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[A Long Time Ago In A Galaxy Far, Far Away...]
Events that occur after Episode IV: A New Hope.

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Read by Marc Thompson.
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[Aftermath: Life Debt - audiobook]

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Aftermath: Life Debt
Chuck Wendig
Del Rey

Story published as:
Hardback Book (2016)
e-Book (2016)
Audio Book (2016)
Paperback Book (2017)

If you have read this story, please rate it:
2 reviews [Review score: 3.5 / 5]

It is a dark time for the Empire...
The Emperor is dead, and the remnants of his former Empire are in retreat. As the New Republic fights to restore a lasting peace to the galaxy, some dare to imagine new beginnings and new destinies. For Han Solo, that means settling his last outstanding debt, by helping Chewbacca liberate the Wookiee’s homeworld of Kashyyyk.
Meanwhile, Norra Wexley and her band of Imperial hunters pursue Grand Admiral Rae Sloane and the Empire’s remaining leadership across the galaxy. Even as more and more officers are brought to justice, Sloane continues to elude the New Republic, and Norra fears Sloane may be searching for a means to save the crumbling Empire from oblivion. But the hunt for Sloane is cut short when Norra receives an urgent request from Princess Leia Organa. The attempt to liberate Kashyyyk has carried Han Solo, Chewbacca, and a band of smugglers into an ambush—resulting in Chewie’s capture and Han’s disappearance.
Breaking away from their official mission and racing toward the Millennium Falcon’s last known location, Norra and her crew prepare for any challenge that stands between them and their missing comrades. But they can’t anticipate the true depth of the danger that awaits them—or the ruthlessness of the enemy drawing them into his crosshairs.

Trade paperback edition includes short story Blade Squadron: Kuat by David J. Williams & Mark S. Williams.

This story occurs between 4 and 5 years after Episode IV: A New Hope.

Related Stories (in chronological order):

Review by Darth Kondorr, Poland, 2017:

The last time I visited Kashyyyk was with Lord Vader during his conquest of the Wookiee home planet in Luceno's amazing Legends book, Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader. Back then it was still a world full of life, much like the galaxy, the Old Republic before the Clone Wars. But now that the galactic occupation and the war to end it is over, wounds are many and deep. Will the Wookiees be able to shatter their shackles, which at this point might have entered their very DNA? Will the New Republic survive its birth, or will it die upon its first breaths?
The first book in the Aftermath trilogy was relatively small scale, introducing a motley crew of characters, but not really bringing them together. It was more of a prelude, than a proper first part. With it, Wendig created the foundation for the emotional attachment, which he formed beautifully right at the very beginning of this second book. Still a band of individuals, but functioning as a unit, the characters have a surprising chemistry and it is a delight to witness them before it all falls apart again.
The threat is still something of a phantom, we know who the bad guys are, there is a lot of grey guys and some good guys, but the end game is not fast revealed, so the book makes good use of compelling characters and one obvious legacy character to keep the reader engaged.
I was hoping the Empire would put up more of a true fight, similar to its reemergence during Thrawn's leadership in the Legends books, but as is, it still is intriguing only more devious and dirty.
The book is better than the first one in almost any aspect (more legacy characters, a bigger scale, more emotional arcs for the new crew) but there is one twist, that felt a bit forced, improbable and cliché. It also is kinda reminiscent of what already happened in the first book. That is why I rate this one only a strong four in five. But there is a second reason this one gets only a rating of four... there is one reference, that literally hurt me physically... because it referenced the worst new canon story to date, that Harbinger nonsense... ugh... everything that reminds of this deserves to be one point lower!

Rating: 4 / 5

Review by Ewan, Star Wars Books & Comics, 2016:

Following the complaints and controversies, whether warranted or not, that surrounded the release of Wendig's first Star Wars novel, Aftermath, in 2015, many readers should find Life Debt more accessible. Firstly, Wendig has toned down his writing style - it's still written in third person present tense but fewer sentence fragmentations litter it than Aftermath. Secondly, this story includes some more recognisable characters, including some from the films, notably Han and Leia have a larger role in this story. Although they are not used in the principal plot, Wendig uses them to anchor his story with characters we are familiar with.
Life Debt picks up shortly after Aftermath as we join the characters he previously established, Norra, Wexley, Sinjir, Jas, Jom and Mister Bones on their latest mission to capture another senior Imperial figure for the New Republic. They are then recruited by Leia to find her husband (Han and Leia married almost immediately after the Battle of Endor, probably during the celebrations on the forest moon), who has disappeared trying to liberate Chewie's home planet (a plot mentioned briefly in one of Aftermath's interludes). In all honesty the Han/Chewbacca plot wasn't as strong as I was expecting - simply reading the book's synopsis reveals pretty much what to expect. Moreover, Han is unlikely to fail, with or without secondary help. For many this was the expectation of the book's title: the former Expanded Universe had established the concept of the Wookiee life debt. Instead Wendig choses to use this title to further explore the relationships of his own characters - their debts to one another, the Rebellion, the fledging New Republic, and to their own families or loved ones and how far any of these people are willing to sacrifice their own life to fulfil these debts. Added to this are the foundations of debt the Imperial antogonists have to themselves, the Empire and their superiors. From this examination comes the highlight of Wendig's story: Rae Sloane.
Grand Admiral Rae Sloane, a character first introduced in 2014 in John Jackson Miller's A New Dawn, stands out as it is Wendig's telling of her suspicions and investigations of the mysterious Fleet Admiral that allows the reader to fully understand her life debt to, following the deaths of the Emperor and Vader, what she begins to consider as her Empire. Surprisingly the great mystery of Aftermath, the identity of the mysterious Imperial Fleet Admiral, is revealed without fanfare early on in this book. It was almost as if the reader should have been aware of this after reading Aftermath. Contrasting with Sloane's powerful sense of duty is the Fleet Admiral's machinations to not only push the New Republic and the remnants of the Empire towards a final encounter (which we know will eventually be at Jakku) but also his scheming to further his hidden agenda (which we don't know and isn't revealed here), because he has a personal debt towards the man who selected him for this top secret mission: the Emperor.
While some elements of Life Debt are predictable and Wendig's exploration of his own character's may come across as trope, it is undoubtly his examination of the antogonists that make this book a worthwhile read.

Rating: 3 / 5

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