Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Empire's End, by Chuck Wendig

Today I'm finishing the Aftermath trilogy with the book Empire's End and in coming to the end I'm still left with more questions than answers. I get the feeling that I went into this series with completely wrong expectations because I was hoping to at least get some more explanation on issues, the biggest one being WHERE THE HECK DID SNOKE COME FROM?! This question has been vexing me and my friends for some time, moreso after Last Jedi came out, and even the expanded universe has been incapable of answering that question. This book does finally, partway answer the question of where the First Order came from but I feel like the books weren't worth the ultimate effort.

As I mentioned in my review of Life Debt, a lot of this focus is also on the relationships of characters such as Norra and Temmin Wexley, Jas Emari, and Sinjir Rath Velus. However it's difficult for me to get invested in the series for a couple of reasons. The first is the lack of emotional stakes in the series, which is something I mentioned in my review of Aftermath. There are multiple points where Norra almost dies and Temmin's robot Mr. Bones actually gets destroyed but at the end of the book Mr. Bones is put back together. The second book was similar in that respect. Our characters were put in danger, but nobody died. Jom Barell lost an eye, Brentin Wexley was a programmed sleeper agent, and Mon Mothma got seriously wounded but everyone was still alive afterwards. It didn't feel like there were serious consequences.

This book keeps doing the same thing with putting Sinjir's boyfriend, Conder Kyl in danger (but no actual harm), and even going so far as to bomb Mon Mothma's office (but without Mon Mothma in it).  The book does finally pull the trigger, in a very literal sense, and kills off both Jom Barell and Bretin Wexley (oh and Mr. Bones dies too), but neither had as much of an emotional punch for me. In fact, it seemed strange to me in the end of the book that Temmin seemed more upset that Mr. Bones was destroyed than the fact that his dad died. Norra also seemed to move on pretty quickly to Wedge after Bretin's death as well. I guess it could be implied that they had already moved on emotionally since Bretin had disappeared years ago but I felt it would have been more emotionally impactful for Norra and Temmin to get Bretin back from the dead just to lose him again. As for Jom, I felt like the books simply weren't long enough for him to be developed into a character for me to be invested in.

At the end of the day, I feel like these books took a little too much time for too little payoff. I appreciate the attempt to introduce new characters, but for whatever reason I found it difficult for me to get emotionally invested in them. While we get some explanation of where the First Order came from, with the remnants of the old Empire fleeing beyond the edges of the known galaxy. It does beg the question of what happened to Admiral Sloane afterwards and again, HOW THE HECK DID SNOKE END UP IN CHARGE? But otherwise there doesn't seem to be a lot recommending this, or other books in the new canon.

- Kalpar

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