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Set between the events of Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, the never-before-told story that began with Star Wars: Aftermath continues in this thrilling novel, the second book of Chuck Wendig s New York Times bestselling trilogy. "It is a dark time for the Empire. . . ." The Emperor is dead, and the remnants of his former Empire are in retreat. As the New Republic fi Set between the events of Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, the never-before-told story that began with Star Wars: Aftermath continues in this thrilling novel, the second book of Chuck Wendig s New York Times bestselling trilogy. "It is a dark time for the Empire. . . ." The Emperor is dead, and the remnants of his former Empire are in retreat. As the New Republic fights to restore a lasting peace to the galaxy, some dare to imagine new beginnings and new destinies. For Han Solo, that means settling his last outstanding debt, by helping Chewbacca liberate the Wookiee's homeworld of Kashyyyk. Meanwhile, Norra Wexley and her band of Imperial hunters pursue Grand Admiral Rae Sloane and the Empire's remaining leadership across the galaxy. Even as more and more officers are brought to justice, Sloane continues to elude the New Republic, and Norra fears Sloane may be searching for a means to save the crumbling Empire from oblivion. But the hunt for Sloane is cut short when Norra receives an urgent request from Princess Leia Organa. The attempt to liberate Kashyyyk has carried Han Solo, Chewbacca, and a band of smugglers into an ambush resulting in Chewie's capture and Han's disappearance. Breaking away from their official mission and racing toward the Millennium Falcon's last known location, Norra and her crew prepare for any challenge that stands between them and their missing comrades. But they can't anticipate the true depth of the danger that awaits them or the ruthlessness of the enemy drawing them into his crosshairs.


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Set between the events of Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, the never-before-told story that began with Star Wars: Aftermath continues in this thrilling novel, the second book of Chuck Wendig s New York Times bestselling trilogy. "It is a dark time for the Empire. . . ." The Emperor is dead, and the remnants of his former Empire are in retreat. As the New Republic fi Set between the events of Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, the never-before-told story that began with Star Wars: Aftermath continues in this thrilling novel, the second book of Chuck Wendig s New York Times bestselling trilogy. "It is a dark time for the Empire. . . ." The Emperor is dead, and the remnants of his former Empire are in retreat. As the New Republic fights to restore a lasting peace to the galaxy, some dare to imagine new beginnings and new destinies. For Han Solo, that means settling his last outstanding debt, by helping Chewbacca liberate the Wookiee's homeworld of Kashyyyk. Meanwhile, Norra Wexley and her band of Imperial hunters pursue Grand Admiral Rae Sloane and the Empire's remaining leadership across the galaxy. Even as more and more officers are brought to justice, Sloane continues to elude the New Republic, and Norra fears Sloane may be searching for a means to save the crumbling Empire from oblivion. But the hunt for Sloane is cut short when Norra receives an urgent request from Princess Leia Organa. The attempt to liberate Kashyyyk has carried Han Solo, Chewbacca, and a band of smugglers into an ambush resulting in Chewie's capture and Han's disappearance. Breaking away from their official mission and racing toward the Millennium Falcon's last known location, Norra and her crew prepare for any challenge that stands between them and their missing comrades. But they can't anticipate the true depth of the danger that awaits them or the ruthlessness of the enemy drawing them into his crosshairs.

30 review for Life Debt

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sean Barrs

    Yawn. That’s all I’ve got to say about this book. Well, I’ll squeeze in a little bit more. I mean it’s the least I could do considering how this book is packed full of filler material and worthless storytelling. So I might as well do the same in my review when one word would serve as a conduit of my opinions. Read on if my single word wasn’t enough to convince you. This was terrible. The plot is practically non-existent. It’s like the author had a one chapter situation, two at best, and he milked Yawn. That’s all I’ve got to say about this book. Well, I’ll squeeze in a little bit more. I mean it’s the least I could do considering how this book is packed full of filler material and worthless storytelling. So I might as well do the same in my review when one word would serve as a conduit of my opinions. Read on if my single word wasn’t enough to convince you. This was terrible. The plot is practically non-existent. It’s like the author had a one chapter situation, two at best, and he milked it for an entire excruciatingly dull novel. This barely felt like Star Wars. Star Wars is supposed to be exciting. It’s supposed to be about light verses darkness and the struggles of those that full between the boundaries of morality; it is supposed to be about those that struggle to find a sense of self in a galaxy torn between chaotic freedom and totalitarian control: it is supposed to be dramatic and conflicted with emotion and power. Instead, Wendig gives us a load of bantha fodder: he gives us some watered down semblance of the Star Wars universe. And it tastes most bitter. This really doesn’t have a lot going for it. The Empire is crumbling, we got that from the first book, and its survivors are pushing it into something else: the First order. That’s pretty much it. It’s all bureaucracy and administration without the flair that makes the politics dramatic and detrimental to the galaxy. We see very little of the characters. We’re vaguely aware that Han Solo is trying to liberate the wookie home world, but see very little of it until the end. The story is driven heavily by dialogue, and it fails to create a sense of inner turmoil or decision making. The narration is almost like stage directions. It’s bare, expressionless, and rather odd in a novel format. It needed some life in the writing, and some cohesion within the story. This should have been Solo’s adventure. And that’s one of the main problems. The book is all over the place with random interludes and brief character entrances. It’s was difficult to tell which direction the story was going in or which part of the story was most significant. After the first hundred or so pages, I wasn’t entirely sure what had actually happened. It’s like we have be given brief glimpses of a random selection of characters that aren’t important in the whole plot. A story needs some sense of focus early on to bring everything together. At times, I felt like this relied on presumptive knowledge in the readers mind. What this needed was a sense of focus because most of it was waffle. I won't be reading the third book.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Khurram

    I definitely enjoyed this book more that the first book. It definitely boasts much more star power character wise from the original Star Wars trilogy. Leia, Han, and Chewie play a big part in this book. The book is divided into 5 parts. The first 3 parts are quite slow and more of a setup for the final two parts these are extremely fast paced and well done. Norra a decorated Rebellion ere pilot (who was one of the survivors of the attract on the second Death Star) has been leading her mismatched I definitely enjoyed this book more that the first book. It definitely boasts much more star power character wise from the original Star Wars trilogy. Leia, Han, and Chewie play a big part in this book. The book is divided into 5 parts. The first 3 parts are quite slow and more of a setup for the final two parts these are extremely fast paced and well done. Norra a decorated Rebellion ere pilot (who was one of the survivors of the attract on the second Death Star) has been leading her mismatched team to hunt down Imperials. This team consists of Sinjir a former Imperial loyalty officer who (as far as I know one of the first homosexual characters in Star Wars) find a different kind of prejudice in the New Republic Jas a bounty hunter who worked mainly for the Rebellion during the Empire's era however many still see her as a "dirty bounty hunter". She does not help her case by doing things own way, dispite the plan. Jom an by the book Rebel/New Republic commando. He plays the straight man on the team. Temmin who is Norra's son, and talent for engineering, and possibly piloting but need practice and focus. Mr Bones, a psychopathic, reprogrammed and modified battle droid. Who is ferociously loyal to his creater Temmin. Dispite the teams mismatched members or because of all the different skill sets they get results. However to a few of the doing the right thing, or doing it for free is new. When they get a mission from mission/call for help from a certain princess who is know not to play by the rules herself this brings them in conflict with not only the New Republic, but eachother as well. This book is great character development, if the first 3/5 of the book was a little bit faster paced I would have definitely given this 5 stars. I also like the way the original are used, I love one of the line used to describe Leia "there is more rouge in her, the in him". There is also some of the background framework leading to the Force Awakens as well. Trust me you will known it when you read it.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mogsy (MMOGC)

