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
Mild story details follow:
I have been one of the strongest supporters of the decision to create the "Legends" stories and go forward with a single "canon" story line. I was optimistic that the story group would get an author that would give us some thing great. That didn't happen. I've never read any of Mr. Windig's other novels and this isn't a slight on his writing skills or story-telling ability. This is just not a good Star Wars novel. I suspect he was handcuffed by the amount of information he was able to reveal. I just don't care about these new, and in my opinion, minor characters. I expected Wedge at least to feature more prominently, but he spent almost the entire book strapped to an interrogation table and did almost nothing to move the plot along.
I understand the need to keep The Force Awakens under wraps - I really do! But if you're not going to reveal more information, then what's the point of this book? I would have rather waited until after the movie and then got something with more teeth in it. We get almost NO major characters in this book. There's a short interlude with Han and Chewbacca, a brief glimpse of Leia in hologram form, and only small reference to Luke. Even the general state of the galaxy doesn't seem to be much of a surprise.
There are brief moments of hope, particularly when an old "adviser" of Palpatine seems to be more than he appears. I thought some of his plot-line might lead to the First Order, but it doesn't really go anywhere.
To Del Rey and the Story Group: If you're going to "Legendize" the old stuff and start the canon (a decision that I support!) then you've got to bring it, particularly with the first post ROTJ novel out of the gate. There will always be misfires - it's inevitable. But this book was just weak across the board. It hurts me to say it - it really does because I wanted this book to be good. It just isn't.
Say something about yourself!
To set the stage properly for this review, let it be understood up front that I am not one of those who despises the new canon. Quite the reverse, of the 5 books released before this, I rated 4 of them with 5 stars, and the other not nearly so high. It breaks my heart to write a review like this because it grieves me to say anything negative about Star Wars.
There are a great many books on the roster right now involving the road to The Force Awakens. Most of them seem to be filler, to be honest. This one is beyond argument the most important one in this new “everything is canon” era. A lot is riding on it. There are a great many expectations for it. There are a few minor spoilers in regards to world building, but I’ll try to be vague otherwise in consideration of those who’ve not read it and still want to.
I still have trouble accepting the “everything is canon” idea. I get it, but seeing as how there are already plenty of contradictions in how this galaxy is put together, I feel like that can’t last. With that in mind, this is just another one in the line of books for me. At the same time, though… planning has gone into it to make it more than that, and the weight of what this story offers feels legitimate in the grand sweeps. Effort has been made here to show the progression of a single conflict from decades before the Clone Wars began, through the Imperial era, and up to this point in the saga. Names change, and things are broken up for convenience. But it’s all one big push. This is one of the two major takeaways from this book for me. It’s not a new concept, but I like that it’s acknowledged.
The other big takeaway is the big political picture, which has been a part of Star Wars from the beginning. For a student of history like myself, it’s interesting to see the parallels.
These are, for me, the good parts. And that would have been enough to garner 3 or more stars had anything else made any sense whatsoever.
This is my first encounter with Chuck Wendig as a writer. As a long time Star Wars fan (like many who will read this book, and probably much like Wendig himself must claim), my judgment of his abilities hinges a great deal on this one book. And, unfortunately, this one’s not a winner for me. It’s not even a contender.
The first problem is the choice of writing style. Writing in the present tense feels awkward and is inconsistent with the concept of myth-building a long-established story like this. This story still takes place “a long time ago.” It’s not happening now. You can get used to it, but it’s just weird and inappropriate. The worse offender is that his writing style is choppy so as to intensify the action. It feels like the verbal equivalent of shaky “documentary style” handheld camera work to me. It may work for some, but it’s an immediate put-off. It’s reads like riding in a landspeeder, *ahem* car with someone driving who’s never operated a manual transmission. I got mental whiplash from the experience.
The second problem is world building. It’s just easier if I offer some examples, but the overarching theme at every turn is that the world building is abysmal.
This story would have us believe that the average street urchin is familiar with the Jedi and phrases like “May the Force be with you.” Even at their height, the Jedi weren’t numerous enough to be more than urban legend for most people. There were, what, 10,000 of them compared to trillions upon trillions of beings across an entire galaxy? That’s a drop in the bucket compared to most cities, to say nothing of a galaxy with that many overpopulated worlds. Several of those worlds have many different concepts of religion and household gods, which the author actually references. Many wouldn’t have known what the Force is, let alone be familiar with that catch phrase. The Rebellion leaders use it because the founders of that group actually knew the Jedi and understood what their ideals were on some level. That’s a very small, rare subset of people. If Luke had to have Obi-Wan explain what the Force was, even knowing his father was a Jedi knight, then there’s no reason for the average person on the street to know either. That’s just common sense.
