Life Debt: Aftermath Review
Life Debt is a wonderful addition to the Star War line of novels that compose the New Canon. Chuck Windig has improved on his first novel (Aftermath) and expanded it to include multiple locales, characters, and mysteries. While there only a few missteps, the overall story is engrossing and near impossible to put down.
The story of Life Debt deals with two main storylines: the disappearance of Han Solo and the Imperial leadership struggling to maintain control. Both storylines are impacted by multiple characters and the idea of having a life debt is a central theme.
Minor Spoilers Ahead!!!!
What Works in Life Debt?
Mystery! Chuck Windig gives several storylines, some in his interludes, but frankly others that are both compelling and captivating. It is the mystery that has always been a part of Star Wars. Life Debt comes through on that front in spades.
The villains are compelling. With the further exploration of the “mysterious fleet admiral” revealed at the end of Aftermath, to the delightful Admiral Rae Sloane, Life Debt’s villains are as compelling (if not more) than the heroes. Rae Sloane needs her own novel. She is that good and her story that interesting.
It was delightful to see Han, Chewie, Leia and others in this story. In fact, Han has the best line in the novel in my opinion. None of the characters really dominated the story, which allowed for other characters to shine.
All of the new characters introduced in Aftermath are fleshed out even more in Life Debt. Sinjir, the form Imperial, and Jas, the Bounty Hunter, are the standouts. Many of the characters have to contend with their own past struggles, which results in some compelling themes. Thankfully, almost every character has a moment to shine.
What about the Interludes?
The Interludes didn’t distract me as much as they did in Aftermath. Between some of the chapters are interludes that go to different areas of the Star Wars Galaxy and show the reader what is happening. Several of them surprised me. They were entertaining, mysterious, and never diverted me from the main storyline. That was a wonderful surprise. Some people you might see or hear of are the likes of Boba Fett, Maz Kanata, and even the trainer of Jabba’s rancor from The Return of the Jedi.
I think the Interludes were a shock to my system in Aftermath. It was the first big story set after Return of the Jedi and it was really hard to get my bearings on what all was happening in the Star Wars Galaxy. After several more novels and The Force Awakens, it was much easier to jump around the galaxy. In fact, I found myself very excited when a new Interlude popped up.
What doesn’t work in Life Debt?
There are times when the dialogue falls flat for me. I think many readers won’t be bothered by it and find the dialogue adequate. Unfortunately, I got pulled out of the story when a line from the films would be reused. I just found it to be distracting.
Some of the romance did not work for me. It was hard for me to buy into several relationships in the novel. The most notable one was between Jas, the bounty hunter, and Jom, the commando. I had a hard time finding their relationship believable from either an emotional or physical perspective.
Overall thoughts on Life Debt?
Go get it. Pick this one up. With Life Debt the Aftermath Trilogy is becoming one of the most foundational stories of the Star Wars Canon books. It provides enough mystery, excitement, and all the things that make us love Star Wars to make you stay up late at night to finish it. That is what happened to me.
4 Death Stars out of 5