Book Reviews star wars

Review – Aftermath: Empire’s End by Chuck Wendig

The epic conclusion to the Aftermath trilogy!

Continuing the momentum from Life Debt, Chuck Wendig does not disappoint with Empire’s End.

Wendig does a great job balancing the individual character narratives while answering the lingering questions, namely what is Rax up to? and how is Norra going to fix it all?

This trilogy of a great showcase of why it’s important to have many different voices in the Star Wars canon. His style is unlike any other SW author that I’ve read, but it was so fitting for the story of the bitter end of the Galactic Empire. Plus he writes really great bad ass female leads who have meaningful, nuanced relationships with others and among themselves.

Norra Wexley was someone we didn’t know the Star Wars canon was missing until we got her

Five stars.

Book Reviews

Review: Aftermath: Life Debt by Chuck Wendig

I had mixed feelings about the first book in the Aftermath trilogy, but Life Debt really delivered. 

Chuck Wendig’s brilliantly brings together Star Wars elements both old and new to continue telling his story in a galaxy far, far away. 

This book could almost stand independently of the first, which is definitely a strength. Though my investment in the characters primarily came from reading Aftermath.

Norra Wexley and her ragtag crew are off bagging and tagging Imperial targets for the fledgling New Republic. Leia Organa–still somewhat a political maveric, despite her central role in the Rebellion ‘s victory–enlists Norra and her team to find her lost husband. Han is desperately seeking a way to find Chewbacca, as the latter was taken due to a bad tip on a potential path toward liberating the Wookie homeworld of Kashyyyk.

Meanwhile, Grand Admiral Rae Sloane and the mysterious Gallius Rax are conspiring to revivify the Empire. Whether or not their aims coincide remains to be seen.

Five stars.

Book Reviews star wars

Review: Resistance Reborn

Del Rey, 2019

Resistance Reborn by Rebecca Roanhorse

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Rebecca Roanhorse has been on my TBR for a while, and after reading Resistance Reborn, I am even more excited to get into her work. My point is: this book delivered, and I highly recommend it!

This review contains light spoilers for the entire novel

Resistance Reborn is peak Star Wars tie-in novel. The main story line of the films is interwoven with other novels and new lore from the Disney canon. Having read most but not all of the sequel era tie-in materials, I was delighted to have this story incorporate elements from Chuck Wedndig’s Aftermath trilogy, Christie Golden’s Inferno Squadron, Charles Soule’s Poe Dameron/Black Squadron comics, and probably more.

Beyond all of the fan-satisfying crossover, though, this was a great novel. The plot is driven by our heroes’ main concern at the end of The Last Jedi, i.e., “where the hell do we go, now?” The Resistance is desperate for supplies, allies, and some space to breathe. A disparate group, made up of former Rebels, Resistance-friends, and even an ex-Imperial, comes together in order to reforge the Resistance through acquiring a list of First Order prisoners likely to be potential Resistance allies and leaders.

Resistance Reborn is primarily plot-driven, though the small character arcs throughout are strong. Poe’s story is the most satisfying. The pilot and Resistance commander must deal with his rash actions during the The Last Jedi. Some of Poe’s self-questioning help get the novel started and set the tone for what is to come.

Two moments in particular stood out. First, when Leia and co. are considering recruiting some former Imperials to the cause, Poe is able to put himself in their shoes because of his own mutinous and destructive behavior. Then, when the rag-tag group is first assembled, Poe takes the lead, but his leadership is called into question by Stronghammer, who has heard about his mutiny and betrayal which in part led to Holdo’s death. Poe has to face what he has done both internally and externally, which was a satisfying move on Rebecca Roanhorse’s part. Our heroes often get away with less than ideal behavior. But in Resistance Reborn, readers are forced to sit with Poe, despite the urgency of the hour, as he self-reflects and determines whether or not he can go on.

Five stars for a great Star Wars novel!

View all my reviews

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The Woman Without a Country

Listening to Rebecca Roanhorse’s Resistance Reborn, I’m realizing something about Princess/Senator/General Leia Organa. She is truly a woman of the galaxy for the galaxy, in large part due to the destruction of her home world, Alderaan.

Perhaps this should have been obvious to me before.

I was thinking about how until the end of The Rise of Skywalker, it appears that literally no one is going to help the Resistance. Old allies or not, most of the galaxy is looking to take care of them and theirs rather than join up another interplanetary struggle against a maniacal, fascist superpower. On the one hand, I get it. It’s hard to fault people for wanting to avoid entanglement with the First Order when the FO literally destroyed the government.

On the other hand, it’s hard to watch Leia, who has given up everything for the betterment of sentient being across the galaxy, be ignored by those who should rally to her side. It often seems so hopeless.

And that made me wonder about Leia and what really drives her. In the destruction of Alderaan, she becomes a woman of no people and a woman of all people.

Take someone who through whatever combination or nature and nurture has an unquenchable spark of home within her chest and uproot her from her home. What do you get? A badass princess who sees the galaxy as her home and the peace therein as something worth fighting for with every ounce of her being.

this week in fandom

This Week in Fandom (1/17/20):

This week, I finished up my third pass through Brandon Sanderson’s The Well of Ascension. See my review here.

For more Sanderson and Mistborn goodness, check out the most recent post in my “Cosmeric Faith” series.

With passing of Rush drummer Neil Peart last week, I opened up the week with a bit of a retrospective of his work and its impact on my own life. For that post, go here.

This week, back at work after a few days off, digging into writing, and life, etc., etc., I have been trying to focus on actually playing when my two-year-old is therefore it. I’ve been startled recently by my own propensity to toward distraction and “what’s next?” while my son just lives *here* in this moment. More on that in What Kids Know.

