Every end is a new beginning
Chuck Wendig takes us on a journey for the final time in Aftermath: Empire’s End. The trilogy has reached it’s crescendo. Bringing down the curtain on what has been a long and arduous journey. The Aftermath Trilogy have divided opinion across the board, dividing our fandom. How does Empire’s End close this chapter? Let’s find out…
Key Plot Events
Empire’s End gives us an insight into the inner sanctum of Sheev Palpatine. Whether referred to as Emperor or Chancellor, one fact rises to the surface more than any previously explored. Palpatine was an absolute maniac, he was truly more corrupt and Batshit crazy than we could have ever imaged. Planning for every contingency, it emerges that he had a stern believe with which he held himself in the highest esteem possible. If he doesn’t survive, then The Empire doesn’t deserve to survive!
It’s with this level of evil that Palpatine’s “contingency” is revealed. He tasks his champion of champions, no not Darth Vader, with the task of bringing The Empire down from within!
Forces of Light And Dark Emerge
Rogue One enlightened us with a greater look at The Church Of The Force and The Journal of The Whills. Empire’s End opened our eyes further. Members of The Church, are returning stolen Kyber Crystals to their place of origin. We are offered tantalising glimpse into the existence of darker forces. The Acolytes of Beyond, led by the mysterious Yupe Tashu are one such group gathering strength. Tashu served as an advisor to Palpatine and now aides in the cause of Gallius Rax. He believes in all aspects of the Dark Side, utilising artefacts he believes have the ability to harness it’s true power and destructive force. Tashu is a firm believer in resurrection and the belief that Palpatine can be brought back from the beyond.
Why Go Back To Jakku?
Well it turns out that early speculation about Jakku was proved to be correct. Jakku has greater significance in the world of Star Wars than we had anticipated. Jakku was once a thriving landscape filled with all sorts of life above and below water, though it now exists as a baron unforgiving landscape, it hides a deep dark secret at it’s core.
Remember Niima outpost? Well it turns out Niima was a Hutt who was in league with Rax. Niima provided safe passage and protection throughout Jakku and Rax provided her and her slaves with anything their hearts desired. Jakku is the home planet of a rebellious orphan who would one day return as Gallius Rax. Palpatine erected and consealed Sith Observatories in which weapons, artefacts and other such secrets were kept safe.
Familiar Faces Emerge (Side Stories)
Empire’s End provides us with a lookback at some of our favourite and perhaps least favourite characters throughout the galaxy. We encounter a Caped, smooth talking smuggler with a talent for swindling and living the “high life” (literally). There’s a couple of extra surprises thrown in, A True Grand Admiral, A Hairy Baby and The Prodigal Son makes his entrance.
To the delight, albeit the dismay and displeasure of most, we encounter a face from the past. Do the words clumsy and annoying mean anything to you? I shall leave you to come to your own conclusons Okey Day…
The Aftermath Trilogy is built on pillars of strength in it’s characters, from Norra Wexley to Sinjir Rath Velius. The biggest positives to emerge from this series is without doubt, our rag tag band of freedom fighters who have been with us since the beginning. Over the three novels, we have seen subtle changes in their demeanour and explored their inner workings. In Sinjir, Norra and Temmin “Snap”, Jas, Mr Bones and Jom, a family has emerged out of chaos and conflict.
Particular highlights include Sinjir showing himself to be more than just a cold calculating torture merchant. In Sinjir we observe a man of phenomenal intelligence and cunning, capable of using his wit to resolve “uncomfortable” scenarios. Though we do see his rather unique skill set when required. Seeing a softer, more loving side of Sinjir is a change up that will further enhance his reputation as an Aftermath favourite.
In Jas Emari, we see a metamorphosis of sorts. The Bounty Hunter, the loner, has become an integral part of the team. The once standalone attitude has been replaced by one of trust, of unity. In particular, Jas displays an almost daughter/niece like relationship with Norra. The high esteem Jas hold’s Norra in becomes abundantly clear when without hesitation, she decides to accompany her on what seems to be nothing other than a suicide mission. To be willing to launch into an escape pod, and head for the surface with someone seething with such rage and anger, blinded by it, show’s an unwavering loyalty and love.
The Driving Force
The driving force behind our final tale, can be described as a double headed coin. On one side we have revenge, on the other justice. In Norra Wexley and (Former) Grand Admiral Rae Slaone, we see revenge and justice become intertwined. Two polar opposites, opposing forces if you will. Norra Wexley, a freedom fighter who seeks justice (does she?) for the pain and suffering caused by Grand Admiral Rae Sloane. The attack on Chandrilia which left her broken and bruised, witnessing her husband forced to commit unspeakable acts of cruelty, with their son caught in the crossfire.
(Former) Grand Admiral Rae Sloane, fallen from grace, wants HER empire back. After everything she has been through and strived to achieve, she was but a pawn in the masterplan of that egotistical lunatic Gallius Rax. Her Empire has changed, gone is the discipline, the tradition of white well kept kit. Soldiers have become mindless machines who do the bidding of Rax through the “training” of Brendo Hux and his son Amitage.
Though Norra seeks justice for her family, the Republic and those who have suffered, despite her hatred for Sloane, it’s apparant the former Grand Admiral was nothing but a puppet on the strings of Galliux Rax.
This was the moment we were waiting for, a triumphant end to a character with enormous potential in Gallius Rax. I felt the ending was extremely anticlimactic. I had hoped for so much more. In the end the prodigy who emerged from the shadows rising through power, went out in anything but a blaze of glory.
Aftermath Empire’s End is the strongest in the trilogy in terms of it’s ability to keep the pace moving at a constant speed, which was a problem with the first two books as I (and others) felt it was too drawn out and extremely slow in developing momentum. One thing Chuck Wendig does very well is create vivid images and character interactions full of emotion. Empire’s End contained much more humour than I thought and it was a welcome surprise.Wendig has also done a wonderful job in showing us the evolution of our characters, each displaying a totally different side to what we encounter in the first two novels.
I do however have some issues with the novel, I felt we didn’t get to see anywhere near enough interaction between Norra and Sloane. I didn’t particularly enjoy Norra’s evolving character arc as she began to make extremely rash decisions. The excuse that she was protecting Temmin and keeping him out of harms way, I don’t believe that for a moment. “I’ve abandoned him again haven’t I?” Yes Norra you have!
Empire’s End brings the curtain down on The Aftermath Trilogy. It’s rare that a series of books causes so much divide in our fandom, but isn’t that the beauty of it? We all have our own ideas of perfection, and the direction we wish to see certain characters and stories go in. It all depends on your point of view.
Aftermath Empire’s End scores: 7.5/10
Until Next Time,
May The Force Be With You