Aftermath: Life Debt is the sequel to the controversial novel, Aftermath. With a different writing prose, compared to other Star Wars novels, as well as story that may have been lackluster. Author Chuck Wendig had a large hurdle to overcome after the backlash of the first novel, but he certainly overcame it. Delivering a story that is suspenseful, action-packed, and explores deep into the mythos of Star Wars.
What the novel excels in is describing to us the state of the galaxy after Return of the Jedi. As much as it’s a story about a band of New Republic soldier, it’s the fragile state of the Empire that makes this a fascinating story. The story doesn’t shy away from starting with a bang, as our band of New Republic Soldiers.The team is led by ace pilot Norra Wexley, alongside is her son, Tommen, as well as Jam the Special Ops soldier; Jas, a bounty hunter, and Sinjir, a former Imperial Officer.. Together they are a band of misfits with a primary operation of picking up (kidnapping) Imperial Officers. Basically a legally assigned group of bounty hunters.
In the first novel, we are introduced to these characters, but we never get enough development of them and personally, I didn’t care for them as much. However, now that I’ve spent some time with them and know more about each character, each page is a delight as we learn more and more about them. I can honestly say that I now care about these characters. Eventually they go on a mission to find Han Solo who is lost and tried to liberate Chewbacca’s home planet Kashyyyk. What leads is a story of guerrilla warfare in the deep jungle of the planet with an Imperial officer who considers himself a warlord. Intense and brutal action, as well as heartwarming scenes. I actually cared for what was going on in the story and it’s characters, which made it carry more wait to what was happening, with a much bigger stake.
The newly appointed Grand Admiral Rae Sloane is on a mission to change and persuade the public of how order and stability of the Empire is what the galaxy needs. Introduced in a previous novel, Sloane has become a fan favorite, with her devout love for the Empire she would do anything for it, even change it. if it is required. She is also on a personal mission to find out who and where her head advisor came from. At the end of the first novel we are introduced to a new mysterious and sinister character in the name of Galius Rax. A character who shares a striking resemblance to character Grand Admiral Thrawn (without the blue skin.) Cold, calculating, and has a new vision for the Empire. Little is known about him, as to how he came to be, what he has done prior, and what is his endgame?
Although Rae Sloane is in charge of the Empire, it is Rax who controls her and she tries her best to escape him. While she maybe 10 steps ahead, he is 50 steps ahead, with a clear vision and endgame for the Empire, unlike Sloane. The dialogue between the two is fascinating and is what made the novel most interesting for me. The novel is filled with several twists and surprises,that lead to even MORE twists and surprises.
Although, I do like the character Rax, I have to admit he is very similar to old character Grand Admiral Thrawne, as previously mentioned. Some may even say it is a carbon copy of it and although I don’t see it, I can certainly see where people may think that. Also, the prologue was slow, but it had a secret that was interesting, but as you read the novel that secret is easily revealed, making the epilogue anticlimactic.
The novel does a great job at telling us where the universe is and giving subtle hints in the direction that leads to The Force Awakens. Although there were moments where I thought the pacing was a bit off and things were rushed, it doesn’t take away how amazingly fun and different it is from other Star Wars stories.