Star Wars Book Review: Aftermath–Empire’s End

So I’ve FINALLY finished Empire’s End, and this whole Aftermath trilogy, lol. It seems to have taken forever, mostly because they’re all rather big books (for Star Wars), and I’ve had a lot of things going on. But it wasn’t because I didn’t like the books; I thought this was a great trilogy. So, Empire’s End:

  • Author: Chuck Wendig
  • 470 Pages
  • Published in 2017
  • Canon
  • Placement in Timeline: third book in the Aftermath trilogy, a few years after the Battle of Endor in ROTJ.

What It’s About

Empire’s End continues and concludes Wendig’s ambitious trilogy concerning the events of the victorious New Republic and the broken remnants of the Empire after the battle of Endor.

Norra Wexley is determined to find the fugitive Imperial, Rae Sloane. She believes Sloane is responsible for the Liberation Day disaster, where her husband Brentin, along with others who had been prisoners of the Empire, had attacked those at the gathering. Reminiscent of Order 66, the former prisoners had had chips implanted in their brains and were programmed to kill. Norra wants to find Sloane and bring her to justice–or is it revenge that she wants?

Unknown to Norra, Sloane was, in fact, not responsible for the Liberation Disaster; it was the real power behind the Imperial remnant, Gallius Rax. This enrages Sloane; she feels Rax stole her Empire from her, and she seeks her own revenge against him. Along with Brentin Wexley–who wants to prove that he had no control over his actions, and to make up for them anyway–they seek Rax on the barren planet of Jakku.

Rax himself has been orchestrating his own lifetime’s purpose–bringing Emperor Palpatine’s Contingency Plan into being. Most of us know Palp’s Contingency Plan as being his plan to destroy the Empire if he was to die–that, because his minions failed him by letting him die, that they do not deserve to inherit his Empire. To destroy the Empire that failed, and to begin anew–namely, the beginnings of his new project, the First Order, in Exegol. Neither the First Order nor Exegol are mentioned in the book, but they are heavily implied, and easily recognized in hindsight of seeing the sequel trilogy.

The main instrument of bringing this about was an orphan desert child of Jakku–a boy named Galli, who became Gallius Rax. Chosen by the Emperor himself, he worked in the shadows, blindly dedicated to Palpatine.

In the meantime, Mon Mothma, while running for re-election as Chancellor, tries to convince the Senate that they must meet the remnants of the Imperial fleet at Jakku and defeat them once and for all. But already, there is corruption and deceit in the Senate. After some unpleasantness, it’s finally decided, and the New Republic fleet gather to engage the Imperial Star Destroyers blockading the desert planet. The Battle of Jakku has begun.

My Thoughts

I made the plot sound fairly simple, but there’s a LOT going on in this novel. The events above are the main plot points, but there’s also plenty of Wendig’s “Interludes” in the book that tell little mini-stories that revolve around the main plot. Here’s just a few that stood out to me:

  • In the second book, “Life Debt,” Chewbacca leads a group to liberate Kashyyyk from the iron fist of the Empire. When it’s over, he stays behind to clean up the stragglers, and to help Wookiees in need. In one of the interludes in this book, he finds his son, Lumpawaroo. He’s called Waroo for short in this book, but I do believe that in the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special, Chewie’s son was called Lumpy.
  • On Naboo, a war orphan named Mapo meets a local clown–who happens to be Jar-Jar Binks. The boy, who is disfigured and despairs of ever getting adopted, finds a kinship with the old, shunned Gungan. Turns out poor Jar-Jar had been blamed for helping to bring Palpatine to power–he was the one, of course, who convinced the Republic Senate to give the Chancellor emergency powers, which the guy proceeded to never give up. Talk about scapegoating! Of course, this is the origin of the whole Darth Jar-Jar thing, but the sad truth is, he just ended up juggling and doing tricks in a Naboo plaza for the rest of his days. It made me sad, but at least he was able to give this poor orphan boy some company and a purpose–in teaching him his tricks and entertainments.
  • Lando retakes Cloud City on Bespin from some ragtag leftover Imperials, with the help of Lobot and some New Republic troops. On the way to the holed up Imperials, he and Lobot discuss the need for him to get Han and Leia a baby gift. After he routs the Imperials, he decides to gift the boy with his special blaster–for when he gets older, of course. Some say this is the blaster that Ben Solo uses when he returns to Exegol to help Rey. I like that theory.
  • Throughout all three books, there are Interludes concerning some mysterious dark side Acolytes. Those who still worship Palpatine and Vader (sometimes they put graffiti on building walls showing Darth Vader’s helmet and Vader Lives! underneath it). These Sith cultists track down lightsabers, especially those of darksiders, and even believe they found Vader’s lightsaber. They also attack enclaves and outposts of the New Republic across the galaxy. I’m not exactly sure what their purpose is except to keep the flame of the Sith alive (none of them are Force-wielders), to sow chaos and fear, and disrupt the New Republic. Maybe they end up on Exegol, or simply serve the dead Emperor’s purpose, whatever it may be. I’m also wondering if they have anything to do with The Acolyte, one of the shows announced by Disney/Lucasfilm last fall, although the timeframes are different. We’ll have to wait and see.

These are just a few of the many, many threads that are woven into this story. It sounds a bit overwhelming, but I found them interesting enough that I didn’t feel bombarded with too many characters or stories. I didn’t even mention Jas Emari or Sinjir Rath Velus, two of my favorite characters from the trilogy; especially Sinjir, the ex-Imperial and rather “sassy bastard” (in his own words) who’s trying to find a new purpose–and finds it in the most surprising way.

All in all, I really enjoyed this series, and feel that it’s required reading for those who love reading the books, or who simply want to know what happened after Endor (in canon, at least, which is very different from Legends). It ties into so many other areas of Star Wars, it’s definitely worth your time.

My Rating

4 out of 5 lightsabers

I would have given this whole series 5 out of 5 lightsabers, but I felt something was missing: Luke Skywalker. Yeah, yeah, he’s out in the galaxy looking for Jedi relics and such. But his absence is keenly felt. Couldn’t he have at least made an appearance? He’s talked about by others, but that’s all. Is Disney/Lucasfilm saving him for something else down the line? He did make his awesome appearance in The Mandalorian, but what else do they have up their sleeve? There are no canon books about Luke after Endor (Heir to the Jedi is between ANH and Empire). I NEED it, lol.

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