacca, and Princess Leia. Luke Skywalker, R2-D2, C-3P0, and Lando Calrissian remain missing-in-action. However, we have to remember the trilogy precedes the release of The Last Jedi, so it’s fair to say it may have been intentional to avoid completely invalidating Wendig’s story by the events in the film. Even without these major characters, there is a smorgasbord of new characters to fill the void. Reading the first book in the series is certainly helpful in keeping up with the Wexley family and the state of the galaxy.
By first appearances, the plot may appear to be overstretched. For example, it is not until the third part of the novel that we actually get to Han Solo’s search and rescue mission which leads into the liberation of Kashyyyk. Mr. Wendig casts a big net that brings it all together by the end of the novel and leaves enough loose ends to be tied in the concluding volume. There is a lot going on in the novel but for the most part it follows a direct path with little room for confusion.
Scott Beil’s cover art if a familiar image of the Millenium Falcon being pursued by TIE Fighters on white background with a couple of swaths of yellow. The vehicles are technically detailed and the overall effect of the cover is a simple yet satisfying modern expression.
I enjoyed the novel but when held to my Goldilocks standard: It wasn’t the best but it wasn’t the worst. It was right in between. I felt there was a lack of details about the characters and places. I couldn’t quite form a clear picture of the characters in my mind. I could see them from a distance but up close they were just blurred and disjointed. However, at other times the detail is rich and balanced. Leia’s meditation/revelation scene is described so smoothly and is my favorite moment in the book. There is plenty of action but it lacks the Star Wars feel. A feeling that is difficult to describe but one that all fans know. Despite my slight critique, Mr. Wendig offers a lot of interesting ideas such as the weird Vader cult reminiscent of a Children of the Corn-type horror. I also thought the imbedded journalist at the frontlines with Republic forces was a cool and it feels like there could be a story entirely on it’s own based this premise. So if you find yourself perusing the latest canonical Star Wars novels, I wouldn’t suggest skipping over it but it wouldn’t be my first recommendation.