|Aftermath: Life Debt
|Story published as:
Hardback Novel (2016)
Audio Book (2016)
If you have read this story, please
1 review [Review
score: 3 / 5]
It is a dark time for the Empire...
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’s homeworld of Kashyyyk.
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.
This story occurs between
4 and 5 years after Episode IV: A New Hope.
Related Stories (in
the complaints and controversies, whether warranted or not, that
surrounded the release of Wendig's first Star Wars novel,
Aftermath, in 2015, many readers should
find Life Debt more accessible. Firstly, Wendig has toned
down his writing style - it's still written in third person present
tense but fewer sentence fragmentations litter it than
Aftermath. Secondly, this story includes
some more recognisable characters, including some from the films,
notably Han and Leia have a larger role in this story. Although they
are not used in the principal plot, Wendig uses them to anchor his
story with characters we are familiar with.
picks up shortly after Aftermath as we
join the characters he previously established, Norra, Wexley,
Sinjir, Jas, Jom and Mister Bones on their latest mission to capture
another senior Imperial figure for the New Republic. They are then
recruited by Leia to find her husband (Han and Leia married almost
immediately after the Battle of Endor, probably during the
celebrations on the forest moon), who has disappeared trying to
liberate Chewie's home planet (a plot mentioned briefly in one of
Aftermath's interludes). In all honesty
the Han/Chewbacca plot wasn't as strong as I was expecting - simply
reading the book's synopsis reveals pretty much what to expect.
Moreover, Han is unlikely to fail, with or without secondary help.
For many this was the expectation of the book's title: the former
Expanded Universe had established the concept of the Wookiee life
debt. Instead Wendig choses to use this title to further explore the
relationships of his own characters - their debts to one another,
the Rebellion, the fledging New Republic, and to their own families
or loved ones and how far any of these people are willing to
sacrifice their own life to fulfil these debts. Added to this are
the foundations of debt the Imperial antogonists have to themselves,
the Empire and their superiors. From this examination comes the
highlight of Wendig's story: Rae Sloane.
Grand Admiral Rae Sloane, a
character first introduced in 2014 in John Jackson Miller's
A New Dawn, stands out as it is
Wendig's telling of her suspicions and investigations of the
mysterious Fleet Admiral that allows the reader to fully understand
her life debt to, following the deaths of the Emperor and Vader,
what she begins to consider as her Empire. Surprisingly the great
mystery of Aftermath, the identity of
the mysterious Imperial Fleet Admiral, is revealed without fanfare
early on in this book. It was almost as if the reader should have
been aware of this after reading Aftermath.
Contrasting with Sloane's powerful sense of duty is the Fleet
Admiral's machinations to not only push the New Republic and the
remnants of the Empire towards a final encounter (which we know will
eventually be at Jakku) but also his scheming to further his hidden
agenda (which we don't know and isn't revealed here), because he has
a personal debt towards the man who selected him for this top secret
mission: the Emperor.
While some elements of Life Debt
are predictable and Wendig's exploration of his own character's may
come across as trope, it is undoubtly his examination of the
antogonists that make this book a worthwhile read.