Just recently it was revealed fan-favorite Wedge Antilles would be headlining Star Wars: Aftermath (Update: he definitely isn’t), the first in Chuck Wendig’s post-Return of the Jedi trilogy, and now we have an excerpt from the upcoming novel. Whether it’s the grim opening showing war is far from over, how it handles Wedge, an awesome connection to the first new canon novel A New Dawn, or the present-tense writing, there’s a lot to discuss (and enjoy) about Aftermath. My thoughts on the excerpt are below (Update: and here’s my review of the novel!).
Literally picking up right where RotJ left off, Aftermath shows us the darker side of the celebrations on Coruscant first glimpsed in the Special Edition of the film (now included in all subsequent releases), as a group of Imperial police attack the group taking down the Emperor’s statue. There’s a line in there, which I’ve latched onto and I’ve seen many others, which helps set the stage for the less happy post-victory celebrations: “He knows how war goes. It’s not many wars, but just one, drawn out again and again, cut up into slices so it seems more manageable.” This line not only sets the tone for the rest of Aftermath, but it might also have a passing reference to the real world; Real world allegory or not, here’s hoping Wendig’s writing pops like this throughout the rest of the novel.
For anyone who has read the Rogue Squadron series, they’ll have “known” Wedge for a very long time, but this Wedge doesn’t completely feel like the one we’ve all read years before. Readers, including myself, have to remember that Wedge has never truly been defined or given a voice in canon material, which consists of the films he’s appeared in up to this point, and only Legends Wedge received a memorable personality. This is such a short section of his perspective that it’s truly hard to say definitively canon Wedge will ultimately be different than Legends Wedge, but I have a funny feeling we’ll enjoy either by the time Aftermath is over, especially since he proves he’s still quite the smart pilot.
My favorite and the most surprising aspect of Aftermath‘s excerpt was its connection to A New Dawn: Rae Sloane. In my review of AND, I mentioned how her arc through the novel went to unexpected and surprising places, and I’m rather ecstatic to see her alive and well post-RotJ, including a promotion from Captain to Admiral. She has a realistic head on her shoulders and isn’t some mindless slave to the Empire’s will, plus her moral compass makes her a much more compelling character for the Empire’s side. I didn’t call her a villain in my review of AND and I still won’t call her a villain now. If you want to see more of her, she’s in a Star Wars Insider short story and will be featured in the one of the three short stories in the upcoming dual-rerelease of AND and Tarkin under the Rise of the Empire name (I have more details about it here).
While I enjoy Wendig’s writing style so far, the present-tense is a little hard getting used to I’ll admit. However, I enjoy it a lot more than first person (I’m looking at you, Heir to the Jedi) so I don’t think I’ll struggle with it much thanks to Wendig’s strong, entertaining prose. In the end, it’s something you should check out now to see how you like it before you plan on plunking down the big bucks for the hardcover of Aftermath when it releases on September 4th, especially when the entire “Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens” initiative drops the same day. The wallets will be damned that day.
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