A more grievous misunderstanding is that somewhere along the lines, the Sith apparently put out an advertising campaign as every Imperial officer seems to know what they were and how they operated. Even a random bounty hunter knows what a Sith is according to this book. That’s nonsense. I would counter by pointing out there were only two, nobody advertised it, and the entire reason they were successful is precisely because nobody knew who they were. This would certainly have extended well through to Return of the Jedi. There was precisely one Imperial officer that we know of who would have known anything about the Sith, and that’s Tarkin, due to his close association with Vader and Palpatine. Who are these people that know so much about the nature of the Dark Side? At least we got an explanation about one character in this book where it’s plausible, but the rest of them… c’mon. The most secret and exclusive club in the history of the galaxy, and everyone’s in on it? Please.
Related to that, this is the second novel in the new canon that has tossed in the idea that it’s well-known that Vader was a cyborg. I would argue that Vader was the boogeyman. Nobody knew who he was until he showed up, which is part of what made him so effective and terrifying. Think about when Vader showed up in ’77. Our perception was that we had no clue what he was. Was he a man? A droid? A cyborg? Something else entirely? We didn’t know. We didn’t even get a glimpse under the mask until The Empire Strikes Back. At that point, we knew far more than the vast majority of the Star Wars galaxy. Or is it known because there was a pop song about him, per Kevin Hearne? I refuse to accept that as a viable explanation. That’s bad writing, compounded by more bad writing.
These are, to my mind, common misperceptions across casual fans, which would be understandable given where the films are focused. For an author writing in the Galaxy Far, Far Away, supposedly with input from the Lucasfilm Story Group – some of whom who have actually outlined the above ideas to the public – these are rookie mistakes to apply such perceptions to the galaxy as a whole. With so much riding on the perception of this novel going forward, it’s a bit offensive that I should have to lower my expectations to immerse myself in this universe. That’s bantha poodoo.
Admittedly this is nitpicking, but that’s what world building is all about: details. That’s why anyone’s reading this book. We want the details of what happened between the original trilogy and the next film.
But let’s compound it. There’s a random scene where there’s graffiti on the wall with Vader’s helmet reading “Vader Lives.” In front of that wall, a black market merchant sells a red lightsaber to a member of a Force death cult. Neither are certain this is Vader’s, but the idea is for the cult member to destroy it so that he can send it back to its master in the great beyond.
And that’s the thing. There is almost no cohesive story. There is the hint of one, and in between are these random sequences that are probably supposed to be easter eggs. Maybe they’re for the later novels in this trilogy, or maybe they’re for the movie. I don’t know. I really don’t care. It came across as sheer lunacy. Need a random fight sequence with Dengar and some new bounty hunter named Mercurial Swift? It’s in here. Need a random scene of Han and Chewie, just to say you saw them? Done. How about a few scenes where Grand Admiral Ackbar makes references to traps? You know, because everyone knows Star Wars exists solely on internet memes now instead of substance. For the love of the Force, he’s not the first one who ever said the line!
Not random enough? Let’s add in a one-armed Wookiee for this scene because one-armed Wookiees are cool! Did you know that Quarren have teeth? Neither did I, but apparently they have dentists, so it must be true. Is this really what passes for world building these days? It’s pure amateur hour fluff, not even worthy of ranking as pop culture drivel. Tell a story and quit winking at the fans, Skippy. Han said to “Fly casual” in ROTJ, and now this is something he always says, to the point where Wedge – a character who wasn’t there when Han said it – knows it well enough to reference it? Again, world building happens because of details, and this just falls apart all over the place here. I’m sure all of this was designed to add a level of familiarity to make it feel like Star Wars. It felt contrived. And overall, the presentation was just sloppy beyond words.
