Okay, despite my clever (okay, sorta clever…fine, fine, lame) title, there really isn’t much actual “war” in Aftermath, not hot, troops on the ground, fleets in the outer atmosphere, war, anyway (btw, if you haven’t read Aftermath, WTF IS WRONG WITH YOU!?!?! I mean, uh, you should probably not read this). Though, it’s not really cold war either…more like lukewarm war, something like cats and dogs…maybe…moving on…the book skips forward from the end of Return of the Jedi, past the majority of the remainder of the real war portion of the conflict to more skirmish-style engagements (it seems like the Shattered Empire comics are taking care of the immediate post-RotJ action), to a galaxy that’s adjusting to the absence of the Empire as much as the reintroduction of a republic. To be honest, by omitting a few references, the main story could easily take place during the early stages of the rebellion, and felt like a natural progression based on where things were when we left off. The Interludes do a magnificent job of highlighting the variety of goings-on around the galaxy and painting a picture of what this huge galactic change means for several different types of people on planets running the gamut from the core to the outer-most rim. The Interludes are so interesting, in fact, that I’m going to focus on them independently in another post. This entry will be about the main characters of the story, a story of getting the band together, which is essentially what this book breaks down to…think of it like A New Hope for this set of characters, several sets of coincidences throw them into a narrative and set them on a path toward something bigger…
Better Than Ezra?
If you grew up in the 90s, that’s hilarious…or probably at least made you let out one chuckle or a cursory “heh”…anyway, it’s hard not to see the parallels between Temmin and Ezra: they both lost their parents because of their involvement in the rebellion and had to fend for themselves at a too-young age, both of them drifted into, let’s say, less than desirable lifestyles (though I have to admit, Temmin’s choice of secret, black market dealer trumps Ezra’s petty theft and underground event ticket sales) and they both end up, somewhat reluctantly (more-so for Temmin), joining a group of rebels…or anti-Imperials, I guess…but then the two characters diverge into Ezra’s more common parent-less protagonist with a heart of gold, and Temmin’s reunited-mother-and-son-that-don’t-get-along-and-eventually-the-son-sells-the-mother-out-but-has-a-change-of-heart-and-saves-the-day non-archetype. The dynamic between Norra and Temmin is refreshing in its reality – parents and teens don’t typically see eye-to-eye under normal circumstances, so the overly-strained relationship they have feels realistically accurate. But, let’s be honest, the best thing to come out of that family being involved in the story is MISTER BONES. Just hell yeah. I actually started a (bad) fanfic several years ago about a young clone that befriends a B1 droid that was kept on Kamino, so this “boy and his droid” pair was a definite home run for me…not to mention the fact that Bones is just a legitimate badass. And, on the subject of badasses, Norra ranks pretty high as well with her stellar piloting skills and hardcore devotion to the cause…but, she should definitely be dead…I mean, by the time I read “And then she’s gone.” I was thinking to myself “yeah right.” At that point I’d have been more surprised if it wasn’t a ruse and she actually was dead. If you imagine the chapters as episodes of a show, it works better, but, in general, the “cliffhangers” got a little tired…especially since it was always crying wolf and no one ever actually died.
The Good Bad Guy & the Hunter
After the incomparable MISTER BONES, Sinjir is my favorite character in this novel. I think he’s a great personification of someone who’s become disenchanted with not just the Empire, but himself…and has decided to drink himself into a constant stupor as compensation. It’s unfortunately not far from the reality many veterans face after coming back from war, even if they were on the “winning” side. It makes him a raw, likable guy, despite the things he reveals he used to do for the Empire, and, despite his seeming apathy toward all things, you see that he was either deep-down a good guy, or really turned a corner after Endor…and maybe, just maybe, that nod he shared with a strange alien amid the turmoil is what sparked something inside him to change…or maybe that was all a clever ploy to build up a sense of romance between the two of them that Sinjir could then squash with his admission that girls aren’t really his cup of tea, or probably cup of booze, actually. And, speaking of strange aliens, Jas also gets an Aftermath badass stamp. I like the way she seems to get into her own head about things, especially her bounties, always trying to get that bigger score instead of going for the sure thing. I also liked the idea that she was related to Sugi from Clone Wars. It was a nice nod to the prequel era, and an interesting take on bounty hunting being sort of a family affair, even for people that aren’t named Fett. I thought it was pretty funny how Sinjir sort of joked about the fact that Zabraks seem to hail from two planets, but, really, it seems like Humans can come from dozens of worlds, so why couldn’t Zabraks come from two? Anyway, the last member of the crew was kind of blah for me, granted, he served a fairly important role in the battle, but he was just kind of there…a mostly generic soldier archetype dropped (literally) in the middle of the story that didn’t even get a nod in the header…poor guy.