    4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2016/08/12/... To kick off this review, I just want to say that I actually didn’t think the first Aftermath was all that bad. As you’d recall all the hubbub, the criticism over that book was harsh, perhaps more so than I thought was warranted. That said, for a Star Wars novel I also thought this book’s predecessor was mediocre to okay at best—especially when compared to such gems in the new canon like Lost Stars by Claudia Gray or Dark D 4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2016/08/12/... To kick off this review, I just want to say that I actually didn’t think the first Aftermath was all that bad. As you’d recall all the hubbub, the criticism over that book was harsh, perhaps more so than I thought was warranted. That said, for a Star Wars novel I also thought this book’s predecessor was mediocre to okay at best—especially when compared to such gems in the new canon like Lost Stars by Claudia Gray or Dark Disciple by Christie Golden. While flavorful and entertaining, the story of Aftermath and its characters were completely forgettable. This was evidenced by my chagrin when, as I started reading the first few pages of Life Debt, I realized I could barely recall anything that happened in the first book, or remember any of the main characters’ names. The good news though, is that Life Debt is a much better book. In my opinion, this sequel improves upon many of the problems that plagued the first novel, giving me a lot more reasons to care about the story and what happens to these characters. Taking place in the “aftermath” of Aftermath, Life Debt follows the adventures of Norra Wexley and her band of mercenaries across the galaxy, as they continue to doggedly hunt down the remnants of Imperial leadership. The main prize is Grand Admiral Rae Sloane, with whom the team has had run-ins with before. Sloane, however, is trying to hatch up a plan of her own, keeping a low profile as she tries to rally the remaining Imperial forces who regard her as the new de facto leader of the Empire. But behind the scenes, there is another shadowy operator pulling the strings, manipulating both the Imperials and the fledgling New Republic, and his agenda is a lot less clear. Meanwhile, Princess Leia receives a disturbing message from Han Solo before the transmission was cut off, making her fear the worst for her husband. She beseeches Norra and her crew to track him down, which leads them to a prison complex on Kashyyyk where the Wookiees are currently locked in conflict with the Empire over their home world. I’ve long been a fan of Chuck Wendig’s urban fantasy, a genre which perfectly suits his raw, gritty writing style. But when it came to Star Wars, the fit did not seem quite right. This was made obvious in Aftermath with his use of short, bursty sentences and tendency to include many modern colloquialisms and awkward terms that jolted me right out of the immersion. Thankfully, he’s a lot more sparing with these in Life Debt, which was only the first of many other steps in the right direction. When Wendig isn’t trying so hard to force Star Wars to match his style, instead making it the other way around so that he adapts his writing to the Star Wars universe, the results are actually much, much better. Another issue I had with the first book was how far removed it felt from the events of Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, especially when the publisher was pushing it as the “bridge novel” between the two movies. To be fair, I don’t really fault the book for the hype created by marketing, but I was a little disappointed by the bare-bones structure of Aftermath, with its fluffy story and what felt like throwaway characters that had no impact on the universe whatsoever. Going into Life Debt, I didn’t have that many expectations, and I ended up being pleasantly surprised. We no longer have to sit through any more origin stories for the characters, so we’re diving straight into the action and getting more opportunities to learn about their personalities and relationships. The inclusion of original trilogy characters, both major and minor, also helped. For example, Leia and Han were only bit players in this book, but their presence created a palpable connection between Norra Wexley, Temmin Wexley, Jas Emari, Sinjir Rath Velus, Jom Barell, and Mr. Bones with the rest of the Star Wars universe. Watching Wedge Antilles try to romance Norra was also hilarious. The point is, the Aftermath team has finally made their mark on the New Republic through their actions, and it’ll be harder to forget them now. The story on the Empire side was also a lot more interesting this time around, with Admiral Rae Sloane fighting her own secret war within the Imperial ranks. She is the sole beacon of competence amidst the remains of a weakened and crumbling Empire, but she probably has less authority than anyone, including herself, realizes. Her character has come a long way for me since she was first introduced in A New Dawn, and now she’s one of my favorites. There were some lingering issues, of course. These pesky interludes continue to vex me, packing on a lot more bulk than was necessary without really adding much substance. Clearly, they’re meant to be a defining feature of this trilogy though, so I had suspected that they weren’t going to go away. Certain characters are also very derivative of other Star Wars personalities we’ve seen before. The villain revealed here feels like a new Thrawn, for instance, and reading parts of this book gave me flashbacks to certain episodes of Star Wars Rebels, with their team dynamics being somewhat similar, right down to the mother figure, bounty hunter, a boy and his crazy droid, etc. Not all of these parallels were necessarily bad though, especially when they actually helped me get into the story. All told, I’m glad I gave this trilogy another chance, though in truth, I probably would have read it anyway, considering my ongoing quest to read and review all the adult novels in the new Star Wars canon. No surprise then that I would recommend this to other Star Wars completionists. But now, I would say even if you don’t consider yourself a hardcore Star Wars fan, but maybe you’re still interested in checking out some the tie-in fiction, then you might wish to take a look at this series. I don’t think I would have said the same after reading just Aftermath, but Life Debt has shown me there is going to be more to this trilogy, and I find myself looking forward to see how everything will play out in book three, Empire’s End.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Rob

    Executive Summary: Now that's more like it. This book is so much better than the first one, that I almost want to drop my rating of that book further. If like me you were pretty underwhelmed by Aftermath, you might want to consider giving this one a shot anyways. Audiobook: Marc Thompson is phenomenal. I likely wouldn't have read this book if I didn't get a free review copy of the audio book. All the Star Wars books are high production value with sound effects and music (stuff that normally annoy Executive Summary: Now that's more like it. This book is so much better than the first one, that I almost want to drop my rating of that book further. If like me you were pretty underwhelmed by Aftermath, you might want to consider giving this one a shot anyways. Audiobook: Marc Thompson is phenomenal. I likely wouldn't have read this book if I didn't get a free review copy of the audio book. All the Star Wars books are high production value with sound effects and music (stuff that normally annoys me in other books incidentally). Marc Thompson is so good though that nothing else really compares. I don't know how many voices the guy can do, but he's a one man radio play. Do this book in audio, you won't regret it. Full Review So I'm still pretty new to the Star Wars EU. This is only the seventh Star Wars book I've read, and four of them are no longer cannon. I found Aftermath to be the most underwhelming of those I've read. I'm not sure if it's that so few of the characters I knew/loved were largely absent, or if Mr. Wendig was handcuffed by his book coming out before the Force Awakens rather than after. Either way, this book was a vast improvement to me over the first. The story still largely focuses on the characters introduced in the last book. I originally found them mostly uninteresting, but that seemed to change with this book. I'm not sure if it's because their story no longer felt small/unimportant in the grand scheme of the larger Star Wars universe, or because I liked them more than I realized. Jas continues to be my favorite of the bunch, but I found myself happier to Nora, Sinjir, Temmin and Mr. Bones than I expected to be. Finally though, we see some of the big players in the Star Wars universe. There are no longer on the periphery, but important to the story of Mr. Wendig's original characters. The first book did a lot to set things up I guess, but I found myself largely uninterested. Initially I was thinking this book was going to be more of the same, but somewhere around the 25-30% mark this book really ramped things up. Now I couldn't wait to listen, and really wanted to know what came next. In this world of media overload, it's a lot to ask someone to "get through 1.25 books for the story to be worth it", however for anyone whose already read the first book, I think it's more than worth it to give the series another shot with this book. We finally get to see some of the ties this book has to not only the original series, but to the Force Awakens. It's possible (likely?) there were some things in the first book I just overlooked because I had yet to see the movie, but even in this book I found them just the smallest connections so far. Like what's so great about Jakku? I suspect in the third book we may get more clarification on things that have been set up so far. At least I hope so. I probably hate spoilers more than most people, but I hope Mr. Wendig's third book won't feel like it's been handcuffed by episode 8, much like the first one did by The Force Awakens. I wasn't planning to pick this one up until a review copy fell in my lap, but now I can't wait to see what happens next. This one is definitely up there as a possibility of my favorite Star Wars book (as short of a list as that may be). I don't really expect to dive deep into the vast chasm of the Star Wars books, but I'm glad I gave this series a second try. I'll definitely be picking up the third one when it comes out.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Markus

    Everything Aftermath got right, the sequel gets wrong. While I am still completely okay with Wendig's style (apparently most people are annoyed by it), there was nothing to enjoy here. An extreme case of second book syndrome at best.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Callum Shephard

