Holy hobbits, Batman, is that a Star Wars novel in my hand? Haven’t read one of those since about 2004, also known as that distant period in my life when I read virtually all Star Wars novels available at the time. I started with Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire and went on from there. No, it’s not some weird episode I’m terribly ashamed of and evidence of which I tried to erase from my Xanga and Livejournal accounts. I’m perfectly fine with the fact that I was deeply into books set in that universe. I was never really into any other movie- or TV-based book series. Never got into Star Trek, or Doctor Who, or Buffy (I read most of the comics for that one, but I still would rather watch the series). Getting into Star Wars books might have something to do with the quality of the movies, but mostly it was about the fact that I liked that universe and characters and lore.
Eventually I had read everything I wanted to read, and I was not very much into the New Jedi Order books, so I stopped. But here we are, with Star Wars: Aftermath by Chuck Wendig. I enjoyed Wendig’s other books (see my old review of his Mockingbird), and I trusted him to give me a fun Star Wars novel. In true Wendig fashion, there is a lot of stuff happening, and at one point you start thinking maybe there’s too much stuff happening. There are interludes that exist mostly to give you snapshots on the post-Return of the Jedi world (Aftermath is set right after the battle of Endor and the destruction of Death Star II). There are a lot of characters, most of them new, some old (Akhbar being one). In fact, I sort of had to finish it in three days or fewer lest all these people disappeared from my head between readings. It all comes together in the end and sets things up for the next book (this is the first of a trilogy). Plus, there is a little bit of Solo and Chewie, some delightful Easter eggs, and Akhbar basically telling everyone all the time how the remnants of the Empire are devious and should be approached with caution.*
What’s amusing is that Aftermath made me feel as if I were back in 2003 playing Star Wars Galaxies (remember that was a thing?). I think most of the places in the book exist in my head as they were in the game. Meeting people like Akhbar feels like finding them in game. To be honest, I remember all the races and species and what they look like mostly thanks to SWG and Knights of the Old Republic. Game nostalgia is a thing; someone should write a paper on that. (Remember how much time we used to spend waiting for the stupid shuttle?)
By the way, my sci-fi book group is reading Heir To The Empire in January. We aren’t ashamed of that either. Zahn’s books are good.
*IT’S A TRAP