Tag: books

Star Wars Aftermath: Empire’s End returns Lando to Cloud City

empires_end_coverSource text: ScreenRant

In the Star Wars original trilogy, Lando Calrissian went from a skeezy double crossing businessman to a General of the Rebel Alliance and one of the biggest heroes of the Battle of Endor. Needless to say, many fans were upset to find him without an appearance in The Force Awakens, even though the rest of the main cast from the OT was reunited. With Donald Glover putting on the cape and mustache for the now-officially-in-production young Han Solo movie, Lando is officially on his way back to the big screen. While he hasn’t had a presence in the new movies yet, the character hasn’t been entirely unused in other stories – he’s had a couple appearances in Star Wars Rebels, and even got his own Marvel miniseries.

lando-star-wars-rebelsLando voiced again by Billy Dee Williams in the Star Wars Rebels episode Idiot’s Array.

Remember Lando’s first scene in Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back:






There have only been a few books and comics that take place in the 35 year span between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, but the real heavy lifting during that era has been done by Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath trilogy, which is about to be concluded with Aftermath: Empire’s End on February 21:

Aftermath previously served as the only post Return of the Jedi story to include Wedge Antilles in any significant way in modern canon, and it looks like Empire’s End is going to do the same thing for Lando Calrissian. As is revealed in a recent excerpt from the book, released by io9 (read the full excerpt here), Lando is back at Cloud City, trying to pick up where he left off before the Empire showed up on his doorstep.

The excerpt includes a couple major connections to previous Star Wars stories. The first is from the (now cancelled) mobile game Star Wars: Uprising, where the Imperial Governor Adelhard creates a blockade in the Anoat sector (home to Bespin and Hoth), and attempts to retain imperial control immediately after the Battle of Endor.

“After Endor, he thought he would just be able to sweep in here like a handsome king retaking his throne in the sky—but then that son-of-a-slug Governor Adelhard formed the Iron Blockade. He kept the people here trapped not only by a well-organized Imperial remnant, but also by a grand lie: that Palpatine was not dead.”

lando-calrissianThe second reference ties back to one of the “interludes” from the first book in the trilogy, Star Wars: Aftermath, where an uprising in Cloud City is led by a pirate, Kars Tal-Korla, who’s working with Lando’s right hand man, Lobot. Not so surprisingly, the Empire’s End excerpt reveals that Lobot is still working with Lando, who had slowly led this uprising from the shadows to eventually beat Governor Adelhard’s blockade and retake Cloud City.

The excerpt takes place on Cloud City’s casino level, which may remind many fans of rumors that some characters visit a “casino planet” in The Last Jedi. Obviously Lando doesn’t run every casino in the galaxy (as much as we’re sure he’d like to), but fans hoping for a Billy Dee Williams appearance in Episode VIII will obviously be encouraged by this passage.

The passage also features a Hamilton Easter egg (“The Rebellion was easy, Lando. Governing’s harder.”), and Lando stresses about a baby gift for Han and Leia. While it’s only a brief tease of what Empire’s End has in store – outside of finally revealing more details about the Battle of Jakku – it’s definitely enticing for Star Wars fans, especially those that love the cape-wearing Baron Administrator of Cloud City, Lando Calrissian.

Star Wars Aftermath: Empire’s End will hit stores on February 21.

Star Wars: Grand Admiral Thrawn explained


Source: ScreenRant.Com and MoviePilot.Com

The big news coming out of this past summer’s Star Wars Celebration was the announcement that a certain legendary character from the original iteration of the Expanded Universe (that overflowing collection of novels, comic books, short stories, and video games) would be popping up in the new Disney-owned Star Wars saga: Grand Admiral Thrawn, the villain originally introduced to take the place of the fallen Dark Lords of the Sith, Darths Sidious (Ian McDiarmid) and Vader (David Prowse/James Earl Jones).

The only alien that Emperor Palpatine trusted to climb the Imperial ranks, the good admiral will first be popping up in the season 3 premiere of Star Wars Rebels (where he’ll be voiced by Lars Mikkelsen) before arriving once again in book form, in the appropriately titled Star Wars: Thrawn. The latter is scheduled to be released on April 11, 2017 and will act as a prequel to Thrawn’s television run, covering his first encounter with the Empire and ending just before Rebels‘ third season.

