Review: Star Wars Aftermath – Empire’s End Is A Satisfying End To The Trilogy


The Empire ends in the third and final installment in Chuck Wendig’s Star Wars: Aftermath trilogy, Empire’s End. Or does it? Read Dork Side’s assistant editor Elaine’s review below.

SPOILER WARNING: Mild spoilers may crop up in the following review. If you have not read the book yet and do not want to be spoiled with any plot points or character development, please proceed with caution.

Empire’s End, the final installment in Del Rey’s first canon post-Return of the Jedi book series, released yesterday in hardback and e-book. With its release I expected (or rather, desperately hoped for) answers to all my burning questions: Will any of the heroes die? What is the Empire’s new leader, Gallius Rax planning? Is he Supreme Leader Snoke? If he isn’t, will we meet Snoke at last?

Image Credit: Del Rey Books

Not all of my questions were answered. Indeed, at first I was disappointed in the lack of information Wendig gave, particularly regarding Snoke. But in retrospect, I realize Wendig delivered just the right amount of information after all. Because Empire’s End, like any good Star Wars story, plants the seeds for new ideas and exciting points of speculation. And, like any good book, it handily wraps up the stories of the main characters and the purpose of the trilogy: to tell how the Empire as we know it finally fell.

Aftermath and Life Debt struggled to give each of the large cast of heroes meaningful page time. No such struggle plagues Empire’s End. Even though a couple of characters – like Jom Barell and Wedge Antilles – only get a few pages of thought and dialogue, their words, thoughts, and most importantly, actions are crucial to the story and their character development. Meanwhile, characters who got precious little personal development in the previous two installments in the trilogy, like Jas Emari, shine at the fore of Empire’s End as major movers and shakers.

Image Credit: Del Rey Books

Best by far, however, are the characters of Norra Wexley and Rae Sloane. The conflict between and surrounding these two drives the story forward. The parallels between them are masterfully wrought: both seek revenge and justice, ironically for the same reasons. It is their targets who differ. Sloane pursues Gallius Rax, the now-leader of the Empire who betrayed her and took over her right to lead Palpatine’s regime. Norra, meanwhile, pursues Sloane, who she believes orchestrated the attack on Chandrila in Life Debt and turned her husband into an unwilling assassin. In the end, however, the saving of a planet rests on them working together. Their goals and their overall multi-faceted relationship add humanism and a literary beauty to Empire’s End. Through Norra and Sloane, the book becomes more than just the story of, well, the Empire’s end.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis)

Ph: Film Frame

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Of course, what I and everybody else who is interested in the Aftermath trilogy (and Star Wars in general) wanted to know was: Is Gallius Rax Snoke? The answer is no, he is not. That is made abundantly clear in the end. But we did learn who Snoke might be. That answer lies in the Unknown Regions of space where a source of dark side energy lurks. That source, I’m willing to bet, is none other than Snoke himself. His story, however, will have to be told somewhere else.

And that’s okay. The Aftermath trilogy was never about revealing Snoke’s identity, though some of us made it about that. Its purpose was, as I said above, to tell how the Empire fell and how the First Order began. It accomplishes that purpose in Empire’s End. Moreover, Empire’s End wraps up the stories of our heroes and villains satisfactorily. Wendig doesn’t spend pages and pages waxing poetic about everyone’s fate. He lets his characters start new paths and then leaves what adventures they have up to the reader’s imagination. He ends the stories he started, which is all one can expect of an author.

My only criticism of Empire’s End at this time is Wendig’s writing style, which has been a source of contention since Aftermath released. I find it exaggeratedly flowery and brimming with similes at times. But that criticism may simply be a matter of taste, and it in no way prevented me from enjoying Wendig’s story. It shouldn’t prevent you from reading Empire’s End, either.

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Star Wars: Aftermath – Empire’s End was a satisfying end (no pun intended) to a trilogy of fun books. Purchase your own copy of it TODAY wherever books are sold, in hardcover and e-book format. You won’t regret it.