Star Wars: Aftermath is the first new canon book set right after Return of the Jedi. There have been a few books set in various time periods before Jedi, but this book is the first that sets the Star Wars universe–and fans–on the path to The Force Awakens.
The author, Chuck Wendig, provides and interesting voice for telling his story. Often short, blunt, and straight to the point, he favors a fast-paced style of writing that can come off as sparse initially. While we as readers may be used to a thicker, more flowing prose, Aftermath captures the frantic nature of this story perfectly. Overall I enjoyed the sparse descriptions of each scene, and found the dialogue, and contemporary language, helped me see myself along side the characters instead of getting caught in the details.
The story follows a Rebel pilot who helped destroy the Death Star as she returns home, feeling she has paid her debt to the galaxy. It’s time to pick up where she left off–or with whom she left, more accurately–but of course, things don’t go too smoothly.
The main antagonist is one of the remaining Imperial Admirals who is trying to broker an accord with other high-ranking Imperials in an attempt to figure out how best to govern the empire after the Emperor’s death. Just like with this story’s hero, the Admiral too finds that nothing is as easy as it seems.
At first glance, Aftermath is about the remnants of the Empire, and the fledgling New Republic, struggling to find proper leadership after the destruction of the second Death Star, and the deaths of Dark Vader and Emperor Palpatine. But at its heart this is a story about people who believe in their chosen path in life trying to find their way after that path begins to seem unclear. How do you go back to living a simple life when the blood of the Rebellion flows through your veins? How do you balance your devotion to the strict order of the Empire when that order is tumbling into chaos?
Throughout the book are various “interludes” which take place during the main story, but across the galaxy, never directly interacting with it. These scenes show life on both sides of the struggle, and help build a rich tapestry that paints a very realistic picture of what life is like for people on various worlds as the power swap trickles down throughout the galaxy.
One of the most intriguing aspects of Aftermath is how it offers hints to the future of the Star Wars universe, especially what the galaxy might look like in The Force Awakens. There is mention of a great power lying outside the galaxy, but nothing specific. We are introduced to a mysterious figure within the Empire that will undoubtedly play a role in future literature, if not the movies as well.
My favorite hint of the future lies in the transaction between a thief, and some mysterious hooded figure who procures what might be Darth Vader’s lightsaber. The conversation between them hints at a cult of people who worship the fallen Darth Vader. This adds to the already infamous scene in the Episode VII trailer where someone is holding up Vader’s ruined (melted?) helmet. This all just bolsters rumors–fan theories, really–that Kylo Ren, and the Knights of Ren, are some sort of Sith-worshiping cult.
But I digress. Although I can’t be held responsible, since Star Wars: Aftermath is very much an energizing story that made me look forward not only to the new movie, but to all the books as well. I think Aftermath did a great job of giving Star Wars a new voice, while setting it on an exciting direction. Go, get the book, and rejoice. Star Wars is back!