*I have tried to keep this review of Star Wars Aftermath: Life Debt as spoiler free as possible, I have avoided talking about any plot points other than what has been mentioned in the plot summary.*
Following on from the first “Aftermath”, Life Debt reunites us with our rag tag band of unlikely do-gooders. Firstly let me set the scene:
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 homeward 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 Hans Disappearance.
Breaking away from their official mission and racing towards 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- of the ruthlessness of the enemy drawing them into his crosshairs.
Star Wars Aftermath: Life Debt – Story
I approached Aftermath:Life Debt with two questions. How well it will adhere to the plot summary? and if it was possible to pre-empt what was to come. Much to my delight it brought me down so many avenues and dark alleys. Aftermath: Life Debt is told with vivid detail and description much to the credit of Chuck Wendig. It makes you feel as though you are right there, in the thick of it with the characters, living the story, and its crazy situations. The sights, the sounds, all as clear as day; from the majestic trees of Kashyyyk to the numerous creatures we meet. Every page became a vivid experience, full of colour, smell and taste.
The plot of Aftermath: Life Debt, much to my happiness takes many directions, all at light speed. The experience? everything from joy, sorrow, deceit, love, lust and loneliness. One thing that really stuck out was the humour. Interactions with characters were not always of battle hardened individuals, but of friends merely busting each others chops. Typically Star Wars.
The plot presents a plethora of scenarios that every reader can relate to. The joy and comfort of friendship, the seething rage that comes from betrayal and insincerity, and everything in between. Themes such as community, friendship and culture make up this adventure, but above all else there is an air of individuality. As is Star Wars, the thirst for power, success and greed is never too far away.
The story contrasts the view of the New Republic, and that of the Empire. All communities and organisations are made up of individuals, and within that exists a wealth of knowledge, experience, skills and attributes that should work together in concert. In an ideal world this is effortless and works flawlessly. However, when have the terms ‘Perfect world’ and ‘Star Wars’ ever played ball? Individuality can be flawed, blinded by passions and beliefs; to quote Obi-Wan Kenobi “Everything is true from a certain point of view”.
Human nature is influenced by many factors, instinct, curiosity, the thirst for knowledge and the thirst for resources and this story arc exposes just how far individuals will go to claim to power. Whether this is for the good of their community or for the good of themselves remains to be seen.
Our rag tag band of Imperial Hunters are back and under the command of a grounded Wedge Antilles. Thanks to a mysterious persona known as “The Operator” feeding them information on high value targets, Norra Wexley and her team have managed to capture and interrogate their enemies securing much needed information and resources for the continued exploits of the New Republic.
Norra though is troubled as she finds herself constantly pondering her life choices, both as a pilot and resistance fighter, to her choices as a mother to Temmin. The role of mother figure shines through in Norra and she takes on that role for the rest of her team, whether she realises it or not.
Temmin on the other hand has grown in many ways much to both the delight and shame of his mother Norra. Temmin or “Snap” as he is now known, is developing into an extremely accomplished pilot, under the mentorship of his close friend, Wedge Antilles.
This delights his mother as he appears to be following in her footsteps, but that comes with much trepidation as she contemplates the dangerous road ahead of him. As tech savvy as they come, “Snap” continues to work his magic with all sorts of machinery.
Much to the delight of everyone, Mr Bones is back! Bones has gotten some serious upgrades and now closer resembles a B1 Battle Droid which is a stark contrast to his previous “skeletal” appearance. One thing that certainly hasn’t changed is his devotion to Temmin and he will protect him with his life at all costs.
Mr Bones appears to have had some upgrades to his personality matrix as he continues to appear more human which causes some uncomfortable moments for those who encounter him. This also provides many humorous and cringeworthy moments that provide some comic relief.
Completing the team are the former Imperial Loyalty Officer Sinjir Rath Velus who has a talent for picking apart someone with a glance. Sinjir’s unique ability to expose an individuals weaknesses and personality quirks make him a vital part of the team. Sinjir has a unique ability for getting into trouble, whether it finds him or he finds it. Sinjir’s character arc was fantastic and I believe Mr Wendig has hit a home run with this plot line, not a road every writer would venture.
Sinjir has a love/hate relationship with former Special Forces Commando, Jom Barell. When not in battle, the two can be seen bitching and bickering with great banter and wit. The combination offers humor and lighthearted moments almost reminiscent of the not so serious Han/Lando or Han/Chewie relationship.
Intertwined within these two, encouraging their antics is the Zabrak Bounty Hunter Jas Emari. Jas is an extremely resourceful individual who performs her tasks with laser like precision. Jas possesses and uncanny ability to think on her feet and somehow find a way out of trouble which reminds me of a certain “Scruffy Looking Nerf-Herder”.
The “face”of the Imperials is none other than Grand Admiral Rae Sloane. Sloane has worked her way up the ranks and is now at the forefront of the Imperial efforts to regroup and restructure their forces after key members of their organisation are wiped out or taken captive and interrogated.
Sloane is a highly cunning individual who is endlessly devoted to her cause, she is a strong tactician who considers all possibilities and has a plan for every outcome. As the figure-head of the Imperials she is responsible for the continuing efforts and to aid her in her cause, she has been assigned an”advisor”.
Gallius Rex is shrouded in mystery. Despite rising through the imperial ranks and reaching his “advisor” role, his military history is somewhat non existent, it’s as if he’s a ghost who has just materialised and risen up the ranks at an unnatural level.
Aftermath “Life Debt” was an intriguing read. It’s a story which takes place on multiple levels, and can change direction in the blink of an eye. The strongest attributes of this story are without doubt the visualisation and descriptions of the landscape in tandem with it’s wide range of characters, from loveable rogues to deceptive masterminds.
Life Debt moves at such a pace that constantly keeps readers on their toes, there are no luls between scenarios which is always a positive. There is nothing worse than a book fizzing out halfway through, certainly not the case here.
A combination of diverse characters, landscapes and multiple plot twists/turns is sure to keep you entertained. I must also mention the Takadona Interlude, this was an extremely well written piece full of character and in a few short pages it really moved at speed.
Three reason why should you read this book?
1. Experience a story full of contrasting characters.
2. Discover the bonds that bind Han and Chewie, and the lengths they will go to honour them.
3. Nothing is ever what it seems. “Darkness does not always equate to evil, just as light does not always bring good”
What are your thoughts about Life Debt? Get in touch and share your thoughts with it.
Until next time,
May The Force Be With You.