    Everyone is allowed to make at least one monumental screw up in their life. Really, so many creators tend to primarily learn from their mistakes that second chances have almost become expected to allow a series to grow and develop. Even if an initial installment was a complete disaster, failing in such an inexplicable way you have to wonder if the creative force behind it was perpetually drunk throughout the whole thing, there's still hope they'll listen to criticism and improve. Star Wars: Afte Everyone is allowed to make at least one monumental screw up in their life. Really, so many creators tend to primarily learn from their mistakes that second chances have almost become expected to allow a series to grow and develop. Even if an initial installment was a complete disaster, failing in such an inexplicable way you have to wonder if the creative force behind it was perpetually drunk throughout the whole thing, there's still hope they'll listen to criticism and improve. Star Wars: Aftermath Life Debt is the first book which has not only made me genuinely regret keeping such an open mind, but genuinely question how someone like Chuck Wendig can maintain a successful career as a writer. Not only does Life Debt fail to improve upon almost any of Aftermath's failings, but it manages to invent a few entirely new ones along the way. While readers won't be treated to him openly pissing on the Thrawn trilogy in the introductory pages, the poor direction, awful characterisation, meandering plot and inhumanly bad prose manage to hit rock bottom and still somehow keep sinking. Yes, we're looking at a book so excruciating to read that, were someone to inform me that Beelzebub were involved in its creation, it would only answer several burning questions. The plot is the sort of thing we would normally go into next, but like Aftermath the blub is a complete and utter lie. The very title itself is an obvious reference to Chewbacca's long standing debt to Han Solo, and the story even references an attempted liberation of Kashyyyk going horribly wrong. This is supposed to be the core focus here, with the series' merry band of personal heroes trying to hunt down the missing Captain Solo and recover him. Instead, the book drags out this plot, shoving it into the background and forcing the spotlight squarely onto Wendig's creations, trying to force the audience to love them. It becomes so bad that, by the halfway point, there has been so little headway that you'd be forgiven for thinking this was a two-parter plotline. Once again the structure here is abominably bad, almost thrown together rather than truly planned out. While Aftermath at least had some vague reason for this thanks to being churned out in a scant few months, but here there is absolutely no excuse whatsoever. The story will jump around seemingly at random, trying to build the idea of a bigger plot or universe, but it is so wildly disconnected and downright unwieldy that it becomes merely confusing as a result. While many other authors can and do succeed in pulling off a multitude of semi-connected stories across a book, Wendig fails to leave the spotlight on anything long enough to actually let it develop. Many scenes are often so rushed, so sped up and pushed past so quickly, it robs all drama or tension from the bits the book is trying to cut between. At one point Wedge (yes, he's in this and we'll get to that in a minute) is jumped by a very large and hostile assailant in a traditional dramatic closing moment. Barely two pages later, and the book cuts back, instantly resolving the whole problem in a matter of seconds. Congratulations, you almost managed to hold the tension long enough to make the reader actually care. If it seems as if this whole point of structure is being harped upon, consider this for a moment - Were Wendig to write A Song of Fire and Ice (or Game of Thrones if you wish) novel, he would be bouncing back and forth between characters continents apart every five paragraphs. Were he to write a Gaunt's Ghosts novel, moments such as the build-up to Bragg's death or Cuu's rampage would be skipped entirely, and the murders involved likely listed offhand by a character later on. It doesn't just destroy any sense of pathos, it annihilates it, crushing down any broken remains which might leave the reader engaged in the book or reasons to give a damn. This sort of thing almost ruins it from the very start, as it doesn't even take the time to explain who the hell anyone is, where they are, describe many scenes or reintroduce the heroes before it speeds off into the plot. Even the inciting incident, the moment which drives Leia to task the heroes with finding Han is pushed past so quickly there isn't even time to properly reintroduce the character within the book. Even if you were holding out for halfway decent descriptions, you're sadly out of luck. Wendig seems to treat details as an unnecessary bonus to scenes, and never stops to actually try and paint an image within the reader's head. Like a child forced to write an essay about the subject they hate, he does the absolute bare minimum, bereft of any enthusiasm or even engaging language. So many scenes are are nebulous, non-descriptive and bereft of atmosphere that the hanger of a Star Destroyer, tropical atoll, and even a full on space battle feel exactly the same as one another. Rather than doing enough to create the idea of a varied universe, or even broad vibrant environments, he just leaves so many scenes bereft of detail that you'll likely end up wondering where in the hell everyone is at one time or another. Worse still, this trend once more bleeds into the battle scenes, which prove to either be incredibly sub-par or are skipped over entirely. The opening dogfight is so badly paced and put together that it's almost a non-entity within the book, and even the act of a small corvette being chased by an Imperial Star Destroyer carries all the weight and drama of an average stroll in the park. Oh, and for those briefly interested in that latter bit, the book skips both the chase and following battle scene between chapters. Even the very act of taking down seemingly all but two Super Star Destroyers is left to little more than an offhand mention, and big battles are skimmed past at every turn. Yes, the author is actively trying to avoid the very thing Star Wars is most known for. Wendig tries to make up for the poor descriptions and lack of real world-building with an incredibly scattershot approach to things. Details are dropped at random relentlessly spammed throughout the book, until they overwhelm any real sense of immersion. It's one thing to have the book bring up bacta, compare certain descriptions with common in-universe items or even draw up comparisons with certain species, in order to create a sense of this being another world. It's another thing entirely to effectively drop them at every single opportunity, until it stops being subtly immersive or engaging, and becomes so frustrating you'll end up desperately trying to mentally edit out those details in order to make the book tolerable. There is also this odd obsession with scent and taste which quickly becomes the author's primary focus above all else. Really, skipping basic details which would stem from sight or sound, Wendig seems to use this as his fallback method of trying to flesh out a scene. The problem is that the descriptions are equally as sparse, and they often become little more than yet another method for him to throw in a few more in-universe details to try and make the book seem more alike, so this effort fails as well. Still, all that could be saved with great characters, right? My friends, you are dead out of luck on that front as well. Let's start with the official characters first, given they are those hardest hit here. While the likes of Mon Mothma, Ackbar and a few other big names are thrown in, they might as well be listed as "Important Person X, Y, and Z" for all the impact they have. Sure, it tries to use them well as a sense of building a bigger and broader universe, but they are so firmly pushed into the background, so often out of the limelight that their existence seems like a concession more than something planned for the book. It should also go without saying that each is so bereft of any real personality that they might as well be anyone. The only big name exceptions who stay anywhere near the spotlight are Wedge and to a much lesser extent Leia, for all the good it does them. Leia is tied up with New Republic operations and is used as little more than an excuse to try and better show off the universe with very mixed results, becoming almost a turmourous lump within the story. Chewbacca is also in this as well alongside Han, but like the others they are pushed well into the background, only emerging when the plot has absolutely no way to get around their involvement. As for Wedge though? He's the one who suffers most here. Rather than actually involve or do these characters any kind of justice, Wendig wants to push his personal creations as hard as possible. As such, Wedge - a character who benefited the most from the original Expanded Universe - becomes little more than a joke, and a pale shadow of the heroic pilot people loved. As with Aftermath, he's beaten down at every turn, easily defeated, pushed about and turned into an utter joke for the villains and heroes to prove themselves as being badass around. Upon truly, physically, getting involved in any action, he's almost run over and crushed by a droid, forcing another character to quickly rescue him, and then play second fiddle to someone else as they perform dogfights against near impossible odds. Oh, and then out of nowhere he's turned into the love interest of said Wendig made character in order to make them more important. While it's one thing to prove a new character can hold their own in a book, it's quite another to throw existing and beloved heroes under the bus to try and prove they're worth reading about. It doesn't help that Wendig's creations are insanely one dimensional and fueled by a toxic mix of cliches and attempted fan pandering. By the end, you'll likely be remembering them by their role rather than actual names, listing each off as "the former Imperial" "the bounty hunter" "the kid" and "that sodding droid again". When it does push for actual character development or inner thoughts, it registers on the Frank Miller scale of banal inner dilemmas. Well, minus the whores of course. Here's one such example of a mother thinking of her son: "Is that what she wanted for him? He's young. He's only fifteen. (Though she's reminded: His birthday is coming up soon. Time moves fast, and it only gets faster when you have children.) He just took out two TIE fighters. No - he killed two pilots. Two lives, snuffed out. The problem isn't whether they deserved their fates; those pilots signed up for war and knew what came with it. The problem is what that makes Temmin. It haunts her, suddenly. Will it haunt him? Is he too young to understand what's happening? Will one day he awaken to ghosts in his head, or will he toughen to it too quickly - will it kill the kindness inside him and make him mean like Jom Barell?" Yes, this is an entire book of that. Are you beginning to understand just why this review is so negative? In small doses this sort of thing can work, but it's an unending torrent of navel gazing, barging into scenes and disrupting their flow. The above example? That was thrown in right in the middle of a supposed fighter battle, for what little we actually saw of it anyway. There is also a stab at developing the Imperial side of things via a viewpoint character, seeing how it is sliding into anarchy, but this quickly becomes almost hilarious. Many of the stabs at a cloak and dagger tale of varied political elements, betrayals and power plays are so laughably obvious that the characters seem like cartoon villains. These are the sorts of foes He-Man would have been fighting in the 80s, not the kind of foe you would expect to be serving at Vader's beck and call. All this is, of course, made infinitely worse by the present tense approach Wendig has taken to the book. This was a big criticism of Aftermath as well, and many readers complained this made the novel downright unreadable as a result. However, present tense in of itself isn't the problem. While certainly extraordinarily hard to nail down, some novels such as Know No Fear have succeeded in pulling it off, presenting engaging novels and details through it. Here though, combined with the awful descriptions, bad characterization and poor plotting, it serves as a kind of multiplier, making every shortcoming seem all the worse as a result. Combined together, it makes Aftermath: Life Debt seem like an extraordinarily poorly penned young reader's novel, the kind which relentlessly talks down to its audience; not the supposed flagship trilogy intended to kickstart a new universe. "Terrible" doesn't do this book justice. There is likely no word in the English language which can wholly describe its unmitigated failure, and sheer lack of any redeeming quality. While it might not fall fully to the levels of certain other tales, this is the kind of story bound for that special literary hell usually reserved for Gloria Tesch creations and the Gor novels. Having assisted in murdering the old Expanded Universe, Wendig now seems to have set his sights upon maiming the new one while it is still in the crib. If the future is being forged from these novels, Star Wars will become a malformed, broken thing worthy only of a mercy killing. If you have any love for Star Wars, any hope for a good future at all, do not buy this novel. In two decades of reading science fiction of all forms, from the works of children to the Dune saga, I have rarely encountered a book so inept as this creation. If you honestly want to see a good Star Wars novel set in the new universe, Twilight Company is still out there and is more than worthy of your hard earned cash. If you want a better one besides that, the old Expanded Universe is still there and damn near every novel - even Darksaber - is leagues above this book in terms of good storytelling. Each and every one of you reading this could have crafted a better novel than Wendig, and honestly I actually encourage you to do so. Try practicing your own skills for a bit, try experimenting with your prose or to craft a short story, then apply to Disney for work. If they're allowing a trilogy so poorly crafted as Aftermath to be their flagship release, they'll likely accept damn near anyone for future books.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Chris Evans

    The first Aftermath book was the best argument for scrapping the Disney-verse and going back to the classic EU I've ever read. I would love for every Star Wars fan to read the Wendigo's terrible books to understand the new septic tank level of self wank fan fiction the New DU is. Hiring the Wendigo to vie with Zahn's books (A Star Wars founding father), will be the Awaken-Verses ultimate undoing. I invite everyone to read the Wendigo's trilogy (if you can stomach it) and compare it to The Thrawn The first Aftermath book was the best argument for scrapping the Disney-verse and going back to the classic EU I've ever read. I would love for every Star Wars fan to read the Wendigo's terrible books to understand the new septic tank level of self wank fan fiction the New DU is. Hiring the Wendigo to vie with Zahn's books (A Star Wars founding father), will be the Awaken-Verses ultimate undoing. I invite everyone to read the Wendigo's trilogy (if you can stomach it) and compare it to The Thrawn trilogy.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Amy Sturgis

