I’m writing this the Monday after the big Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens premier. My mission before watching the current installment of the popular franchise was to finish a sort of “Prequel” novel: Star Wars: Aftermath.
Now I know there’s a gag reflex that goes along with the word prequel, but this novel is set immediately following the battle of Endor and the repercussions of the events in Return of the Jedi. It does nothing to spoil the new movie, yet it does add to the world building that is the new canon for Star Wars. And yes, there are a few references in the novel that show up later in the new movie.
I’ve never been a big fan of the former literary Star Wars Expanded Universe (EU). I read and enjoyed the Timothy Zahn Thrawn novels and picked up a couple other EU books. With the release of TFA, the old EU has been thrown out and a new canon is being built. The EU, to me, became a so convoluted in scope that I just didn’t have the time nor the desire to get that immersed in the timeline. With Aftermath, the Star Wars literary universe resets and re-launches.
The novel is really split between two sections: one story of a rag tag group of misfits trying to find their place in a new galaxy, a world without a Death Star, Darth Vader or the Emperor; the other thread consists of short, chapter length stories that deal with more “aftermath” from the viewpoint of, essentially, citizens from across the galaxy.
The main story revolves around a former Imperial, a bounty hunter, a former Rebel fighter and her son. There is also a droid, of course. Their lives converge on a planet where the remnants of the Empire are meeting to discuss the future of their reign and what to do about the Rebels, or now, the New Republic.
Intermittingly there are stand-alone chapters that tell the stories of characters and planets across the galaxy, including a chapter with Han Solo and Chewbacca, other notable Star Wars characters, and the planet Jakku.
While the novel is titled Aftermath, it seems more like a Prologue to what will surely be numerous new canonical stories set in the Star Wars Universe, connecting Return of the Jedi to The Force Awakens. The initial story arc and the sub-plots are not really memorable, but they do serve to initiate new world building and set the tone for future novels… and that’s ok.
Fans of the Star Wars cinematic universe will recognize familiar characters and locals. Fans of the animated Star Wars universe will see and read very familiar situations. Similar to what they are doing with their Marvel Cinematic Universe, Disney seems to be supervising the interconnectedness of their Star Wars properties. That’s good news for fans.
Overall, Aftermath does a good job of arranging the building blocks of a new Star Wars universe. It’s a quick read filled with action, twists and new heroes with questionable motivations. Can a former Imperial or Bounty hunter change sides and be a force for the light side? (Could a former Stormtrooper be a hero?)
Star Wars: Aftermath, while not essential reading, is good filler material and enjoyable to say the least. It’s escapist reading, meant to fill the time between movies.
Three Lightsabers out of Five.