Newer viewers and readers can be forgiven for not being familiar with Thrawn, and even those battle-hardened story veterans may need a bit of a refresher, given just how many decades it’s been since the character was initially established – and given some of the continuity problems that the reintroduction of the character can cause. It may be necessary all around, therefore, to ask one simple question: Who Is Grand Admiral Thrawn?



“To defeat an enemy you must know them. Not simply their battle tactics, but their history, philosophy, art.” – Grand Admiral Thrawn

When publisher Bantam Spectra and Lucasfilm agreed in the late 1980s that a trilogy of novels set in the immediate years after Episode VI: Return of the Jedi would be a tremendous financial success, Timothy Zahn was selected to be its author. Zahn, in turn, realized that he would need a villain not only to propel the books’ plot, but to also stand up to the legacy of Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader (who, at the time, were unknown to both be Sith Lords, a revelation which wouldn’t come to light until nearly a decade later, in Episode I: The Phantom Menace).

Zahn’s accurate instinct was to create an antagonist who would represent a wholly different approach to Imperial hegemony; one who valued strategy over brute force, creative contributions from subordinates instead of simple blind obedience, and who possessed an unshakably calm demeanor as opposed to the rage-filled outbursts from Lord Vader (and, later on, Kylo Ren [Adam Driver]). Thrawn is an individual who prizes art above all else, both for its external beauty and for its intrinsic ability to carry an entire people’s psychological disposition within it. By studying a civilization’s art, along with dabs of its culture and history, he could deduce the strategies they would deploy on the battlefield, allowing him to always be three steps ahead of whatever opponent he was currently facing. When combined with his very alien appearance – blue skin, jet-black hair, glowing red eyes – the resultant effect is a character who is wholly unique in all of Star Wars, from the movies to the rest of the old EU to, most recently, the television outings.

In short, it’s absolutely no surprise that Lucasfilm would bring him back into the new Star Wars canon status quo.

Fans finally got their wish when Thrawn’s appearance was revealed in the latest Star Wars Rebels Season 3 trailer. The reveal of Thrawn comes in around the 1:55 mark.



In the years before Episode IV: A New Hope, Thrawn is able to do the impossible: work his way up the Imperial ranks in a largely human-only club, where he eventually reaches the dizzying rank of grand admiral (another invention by Timothy Zahn) and is eventually made the commanding officer in charge of exploring the Unknown Regions, those uncharted territories beyond the galactic rim.

He returns from his mission four years after the Galactic Empire’s defeat at the Battle of Endor to fill the Emperor’s larger-than-life shoes (robes?), attempting to shore up the shrinking Imperial numbers, topple the still-fledgling New Republic, and reassert Palpatine’s New Order once and for all. This campaign, which comes so narrowly close to being successful, forms the basis of Timothy Zahn’s inaugural trilogy of books: Heir to the Empire (1991), Dark Force Rising (1992), and The Last Command (1993) (which, collectively, have since come to be known as the Thrawn trilogy, for obvious reasons).

trilogyDie-hard fans know that Thrawn was a character who was introduced by author Timothy Zahn in his first novel Star Wars: Heir to the Empire. That novel eventually turned into a trilogy (Dark Force Rising and Last Command were the other two) and was the first set of stories to follow the conclusion of Return of the Jedi.

As the final volume in this series comes to a close and as the grand admiral’s immaculate plans start to miraculously unravel, the unexpected happens: Thrawn is betrayed by one of his most loyal servants, being stabbed in the back while sitting in his command chair aboard his flagship, the Star Destroyer Chimera (even here, with the double shock of betrayal and death ravaging him, Thrawn never loses his trademark calm, wryly noting “But… it was so artistically done”). Just like that, the gravest threat that the New Republic has yet faced dissipates, allowing the government time to stabilize and granting Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) the chance to, at long last, create that New Jedi Order he has long been burdened with initiating.


