For those to whom it is of interest, a collection of posts covering my reading of Star Wars: Aftermath: Empire's End:
Post 1: My copy has arrived! It has begun.
I'm not inclined to a massive spoiler splurge, rather spoiler-coded comments and observations only:
54 pages in:
That the Emperor had a contingency plan for the aftermath of Endor is a neat touch, as is Rax being invited to DS2 to receive his orders.
That the story picks up months later seems odd initially, as the ending of Life Debt suggested that the Battle of Jakku was indeed looming but the point is made that no one knows where the Empire has gone. They are at Jakku but they are not known to be at Jakku.
The first interlude is on Kashyyyk and if you don't love it you're a soulless husk.
Post 2: Pages 55-181
The New Republic is not coming out of this well at all and I'm becoming sceptical that Wendig can bring anything more positive to the fore about it all really.
I have to admit I really thought the quip about Jar Jar was utter crap, so paid it little heed but it is indeed here. The sequence is quite effective and is sad yet fitting - what happens to a fool in the galaxy of the Empire?
Mr Bones has a quite brilliant section whereby he takes an exquisite revenge upon his tormentors, doing unto those as he had been done by! And what was that? Ah, no, not revealing that just yet. "I HAVE DONE VIOLENCE"
I'm starting to suspect the Battle of Jakku isn't going to feature quite as much as I had hoped. Still, there's a lot of the book to go.
An odd flaw is Han talking of himself in the third person, since when?
Post 3:Pages 182-255:
I'm becoming ambivalent about this book now. I really want it to turn things around, as it's been poorly served by the advertising. On the other hand, a character-focused conclusion would be more thematically accurate with the preceding volumes.
It also suffers in comparison with Life Debt - where that opened all manner of doors, this looks to be closing them.
Finally, I'm really not liking the Republic plot. Phone-hacking? Sure slicing has been part of the universe since forever in Legends, but in the last few years its become far, far more dubious.
The core cast and their interaction is as good as ever, but these other elements are cause for concern.
Probably finish it tomorrow, as it's a quick read.
Post 4: So, that's that. All done.
A non-spoiler summary: It isn't the equal of Life Debt but it's way better than Aftermath.
I think this book will frustrate and irritate many given how _Life Debt_ ended. Then, it seemed as if the stage was set for the Battle of Jakku, a big, much talked-of event, but this book doesn't start with that and takes its time getting there. In short Empire's End is not the comprehensive, detailed account of the Battle of Jakku that was hoped for. (This may be a benefit, in that the way is open for Freed to write it as a story of _Twilight Company_.) What is shown suffices for the story and certainly a book like this would be ill-suited for showing the battle, animation might be better - a starting point for a post-Jakku series perhaps?
As a finale, it remains what it has always been - a story about a set of characters who are not Luke, Han and Leia - oh they feature and, Luke may have turned up here and there, intertwined with a question Legends never really got to ask, never mind answer: What happens when the war is over? What do you do? The story shows a variety of answers to these questions.
It does provide a most fitting answer too to why the Empire collapsed as fast as it did, for, in a way: All was as the Emperor willed it. The notion that Sidious did not ever have any tolerance for the concept of succession planning is no surprise, so it should not be so that, in the event of his death, the Empire is to go up in flames with him! At the same time there's a nod to what has to be Snoke, with something calling Sidious to the Unknown Regions, something only he detected.
In the battle of villain versus villain, the Rax-Sloane relationship is indeed an interesting meditation on honesty and deception, for if he is nothing else, at the end Rax is open about what he is while Sloane has become a bit too good at lying to herself and others, which, right at the end of the book, sets her on course for a fate worse than death.
An area where I think there will be a lot of criticism is the New Republic politics, which do not come out of this at all well. Far from Bloodline representing a state of long, gradual decay, from the start we have opponents engaging in criminal activity for political gain. Maybe there's a politics book of what happened after Jakku to come, but right now there's a big void and no way to reconcile the conflicting pictures of the Republic, decades apart, yet similar, except Bloodline gave the clear impression the Republic had worked, which this book blows up.
In response to this it might be asked: What was the Rebellion for? And the answer, I think, has to be that it was always more than politics. It was being able to go for a walk without being stopped by a cop for no reason. It is meeting up with friends, going to a pub, then a meal without the conversations being monitored or being arrested as a result of them. It was to be able to live. Think of all the little freedoms you exercise easily on a daily basis and then consider how different your life would be if they were all gone. That's what it was for, not just the politics.
With respect to continuity, there is a neat weaving in of Thrawn and a nod to Shattered Empire.
This was a good read and a good finale, but like its initial predecessor, Aftermath, the advertising hasn't helped and could work against it.
I'm still looking forward to Thrawn and the couple of Rogue One related books due in May - Guardians of the Whills and Jyn Erso: Rebel Rising, but that's all in terms of Star Wars right now.