    Is this better than the first Aftermath novel? Yes. Perhaps it deserves 2.5 stars. The good: This novel provides information that's genuinely necessary to understanding the unfolding of the Star Wars 'verse. You're not wasting your time reading it. There's payoff, not only with details about the main characters and evolution of the Aftermath-specific characters, but also with big arcs such as the enslavement of Kashyyk. The bad: Some of the characterizations don't ring true. When contrasting the Is this better than the first Aftermath novel? Yes. Perhaps it deserves 2.5 stars. The good: This novel provides information that's genuinely necessary to understanding the unfolding of the Star Wars 'verse. You're not wasting your time reading it. There's payoff, not only with details about the main characters and evolution of the Aftermath-specific characters, but also with big arcs such as the enslavement of Kashyyk. The bad: Some of the characterizations don't ring true. When contrasting the two characters, for example, I wouldn't say that Leia "I've been a politician since my mid-teens" Organa is the idealistic one and Mon "Let's demilitarize the exact moment we win" Mothma is the practical one. They're both far more complicated than that. For that matter, Leia comes across as genuinely shrill in several scenes. Yes, she's upset, but the woman who could handle watching her adoptive family and entire home planet be destroyed, take over her own rescue, and then come up with a stoic "We have no time for our sorrows" would not whinge and storm out of rooms in an emotional whirlwind when things don't go her way. (See Claudia Gray's Bloodline.) The ugly: Chuck Wendig's writing style continues to underwhelm. I'm being kind here. He's graduated to using more complete sentences now, but his diction is often odd, as if he's grasped for a word and settled on one that sounds a bit like it, and several times his errors in agreement (subject/verb, noun/pronoun) jarred me out of the story. He confuses "imply" and "infer." Furthermore, in this single book he uses up his entire lifetime's supply of "labyrinthine." He never gets to use that word again. Ever. I appreciate that Lucasfilm is trying new things, but I don't understand how Wendig landed a three-book deal. I waded through this for the relevant information, but I wouldn't call it an enjoyable experience. That's a shame, when so many capable and skilled Disney-era Star Wars authors like Claudia Gray and John Jackson Miller and James Luceno and Jason Fry, to name just a few, regularly delight.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    No lessons have been learned. The writing is still frustrating and juvenile. The author's behavior is still frustrating and juvenile. I looked at the writers Twitter page this morning and, despite receiving better reviews than Aftermath, Mr. Wendig has once again chosen to focus all the attention on himself and his narcissistic rage. I am forced to believe the author is too invested in the current grievance culture to evolve and advance. Disheartening. Like watching a fly repeatedly bash itself No lessons have been learned. The writing is still frustrating and juvenile. The author's behavior is still frustrating and juvenile. I looked at the writers Twitter page this morning and, despite receiving better reviews than Aftermath, Mr. Wendig has once again chosen to focus all the attention on himself and his narcissistic rage. I am forced to believe the author is too invested in the current grievance culture to evolve and advance. Disheartening. Like watching a fly repeatedly bash itself against a window when all it has to do is fly just a little bit higher and it will be free. Please Mr. Wendig, choose to fly just a little bit higher.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Seth Whitfield

    O. M. G. Here. we. go. agein. Chuck... let me help you out... if I can... Star Wars was a long, long time ago... in a galaxy... far. far. away. SOOO there is absolutely NOOOO Earth! We do not have earth animals, music, termanology, technology, pop phrases or idioms! NONE!! oh and spend more time actually developing your characters and also brush up that writing style and plotline.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    The level of failure required to screw up a book titled "Life Debt" with a gigantic Millennium Falcon on the cover and a promo blurb that promises to be about the liberation of Kashyyyk, homeworld of the Wookiees, from the yoke of the Empire that's enslaved it for decades, is substantial. I mean, you have to go beyond run-of-the-mill failure into something that is so bad it transcends the concept of merely striving for something and not succeeding in reaching it. This would be handily the worst S The level of failure required to screw up a book titled "Life Debt" with a gigantic Millennium Falcon on the cover and a promo blurb that promises to be about the liberation of Kashyyyk, homeworld of the Wookiees, from the yoke of the Empire that's enslaved it for decades, is substantial. I mean, you have to go beyond run-of-the-mill failure into something that is so bad it transcends the concept of merely striving for something and not succeeding in reaching it. This would be handily the worst Star Wars book ever written in either the new or the old canon if not for the first Aftermath book. Just about everything that was present in the first book that made it horrible, that made it frankly unbelievable that any person who was responsible for either selling books or overseeing the creation of at least an average quality book might have ever read any words ever written by the author, Chuck Wendig, and said to themselves, "Yes, this is the guy we need to contract to write three books." Here is one sentence from the novel that probably sums up everything that it is about: Norra straight punches her in the face. Present tense writing is just not for me. I will never like any book that features it as much as one that did not, with maybe a couple of exceptions, like in Guy G. Kay when he does it because he's a cool dude, and in Empire Falls where I think it had some literary merit. Otherwise, authors, stop that stuff. And that's all I'll say about that. The problem of the book not feeling like a Star Wars book remains. This is largely a function of tone, not merely that it doesn't feel like the old EU did, but that it feels like it's trying to be something that's not Star Wars. That's partly a result of going heavy on original characters that just seem to have something... off... about them, like the entirely too meta battle droid robot named "Mister Bones" who just... no. But like, seriously, how do you have a book that claims to be about the liberation of Kashyyyk with the title LIFE DEBT and Han Solo and Chewbacca are basically sideshow characters in the narrative? Yeah, they show up (Han not really sounding like Han) but they don't matter. How does this happen? Who thought this was a good idea? This is absurd. It's an easy slam dunk of a book. You get Han and you get Chewie and they go on a guerrilla campaign against a bunch of Imperial scum. The best version of this book would have been like what the end of Return of the Jedi might have been if George Lucas had actually made it the Wookiee home world rather than throwing a bunch of Ewoks in there. That would have been so badass! Wookiees rising up and tossing off the shackles of oppression, blasting and roaring and tearing people's arms out of their sockets! That's all you have to do! And in the maybe 20% of the book where this actually happens they aren't the main characters at all. It drives me crazy how bad these two books have been because I remain quite convinced that the powers that be could have trawled fanfiction.net for like, the 100 best-rated Star Wars fanfics or something and approached those writers and they would have surely done a better job than Wendig did here. This unfocused mess is such an unforced error. Not gone from the narrative are the pathetic attempts to pander to either longtime Star Wars fans or particularly EU fans. No, but seriously, when you have Wedge Antilles be like a tertiary character in the story and you talk about how he's created a squadron of "washouts, burnouts, and capable freaks" and then you roll up in that story and this is called PHANTOM SQUADRON, like, honestly. Phantom, really? Dude, I read Wraith Squadron, and you are no Aaron Allston, Wendig. This is not an homage; it's just insulting. When I was like 13 I read Rogue Squadron and I thought they were cool and I made up a little squadron using my friends and I decided we were Renegade Squadron. That's the level that Phantom Squadron has reached. The nerdiest and worst ideas of a 13-year-old. Anyway, new canon seems alright from my other experience reading Star Wars: Bloodline. Not great, but alright. It's just this particular author whose books are really bad. Hopefully the people in charge realize he's terrible and never hire him to do any work again once his initial contract runs out.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Luce

    Shit man, this trilogy is SO GOOD and I need Empire's End yesterday, please Ok so Sinjir totally gets a boyfriend in this book and there's also a badass genderqueer pirate (pronouns zhe/zher/zherself) who will hopefully show up again in the next book. A+ work, Chuck Wendig. These two books are queerer than some whole series and it makes my heart really happy. I am finally, explicitly included in a franchise that I love and it feels so nice. 4.5/5 stars.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sesana

    Better than the first book, because it felt like more was happening. It's still very heavy on Wendig's original characters, as opposed to already established, screen canon was. I'm not against this in principle. My favorite Star Wars books are the X-Wing series, and the only established character to get considerable time on the page in that series was Wedge. But I don't love any of these characters the way I loved my Wraiths, nor is this story quite as good as Stackpole and Allston's.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Mouse

    I've never had a problem finishing Star Wars books and I could probably read 300 pages about Jawas tinkering with scrap metal and I'd be entertained, but.....this book sucks! And that's another thing, I understand the world of an author because I have several friends that are authors so I generally try to stay away from being so critical and crapping all over a work that one has put so much time, effort, blood, sweat, and tears into, but I sincerely feel that this author is killing the series! Th I've never had a problem finishing Star Wars books and I could probably read 300 pages about Jawas tinkering with scrap metal and I'd be entertained, but.....this book sucks! And that's another thing, I understand the world of an author because I have several friends that are authors so I generally try to stay away from being so critical and crapping all over a work that one has put so much time, effort, blood, sweat, and tears into, but I sincerely feel that this author is killing the series! They need to get this guy away from writing anymore Star Wars books! I read the first book in the series and didn't make it through it and though I knew I might be in for more of the same I decided to tackle it anyway. Turns out it was just more of the same: boring, confusing, gratuitous name dropping, irrelevant, dumb, and bad writing. This author has a certain style that mimics the worst of fan-fic writing and I can't take him serious! I'm ashamed of Disney for handing over the reins of their new canonical Star Wars universe!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    If I could I'd give a 0 rating here. I really hoped this second book in the series will be better than the first one, but it wasn't meant to be. What I didn't like most is how dialogues are written. Character speech doesn't sound natural because that's just short boring sentences. There is absolutely no conflict or tension in the plot where I would worry and sympathize with main heroes. Main villain deserves a special mention though. He is a dull copypaste from Zahn's trilogy starting from his ma If I could I'd give a 0 rating here. I really hoped this second book in the series will be better than the first one, but it wasn't meant to be. What I didn't like most is how dialogues are written. Character speech doesn't sound natural because that's just short boring sentences. There is absolutely no conflict or tension in the plot where I would worry and sympathize with main heroes. Main villain deserves a special mention though. He is a dull copypaste from Zahn's trilogy starting from his manner of speech (raising an eyebrow anyone?), appreciation of opera music and unexplained brilliance. To sum up Aftermath novels have a feel of badly written fanfiction rather than a canon saga trilogy. This book could definitely be used by Galactic Empire instead of interrogation droids.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ashley Daviau