Speaking of having some time off recently, my wife and I watched A Marriage Story (d. Noah Baumbach, 2019) on our anniversay. Still unclear as to whether it was fitting or not. But I really enjoyed this film. Check out my review here.

I’m still working through Annalee Newitz’s The Future of Another Timeline, slowly but surely–more on that next week hopefully. Also next week, look for my review of Disenchantment season two!

I’ll leave you this week with a quote from Resistance Reborn by Rebecca Roanhorse, the main tie-in movel with The Rise of Skywalker which, yes, I am also reading (audio books, man). I have a lot to gush say about this novel, so more on that soon. For now, the book leads with Poe Dameron dealing with the fallout of his boneheaded, mutinous moves in The Last Jedi. Seeing Poe have to deal with the film’s events and his own actions has been satisfying, and I’m excited to finish the book.

“Was he talking about former Imperials, or was he talking about himself?”

Resistance Reborn, Rebecca Roanhorse (2019)

While not wallowing in self-pity, which would have been out of character and nearly unbearable, it is striking that Poe can identify himself with former Imperials. His own experience of shame due to misguided actions has made room for empathy and open-mindedness toward others. He puts it beautifully later on, talking to a rag-tag group of Resistance sympathizers, some with questionable backgrounds:

“Many of us have dubious beginnings. It’s how we end that counts.”

Resistance Reborn, Rebecca Roanhorse (2019)
this week in fandom

This Week in Fandom (1/3/20): Mistborn, Time Travel, and the Magic of That Screen Crawl

Welcome to the first weekly installment of “This Week in Fandom,” in which I’ll briefly explore what I’m currently into and hopefully synthesize my divergent interests into some sort of coherent life. This Week in Fandom is somewhat modeled after Sanderson’s yearly “State of the Sanderson,” in which he outlines his year and the progress he’s made in various projects. However, instead of outlining my own accomplishments, I intend to outline the ways in which I’m enjoying the accomplishments of others.

The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson.

The second book in the original Mistborn trilogy picks up about a year after The Final Empire. Last week [link] I started a series on how belief plays out in this series. So on this, my third time through, I’m digging in and exploring the ideas that have captured my attention on previous reads. This reread is also the start of another pass through the whole Cosmere for me, since we officially have a Stormlight 4 release date. More on what’s going on with Vin and Sazed later as I have a few more Mistborn and belief posts in the works.

The Future of Another Timeline by Annalee Newitz

I just cracked into this one, but I’m pretty excited. I read Newitz’s debut novel, Autonomous, last year, and it was great. I veer toward more fantasy than sci-fi, but the approach of Autonomous left me ready to open myself up to the genre. In her first novel, the ramifications of A.I. and bioethics drove the plot forward, so it will be great to see how Newitz takes on geological time travel.

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra, Vol. 6: Unspeakable Rebel Superweapon written by Si Spurrier

Doctor Aphra is yet another Star Wars IP that is a dividing line between fans. Aphra is an archaeologist who plays by her own rules and lives by a “play or be played” philosophy. Her early adventures kept her perilously close to Vader, but these last few books have gone deeper into her back story and her absolute brokenness. Aphra is an absolute mess, but we just can’t look away. Sadly, I believe that Aphra is wrapping up with one final book, but I have found her to be a consistently great addition to the SW universe.

See my review of the latest Aphra book here.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Speaking of Star Wars, I was able to catch the final entry of the Skywalker saga again this past weekend. There is so much to say about this film, it’s place in its trilogy, and it’s place in the SW universe, but for now I’ll settle for just how great it was. I loved this movie. No spoilers here, but Kylo Ren’s *moment* atop the Death Star just wrecked me the first time I saw it. I am so satisfied with this film and remain so glad at the Star Wars revival. It’s not that there weren’t aspects of Rise of Skywalker that I didn’t appreciate, but the Star Wars opening screen crawl just has a certain power. It’s magic draws me in and ensures that I am about to generally enjoy whatever happens next. That is my bias that I don’t care to hide at all.

Other Various Media

I don’t think I’ve binge-watched a show since before my two-year-old was born, but I believe that I’m binge-watching The Good Place. I had heard this show was good, but I can now confirm that it is really good. The show pushes the “sitcom” boundaries and manages to ask deep ethical and metaphysical questions while staying in the comedy lane. Considering the other shows that creator Mike Schur has worked on (The OfficeParks and Recreation), it’s unsurprising what absolute gold this show is.

Currently on the back burner is The Silmarillion. I’ve been intending to take the plunge into Tolkien’s Legendarium since I read The Lord of the Rings as a kid, but have never been able to make it work for me. In order to shake things up, I checked out the thirteen (!) disc audio from my local library an have been listening off and on in the car. To be completely honest, I’m four discs in and can only vaguely describe what I have heard so far. That being said, the audio version is having it’s intended effect. The narrator, Martin Shaw, engages the material in a way that is enchanting and enticing. While it’s been a joy discovering the complexity and depth of Tolkien’s world, I think I have been most captured by the sense of beauty that he attempts to convey. The Silmarillion is rife with wonder.

I’ll sign off with a selection from The Well of Ascension. I have always loved Elend’s journey in this book. Elend finds himself as king of the central dominance. Though he believes in the government that he helped create, he does not believe in himself as king. It takes the catalytic tough-love of Tindwyl the Terriswoman, a specialist in the lives of the great leaders of the past, to get him there. From one of their tutoring sessions:

“Is that all it is, then?” Elend asked. “Expressions and costumes? Is that what makes a king?”

“Of course not.” 

Elend stopped by the door, turning back. “Then, what does? What do you think makes a man a good king, Tindwyl of Terris?”

“Trust,” Tindwyl said, looking him in the eyes. “A good king is one who is trusted by his people–and one who deserves that trust.”

The Well of Ascension, 186