So let’s talk about the main characters of this story, because they aren’t the main characters of THE story. There aren’t any characters in this to latch onto. It’s more accurate for me to say that I couldn’t latch onto them. I like seeing the progression of Admiral Rae Sloane. But this illustrates my point. She’s a side character, not a front runner. So is pretty much everyone else in this story who steps into the spotlight, so far as I can tell. If any of these characters make it to the big screen story that takes place 30 years later, I’ll reassess their worth. For now, I’m not impressed enough to remember anyone else’s name. Their functions as two-dimensional placeholders within the scope of the story is far more important than who they are. Some of the primary characters in this tale finally started to get some development halfway through this book, but it wasn’t enough to make me care. It seemed more like too many ideas were being flung at the walls to see what stuck rather than trying to demonstrate the diversity of the galaxy. Perhaps there is something here the new canon will use better in other interpretations. Maybe we’ll see an animated series that utilizes these characters set at this time. I don’t have those answers. All I know is they didn’t make an immediate impact the way characters from any other era of Star Wars has, and while I didn’t hate any of them by the end of the book, I didn’t love any of them either.
To get you through this book, I propose a drinking game. Every time you hear a mention of some kind of insect or arachnoid, take a drink. Every time someone clucks their tongue, take two drinks. If you don’t pass out first, it might make this lamentable mess more palatable.
The production on this audio is as top shelf as ever. It’s always a pleasure to have Marc Thompson on board as narrator. Backed by the classic sound effects and John Williams music, this story gets elevated beyond what it probably would have been than by print alone. It’s a colossal waste and even an insult to the music of John Williams. I trust Marc Thompson got well paid for his outstanding performance.
As I say, this is my first experience with Chuck Wendig. It will be my last. I’m not inclined to explore more of his work, up to and including the other two parts of this trilogy. This book feels more like incredibly bad fan fiction cobbled together in the back of a sandcrawler from spare parts more than anything mythical, magical, or worthy of the Star Wars brand. But, thankfully, there are other writers and creative types involved that I trust, and this is a franchise that’s now far bigger than the sum of its parts, so I need not worry that the whole ship is doomed. We’ve had other contributions that work, and we will again. This one oscillated back and forth between almost competent and absurdly asinine so fast, I got nauseous. It’s unfortunate that I walk away from this one with a sour taste for the future because of such an important cog in the clockwork to come. I will also acknowledge that just because it didn’t work for me, that’s not to say it won’t work for other readers. Ultimately, it’ll come to down to the reader’s personal tastes more than anything else. For the curious, I’d still recommend it so they can judge for themselves.
Great way to read great books on the go. Love Sci Fi especially Orson Scott Card and Star Wars.
A more cohesive and concise story in the tone of Star Wars.
The tense he chose for the book was awful. The way in which characters were introduced and interwoven was shoddy.
As always he does a wonderful job portraying different characters.
The only one for me was actually Bones. That character was interesting to me.
This is by far the most disappointed I have been with any novel, let alone a Star Wars novel in quite some time. I'm not sure what all thoughts went into crafting the various subplots and characters, but it did not come from the Galaxy far far away. The tense of this book is distracting. It seems the intention was to put you into the action, but it instead removes you from it. Instead of using the amazing cast of characters at your disposal create new ones and try to make them lovable. Good plan, but the author fails to make any of them endearing. In an effort to add drama the author then decides to kill one of the main characters and use the fall out to create emotional connection. He likes this idea so much he does it twice, with the same character and worst of all they aren't dead at the end. There is one major character we all love in here though, Wedge Antilles. Yes! You say. The second best Xwing pilot ever! Is he killing it from the cockpit of a ship? No. Somehow Captain Antilles is assigned scouting/ spy duty despite the fact the Rebels have a whole intelligence division to do this. We then spend the rest of the book periodically witnessing Wedge desperately trying to call for help while being further injured. Around him our random assortment of characters come together eventually working together. It seems on one planet there are only three places to go, and even if you don't mean to go to one of them deliberately, your zip line could break and put you full into the plot. Seriously, that happens to the most experienced of the characters. Interspersed in this are a galaxy full of war survivors all suffering from PTSD. Don't get me wrong, as a Veteran and mental health professional I appreciate adding in some realism in the story. Realism however would not include every person living in constant flashbacks. Jerking us around the galaxy doesn't give us the big picture. It obscures it. While this is not the worst Star Wars novel I have read it has rocketed to the position of number two on that list. Skip this one folks.
Military and Science
Someone who is not looking for a classic Star Wars novel, someone who really doesn't care about Star Wars.... The author is not a Star Wars writer, he completely destroys what should be a reborn world and EU.I really don't get what the author thought in writing this, I could not even finish the last two hours of this book which is the first for me in regards to a Star Wars novel.
No, not at all. It will certainly prevent me from purchasing the following books in this series but I am hoping another author will do better with Star Wars.
Marc Thompson is Star Wars, he is Han Solo, Luke Skywalker he is the Jedi, he is the Sith. I feel the worse for him that he was forced to put his name on this.