    It’s really hard for me to review this book, I really enjoyed it but it’s hard to put into words why. Wendig really captures the Star Wars universe perfectly, as soon as I opened the book to read, it felt like I was watching it as a movie in my head. He has the characters and everything else down pat, he really knows how to bring it all to life in an amazing way. This series is a definite must read for Star Wars and Wendig fans!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Holly (The Grimdragon)

    “ALL ARE WELCOME. (NO FIGHTING.) That rule is simple on the surface, but not easy in the execution, because Maz Kanata’s castle has been a meeting place since time immemorial– a nexus point drawing together countless lines of allegiance and opposition, a place not only where friend and foe can meet, but where complex conflicts are worn down flat so that all may sit, have a drink and a meal, listen to a song, and broker whatever deals their hearts or politics require. That’s why the flags outside “ALL ARE WELCOME. (NO FIGHTING.) That rule is simple on the surface, but not easy in the execution, because Maz Kanata’s castle has been a meeting place since time immemorial– a nexus point drawing together countless lines of allegiance and opposition, a place not only where friend and foe can meet, but where complex conflicts are worn down flat so that all may sit, have a drink and a meal, listen to a song, and broker whatever deals their hearts or politics require. That’s why the flags outside her castle represent hundreds of cities and civilizations and guilds from before forever. The galaxy is not now, nor has it ever been, two polar forces battling for supremacy. It has been thousands of forces: a tug-of-war not with as ingle rope but a spider’s web of influence, dominance, and desire. Clans and cults, tribes and families, governments and anti-governments. Queens, satraps, warlords! Diplomats, buccaneers, droids! Slicers, spicers, ramblers, and gamblers! To repeat: ALL ARE WELCOME. (NO FIGHTING.)” In a galaxy far, far away.. I once read Aftermath and then didn’t continue on with the series like a goddamn SAVAGE. What in actual fuck? I blame Miriam Black. And the fact that there is a new Star Wars release approximately every 23 seconds. It’s hard for a fan to keep up on ALL THE STAR WARS!! That’s neither here nor there. What truly matters is that I’m baaack! I enjoyed Aftermath. A lot. But goddamn. I fucking LOVED Life Debt! The remnants of the Empire are now under control of Grand Admiral Rae Sloane. Han Solo and Chewbacca tried to free the Wookiees of Kashyyyk from enslavement by the Empire, but Chewie gets captured. Han goes to save him and ends up missing. Norra and her team (Temmin, Sinjir, Jom, Jas and Mister Bones) are asked by General Leia Organa to find them. Any storyline that involves Han and Chewie is pretty much guaranteed to make my soul happy and my eyes brim with tears. This did not disappoint! “Yeah, pal. I know.” He sighs. “I love you, too.” Wendig knows how to write well-rounded female characters, without a doubt. Miriam Black, Norra Wexley, Rae Sloane, Jas Emari. I love Jas so damn much! She’s essentially Miriam Black, but in Star Wars.. AND I AM HERE FOR IT ALL DAMN DAY!! Then there is Leia, my beloved Leia. For me, this was the best written characterization of Leia in recent memory. Wendig captured her essence, her strength, which is so hard to replicate. Oof. Of course another standout character is Mister Bones. ROGER-ROGER! A delightfully violent, bonkers battle droid that has been reprogrammed by his master Temmin Wexley and is now supporting the good side! Much like L3-37 in Solo, he completely stole each scene he was in. I appreciate his dark and twisted personality, most definitely! If you are looking for unbiased opinions on Chuck Wendig, you may want to just stop reading. I am an unabashed fan of Wendig’s writing, his politics, sense of humor.. the fact that he is an ally (and a vocal one!) He has taken risks with this series and made it his own, while still keeping it decidedly the war of the stars! More than any other in the franchise, his series appears to be the most polarizing. Is it because of his social media presence? His political rants? Do they just not get his writing? Or.. and this is almost too much to comprehend, do they have something against apples?! THOSE GODDAMN MONSTERS!! Perhaps because he has included the first ever openly queer protagonist. Not only that, multiple queer secondary characters as well. But Wendig’s just a SJW, trying to force diversity in a fandom that doesn’t want politics waved in their face. The PC culture is killing Star Wars, y’all! Or so I’ve been told ::eye roll:: It’s not like Star Wars hasn’t always been political or anything. Listen. I’m getting sidetracked. But it’s hard not to when talking about my absolute favorite fandom, something that means the fucking world to me. I’m a lifelong fan and will continue to be. I’ll never let the toxicity take that away from me. It’s just exhausting. And disheartening. But I digress! I believe that Wendig just completely delivered with Life Debt. It’s engaging, unique and packs a powerful punch. Breathless action, diverse characters and compulsively readable. This is such a brilliant installment, cover to cover. Yoda best, Wendig. Yoda best.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Marcus

    I found this less enjoyable than the first book. With the novelty of the series worn off, the relatively unexciting main cast becomes more aggravating. The interludes also seemed less fun. I suppose the lack of the pre-TFA hype I had with the first book doesn't help. Even standouts of the first book Sloane and Sinjir fell fairly flat for me here. There were certainly some good moments; off the top of my head the deranged Imperial remnant on Kashyyyk comes to mind. For the most part, though, the b I found this less enjoyable than the first book. With the novelty of the series worn off, the relatively unexciting main cast becomes more aggravating. The interludes also seemed less fun. I suppose the lack of the pre-TFA hype I had with the first book doesn't help. Even standouts of the first book Sloane and Sinjir fell fairly flat for me here. There were certainly some good moments; off the top of my head the deranged Imperial remnant on Kashyyyk comes to mind. For the most part, though, the book lacks a strong payoff. And, to my great dismay, the Fleet Admiral Gallius Rax was tremendously disappointing. His repetitive smugness does not sustain interest or enjoyment throughout the book. I'll be looking forward to book 3 to see the Battle of Jakku play out and so on, but I now feel like it's gonna be a rather perfunctory affair. Like I just wanna read it and be done with the series. Maybe Gallius Rax will seem like a halfway worthwhile character when the conclusion rolls around, but I doubt it.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jack

    I only gave this two stars because it is better than the first book (which I gave one star.) I do not have the time or patience to articulate all of the problems with this pile of bantha dung. Instead just read the reviews by Goodreaders Callum Shephard, Chris Evans, that dude Mike, and Julie. I'll just say this: read any other new canon novel....they are all better. Imagine what this trilogy could have been in the hands of James Luceano or Claudia Gray. Chuck Wendig is an objectively bad writer I only gave this two stars because it is better than the first book (which I gave one star.) I do not have the time or patience to articulate all of the problems with this pile of bantha dung. Instead just read the reviews by Goodreaders Callum Shephard, Chris Evans, that dude Mike, and Julie. I'll just say this: read any other new canon novel....they are all better. Imagine what this trilogy could have been in the hands of James Luceano or Claudia Gray. Chuck Wendig is an objectively bad writer.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Michael Hicks

    My original STAR WARS: AFTERMATH: LIFE DEBT audiobook review and many others can be found at Audiobook Reviewer. I read and enjoyed the print (well, ebook) edition of Chuck Wendig’s prior Star Wars: Aftermath novel, but after hearing good things about the production qualities of the Star Wars audiobooks decided I would give this format a shot for the second go-round. Holy moly, have I been missing out! It’s safe to say that from here on out, any Star Wars titles I dive into will be in audio forma My original STAR WARS: AFTERMATH: LIFE DEBT audiobook review and many others can be found at Audiobook Reviewer. I read and enjoyed the print (well, ebook) edition of Chuck Wendig’s prior Star Wars: Aftermath novel, but after hearing good things about the production qualities of the Star Wars audiobooks decided I would give this format a shot for the second go-round. Holy moly, have I been missing out! It’s safe to say that from here on out, any Star Wars titles I dive into will be in audio format, especially if narrated by Marc Thompson. The audio production of this novel is absolutely superb. Random House Audio, in conjunction with Lucasfilm Ltd., put together a fully engaging and visceral listening experience. In print, Wendig’s writing style is short and punchy, but as read by Thompson it takes on a wonderfully dramatic effect. Thompson excels at giving each of Wendig’s characters unique voices, and combined with sound effects and a musical score, this audiobook is more like a one-man radio drama. Listeners are thrust into the heart of each battle (and boy, are there ever some battles!), with the whizzing hum of laser bolts blasting by, the thrum of ship’s engines beneath their feet, and the familiar notes of John William’s score overlaying it all. It’s quite a remarkable work all around. On the story side of thing, Life Debt picks up a short while after the close of Aftermath, and brings a story element teased in the prior novel straight to the center stage. Serious Star Wars fans will know immediately that the title refers to the bond between rogue scoundrel and smuggler, Han Solo, and his co-pilot and friend, the Wookie Chewbacca. After Solo goes missing, Princess Leia presses Norra Wexley and her band of rebels into service to find them. Wexley and her crew, now hunting down fugitive Imperial officers for the New Republic, find themselves embroiled in a battle to wrest Kashyyyk from the Empire’s control and free the enslaved Wookies. Life Debt is an epic Star Wars tale, filled with political intrigue within both the fledgling New Republic’s ranks and the Empire itself, as Admiral Rae Sloane squares off against a new opponent vying for control of the Emperor’s throne, and battles large and small. While there are plenty of wars among the stars, it’s the story’s heart and sense of fun that really makes this production so enriching. Listening to Life Debt reminded me what it was like to be a kid again, lost in these stories of the heroes of the rebellion and the insidious forces of darkness within the Empire. This sucker is just flat-out enjoyable, and while I enjoyed the first Aftermath novel quite a bit, Life Debt is significantly better. Wendig has found his feet with his original characters, and he does a great job bringing in old favorites like Leia, Solo, and Chewie (there’s a series of wonderfully heartfelt moment between these three late in the book that are just sublime). And with Wendig’s occasional Interludes, to show how the war between these opposing forces has affected and disrupted day-to-day life for the galaxy’s citizens, there’s an epic and expansive feel that gives the narrative a much wider context. This is Star Wars at its grandest, and I’m eager to see how Wendig’s story culminates in Aftermath: Empire’s End. [Note: This audiobook was provided for review by the audiobookreviewer.com.]