That would, obviously, seem to be the end of Thrawn, but he is resurrected, both literally and figuratively, five years later, for Zahn’s next big Star Wars outing: Specter of the Past (1998) and Vision of the Future (1999), which together comprise the Hand of Thrawn duology. With the still-existing Empire on its last legs (yes, once again) and with the New Republic on the verge of disintegration and civil war (again), Grand Admiral Thrawn’s clone rises to take his progenitor’s place, and the sheer announcement of his “return” is enough to place nearly the entire galaxy into a state of panic.

In an interesting, if somewhat cliché, move, Zahn offers two twists almost back-to-back, which serve to end The Hand of Thrawn, starting with the revelation that the man presumed to be the admiral’s clone is actually an imposter, and ending with Master Luke discovering the real clone, who was created immediately after the real Thrawn’s death a decade earlier but has yet to be awoken. After a debate over the morality of killing the genetic offspring (since he technically has committed no crimes and all), the clone dies, anyway, when Luke and his compatriot are forced to blast their way out of the cloning facility.



Timothy Zahn ultimately couldn’t resist playing with his most famous creation one final time, doing so across the novels Survivor’s Quest (2004) and Outbound Flight (2006), with the former having more to do with Thrawn’s legacy than anything else and the latter being a prequel, delivering a full story based off of an off-hand reference made in the Thrawn trilogy about a key episode in the grand admiral’s secretive past. Interestingly enough, it is in these final Thrawn outings that we glimpse some of the continuity difficulty that Dave Filoni, the showrunner of Rebels, and Zahn himself will now be facing in their attempts to assimilate the iconic character in this new iteration of the Expanded Universe.

To explain, let’s back up for a moment. As part of his efforts to furnish the story for his initial trilogy of books, Zahn had nearly free reign in providing his own explanations for a number of mysterious plotlines that were left over from the movies (such as what, exactly, the Clone Wars were, or how Palpatine could have been a Force wielder without having been a former Jedi Knight). But once the prequel trilogy started to arrive on the scene, bringing along with it the official answers to these riddles, Zahn needed to attempt to reconcile the two continuities. Hence, none other than Darth Sidious himself makes an appearance in Outbound Flight – which is now inserted in between The Phantom Menace and Episode II: Attack of the Clones – striking a bargain with the newly-discovered Thrawn out in the Unknown Regions to help him start to pick off Jedi, some 10 years before the Purge. (An effort was also made to place the episode – and all of Thrawn’s backstory, more generally – in the context of preparing for the eventual war against an extra-galactic alien race known as the Yuuzhan Vong, whose arrival formed the basis of the “New Jedi Order” publishing program that lasted from 1999 to 2003 and which consisted of no less than 19 books.) It was a fine narrative needle to try and thread, but Zahn plugged away at it dutifully, fudging the details in order to make a general fit.


Such a messy integration is seemingly needed once again, as both the author and the Rebels writing staff have indicated that references to the character’s past (and now-invalidated) adventures will be included in both the television episodes and the new novel, a move which can potentially open a Pandora’s box of continuity chaos. Will the character’s earlier alliance with the once-and-future Emperor Palpatine be carried over, and, if so, will extra moves be taken to scrub all the old-EU-specific detritus away from the narrative core? Will the brilliant battlefield strategies that older readers were originally delighted by 25 years ago in Heir to the Empire be dusted off and repurposed for Rebels – something which could bore the long-time fans? And, finally, will the more out-there scenarios, such as having several Thrawn clones waiting to run around the galaxy once their genetic antecedent bites the dust, be invoked – possibly in Episode VIII or IX? (It’s a possibility which, actually, isn’t that far-fetched, given that Rebels and its predecessor, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, have already brought Darth Maul [Ray Park] back to life, robotic spider legs and all.)

And all of this doesn’t even address the fundamental issue underlying the entire enterprise – should the new Expanded Universe stories address, or otherwise reinforce, their older, non-canon versions? If left unchecked, such a move would ultimately and inexorably lead to the boundary between the two versions being erased entirely, resulting in an even bigger, inchoate mess than what the original EU was during its more awkward early days (after the Thrawn trilogy and before Del Rey imposed a strict top-down game plan on the narrative proceedings).


