The third book in the Aftermath trilogy, ‘Empire’s End’ had to tie the loose ends from ‘Life Debt’ while bringing closure to the archs of several characters. All of this occurs during an action filled novel, with the battle of Jakku in the background. The book works because it blends what made the last two books interesting from the start.
Even though the book isn’t as satisfactory of an adventure as “Life Debt” (a Han and Chewie adventure is really hard to beat), it gives something that few canon explores: conflict within the Empire. We see some hints of it during ‘Rogue One’, when Tarkin takes over the Death Star under Krennic’s helm, or ‘The Last Jedi’, with Kylo Ren and General Hux head to head. Rae Sloane, who was a really powerful character in the past two books, ends up crushed by her own Empire. This puts the character in a situation to reconsider her options. Sloane decides to attack Gallius Rax, current head of the Empire, who is responsible for putting Sloane in this complex situation.
The blend of politics and warfare was a surprise I didn’t expect. Even though in book 2 of the trilogy Mon Mothma does her good dose of politic shenanigans, she’s now in the midst of an electoral campaign, putting her also in conflict with her own New Republic. Tolwar Wartol, her political nemesis, becomes a compelling character to keep Mon Mothma in her toes.
The efficiency of the conflict in Jakku is defined by these different elements I mentioned. Besides this, it could be a very forgettable war. What ties Norra Wexley, Temmin, Jas Emari, Sinjir and Jim Barrel is the fact that Leia decides to make an attack on Jakku and the fact that Brenton, Norra’s husband and Temmin’s father, is with Rae Sloane after the attempt to kill Mon Mothma in ‘Life Debt’.
There are some unexpected surprises, like the appearance of the Hutt lineage. This was quite fun to read because you could clearly imagine Nima The Hutt roaming around the desert.
Overall, the book stays consistent even though it was jarring to keep up with all the different characters. There’s a moment when characters are in three different planets, each with their own mission and conflict. Still, the characters had really interesting archs that allowed me to keep on reading. Without the character, it would feel like a meaningless adventure.
The book also attempts to do some flashbacks in order to give Gallius Rax more depth. Even though it explained his intentions as well as his links to the Empire, I believe it barely contributes to the plot except in the near end. The book still keeps the interlude stories within chapters just like the past two books, many of them uninteresting compared to the past two books.
The Aftermath trilogy has its flaws, but what I found in reading is that it is no less flawed than any Star Wars movie or TV show. Chuck Wendig has been able to create a storyline that stands on itself. From the very first book, it doesn’t want to make a bridge between the original trilogy and the sequel trilogy. I find this a smart move, as there’s so much more to explore. With the Star Wars Resistance series and Jon Favreau’s upcoming live TV show, this 20 to 30 year period will be expanded in other ways.
If you like a blend of action packed stuff and fun characters, this is your trilogy. It is rough at times, but definitely worth a try if you can be patient enough.