Sunday, September 04, 2016

Review: Aftermath: Life Debt by Chuck Wendig

Aftermath: Life Debt
Author:  Chuck Wendig
Series:  The Aftermath Trilogy 2
Publisher:  Del Rey, July 12, 2016
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 448 pages
List Price:  US$28.99 (print); US$14.99 (eBook)
ISBN9781101966938 (print); 9781101966945 (eBook)
Review Copy:  Reviewer's Own

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Set between the events of Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, the never-before-told story that began with Star Wars: Aftermath continues in this thrilling novel, the second book of Chuck Wendig’s bestselling trilogy.

It is a dark time for the Empire. . . . 

The 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.

Meanwhile, Norra 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.

Tracey/Trinitytwo's Point of View

Aftermath: Life Debt picks up shortly after the events of Aftermath. Norra Wexley's eclectic team has made a name for itself and works steadily for the New Republic. Their mission: capture and deliver important Imperials to Chandrila, where they will stand trial for their crimes against the galaxy. After returning from a particularly harrowing mission, Norra is approached by Princess Leia Organa who announces that her husband, Han Solo, is missing after a failed attempt to free Chewbacca from incarceration by the Empire. Although her request is not sanctioned by the leaders of the New Republic, Leia asks Norra and her team to find Han.

Life Debt screams into action almost immediately and its pace never lessens. Wendig hits his stride in this second installment and the choppiness I noted in book one of the trilogy has transitioned into a smooth ride through hyperspace. Although its storyline is complex, it's particularly well orchestrated. Each component fits together like an intricate puzzle that is extremely satisfying when completed.

I have grown quite fond of Norra Wexley and her diverse team of risk takers. Of note, Norra's son Temmin, whose chip on his shoulder was so large that he was often unlikeable in book one, has shown clear growth. His mixture of confusion, anger, and budding maturity are appropriate for a teenager. Norra has also grown more realistic. I empathize with her struggle to balance both her responsibilities as a single mom and her position in the New Republic. Jas Emari, the bounty hunter, Sinjir Rath Velus, the ex-Imperial, Jom Barell, formerly New Republic Spec-Forces and Mister Bones, Temmin's maniacal B1 Battle Droid, round out the team. Wendig allows each member to seamlessly get his, her, or its moment in the sun. In fact, Wendig does a fantastic job of keeping this large ensemble cast of characters three dimensional and hits every note with bittersweet accuracy.

Wendig provides insight into Grand Admiral Rae Sloane's motivation. Sloane's determination to champion the Empire's way of life and her desire to preserve its "order and stability" is key to the plot. Wendig humanizes her while also providing purpose and a plausibility that is often missing in antagonists that are simply greedy or hungry for power.

Aftermath tantalizes readers with glimpses of many favorites from the original Star Wars film trilogy: notably Han Solo and Chewbacca. Life Debt will assuredly thrill readers by continuing Han and Chewie's adventures after Return of the Jedi. As a diehard fan of the franchise, I enjoyed learning more about the complicated relationships between the princess, the scoundrel and the Wookie. Without any spoilerish details, there is one passage between Han and Chewie that brought tears to my eyes. Well done, Wendig!

Life Debt speaks of the injustices of inequality, slavery, prejudice and poverty in a galaxy far, far away, and yet it also served to remind me of the suffering in our world today. This is brilliant writing! I am truly impressed with the overall message Wendig sends out while at the same time entertaining readers with a rich, complex and riveting story set in the Star Wars universe. I thoroughly enjoyed book one, but book two is even better. Aftermath: Life Debt leaves me excited to get my hands on Book 3, Aftermath: Empire's End. I recommend if you haven't started this series, start reading now. This is definitely the Star Wars series you've been looking for!

Note: Aftermath: Life Debt is the second book in the Aftermath Trilogy following Aftermath (See Trinitytwo's Review here..  I recommend reading them in order, although the author does a great job of reintroducing characters and conflicts in book two.


The Aftermath Trilogy 1
Del Rey, March 29, 2016
Mass Market Paperback, 432 pages
Hardcover and eBook, September 4, 2015

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars: Aftermath [reveals] what happened after the events of 1983’s Return of the Jedi. It turns out, there’s more than just the Empire for the good guys to worry about.”—The Hollywood Reporter

As the Empire reels from its critical defeats at the Battle of Endor, the Rebel Alliance—now a fledgling New Republic—presses its advantage by hunting down the enemy’s scattered forces before they can regroup and retaliate. But above the remote planet Akiva, an ominous show of the enemy’s strength is unfolding. Out on a lone reconnaissance mission, pilot Wedge Antilles watches Imperial Star Destroyers gather like birds of prey circling for a kill, but he’s taken captive before he can report back to the New Republic leaders.

Meanwhile, on the planet’s surface, former rebel fighter Norra Wexley has returned to her native world—war weary, ready to reunite with her estranged son, and eager to build a new life in some distant place. But when Norra intercepts Wedge Antilles’s urgent distress call, she realizes her time as a freedom fighter is not yet over. What she doesn’t know is just how close the enemy is—or how decisive and dangerous her new mission will be.

Determined to preserve the Empire’s power, the surviving Imperial elite are converging on Akiva for a top-secret emergency summit—to consolidate their forces and rally for a counterstrike. But they haven’t reckoned on Norra and her newfound allies—her technical-genius son, a Zabrak bounty hunter, and a reprobate Imperial defector—who are prepared to do whatever they must to end the Empire’s oppressive reign once and for all.

See Trinitytwo's Review here.


Aftermath: Empire's End
The Aftermath Trilogy 3
Del Rey, February 21, 2017
Hardcover and ebook, 320 pages

Following Star Wars: Aftermath and Star Wars: Life Debt, Chuck Wendig delivers the exhilarating conclusion to the New York Times bestselling trilogy set in the years between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens.


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