Empire’s End concludes the Star Wars Aftermath trilogy and sets up the next thirty years of Star Wars continuity; like his enigmatic antagonist, Admiral Gallius Rax, author Chuck Wendig is having too much fun breaking apart the Star Wars galaxy and reassembling the pieces.
As the Galactic Civil War winds down to a conclusion at Jakku (the desert planet home to Episode VII’s Rey), we see the players in the galactic paradigm being shifted in the vein of a George R.R. Martin tale. The following are just five of the biggest takeaways from Empire’s End that will no doubt play into future tales. Beware of SPOILERS.
5. Boba Fett Is Dead – Long Live Cobb Vanth
At least, that’s the way it is… for now. While the Expanded Universe lore of the 1990’s opted to resurrect Boba Fett (whom the monstrous Sarlaac had found “indigestible), it seems for now that Fett the person is still being digested for a thousand years, while Fett the idea lives on in the form of Cobb Vanth, lawman on Tatooine.
Vanth was introduced in 2015’s Aftermath via an interlude, discovering a damaged set of Mandalorian armor partially eaten away by acid. Life Debt establishes Freetown, a society of outcasts and nomads patrolled by Vanth on Tatooine. The tale of Vanth and his society pays off here in a big way: criminal syndicates such as Black Sun and Red Key are on the rise in the wake of the Empire’s fall, seeking dominion over Freetown. Cobb Vanth, revealed to be a freed slave, figuratively prods at the beast while vowing to defend Freetown at all costs.
What medium this tale will be told remains to be seen. One would think it would make an interesting plot for the rumoured Boba Fett anthology film – audiences will get their fill of seeing a man in Fett’s armor in action without the baggage of previous continuity and fan expectations. Akira Kurosawa has always been a huge influence on the Star Wars saga, and seeing a Western Star Wars film in the mold of The Seven Samurai/Magnificent Seven, starring Vanth and the defenders of Freetown, would be interesting.
4. The Pirate Ruler Of Wild Space
Super Star Destroyers are one of the biggest forces to be reckoned with in the Star Wars galaxy; they are essentially massive, floating cities armed to the teeth with all sorts of weaponry. That said, there are a finite number of them available, and one of the only remaining SSD’s in the wake of Jakku is the Annihilator, former flagship of Cassio Tagge, the ill-fated admiral seen in Episode IV and the recent Marvel Darth Vader series.
That ship is now in the possession of Eleodie Maracavanya, a reptilian pirate with both male and female traits (alternatively using pronouns he, she, and the gender neutral zher). Renamed the Liberator, Eleodie patrols Wild Space, a mysterious cluster of unmapped star systems near the rim of the galaxy that includes such bizarre worlds as Mortis, Lira San, and Teth, all of which played a big part in the animated series The Clone Wars and Rebels.
Eleodie decides to pick off Imperial survivors of Jakku who limp off to zher neck of the woods, seeing financial opportunity in the fledgling New Republic. That said, there’s now a freaking battle station the size of Manhattan in the hands of dinosaur pirates, so I’m sure that might be a cause for concern down the line.
3. The Unknown Regions
Without delving into too much spoilerific territory of the most interesting aspect of Empire’s End, it’s safe to say that you’ll be hearing a lot more about the Unknown Regions in The Last Jedi and beyond. In the Expanded Universe, the Unknown Regions served as a vector point for many strange alien species, including the Chiss (of Admiral Thrawn fame) and the savage Yuuzhan Vong conquerors. Along with Wild Space, the Unknown Regions are the untamed frontier of the Star Wars galaxy. Many who venture into the unknown never come back, and those who do lose their sanity.
The Unknown Regions will for sure play a big role in upcoming installments of the Star Wars canon. The mysterious ambiguity of the Star Wars mythology seems to have been swept away via years of exposition under the prequel trilogy and the Expanded Universe, and the Unknown regions are a great way of reintroducing this part of the lore.
2. Supreme Leader Snoke & The First Order
Yes, you’ll start to get some actual insight into who or what this enigmatic leader of the First Order is, without being spoonfed backstory… or at least it seems that way. I won’t say anything more. This figure will rise up in the wake of the Empire’s end over Jakku, and one of the things this novel does best is give a sense of complete closure to the pan galactic conflict that dominated the original trilogy and Rogue One. Readers will experience the seeds of Snoke’s First Order being planted.
1. Jar Jar Is Darth Plagueis
News went viral a few days ago that Jar Jar Binks makes his triumphant return to the Star Wars franchise in one of this novel’s man interludes, becoming a disgraced street performer. What the publications didn’t pick up on were the demonic undertones to the vignette. Darth Binks, feigning disgrace for his role in the rise of the Galactic Empire and requiring a new apprentice following the death of the Emperor, uses the current refugee crisis on Naboo to his benefit.
Under the guise of a street clown, Binks befriends a disfigured boy named Mapo, displaced by the Galactic Civil War and desiring vengeance against the galaxy. Sensing the boy’s innate rage and high midichlorian count, Binks delivers this chilling, horrific line to his future apprentice: “Bein clownin is bombad too. My teachin yousa, pallo. Weesa making the whole galaxy smilin, huh?” It sent chills down my spine.
Bravo, Chuck Wendig. Bravo.