Continuing our informal “If you liked, you should read…” series, I’m taking a look at the Aftermath trilogy by Chuck Wendig. I’ve made no secret that these are my favorite novels of the canon literature relaunch, largely because these books remind me so much of some of the best Legends novels I’ve enjoyed over the years. So without further ado, if you enjoyed the Aftermath trilogy, you should read these Legends novels. To the jump!
This is the obvious comparison, and one I’ve made many times before. In many ways, the Aftermath trilogy is the spiritual successor to the X-Wing novels by Michael A. Stackpole and Aaron Allston. They feature a healthy dose of Wedge Antilles, a sprinkling of film characters throughout, but mostly feature a cast of original characters who live in the trenches and muck of the Star Wars universe. These books are about the everyday grunts who keep the Alliance, and then New Republic, together and the grunts who find themselves suddenly in places where the fate of the fledgling New Republic hangs in the balance.
These books often provide a glimpse into what’s going on in the Galaxy outside of the Skywalkers and Solos and Organas. They’re carried on the backs of new faces. Of all the X-Wing books, though, the ones most similar to Aftermath are likely the ones by the late (great) Aaron Allston. Those novels shared many of the same deft touches, pivoting from humor to tragedy in an instant, and doing more to make you care about the cogs in the military machine than any other set of books I’ve read.
Carrying on the theme of grunts that keep the galaxy humming, there’s no getting around the Republic and Imperial Commando novels by Karen Traviss. If the Clones were your thing, these are the books for you. A bit more straightforward military science fiction than other novels the Star Wars universe has seen to be certain, but if the draw of Aftermath for you was the more armed forces side of the universe, you would be right at home with this series.
It should be pointed out, though, that there has been a fair amount of controversy revolving around author Karen Traviss. On her personal channels she has said things that I vehemently disagree with and find highly offensive. You’ll find those things if you go searching them out, but there are many instances of problematic writers creating important works. For many, the Republic Commando books fit the bill of important Star Wars fiction that covers ground rarely traversed in this universe.
The Thrawn Trilogy
The obvious fit here is that if you liked seeing Aftermath showing the first major crisis after the formation of the New Republic, you’ll dig Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn trilogy. While these books center much more around the heroes of the Original Trilogy, they feature the most analogous stakes to Aftermath’s Battle of Jakku. Of course, it does help that Wedge Antilles and Rogue Squadron are there. Both of these trilogies feature the greatest stakes in this particular era, and both are absolutely worth your time.
If a team up of disparate individuals on varying scales of the screwed up scale is what drew you to Aftermath, another Zahn novel in Scoundrels could be a good fit. What’s not to like about a Lando and Han led novel featuring a rag-tag crew of misfits that was initially pitched as Ocean’s 11 but in Star Wars? The stakes are definitely much lower than other novels on this list, and significantly lower that Aftermath, but the team dynamics are top-notch. If you enjoyed watching Norra’s crew interact and get on each others’ nerves, and you particularly enjoyed Life Debt, you’d very much get a kick out of the Scoundrels game.
The Truce at Bakura and Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor
The Truce at Bakura by Kathy Tyers a little more hit-and-miss than the other novels on this list, but if you want a book that starts a hot minute after Return of the Jedi like Aftermath does, it may be one that works for you. It does cover some of the important early stages of the New Republic, though, particularly winning the allegiances of entire worlds in the chaos of the Empire’s coming collapse on the heels of Emperor Palpatine’s death.
Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor by Matthew Stover, however, is one of the high points of the old Expanded Universe. Taking place shortly after the destruction of the second Death Star, Shadows of Mindor, combines timing with a number of other elements you may have enjoyed about Aftermath. There’s a healthy dose of Wedge Antilles and Rogue Squadron, a bit of mysterious Sith mysticism, and a whole bunch of white-knuckle action.