Warning: Inevitably there will be SLIGHT SPOILERS AHEAD. You have been warned.
As much as we enjoyed Chuck Wendig’s Star Wars: Aftermath – the first officially canon post-Return Of The Jedi novel – it did occasionally feel hamstrung by the fact that it was clearly keeping its cards very close to its chest.
Here, now that The Force Awakens has been made available to the world, Wendig can afford to let loose a bit, continuing to focus on the disparate band of Rebels: former X-Wing pilot Norra Wexley, her son Temmin (the younger version of Greg Grunberg’s ‘Snap’ from Episode VII) and his enhanced Trade Federation battle droid Bones, defecting Imperial officer and Endor veteran Sinjir Velus, Zabrak bounty hunter Jas Emari and New Republic special forces soldier Jom Barell, as they search for the missing Han Solo, who has gone AWOL while attempting to rescue Chewbacca after their attempt to liberate the Wookiee’s home planet of Kashyyyk goes badly wrong.
Recognisable faces like Han, Leia, Mon Mothma and Wedge Antilles make extended appearances throughout, but really its the aforementioned gang who dominate proceedings. Having already been established in Aftermath, it’s nice to see they haven’t been forgotten about amid all the various goings-on in the galaxy, and there’s more than enough fan service to keep everyone happy.
Like in Aftermath, this takes the form of various ‘Interlude’ chapters. In some cases these are centred around linking the various trilogies together (Mas Amedda! Crix Madine! Maz Kanata), while in others they revisit old planets, some choices of which are more abstract than others (ever wondered what the Rancor keeper on Tatooine did next? No? Well, you’ll find out anyway), but it’s still nice to see that this has been written both by fans and with fans in mind.
For all the action and intrigue, however, ‘awkward middle book in the trilogy syndrome’ sometimes takes hold – this is clearly an interquel rather than a standalone novel in its own right. Those wondering what Luke’s been up to will remain frustrated, and while those with their theories about the first book and how this ties in won’t get a definite answer either way. That’s for the finale, we hope.
While the post-Expanded Universe status quo is still taking some getting used to, Wendig seems to be making a decent fist of telling the kind of story he wants to tell. We look forward to seeing how he ends it all.