With the Battle of Jakku fresh in my mind, I sit down to review the final instalment of Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath trilogy - Empire’s End. What did I think? Well…it was a fitting end to the characters that we got to know (and occasionally love) as Wendig was able to round out everything that he has built over the previous books to a thrilling and fulfilling conclusion. But of course, and to its detriment, this comes with the occasional Wendig waffle.
Empires End is an enjoyable romp in the Galaxy Far Far Away; there is enticing political drama, daring escapes and of course a star ship battle above Jakku that had me staying up way too late as I had to read it. However, it is overly long with some unnecessary moments that didn’t seem to add to the story or, more importantly, the characterisation. You could argue that there is an action scene too far at times and this…this is frustrating. Life Debt, the second in the series, was brilliantly paced and Wendig seems to have taken it up one notch too far.
There are plenty of good things in this book however so I want to concentrate on those from here on in.
The interludes…my gosh, these are fantastic. Throughout the trilogy we have been treated to fascinating little snippets to what’s going on away from the main story. This tradition continues with aplomb in Empire’s End. Sadly some of these have been spoiled but if you haven't been you’ll reacquaint yourselves with characters from all eras of Star Wars and this gives great joy. They also leave hints of what is to come as Wendig has continued the interludes from previous books and we leave some characters on the cusp of something great, or not so great (depending on what side you align with).
However, they aren’t the only hints we have! Throughout the book Wendig lays delightful little clues of what has gone on before…we finally hear about the Sith that battled the Old Republic. Not in any great detail mind but this is their first outing within the current canon and left me begging for more.
As mentioned above, the concluding chapters bring some classic Star Wars action with space battles, infantry and x-wings swooping hither and tither. Wendig, as shown in Life Debt, is in his element when writing action sequences and the denouement of his trilogy doesn’t disappoint. He is able to describe the scope of the ships in battle and plunge us in the depths of each personal conflict - it is deftly done and by far the best part of the novel.
What of the characters? Sinjir is just a joy. His venom, sass and attitude adds so much to every scene that he is in. The growth of the former Imperial Loyalty Officer is my personal highlight of the series and the conclusion of his arc is excellently done and in true fashion of the already loved character.
The fact I cared about most of this motley crew, (Jas, Bones and Snap) shows that Wendig has done a good job over the course of the trilogy. They started as strangers but left as a key group in the life of Star Wars and this is why Empire’s End is a fitting conclusion to the trilogy. Whether they live or die, the ensemble all have a satisfying end, ones that give you gratification as the reader. Chuck should take credit for that, he has constructed a cast that started from unknown beginnings to crucial players in the war for the galaxy and yet…it didn’t feel forced. A task that isn’t easily done.
On the Imperial side? Sloane…just wow. John Jackson-Miller created her and Chuck Wendig has enabled her to flourish. She is gutsy, driven and has a vision for what she wants The Empire to be and from this she never wavers. Of course, she is not the only villain and Rax, fulfilling Palpatine’s orders, carries a huge threat throughout with some very interesting revelations towards the end of the novel, and of course and opening to how the First Order came in to being. (trying so hard not to go on a spoiler filled fan boy flail!)
Overall, this trilogy has been a success, the goal was to give us a clearer view of what happened post Return of the Jedi and you can’t argue against that. The senate has been set up, we know who the chancellor is and the Empire…well…it’s “ended”. However, I think this trilogy will truly be remembered as a set up for so many more stories. Through his skill in creating this post Episode VI world, Wendig has set us on motion and for that, he should be thanked.
Until next time,
Many thanks to Century Publishing for providing a review copy.