Aftermath: Empire’s End is the third in a trilogy so this review will contain some spoilers regarding the first two books, Aftermath and Life Debt.
The Aftermath trilogy did not start off very well received. The first book was Disney’s first story in the new continuity taking place after Return of the Jedi. People expected lots of details and developments and such from it and the book just did not deliver that. The sequel, Life Debt, was a bit better because it had more meat on its bones. Neither of these books was necessarily bad in and of themselves; they just did not live up to the hype.
Now we get to Empire’s End, where things start to come together. We know that this book is going to feature the Battle of Jakku, which The Force Awakens told us was the Empire’s last stand. That one battle alone makes this novel important to the franchise as a whole. As do the villain Gallius Rex’s strategies during said battle, as he is carrying out orders from the late Emperor. But beyond that key battle, the stories of this trilogy just are not that interesting. If you are a diehard Star Wars fan that wants to know all the lore, you will get more enjoyment from this. For people who are more interested in the key details, not so much.
Empire’s End largely features the same cast of characters from the previous books. And Star Wars loves to mix and match their characters across stories. Sloane got her first appearance in the novel A New Dawn and popped up in the Kanan comics before becoming a central character here. Temmin is present at the mission briefing in The Force Awakens and popped up in the Poe Dameron comics. Letting the characters be fleshed out across multiple stories, even if they only have minor roles later on, really makes them feel more important and worth the pages spent on their development.
Like the previous two books, Empire’s End features little interludes throughout the story. We see various characters from across the movies doing stuff, but never in too much detail. For the first book, this made a lot of sense. Aftermath came out before Episode VII and Disney did not want to give too much away. These instances feel more like teases than real information but maybe Disney will expand on some of that later.
Try to think of this book as 3.5 out of 5. Independently it feels like it could be 4 stars for a big Star Wars fan, but the fact that you have to read the first two (much worse) books to understand this one just bogs Empire’s End down.