Book Review: Aftermath: Life Debt

The galaxy is changing, and with peace now a possibility, 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’s home world of Kashyyyk.
Meanwhile, Norra Wexley and her band of rebels pursue Admiral Rae Sloane and the remaining Imperial leadership across the galaxy. Sloane, increasingly wary of the mysterious fleet admiral, desperately searches for a means to save the crumbling Empire from oblivion. Even as Imperial forces fight to regain lost ground, Princess Leia and the New Republic seek to broker a lasting peace.
But the rebel’s hunt for Admiral Sloane is cut short after the disappearance of Han Solo and Chewbacca. Desperate to save them, Leia conscripts Norra, Sinjir, Jas, and the rest of their team to find the missing smugglers and help them in their fight for freedom.

Aftermath: Life Debt is the sequel to Aftermath, written by Chuck Wendig and I have to say that it was a refreshing surprise, since I didn’t care much for Aftermath. Chuck Wendig, however, redeems himself with Life Debt and turns a previously boring group of characters into a compelling team of Imperial criminal-catchers, similar to the people who hunted down Nazis after World War II.

Beware, mild spoilers ahead.

Let’s talk about the interludes. I hated them in Aftemath, but since then I’ve gotten used to and even looked forward to them, when I was reading. They were rich in detail and really connected the stories together. The ones in Aftermath were a bit choppier and dis-conjointed.

We are introduced to the mastermind secret over-seer admiral that appeared at the end of the last book. Whether he plays a role in the sequel movies, remains to be seen. Gallius Rax is his name and he certainly delivers in the villain department. He manipulates Grand Admiral Rae Sloan beautifully, and his ability to make plans is very similar to Emperor Palpatine. He also enjoys the arts like Palpatine, being an avid opera fan. Perfect cerebral villain.

I loved the many links to the new canon. The storytelling group is really doing this well and the appearance of the Imperialis from the Lando comics and Leia’s friend Evaan from the Princess Leia series was a very enjoyable connection. They even referenced an event that hasn’t been told yet. The theft of a Star Destroyer, which will be seen later this year in the Star Wars series of comics by Marvel.

Rae Sloan is a bit stiff but it’s interesting to see through the viewpoint of an Imperial, who truly believes the Empire was a just and orderly state and that the New Republic is a disorganized, tyrannical mess.

We get plenty of Han and Chewie moments that are fun, and we come to love Norra Wexley’s team, especially ex-Imperial Sinjir, who is quite funny and is not shy to show his same-sex attractions. Chuck does a good job writing a gay character without it feeling forced. It comes naturally and doesn’t define Sinjir, which I think is important when writing a gay character. The novel has Rax’s endgame played out well and it looks like we are going to Jakku for our next adventure. All in all, I give this novel a 3 ‘ out of 5 Death Stars.

Many thanks to Random House for the advance review copy.

For more Jedi News book reviews click here.