- Author: Chuck Wendig
- 480 Pages
- Published in 2016
- Placement in Timeline: A few months after the events of Aftermath, which takes place about a year after the Battle of Endor in Return of the Jedi.
What It’s About:
Life Debt takes up the story with Norra Wexley and her team–Jas Emari, Sinjir Rath Velus, Temmin Wexley, and Jom Barell, now dubbed Halo Squadron–searching for fugitive Imperials and bringing them back to the New Republic for justice. However, Norra is approached by Leia Organa and asked to go on a special mission: find Han Solo.
In his and Chewbacca’s quest to free the Wookiee homeworld of Kashyyyk from Imperial rule (hinted at in an “Interlude” in the previous book), he’s now missing. Leia, now several months pregnant with their son, has approached Mon Mothma for New Republic help, but though she understands Leia’s frustration, the Chancellor refuses to send NR ships.
Norra and her team take on the mission, as Norra understands what it’s like to have a missing husband (her husband Brentin was taken by the Imperials and never seen again). Jas and Sinjir agree, as they’re both starting to like doing something for a greater good (though they’re loathe to admit it). Once they find Solo, they agree to help him find Chewbacca and free Kashyyyk, even without NR help.
Meanwhile, Admiral Rae Sloane tries to keep the crumbling Empire together–and pursue her goal of leading it–while investigating the mysterious Gallius Rax, who claims to be the new leader of the remaining Imperial fleet. Sloane is unsure of his plans and his motivations, and struggles to put her trust in him. But she agrees to play her part in his plan to deal with the New Republic, and she extends her hand to Mon Mothma for peace talks on Chandrila.
It took me a ridiculously long time to read this book, considering I really enjoyed it. The characters have grown on me, especially Sinjir (who I picture as a young Guy Pearce, for some reason, lol) and Jas, and even Norra has earned my favor over the course of the story.
Wendig must have heard the complaints about his writing style in the first book (lots of choppy, incomplete sentences and colons) and addressed it; there’s not much of that in this follow-up book. I got used to it, but I do prefer the story without all that choppiness.
I liked that this book had more familiar characters like Han, Chewie and Leia; we also had some personal relationship subplots that I enjoyed, like Jas and Jom Barell getting involved (and Sinjir warning the commando not to hurt his good friend), Sinjir with his own romantic interest, Condor Kyl, and Norra and Wedge getting close, all of which are up in the air by the end of the book.
One relationship that’s not up in the air by the end is Han and Leia’s. Leia is understandably worried about Han, but also understands why he’s doing what he’s doing. It was incredibly painful for Han to leave Leia and their baby for this mission, but he had a “life debt” to Chewie. The book doesn’t get into how that came about, exactly; but we already know that Chewie is Han’s best friend, and their bond is strong. Leia knows this, too.
Leia, for her part, is missing Luke (off exploring the galaxy for Jedi artifacts) and often practices meditating to calm herself and to try to feel the Force, as Luke taught her. During one of these sessions, she feels her baby’s presence, his life force, for the first time, and knows that it’s a boy. Later, Han calls their baby the “little bandit,” and Leia calls him a “little angel.” It’s really sweet and quite poignant, considering we know (now) the fate of their child.
As for the villains, I don’t particularly care for Rae Sloane, but she’s far more understandable than the mysterious Gallius Rax. Sloane wants to rebuild the Empire back to what it was (understanding they may have to do things differently to get there), and believes the Empire is what’s best for the galaxy, as opposed to the New Republic, which represents chaos. Rax, however, is secretive and strange, and Sloane doesn’t approve of his methods. By the end of the book, they’re at odds and Sloane is determined to find out who he really is.
I’m enjoying this series, and am looking forward to the final book, Empire’s End.
My Rating: 4 out of 5 Lightsabers
Here’s a bonus diagram of Temmin’s refurbished B1 battle droid, “Mr. Bones” (who’s quite fond of eviscerating things):
Have you read this book or this series? What did you think? Let me know in the comments, and we’ll talk about it!
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