It's finally here — Empire's End, the third entry in the Star Wars: Aftermath trilogy. After a rocky start with the first entry, author Chuck Wendig came back swinging on the second entry Life Debt, which was a much more enjoyable and cohesive story than its predecessor. Part three is now here and there is quite a lot to take. Thankfully, the storytelling is tighter and narrative more energetic than the second book. So what happened at the Battle of Jakku? What was Gallius Rax's mission? What was Palpatine's mission? Let's find out.
The Contingency And Why It Matters
What is the Contingency? That will most likely be your first question after you read the introduction to the novel, which sees the Emperor instigate the Contingency to Rax right after Luke's shuttle flies by and lands on Endor. He states that no matter what the outcome during the coming battle, he will win due to this Contingency. Turns out, the Contingency was a last resort plan to wipe out both the New Republic and the remnants of the Empire.
Comparing himself to the king on a chess board, #Palpatine states that if the king is lost the game is over, no matter how many pieces remain. With the Emperor dying in Episode VI, his cohort Rax is tasked with wiping out the rest of the Empire and taking the very select few strong and essential beings to have them rebuild the Empire in the Unknown Regions of uncharted space. Their first order (get it?)? To start things anew.
The Unknown Reaches Of The Force
Helping the surviving members of the Empire chart the Unknown Regions is data collected from Admiral #Thrawn, who will receive his titular book in April. Using probe droids, the Emperor was collecting information for an expedition into the Unknown before his death. What did they discover in the Unknown and how did it shape the First Order. Does #Snoke find them here?
What we do know is that the Emperor thought the nexus of the dark side of the Force originated here and even felt a presence through the Force coming from this neck of the woods, something Vader was oblivious to. Hmm. Also feeling this presence are the Acolytes of the Beyond, dark side worshipers who launch a coordinated attack across the galaxy with the aid of Tashu and some recovered Sith artifacts. Some of these are destroyed in order to be rejoined with their former masters in death, or so they believe. I like to think that these individuals have a part to play in the origins of the Knights of Ren.
Mesa Called Jar Jar Binks
Perhaps the most tragic interlude in the Aftermath trilogy was catching up with everyone's favorite Gungan Jar Jar Binks. After being exiled and kicked out of the senate for giving Palpatine emergency power, Jar Jar didn't have too many places to go. He became something of a traveling clown, performing tricks for orphans.
While a lot of people laughed at #JarJarBinks in real life, it became more tragic to see that he's an actual being who's down on his luck. Adults don't really talk to him and he's frequently fodder for laughs and cheap jokes. Fortunately, he bonds with an orphan with some serious scars that prevent him from being adopted and the two will travel together, looking for adventure.
The Battle Of Jakku
So why does everyone want to go back to #Jakku? Turns out, the last remnants of the Empire are hiding out there under the control of Counselor Rax. He happens to have one Super Star Destroyer in his possession and has turned the remaining soldiers into something tribal, tossing away protocol in favor of their animal instincts.
Much more vicious, these soldiers are willing to do anything on the battlefield, even sacrificing their own to claim ground against the NR, further illustrating the chess metaphor throughout the book, despite being pawns in Rax's plan to intentionally have them lose. In a daring attempt, a New Republic ship breaks through the blockade protecting the Imperial flagship the Ravager. In a suicide mission, it drags down the monster ship using a tractor beam as it descends to the surface, bringing the destroyer down, all but certifying a New Republic military victory.
If you've played #StarWars Battlefront, you can see the ship crashing in the distance on the Jakku map, although now it doesn't quite match up with the canon, as the New Republic ship is absent from the crash. Also appearing at the battle are TIE Strikers and U-wings, which were introduced in #RogueOne.
Chewie's Got A Son!
In one of the interludes, Wendig and the story canonized a character that initially made us all cringe. Yup, Lumpawaroo from the Holiday Special has been reintroduced to the Star Wars mythos, and thankfully he's no longer as cringe worthy as he was in that dreaded special.
Living as a slave on Kashyyyk, the character formerly known as Lumpa attempts to flee Imperial control. Before he's about to meet with something truly terrible, his estranged father #Chewbacca returns to save him.
Bounty Hunter's Delight
Fans of the animated show The Clone Wars will be happy to know that some of their favorite bounty hunters survive past the events of Return of the Jedi. By the end of the novel, Jas is saved and partners up with a new crew of bounty hunters, including none other than Dengar and Embo.
Together, the crew decided they'll try to do more humanitarian work in the galaxy — akin to the Seven Samurai episode of Clone Wars — now that the Empire is dead and gone. For now.
Rax And Sloane's Fate
After apparently being betrayed by Rax in Life Debt, former Grand Admiral Sloane hunts down the deranged Imperial counselor to the Observatory on Jakku, a resting place for #Sith artifacts. Rax and his advisor Tash, were going to ensure a no-win scenario by ultimately destroying the planet via mined hole that led to the core. Tossing Sith artifacts — and an unwilling Tashu — down the hole, the core erupted and threatened to destroy the planet. Sloane put a stop to this after she exacted her revenge on Rax, but not before he instructed her to join Brendol Hux in venturing into the Unknown and finding the Eclipse, the Emperor's hidden Super Star Destroyer flagship. Together, they'll be tasked with starting over, far from any prying eyes.
I Am The Law: Boba Fett's Armor
One of the interludes that has made its way through all three Aftermath books is the fate of Boba Fett's armor. After being discovered and sold, the armor finds itself in the possession of a former slave, who uses the armor to embody a fierce sense of justice, striking down at the criminal underworld on Tatooine. It looks like Fett is dead in this canon, at least at this point (he lived in the old Expanded Universe) but his image will live on. Perhaps a new comic series could shed more light on this character.
The novel also takes a brief moment to canonize and shed some light on the Old Republic era, specially when mentioning how a smaller fleet can topple a larger adversary. Examples used including the Mandalorians defeating the Grand Army of the Republic and the Ghostfinder Fleet (who?) defeating the Sith Empire. Interestingly, the Republic is defeated against the Mandalorians in this particular reference. Rebels has also been referencing the Mandolorians of the Old Republic lately, possibly hinting at something larger to come? Hopefully we get a firsthand account of this event and it's not just going to be breadcrumbs tossed to us in passing.
The End Of The Galactic Civil War
The Galactic Civil War comes to an official end with the surrender of Mas Amedda, Palpatine's slippery former advisor. Being held hostage by Rax, Amedda escapes with the help of some conniving children on Coruscant and formerly turns himself in to Mon Mothma, who has recently escaped death for the second time in as many books.
Together, they sign the Galactic Concordance, which officially ends the war, sees officers tried as war criminals, and NCOs given pardons, provided they keep the peace. It doesn't quite end there, however; the Battle of Jakku goes on for months, with Rax's soldiers refusing to give up while other pockets of resistance come up to fight. But for the most part, the galaxy is in peace, illustrated by a celebratory festival where no one is arrested or killed.
Now that the Aftermath trilogy is over, it's time to ponder what comes next. Many plotlines are left loose by the end of the novel and it makes me wonder if a new story will be told, perhaps by a different author. It's time for the story group to step away from the period surrounding A New Hope and flesh out the information after Return of the Jedi. From Luke's academy to what Sloane gets up to, the story isn't over yet.
What story are you wanting to know more about in a future Star Wars novel? Sound off below.
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[Main image: Del Rey Publishing]