We lose Mara Jade and get Norra Wexley, we lose Ben Skywalker and get Temmin... We get token LGBT characters that are just written to be thrown in there without any substance, we get Star Wars with no force, no Jedi, we get Empire without Imperials, we get Rebels without Han and Leia Solo... I would remove it all.
I am so disappointed in this, we lose the best of Star Wars and if this is what we get in return we have all surely lost.
I think that there likely are people who might enjoy the writing style but personally it ruined the book for me, made me zone the book out a lot of the time, and annoyed me to no end.It was lines like "she lines her target up in her sights. And then, a foot. Pain. Remembering falling. Firing grappling hook too late. Much too late." I feel like most of his sentences need several more words to make them sound right and a lot of the time I felt as if he was writing in cave man talk.
Marc Thompson was as good as ever. I have listened to at least 30 star wars novels narrated by him and never once has he let me down. If there is anyone who is just getting into star wars novels I would recommend any book that he has narrated because even if the story isn't that great he will at least make it sound great. There was two big issues that I had with this book, the first I already addressed, that being the tense that it is written in and the cave man like style that the author uses. The second is something that really saddens me. Aftermath is the 38th star wars novel I have finished and something that I always have admired about the novels is how they never would break you out of the world they created by never describing objects in the star wars world with reference to objects in our word but Chuck doesn't do that. He describes a man in a long jacket as a peacock with its tail feathers dragging behind it. He calls the windows of star ships glass rather than Transparisteel. While this seems like a little thing it is really makes it that much harder to immerse your self in the world of star wars. Sadly Aftermath is now the 2nd of 3 books from the new canon that has really let me down. I hope that the other books get better because so far it isn't looking too promising.
Free thinker, engineer, musician, geek connoisseur
A great narrator can't save a poorly written story in audiobook form. There are some needles in this haystack that may be worthwhile to the die hard fan but this book sucks and is ultimately skippable.
Read Claudia Grey's Lost Stars instead.
I have read or listened to probably 40 + of the EU books, and even the worst of those was far better than this. It was an erratic, sloppy mess. One of the things that I hated the most was that the author could not decide whether he was writing Star Wars, or earth (most of the references to animals in this book are earth animals, not some fantasy animal existing in the Star Wars vocabulary or new ones to describe). I know it seems small, but that is one of the many thing that were done very poorly in this book.
It will not run this Star Wars fan off (yet), but they are going to have to up their game if they want to be as good as what star wars fans are used to.
Chuck Wendig's writing is painful to get thru. The story is full of clichés, and if this is what Star Wars will be like under Disney, we should all be afraid.
I have a brother, we started playing hide and seek back in '78. He still hasn't found me.
I've read a bunch of Star Wars novels and heard a few too. They're fun, some are better than others, of course, but this one, sadly, was my least favorite. I must say that I was rooting for Chuck with this highly anticipated one for months. It wasn't that there was too much hype around it and, unless it was perfect, it was doomed. It's that it just was flat, all around. There were a few moments that I thought were interesting, but not nearly enough to make me feel that it wasn't a bit of a disappointment. Perhaps this is all exposition leading to the sequel, which I should add that I will surely but wincingly pull from the shelf.
Won't that be a bit of a spoiler? I'll say that he's fantastic and that he put a little more life into Aftermath.
Disappointment--a word I hate to use as it's such a wimpy little feeling.
Perhaps you'll like it. Some do. I didn't abhor it, but it wasn't nearly the Jedi sequel I was waiting for.
If you're looking for another, these were terrific:
Yes. If this is the future of Star Wars then I want no part of it.
This book was probably my most anticipated release in a decade. Disappointed doesn't really cover it. Chuck Wendig should be embarrassed, Ive read better fanfiction. For free. Seriously it's that bad. I couldn't even finish it. It almost reads like an old D6 module in some parts. I must have failed my perception check. This is the first canonical Star Wars fiction in over 30 years (that moves the timeline forward). How Disney let this be released is mind boggling. The damage this single novel will do to their $4billion purchase is unimaginable. I dont even...
I can't even tell you what the plot is supposed to be about. There are no villains or heroes. Just some drunk ex-imperial, a lame bounty hunter, it all takes place on some no name planet, there is nothing happening. The 1997 Special Edition RoTJ added more story in 30 seconds of bonus digital footage than this book did in 12 hours.
Buy it, try to listen to it. Its a train wreck. You just have to listen for yourself.
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