- OPENING LINE
- PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY
- THE PLOT
- THE AUTHOR
- THE NARRATION
- THE PRODUCTION
- FINAL THOUGHTS
- QUICK FACTS
- MORE BOOKS IN THE SERIES
The journey to ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ begins with a single step… and several books.
The second Death Star has been destroyed, the emperor killed, and Darth Vader struck down. Devastating blows against the Empire and major victories for the Rebel Alliance. But the battle for freedom is far from over.
As the Empire reels from its critical defeats at the Battle of Endor, the Rebel Alliance – now a fledgling New Republic – presses its advantage by hunting down the enemy’s scattered forces before they can regroup and retaliate. But above the remote planet Akiva, an ominous show of the enemy’s strength is unfolding. Out on a lone reconnaissance mission, pilot Wedge Antilles watches Imperial star destroyers gather like birds of prey circling for a kill, but he’s taken captive before he can report back to the New Republic leaders.
Meanwhile, on the planet’s surface, former Rebel fighter Norra Wexley has returned to her native world – war weary, ready to reunite with her estranged son, and eager to build a new life in some distant place. But when Norra intercepts Wedge Antilles’ urgent distress call, she realizes her time as a freedom fighter is not yet over. What she doesn’t know is just how close the enemy is – or how decisive and dangerous her new mission will be.
Determined to preserve the Empire’s power, the surviving imperial elite are converging on Akiva for a top-secret emergency summit – to consolidate their forces and rally for a counterstrike. But they haven’t reckoned on Norra and her newfound allies – her technical genius son, a Zabrak bounty hunter, and a reprobate Imperial defector – who are prepared to do whatever they must to end the Empire’s oppressive reign once and for all.
©2015 Chuck Wendig (P)2015 Random House Audio
‘Aftermath’, the first book in a trilogy by author Chuck Wendig, is the first post ‘Return of the Jedi’ novel under the new unified canon. As a result, there are going to be comparisons with Timothy Zahn’s ‘Heir to the Empire’ which was first published in 1991. These comparisons are not altogether fair, as the two books were produced under vastly different circumstances.
One of the major differences is that ‘Aftermath’ features a cast of mostly new characters. ‘Heir to the Empire’ got to use familiar characters such as Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo and so on. The most prominent original trilogy character in ‘Aftermath’ is Wedge Antilles, and the book could have worked just as well without him.
The fact that Zahn was able to use all of those familiar characters meant that he only had to introduce a few characters and could spend more time giving his own creations definition. This is not to say that Wendig has not created some fun and memorable characters for ‘Aftermath’. These characters do exist, but there are also a number of characters that are easier to remember for their job than their personality.
The main story of ‘Aftermath’ takes place on the planet Akiva. An Imperial summit has been called to regroup after the events of ‘Return of the Jedi’. However, things start to go wrong and the fledgling New Republic becomes aware of the plan.
Compounding the problem is a group of unlikely allies that come together in an attempt to rescue Wedge Antilles from Imperial captivity. This group includes: rebel pilot Norra Wexley, her estranged son Temmin and his droid protector Mr. Bones, former Imperial officer Sinjir Rath Velus and bounty hunter Jas Emari. If the group is to succeed, they are going to have to put their disagreements and suspicions about one another behind them and work together.
The greatest amount of intrigue in the main story comes from the Imperial side. Admiral Rae Slone, who was introduced in ‘A New Dawn’, has called for the Imperial summit but begins to suspect that the meeting may have been sabotaged. The only question is – who was responsible and what was their purpose?
Outside of the main story, Wendig includes several interludes. These are brief stories that describe other happenings around the galaxy after the events of ‘Return of the Jedi’. Several of these interludes feel like jumping off points for future stories such as the one involving Han Solo and Chewbacca and their plan to liberate Chewbacca’s home planet of Kashyyyk from Imperial control. A couple of others are definitely connected to ‘The Force Awakens’ including one in which a group called “Acolytes of the Beyond” acquire a red lightsaber that supposedly belonged to Darth Vader.
It can sometimes be difficult to judge a book like ‘Aftermath’. It is the first book in a trilogy, and as a result the author can’t give away everything, and he also has time to flesh out some of the characters further. The story does contain some elements of intrigue, but it takes awhile to get there. The ending works well, however, and by itself made me want to read future installments. It is certainly possible that ‘Aftermath’ is one of those books that will be appreciated more after each subsequent reading and with a little more context.
This is Chuck Wendig’s first novel within the Star Wars universe. Wendig uses a third person present tense writing style to tell the story. I can’t recall any other Star Wars novel that I have read using this style, and it has been off-putting to some readers.
Honestly, at first I didn’t really notice the change all that much. It may have jumped out at me more if I were seeing the text as opposed to hearing it. Still, when I realized what was going on, I really didn’t mind.
I would be willing to argue that the third person present tense style that Wendig uses has a beneficial effect on scenes with a lot of action. That style gives battles and fights an extra bit of immediacy and urgency.
As I write more and more reviews of Star Wars books, I always start to worry that I will just be repeating myself when talking about the narration. Fortunately, Marc Thompson keeps finding new ways of impressing me.
The most noteworthy aspect of Thompson’s narration is the acting. Not just the acting when Thompson is assuming the voice and dialog of a particular character, but there is also a lot of acting when he is performing the role of narrator. He does particularly well with scenes that feature a lot of tension, and ‘Aftermath’ possesses those in abundance.
Usually in this space I discuss the quality of the recording, use of music and sound effects, placement of chapter stops and general sound of the book. While ‘Aftermath’ lives up to Random House Audio’s usual high standards for Star Wars books in all of those areas, I feel that the production actually enhances one of the book’s characters.
Listening to the ‘Aftermath’ audiobook, I have a far greater appreciation for the former B1 Battle Droid, Mr. Bones than I would have if I had just read his antics on a page. The effects that they used on his voice to match the way he was described was both outstanding and incredibly entertaining.
It took me awhile to get fully invested in ‘Aftermath’ and its many new characters. However, once I did, I was all in, and by the end I found myself excitedly waiting for the announcement of the sequel’s release date.
‘Aftermath’ is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. If you read the print version and weren’t entertained, it might be worth giving the audiobook a try. Some books lend themselves well to the audiobook format and some do not. ‘Aftermath’ fits quite comfortably in the former category. Credit needs to be shared between Chuck Wendig, Marc Thompson and the production team that put the final product together.
|Title||Author||Narrator||Publisher||Genre||Release Date||Running Time||Score|
|Star Wars: Aftermath||Chuck Wendig||Marc Thompson||Random House Audio||Science Fiction||09/04/2015||12 hours, 16 minutes||8.25/10|
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