Bad to the Sloane
I was certainly pleasantly surprised to encounter madam Sloane from A New Dawn again. I had expected her to be a one-and-done character that may get a nod in an episode of Rebels, but would otherwise fade into obscurity. But! Not only was she back, she was back with a vengeance. She went from a lowly substitute that was trying to climb that irregular, backstabbing, every man for himself Imperial ladder to a stern, would-be leader of the Imperial remnant (that’s right, I said it!)…except then at the end you find out she was a pawn for the mystery admiral, so, that’s a bit of a bummer, but it was still nice to see her again (and I’d say there’ll be a good bit of Sloane left in our future). Now, speaking of this mystery admiral, who could he be? My first thought was General Tagge, but it doesn’t make much since for him to take the rank “admiral” if he’s already grand general, plus the mystery man doesn’t really act like Tagge so he seems like a long shot. The obvious(ish) answer is he’s the person who becomes Supreme Leader Snoke, but I prefer to think of Snoke as an even more mysterious person that they find in their travels in the outer regions…it would make sense to refer to someone that can use the Force as a weapon, though, but the surprise existence of a powerful, Force-using admiral seems like a big stretch. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least mention that he could be the canon version of Thrawn, which would sit just fine with me…especially since I’d like to have a high-ranking, alien Imperial back in canon (assuming he would still be Chiss, or at least some kind of alien)…personally, I think, whomever he is, he’s going to be the intermediary between the leftover Empire and the First Order. I wonder if we’ll get any hints to his identity via The Force Awakens (I doubt it), or if we’ll have to wait until the second installment of the Aftermath trilogy…either way, I’m certainly looking forward to the unraveling of the mystery.
Ha! Suck it other Imperials, you’re expendable! Just kidding, it’s not like that…I mean, it sort of is, but it’s also a group of what I think of as the Imperial stereotypes: first you have Moff, oh, excuse me, Grand Moff Pandion, the pompous, power-hungry, commanding, feared and probably Vader-esque in his response to failure type of Imperial – what I might describe as the quintessential high-ranking officer, honestly, he’s devoured the Emperor’s kool-aid and believes the Empire is still the supreme strength in the galaxy and can do no wrong by using that power; second there’s Yupe Tashu, the quirky, yes-man, ex-advisor to Palpatine that has also not only devoured the kool-aid but basically runs on it like a MACK truck guzzles diesel – he did offer one of the most intriguing revelations of the whole book, though, with his speech about how there have been missions out beyond known space in search of the source of the dark side…I’m wondering if the awakening of the Force doesn’t come from finding said source…my first inkling when I read the passage was of the Son from that strange Clone Wars “Mortis” arch…sure, when last we saw Mortis, it was an empty place, but what if that was just the iteration of Mortis that revealed itself to Anakin, Obi-Wan and Ahsoka? What if there are infinite versions of Mortis based on who encounters it? That would explain an awakening of both the dark and the light, the Son and the Daughter…it sounds crazy, I know, but crazy enough to be true, which is the best kind of crazy; third, you have Jylia Shale, a somewhat calm, stable, intelligent, voice of reason type that I imagine were few and far between in the Empire at large – I’d say Sloane is actually a bit of an amalgamation of the cool-headed Shale and hot-tempered Pandion, a mix that I believe made it possible for her to make it back to the mystery admiral; lastly, for forth and fifth, there’s the two walking bags of opulence that the Empire uses as coin purses in the satrap and Arsin Crassus – during the height of the Empire, they could have been two of several thousand individuals on dozens of worlds across the galaxy, but as it is there are fewer choices in financiers and palaces to crash (or rather people to drain dry while turning your back on whatever activities average citizens may not get away with).
So there they are, the dramatis personae of one story among hundreds going on in a galaxy far, far away after the destruction of the second Death Star and the end of the reign of the Emperor – what adventures await them going forward? How will said adventures influence the galaxy we see in The Force Awakens? Who is the mystery admiral? Will there ever be a better character created than MISTER BONES? Frankly, I’m almost as excited to find out the answers to these and several other questions about the state of things in the aftermath as I am to see that movie that comes out later this year…almost…really, I’m just excited to gobble up anything and everything Star Wars, and, I assume since you’re reading this, you are as well, so, despite being just stardust and nothing, I appreciate it. Now, go out and find more Star Wars to indulge in, and may the Force be with you…