  21. 4 out of 5

    Liz Neering

    I finished Aftermath: Life Debt in two days. I am the slowest reader alive, but I read this thing like the pages were disappearing. There's nuance to the Aftermath series I don't find in the films, a complex and uncomfortable understanding of war and the suffering it brings. The Clone Wars delved deeper into this and I see its reflection in the Aftermath series. PTSD, trauma, survivor's guilt, broken relationships... still it's hopeful. It isn't grimdark. There is love and beauty, friendships an I finished Aftermath: Life Debt in two days. I am the slowest reader alive, but I read this thing like the pages were disappearing. There's nuance to the Aftermath series I don't find in the films, a complex and uncomfortable understanding of war and the suffering it brings. The Clone Wars delved deeper into this and I see its reflection in the Aftermath series. PTSD, trauma, survivor's guilt, broken relationships... still it's hopeful. It isn't grimdark. There is love and beauty, friendships and found families forged in difficult times. I needed these books. I needed to see someone understand that even doing the right thing can feel awful and have consequences, but it's still the right thing to do. We're broken, and imperfect, but we can still win. That's a message I can get behind. In so many ways this book and its predecessor pay clearly loving tribute to the works that came before, but add to them, and bring something entirely new. Mr Bones and Sinjir Rath Velus were instant new faves, and they continue to warm my heart. Seeing Kashyyyk in its struggles, the difficult birthing pains of the New Republic, the complexity of motivations and actions on both sides of the conflict... there's just so much meat here, even outside of the revelations along the way. In short, absolutely remarkable. Strongly recommended for old fans and new.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Bria

    I enjoyed the first Aftermath book well enough but Life Debt really kicked into a second gear and just worked for me on so many levels. Full review to come on Tosche Station on release day. Editing on 7/13 to link to my full review: http://tosche-station.net/review-afte... I enjoyed the first Aftermath book well enough but Life Debt really kicked into a second gear and just worked for me on so many levels. Full review to come on Tosche Station on release day. Editing on 7/13 to link to my full review: http://tosche-station.net/review-afte...

  23. 4 out of 5

    Neil R. Coulter

    To say that Life Debt is better than its predecessor, Aftermath, is not to say that it is a good book. It's just that it would be hard for another book to be as bad as Aftermath. I'm less inclined to believe that Chuck Wendig has become a better author in the intervening months, instead assuming that Disney/Lucasfilm went into crisis mode last year when Aftermath received such a scathing reception from eager Star Wars fans. The first line of the new canon of Star Wars books was extremely disappo To say that Life Debt is better than its predecessor, Aftermath, is not to say that it is a good book. It's just that it would be hard for another book to be as bad as Aftermath. I'm less inclined to believe that Chuck Wendig has become a better author in the intervening months, instead assuming that Disney/Lucasfilm went into crisis mode last year when Aftermath received such a scathing reception from eager Star Wars fans. The first line of the new canon of Star Wars books was extremely disappointing, and Wendig's novel was the most disappointing of the lot. I believe that Disney/Lucasfilm frantically started putting more effort into their publications, and the results are slowly starting to show--though the Star Wars canon is still far from high art. Life Debt was obviously handled by better editors than Aftermath. The present-tense writing style is still bad, but it's not as distracting as in the previous volume. Gone are absolutely ridiculous moments, such as Admiral Ackbar rubbing moisturizer into his skin. The result is a little more engaging, with a little more forward momentum. What's left, however, is the nagging sense that this is a novel-length movie trailer, and that Wendig is not allowed to do anything more than tease little pieces of information that may or may not ever be relevant. It's hard to imagine, for example, how the Rancor keeper from Tatooine is going to be important later on, but there he is in his own little vignette that has nothing to do with anything in the book. (And I really didn't need the Rancor that Luke kills in Return of the Jedi to have a name: Pateesa.) Wendig is able to shift nicely between a couple of different time periods, however, and one of the best parts of the book is the brief glimpse into something Emperor Palpatine (or "Sheev," as his young friends call him) was up to 30 years before the main events of this novel. Almost against my will I am interested to know what Palpatine was doing on Jakku. I'm prepared for disappointment, but I'm mildly curious. As for the other characters in the story, things are not good. When I began the book, I found that I had no memory whatsoever of the new team that Wendig created in the first volume: Norra Wexley and her son, Temmin; Jas Emari; Sinjir Rath Velus; Jom Barell; Mister Bones the Battle Droid (man, it hurts to have to type that name). If you're also struggling to recall anything about these characters when you begin Life Debt, I'll let you in on a secret: it doesn't matter. Wendig repeats any information about those characters that's important, and it just barely matters what they did in the first book. Each of the characters has two or three defining traits and motivations, and they're repeated often enough that you'll get it fairly quickly. Please don't re-read Aftermath in preparation for Life Debt. The movie characters Wendig is allowed to use in this book are really disappointing. It's one thing if Mon Mothma is dull and lifeless, or if Wendig can't ever capture quite the right tone for Han Solo, but it's entirely wrong to make Leia into a complete idiot. And Leia is a complete idiot in this book. She is wrong, unwise, thoughtless, and stupid. If I thought it wasn't possible to have a worse Leia than Claudia Gray's version of her in Bloodline, I have been proven wrong. This was embarrassing. The narrative is odd and disjointed, and the big set-piece of the final third of the book--the liberation of the Wookiee home planet--feels like it comes out of nowhere. I really didn't care about it at all, and it didn't help that this was the focus of most of Leia's brainless decisions. One of the most laughably bad parts of Aftermath was the dialogue and word choices. It's not quite as bad in Life Debt, but it's occasionally terrible. A couple examples:Solo leans in. "Spiders don't frighten you because most spiders are no bigger than your hand. These spiders, webweavers? Big as you and me. . . . The Wookiees eat 'em. Chewie says they're, well, chewy." (315)They rage. Fur and fangs and swiping limbs. Men screaming. In the distance, something explodes. (321)Along with that, we get the adjective "swimmy" (twice!), and the fiercest, most terrifying character in the galaxy saying to a subordinate, "When I give the say-so . . . " "Say-so"?? Also, Wendig finds corny ways to actually write the movie titles "the empire strikes back" and "revenge of the sith" into the novel. Wink-wink, nudge-nudge, did you get it? Ugh. The inclusion of a grungy, pessimistic kind of sexuality throughout the story didn't help to endear me to the book. There's a drunken one-night-stand (I guess more than that, but it doesn't feel that way at the time) between a couple of men, and an ongoing and kind of disgusting sexual relationship between a couple of the main characters, in addition to another main character who, it's strongly implied, is cheating on her husband. It doesn't feel Star Wars-y, and I'm sad that authors like Wendig and Gray are charting the course of the mythology. That galaxy deserves better. Anyway, I won't be sad if the third volume of this trilogy is canceled. If it is published, I will be very happy that it's only a trilogy and not anything longer. As for the Star Wars canon, I hold out hope for James Luceno's Rogue One novel; he's one of the only Star Wars authors I trust, and I'm more interested in the Rogue One film than I am in Episode 8. As a postscript: in my review of another recent Star Wars novel, I praised Pablo Hidalgo for no longer requiring that every single book include the phrase "I have a bad feeling about this." I spoke too soon. Page 236.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    The good news is this book is better than the first one. The bad news is . . . well, there isn't really any bad news. This book is better than the first one. The end. Most of the stuff that annoyed me in the first book (the style being so omnipresent it pulled me out of the story, the occasional colloquialism that shouldn't be in Star Wars, etc.) is gone. Either that or I didn't notice. Either way, same result. The POV is still in first person present tense, and Wendig's voice is still very much The good news is this book is better than the first one. The bad news is . . . well, there isn't really any bad news. This book is better than the first one. The end. Most of the stuff that annoyed me in the first book (the style being so omnipresent it pulled me out of the story, the occasional colloquialism that shouldn't be in Star Wars, etc.) is gone. Either that or I didn't notice. Either way, same result. The POV is still in first person present tense, and Wendig's voice is still very much present, but as long as it doesn't overwhelm the story, that's no bad thing. I like when authors have voices, but those voices shouldn't make me stop reading to go, "Really?" as it occasionally did last time. With Life Debt, Wendig seems to have sunken comfortably into the Star Wars universe, and you can see it in the writing. Life Debt picks up several months after the first book. Norra, her son Temmin, Jas, and Sinjir are now a crew, and they've picked another guy, Jom, who's knocking boots with Jas. They track down Imperials in hiding and deliver them to the fledgling New Republic for a bounty. They've got a good thing going, so of course events occur to shake that up. Two things happen: Han Solo, having resigned his commission and gone on a rogue mission to free Chewie's home planet of Kashyyyk, has gone missing, and the New Republic refuses to sanction time or troops. And behind the scenes of the fracturing Empire, a new player has made himself known and is very carefully and deliberately pulling the puppet strings of a great many people, who of course have no idea they are puppets. And nobody, not even Grand Admiral Rae Sloane, the nominal head of the Empire, knows what he's up to. Like Aftermath, the book starts out a little fractured, with multiple POVs in addition to interludes every second chapter or so with snapshots of what's going on across the galaxy. As long as you know it's all going to come into focus, this works well. We get our characters' journeys, and we get a real idea of the global galactic scale of what's going on. We're not just told that the Empire is splintering, that the New Republic is still scrambling to bring order to the galaxy and yet retain its identity as a fair government entity, we're shown it, and we're also shown things that plant the seeds for eventual conflict. The acolytes of a strange new order, dedicated to the memory of Darth Vader. An independent government, free of both Empire and Republic, growing slowly on Tatooine. And a strange something or other buried in the deserts of Jakku . . . Wendig also handles existing characters nicely. His Han and Chewie and Leia are pretty spot on, although to be fair I would have praised them more had I not just read Bloodline which absolutely nails Leia and Han as characters. I thoroughly enjoyed everything to do with Kashyyyk here. His own characters add something to the narrative as well, and don't feel out of place, particularly Sinjir, who makes me laugh, and who needs a hug. All in all, a success.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jerry