Just when you thought the news couldn’t get any better, Timothy Zahn himself revealed to the mass audience that a new Star Wars novel will be released in April 2017 simply titled Star Wars: Thrawn. The novel will look to shed some light on this fan-favorite character.

But all of those are future concerns best left to a different day. For now, all that Star Wars fans should concentrate on is the fact that one of the most brilliant additions to that galaxy far, far away is set to become, at long last, a canon resident – and that he’s probably here to stay.

Leia uses the Force in new novel Aftermath: Life Debt


Source: ScreenRant.Com.

Luke: It won’t be easy for you to hear it, but you must. If I don’t make it back, you’re the only hope for the Alliance.
Leia: Don’t talk that way.  You have a power I don’t understand and could never have.
Luke: You’re wrong, Leia. You have that power, too.  In time, you’ll learn to use it as I have.  The Force is strong in my family. My father has it.  I have it. And… my sister has it. Yes. It’s you, Leia.
Leia: I know. Somehow… I’ve always known.

Star Wars Episode VI – Return of the Jedi


In Return of the Jedi, audiences learn that Princess Leia Organa is Luke Skywalker’s twin sister. As the daughter of Anakin Skywalker, it means that Leia is Force sensitive and has the potential to be a Jedi Knight if she so chose. Of course, the siblings went down very different paths following the Battle of Endor. Leia became a leading figure of the New Republic before assuming command of the Resistance; Luke went off on a quest for the lore of the Jedi and exiled himself on Ahch-To once Ben Solo became Kylo Ren.

Still, Luke mentions to Leia, “In time, you’ll learn to use it as I have.” As fans have seen with Maz Kanata in The Force Awakens, it is possible to know the Force (and control it) without becoming a full-fledged member of the Jedi Order. It would appear that Leia fits that bill, if passages in the new canon novel Aftermath: Life Debt are any indication. At some point, Luke taught his sister some lessons, which play a substantial role in the book.

Leia using the Force isn’t exactly a new topic for Star Wars to cover. When Kylo Ren killed Han Solo in Episode VII, a cutaway shot showed that Leia felt a disturbance:




Even in The Empire Strikes Back, she hears Luke’s call for help and brings the Millennium Falcon back to Cloud City:




At the end of Return of the Jedi, Leia tells Han that she knows Luke wasn’t inside the Death Star when it exploded.




The biggest takeaway from Life Debt is that Leia received some minor training from Luke, specifically how to let the Force guide you during a troubling time. In the novel, Leia is going through a very stressful period, as Han has gone missing while trying to liberate Kashyyyk with Chewbacca (and the New Republic offers minimal help to find him).

Life Debt made headlines prior to its release thanks to an excerpt that depicted Leia communicating with her unborn child and realizing that she’s pregnant with a son. This is perhaps the most noteworthy example of the Princess using the Force in the book, but it is far from the only one. During a dogfight sequence towards the end (when Leia is flying the Falcon against an Imperial attack), author Chuck Wendig writes:

“There are even moments when she can feel the battle unfolding around her in space – invisibly, as if all of it is a warm stream in which she has dipped her hand.” 

Leia may never have followed the footsteps of her brother, but she is using her abilities in ways that benefit her, letting the Force flow through her when it’s absolutely necessary.


The Disney canon hasn’t been afraid to suggest Leia has become somewhat skilled with her gifts. There are instances in Claudia Gray’s Bloodline that imply Leia is using the Force as she works on unraveling a diabolical plot. She isn’t performing Jedi mind tricks or levitating objects with her mind yet, but there’s enough evidence in the publications to suggest that Leia has become (or is in the process of becoming) strong with the Force, and it will be interesting to see if this aspect of the character is developed in the future. Leia has always been a powerful fighter, but now that she has the Force as her ally, she can take things to a whole other level.

