update: finished Empire’s End, my thoughts. Spoilers in link.
Friday is here and like any true STAR WARS fan this week I’m checking out the latest new novel by Chuck Wendig, STAR WARS Aftermath: Empire’s End. I’d usually be done by now but I didn’t get an early copy like I usually do this time around but truth be told it’s been a traumatic week for me with a loss of a family pet and I probably would not have got to it until now anyway, plus I’ve been finishing up Jeff VanderMeer’s Borne. I’m not too far into it yet but thus far it seems to continue an upward that began with the previous Aftermath installment Life Debt.
I actively hated Wendig’s first Aftermath book. Not for the reasons he lashed out at fans about either. Not only do I have zero issues with adding diversity, I welcome it and think if anything we are sadly way behind as a culture when it comes reflecting all of us in fiction. I actually just thought the book was kind of terrible. Didn’t care about the new characters, thought their individual and later joined story was uninteresting (still kind of do if being perfectly honest), which was a surprise to me because unlike what I feel like is the majority of Star Wars fans, I’m someone much more prone to dive into and like new characters than getting adventures of the known commodities. Of the old EU I’m a huge Xizor, Talon Karrde, Thrawn, Mara, Jacen, Jaina, etc fan and out of the new canon novels my favorites are Lost Stars and a sneaky good one that I think people sleep on, Battlefront: Twilight. The latter shocked me, I don’t care about the game at all but the story was so solid and contrary to what I see on the net, has the best Vader moment in the new canon thus far – was so chilling.
I thought Life Debt was a dramatic turn for Wendig, which is a credit to him. I wasn’t going to turn his lashing out against him because even though it didn’t apply to me, it isn’t a secret there are a lot of shallow inexperienced lives and minds on the internet and part of large fandoms. It wasn’t perfect though, as while the new cast indeed started claiming lives of their own to me as a reader, I still didn’t much care about them. I think even now after we’ve seen Rogue One it’s something that’s even more transparent to me to compare (we have so many new teams/crews lately with Rogue One and Rebels to boot) to me in that I liked and more importantly felt like I had stakes in those characters, and in Aftermath there are many instances where Wendig’s crew is in trouble and if they all just got blasted out of the sky, I don’t see myself getting too upset about it. I just don’t really care, their existences have no value to me if lost.
But I did enjoy much of book that dealt with the Empire, and it’s something Wendig can bank on because as consumers of this overall new Star Wars canon we are trying to piece together how we goy from here to the First Order, the origins of Snoke, and who might Benicio be playing in The Last Jedi. Wendig is well aware of this and it’s why I think Empire’s End begins where it does with a Palpatine scene during a time of the original trilogy, Return of the Jedi specifically, but I will get more into that when I do a full review, which should be soon. I will say that still, man, as it transitions to Wendig’s crew I’m still not too into the new characters yet even now 3-books in, which is multiple lifetimes for most literary characters. I still find myself viewing them as vehicles I’m waiting to confront the shit that I actually care about, and not too into their personal journeys getting there or, again, even if they survive it. I just want them to hurry up, which I guess can be optimistically twisted into describing a page turner but only it’s not.
On deck after Aftermath I have upcoming new Robin Hobb. I’ve been warned off by my Boomtron partner (a giant, true fan of Hobb – indeed at least two of original 3 people who started this site are GIANT Hobb fans) of Hobb’s return but I have enough love for her classic Farseer trilogy to try to get reinvested and I didn’t dislike the Soldier Son output (I interviewed Hobb when Shaman’s Crossing ws released), though a prevailing message, one that I happen to agree with, became a little bit much. In a world where we are seeing fantasy properties being adapted to other mediums, Farseer is one I wouldn’t mind seeing, maybe just after Scott Lynch’s Locke Lamora material (which just seems almost pre-fab ready for such a transition). At least until I think Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen is filmable.
More next week.