    Somewhat better than the first book, but still not Star Wars as I've come to expect it.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne

    I suspect this is more what many of the people who hated the first book in this series were looking for. We got to characters familiar from the movies as well as the people who were introduced in book 1. I especially liked Han Solo, and how he was torn between helping Chewbacca and staying with Leia. But my favorite character in the book has got to be Mister Bones. I listened to this on audio - Marc Thompson is a such a good narrator and makes the Star Wars books extra enjoyable.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    My favorite plot trope is Found Family, so when you mix that with a plot to liberate Kashyyyk, sprinkle in a few cameos and include a side dish of Leia/Han, you've basically got everything I want in a Star Wars book. The pacing was really weird and honestly kind of bad which cost a star.

  28. 5 out of 5

    John McDermott

    Good Star Wars fun! 3.75 🌠

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lady*M

    4+ stars Review written for Star Wars News Net. Aftermath: Life Debt is the second novel in Chuck Wendig’s post-Return of the Jedi trilogy, following Aftermath and preceding Aftermath: Empire’s End due for publication on January 31st, 2017. Thanks to our friends at Random House, I am able to bring you this early review. But, because most of you haven’t had a chance to read the book yet, the review will be split in two parts. The first one will remain mainly spoiler free, but heed my warning before 4+ stars Review written for Star Wars News Net. Aftermath: Life Debt is the second novel in Chuck Wendig’s post-Return of the Jedi trilogy, following Aftermath and preceding Aftermath: Empire’s End due for publication on January 31st, 2017. Thanks to our friends at Random House, I am able to bring you this early review. But, because most of you haven’t had a chance to read the book yet, the review will be split in two parts. The first one will remain mainly spoiler free, but heed my warning before you venture into the second part. When we left our heroes in Aftermath, Norra and Temmin Wexley, Sinjir Rath Velus, Jas Emari, Jom Barell and Mister Bones, they were sent after some Imperial targets at the suggestion of Admiral Ackbar, armed with data holocrons which Temmin stole from a crime lord. At the beginning of this novel, we see them in the thick of the action trying to extract an Imperial from a crime syndicate stronghold. Since they come from diverse backgrounds – a rebel pilot, a teenager, an ex-ISB officer, a bounty hunter, a marine and a murder-bot – there are still tensions and mistrust within the group, but they are growing on each other, some more than others. They are asked by Princess Leia to find her missing husband, Han Solo. Han’s chance for freeing Kashyyyk was a ploy by the Empire, Chewbacca was captured and Han barely escaped. He resigned his commission in the Republic and spent the entire time searching for Chewie. But, the last communication between him and Leia was abruptly interrupted and she hasn’t heard from him since. Our team is ready to roll. On the other side of the war, Rae Sloane has to deal with Fleet Admiral Gallius Rax, a shadowy figure whose files are mostly redacted and who reported directly to Palpatine during the last few years of the Empire. Sloane always believed in the Imperial order, but Rax’s methods and secrecy are starting to make her uncomfortable. In a way, Sloane believes in an idealized image of the Empire (she thinks slavery was never part of her perfect Empire) and cannot get a handle on the man, who is supposed to be her superior. Therefore, she decides to investigate the Fleet Admiral’s past. But, Rax is the master manipulator and his schemes reach much farther than Sloane can imagine. Naturally, these story lines eventually converge with the shocking results. When you start reading the novel, several things pop out at you. For one, Life Debt is a much more streamlined novel than Aftermath. The focus and the purpose are clearer. The other is that you now understand the seeds Wendig planted in the first novel because they start bearing fruit in this one. This also makes the interludes much more interesting because you are beginning to understand the author’s intentions and already imagine how they will pay out in the final novel. Finally, while Wendig does not abandon his style completely, it is clear that he has heard some readers’ complaints. He still writes in third person present tense, but he mostly abandoned short, choppy sentences. Which, I think, is a perfect response to criticism. Hear it, digest it, but don’t completely compromise your own thing. While I, personally, liked Aftermath, I can recognize that Life Debt is a better book. That in itself is a success, especially because the middle book in the trilogy is a tricky thing to write. Story wise, Wendig describes the galaxy not just divided between the Empire and the New Republic, but the galaxy in chaos – with various groups pursuing different goals out of ideology (like Acolytes of the Beyond) or ambition and avarice. It is also a time of self-examination, for both the New Republic and the remnants of the Empire. What is the New Republic, its goal, its ideology? Will it be a protective hand that guards the galaxy or will it break apart before it even began? We can already see the seeds of the future conflict within the New Republic represented here by Leia’s conflict with Mon Mothma. Leia feels the Republic needs to help liberate enslaved planets; Mon Mothma is a politician, thinking about benefits for the young Republic. You know that when the Princess fails to convince, she goes through the wall and drags others with her, willingly or not. The situation is similar within the Empire – with Rae Sloane and Gallius Rax as the main players. Most importantly, though, Wendig gives us a more intimate book by placing us in the heads of our main characters and showing us their fears, doubts and their growth. Sinjir is still my favorite character, the ‘man without a star’ as Jas puts it. He is still a sarcastic loudmouth and a badass, but he is looking to change and move away from his past self. He managed to break my heart a little in the end. We get a quality time with Jas as well and learn more about her, especially the reason why she is so single minded. And we see a character pulled in two, between who she was (and claims that she wants to be) and who she is becoming. I have to admit that Jom got on my nerves at the beginning of the book, because I dislike holier-than-thou people in books as well as in life. But, the events of this book leave no one unchanged and he grew on me by the end. I’ll say no more about Mister Bones except “singing, dancing murder-bot” (Thank you, Wedge!) and allude to his scene with Han Solo – you will know what I mean when you read it. Norra and Temmin, oh, boy. What to say about these two and not spoil the book? A boy on the cusp of adulthood and a woman who stumbled into being a hero will have some real challenges to face in this novel. Temmin, now nicknamed Snap by Wedge, is training to become a pilot we all know he will become, but at this perfect stage between boy and man other opportunities call out to him as well. Unfortunately, he will have to grow up fast. Norra is continuing to do a good work and worry about her son. She is also trying to go on with her life and, perhaps, find something for herself. But, life has a way of throwing a wrench into your plans. To say more will spoil the book, but look for a scene where Norra shows her strength not by being a badass, but by simply saying “no”. Oh, you wanted to hear about Han Solo? Really? Well, all right. Han is by no means the main character in the book. He is first our group’s assignment and later one of them. Wendig writes a different Solo, one that is incomplete, one without his right hand man or, better said, Wookiee. It is a Han Solo driven by guilt and unbreakable friendship, prepared to walk through fire to get to his man, ahem, Wookiee. This is, at the same time, the Han Solo that we know and love, with a crazy and gutsy plan in his pocket. In his mind, life debt goes both ways and he will pay it, no matter what. I will say no more, except that Han and Chewbacca managed to make me cry at the end of the novel. Why? What of Kashyyyk? Read the book. In the end, Aftermath: Life Debt is another good brick in the new canon wall. The release of The Force Awakens clearly gave Wendig more freedom to tell his story and spread his wings a little. I enjoyed his description of the situation in the galaxy as well as the action and touches of humor. But, mostly I enjoyed his characters and their development. He made me care and fear for them; they made me angry, sad and made me laugh. And, as all the roads lead to Jakku, he made me wish that Aftermath: Empire’s End was not six months away. Aftermath: Life Debt is highly recommended. Happy reading! SPOILER WARNING! SPOILER WARNING! SPOILER WARNING! (view spoiler)[Let’s talk some spoilers. These will be mainly spoilers that influence the sequel trilogy and everything that led to it. I will still not give you major plot points of Life Debt. I will give you some interesting tidbits though. We learn a bit about the future General Hux. For one thing, he is Brendol Hux’s illegitimate son. His first name is Armitage and his father describes him as a “weak-willed boy”, “thin as a slip of paper and just as useless”. With a glowing endorsement like that, is it a wonder that he became a poster boy for Hitler Youth? Additionally, it seems that Brendol Hux is the only one Gallius Rax thinks of as important for the future of his Empire. From Claudia Gray’s Bloodline, we know that he disappeared after Jakku. Training recruits from birth, anyone? The Acolytes of the Beyond make a comeback, this time as a well-organized terrorist group. The ‘Vader Lives’ graffiti are their doing. You move up in their ranks when you earn a mask. Sounds familiar, no? Speaking of Rax, our mysterious Fleet Admiral from the end of the first novel, his story begins (and ends?) on Jakku, when young Galli sneaks onto the ship that carries Palpatine’s adviser Yupe Tashu. Tashu is commanding a group of droids who are building something on the planet. But, the ship is Imperialis, Palpatine’s personal ship we saw in Lando mini-series, and it is Palpatine who discovers him and takes him under his wing. One fact is of note – Galli resists Palpatine’s compulsion. That is telling you a lot about his strength even as a child. Who knows what the Emperor taught him since and until his death. Put all of the above in the mix – Brandol Hux (and his kid), Acolytes, Tashu (who is freed by Rax’s agent) and Rax himself – and you pretty much get the seeds of the First Order. Because there is no rebuilding of the Empire, we already know how the Battle of Jakku ended. We get to see some old – big and small – players. Besides Mon Mothma, Ackbar and Wedge, Mas Amedda, Evaan Verlaine (from Leia comic) and Maz Kanata all make an appearance. Oh, and Malakili, the rancor trainer, last seen crying after the death of the rancor Luke killed. He runs into the new lawmaker of Tatooine in familiar Mandalorian armor and gets a job offer. Wendig also presents us with a new kind of droid – a therapy droid named QT-9. Cutie, get it? The author also continues something that we have already seen in the new canon – things are not black and white in the galaxy. Not every Imperial is a monster, though certainly some of them are. And the acts of the Rebellion/New Republic have grave consequences, including the deaths of innocent children. War, in general, inflicts great wounds, some of whom will never heal. Finally, if you had your hopes up that you will see Luke in this book, I am sorry to disappoint you. Except a couple of sentences that can be interpreted as his Force-sending to Leia, there is nothing and my opinion is that we will not see Luke Skywalker until Episode VIII is released. (hide spoiler)] If you have come this far, well done!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Norman