A big question is whether or not Leia’s developed use of the Force will factor into one of the upcoming movies – beyond the small segments already seen. The Lucasfilm story group is very careful about what they release and when they publish it, so it’s likely they have some plans for Leia in Episode VIII or Star Wars 9. At the same time, her role in The Force Awakens was very minimal, and if rumors about Star Wars 8 pan out she won’t have much to do in the next chapter, either. It would be disappointing if Leia never got to display the full extent of her talents on the big screen, but at the very least, fans are getting a taste of a Force enhanced Leia in the other materials available, illustrating that Lucasfilm is making the most of their initiative.

Han Solo and Chewbacca life debt backstory explained


Source: ScreenRant.Com

One of the most dynamic duos in all of cinema, Han Solo and Chewbacca have been an inseparable pair since they were first introduced in 1977. It’s hard to think of one without the other, one of the many reasons why Han’s death in last year’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens was so heartbreaking. They are two of the most beloved and popular characters in the entire franchise, making them ideal candidates for their own spinoff film (hitting theaters in 2018). And with all the new novels and comics being released as part of the larger series canon, there are plenty of opportunities to put the best friends in the spotlight.

This is why there is much interest in the latest book, Aftermath: Life Debt by Chuck Wendig, the sequel to last year’s Aftermath. As the title (and cover image of the Millennium Falcon) would suggest, part of the narrative deals with Han and Chewie’s history with each other as they work on accomplishing a mission that means so much personally to the both of them. We’re breaking down the backstory for the two characters here, as well as theorizing on what (if any) implications it will have on future films.



Fans of the old Expanded Universe (now “Legends”) know the story quite well. Han Solo was a member of the Imperial Navy and saved Chewbacca from enslavement as the Empire occupied the Wookiee home planet Kashyyyk. Because of this, Chewie felt he owed Han a life debt, and stayed by his side through thick and thin. Of course, Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm in 2012 wiped out most of this material, but the story group stuck very close to this basic idea when re-canonizing how Han met Chewie.

The primary focus of Life Debt is Han and Chewie attempting to liberate Kashyyyk from whatever traces of the Empire remain. At some point, the Wookiee is captured while Han makes a getaway. Obviously, the smuggler is determined to save his co-pilot, which proves to be a dangerous task. After a transmission to Princess Leia ends abruptly, Leia sends a team of New Republic fighters out to find her husband. When the group finally discovers Solo and asks why he’s risking his life, Han explains the deep bond he has with Chewbacca, making it apparent why he can’t just turn his back and walk away.


Though the passage in the novel is brief, it’s heavily implied that the Disney canon version of the tale is very similar to Legends. During their rise to power, the Imperials severely mistreated the Wookiees. Says Han:

“I’ve seen what the Empire has done. They ripped down trees. They put cuffs and collars on all the Wookiees. Some of them they cut open. Others they ship off to work the worst jobs the Empire has on offer. They took his home from him. I can’t abide by that. I don’t have a home anymore besides the Falcon, but him? He does. And he deserves to go home. He has a family too, you know.”

The “him” Han is referring to is Chewbacca. From this, it would appear that in his younger days, Solo’s journeys somehow landed him on Kashyyyk, where he saw firsthand the tyranny of the Empire. Somehow (this isn’t revealed in the book), Han gets Chewie off the planet, and the famed life debt is formed. Chewbacca believes that Han saved him, but according to Solo it’s the other way around:

“I saved him, at least that’s what he says, the big fuzzy fool, but really, he saved me. I was on a bad path, and Chewie, he put me straight. Saved my shanks more than once too. He said it was part of some life debt… It means that he owes his life to me… He doesn’t owe me. I owe him. I got a debt to Chewie to get him his home back.”


This is a fascinating angle that adds a layer to Han and Chewie’s relationship. For longtime fans, it also makes a great deal of sense too. Dating back to A New Hope, Chewbacca has always been Han’s conscience. As the Rebels geared up to assault the Death Star, Chewie seemed to be reluctantly going along with Han’s plan to make away with his reward. “What are you looking at? I know what I’m doing,” Solo said to his pal after Luke Skywalker stormed off. Off-screen, it very well may have been the Wookiee that influenced the change of heart in the smuggler. Han realizes that his partnership with Chewie led to a far more rewarding life than he could have ever imagined (or deserved), so he wants to repay his friend.