    2.5 stars If I could sum up my reaction to the latest Star Wars novel, it would be ‘meh’. I’m not saying every book I read should spark a reaction but surely an author aims for more than, that was ok right? I’m an avowed Star Wars geek, I’ve read and or collected almost every piece of Star Wars literature written so obviously I have an attachment to this universe. This begged the question as to why one of the preeminent books in the newly relaunched canon fell flat for me and that took some think 2.5 stars If I could sum up my reaction to the latest Star Wars novel, it would be ‘meh’. I’m not saying every book I read should spark a reaction but surely an author aims for more than, that was ok right? I’m an avowed Star Wars geek, I’ve read and or collected almost every piece of Star Wars literature written so obviously I have an attachment to this universe. This begged the question as to why one of the preeminent books in the newly relaunched canon fell flat for me and that took some thinking. Pondering this curious state of affairs I stumbled upon a review which I think perfectly sums up my feelings about this book in one sentence, namely at no point while reading Aftermath:Life Debt could I conjure up John Williams accompanying score to what I was reading on page. This is a book that checks all the right boxes but somehow misses the sense of adventure and grandeur that is the Star Wars Universe, the escapism and sense of wonder that we associate with Star Wars, its this cardinal sin I feel which made this one a slog for me. Its gritty and realistic all which is well and good, but when you take away the adventure, the escapism the mystical elements of the Force from a Star Wars novel , all you are left with is Space Opera. Now while I enjoy a good yarn, Aftermath: Life Debt and the rebooted EU in general barely passes as good Space Opera. Life Debt picks up sometime after the first novel in the series Aftermath, still following our motley band of heroes as they track down Imperial war criminals and bring them back to the New Republic for justice. The novel takes a turn about halfway through when Princess Leia approaches our heroes telling them that her husband Han Solo has gone missing and she wants them to find him and bring him back home. Leia doesn’t have much to go on, but she knows that Han was wrapped up somehow in trying to liberate Chewie’s homeworld Kashyyyk from the Empire, so that is where our team starts looking. Since this is a Star Wars novel, it was never in doubt that Norra, Snap, Jas, Sinjar and Jom would ever find Han and it was simply about the journey and the obstacles they’d overcome to reach that point. Upon finding Han, the crew then sets off to achieve an even larger goal, the liberation of Kashyyyk a battle that takes up the third act of the novel. Overall, the characters in this novel are competently written and I actually enjoyed the group dynamic between our heroes. Sinjar, a former Imperial loyalty officer, is earnestly seeking redemption for his past sins and Jas Emari a cold bounty hunter, much to her chagrin , slowly finds drawn to the orbit of a cause greater than herself, something she never wanted. In a sense, Jas is almost the Han Solo of the group, she starts off as the same selfish, self-centered individual we see from Han at the beginning of a A New Hope but slowly finds herself enjoying the family and friends that her new liaison with the New Republic have brought her. These two characters show significant growth in the novel and I enjoyed them. The banter within our group of Imperial Hunters is well done, funny, sharp and quippy and you actually quite enjoy their group dynamic. Mr. Bones, a modified B1 battle droid made infamous in the Prequel trilogy is also a good addition here, (even if he is a blatant HK-47 ripoff, but I digress) as he provided some well needed humor. The group dynamic overall in this commando unit was well done. Ironically, the novel falls apart in the characterization of some of the characters we grew up with, namely Han, Leia, Chewie and Mon Mothma. Han in particular is written haphazardly, his characterization for lack of a better word is just off. I understand that losing Chewie would drive Han to the edge, but the way Han is presented here is almost suicidal, selfish and impulsive, i.e not the Han Solo we came to know in the Empire Strikes Back and in The Return of the Jedi. In short the Han Solo seen here is the antithesis of the crafty, wily, shrewd smuggler of Original Trilogy fame. In the movies, Han always had a trick up his sleeve, he never went in guns blazing and although his plans may have been crazy they never were hail marys, which is what we see here. I personally found Han’s characterization in this novel a throwback to the Han we saw in Episode IV A New Hope which was a misstep, all that growth in the trilogy gone. Leia’s characterization is not much better as there is an incoherent air to the majority of her decision making in the novel. Her dialogue and thought processes are random, and Leia is not the measured and confident leader we see in the movies or even the cynical, competent leader we saw in Bloodlines. Mon Mothma on the other hand is portrayed as cold, callous and even insensitive to one of her closest friends. At worst she is naïve, a slow burn theme that underlies most of the novel and the author’s characterization of the New Republic in general. In this way, Mon Mothma is portrayed as the personification of said naiveté. Another place where the novel simply doesn’t work are the awful interlude chapters that periodically pop up in the novel. I will go so far to say that these interludes commit the cardinal sin of breaking up the narrative of the novel, adding to the overall disjointedness that characterizes this work. Nothing infuriated me more than to actually begin to get into the novel only to run right into an interlude section. These interludes are brief chapters that give a description unrelated to the main plot of the going ons in the galaxy, unattached to our heroes, in other words a complete waste of time. Most of the time, I handled my disappointment by putting the book down and not reading for a couple of days, finally getting the urge to either plow through these sections or simply skip over them. As I said in the review on the previous Aftermath novel these interludes don’t’ contribute one iota to the main plot and their very existence implies that the really good stuff that we should be reading is actually happening in the background, a background that our main characters are not participating in. Note to Wendig, don’t put these in the next novel, please. Likewise, the Interludes add to the dour atmosphere that permeates this book, and it is dour indeed. Joy and comedy are sparse and fleeting. This is not your mother’s Star Wars Universe, I mean even Twilight Company, a Star Wars book set during the Galactic Civil War following a Company fighting a ground war wasn’t this bloody. Arms are lopped off, eyes plucked out and thrown into the fire, soldiers need counseling for PTSD, insurgencies bomb soft targets simply for the goal of creating mayhem etc. This is a novel that doesn’t shy away from the horrors of war, and normally I’m ok with that, but this is Star Wars. You take away the wonder, the sense of adventure, and dare I say it the Force, and all you have is Space Opera and the plot is not good enough to compete on that front. Take away the X-wings, the Star Destroyers and the wookies and this would simply be a run of the mill story about an insurgency that overthrew a brutal galaxy wide dictatorship, i.e a trope that Space Opera has mined for years to great effect. I also found the main villains in the novel lacking, namely the main Imperial puppeteer behind the scenes pulling everyone’s strings. His inclusion was problematic for the main reason that it sidelined and devolved one of the truly great standouts in the first novel Admiral Rae Sloane, a smart Imperial officer who realizes that if the Empire is to survive it most reform. Also his plans upon plans upon plans simply seemed implausible. Add to the fact that the novel went out of its way to build up his mysterious past and his connections to Emperor Palpatine basically amounted to a rather brazen attempt for the author to try and say, I can’t really show you, but this character is super cool and important, just you wait and see, please buy my next book. To which I say yawn. This brings me to my soapbox. Star Wars is unique in the pantheon of Science Fiction/Fantasy in that it is both. None of the post Return of the Jedi books have dealt with either Luke or the Jedi, nor have they provided any insight into the Force, that hookey religion that provides the fantasy of the Universe. Sadly this is a sin committed by Life Debt. Without Luke, there is barely any mention of the Force; there are no cool Jedi feats, no Lightsaber battles, no force acrobatics and certainly no Force Lightning. Without that element, you are missing a key component of what makes Star Wars great, you lose the wonder, the sense of adventure, the mysticism that makes this universe work. In its stead all you have is space opera with a sprinkling of cool bounty hunters, a couple of great Space battles all of which are serviceable but nothing special. These new books lack that excitement, the wonder, the optimism of the universe that sense of forward movement linked to sidelining the more mystical elements of the Universe. In trying to embrace the more grit and realism of the world they risk losing what makes Star Wars fun in the first place. Overall, I found Life Debt certainly better than Aftermath. It’s serviceable but not spectacular, good but not great. With the inclusion of characters like Han and Leia, its scope feels bigger this time and it does do a better job of moving the universe forward. We begin to see the nascent creation of the New Republic and how early but well-meaning mistakes will doom the Republic thirty years later in the Force Awakens. If you are a Star Wars buff this is obviously a must read, but I’d be hard pressed to recommend this novel to anyone outside the fandom.

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