By the end of Life Debt (with a major assist from Leia and members of the New Republic), Kashyyyk is freed and the Wookiees can work on rebuilding their homes and eliminating whatever Imperials are left. In an emotional scene, Han says goodbye to Chewie, because he now has to go back with Leia and start his own family. Insisting that he stays on Kashyyyk, Han tells his co-pilot “We’ll see each other again. I’m gonna be a father and no way my kid won’t have you in his life.” From there, they go their separate ways. Those who read Claudia Gray’s Bloodline know that the two weren’t “together” for a while, as Han was partaking in an intergalactic racing league while Chewie settled into a domesticated life with his relatives.


The big question, then, is what happens between Bloodline (set six years before Force Awakens) and Episode VII. Han and Chewie are back to their smuggling ways in Star Wars 7, hauling rathtars and swindling whoever they can in the galaxy. It will be interesting to see if a future canon publication will detail this time period, since it’s now something fans will be very curious about. Did the First Order target Kashyyyk? Did Chewie just decide to rejoin his friend after Ben Solo turned to the Dark Side? It’s an interesting topic that could serve as a compelling story.


Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s currently untitled young Han Solo anthology movie will of course feature Chewbacca fighting alongside Alden Ehrenreich’s version of the Corellian. Disney CEO Bob Iger has mentioned that the project is envisioned as an “origin story” for the pair, but wouldn’t elaborate past that distinction. It’s a vague classification that could mean one of several things. Going by the textbook definition of “origin,” Han Solo could detail how the two met and became a team for life. It is somewhat telling that Wendig doesn’t explain the entire backstory in his book, as if Lucasfilm is planting seeds for things to come.


One of the key aspects of any Star Wars movie is heart. The best films in the franchise have a strong emotional core that makes viewers genuinely care about what happens to the characters. What Han alludes to in Life Debt has the potential for an engaging tale that provides a satisfying character arc for fans to enjoy. It’s true that seeing Han on the “bad path” could contrast with the action/comedy sensibilities of Lord and Miller, but it’s worth pointing out that Star Wars has seamlessly blended tones before. The Empire Strikes Back is regarded as the darkest installment, yet still has plenty of laughs. The Force Awakens dealt with some serious subjects, but also made time for BB-8’s thumbs up and Kylo Ren’s temper tantrums. Moviegoers shouldn’t go into Han Solo expecting 21 Jump Street in a galaxy far, far away. However, Lord and Miller should still find room for their unique voices while fitting into the larger franchise.

There are many fans who are questioning the necessity of a young Han Solo movie, and if it’s basically When Han Met Chewie…, it could be viewed as a wasted opportunity (since everyone knows the two become best friends). Kathleen Kennedy has mentioned Lucasfilm doesn’t want to get into the habit of answering questions better left untouched, but the Han and Chewie origin story may not fit into that category. An argument could be made that this would be a stronger angle than having the two go on a random assignment from Jabba the Hutt (in James Bond style, for example). The circumstances surrounding their partnership being formed could enhance the dynamic on display in the original trilogy, changing the way fans watch the first three movies. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is poised to do this with the Death Star plans, so it’s only logical Han Solo could add something of value too.


The backstory of Han Solo and Chewbacca was one of the most famous aspects of the Legends materials, so it was only a matter of time before the new canon covered it. For fans of the EU, it’s nice to see that not much has changed, and if anything, it’s now more impactful. The two saved each other from unspeakable horrors, and Life Debt serves as a touching epilogue to their pre-Force Awakens adventures. Their debts are now repaid, and they will never forget what they gained from their friendship.


For the most part, Lucasfilm has made an effort to tone down any references to the larger canon in the feature films, understanding that not all viewers will have been caught up on all that’s available. Still, there are certain nods to elements from the books, comics, and TV shows popping up. The Aftermath character of Temmin Wexley is an X-wing pilot in Episode VII, and Forest Whitaker is portraying Saw Gerrera from The Clone Wars series in Rogue One. These are smart ways to illustrate that it’s all connected while still maintaining universal accessibility. Even if Han Solo deals with the fateful first meeting of smuggler and Wookiee, reading Life Debt won’t be a requirement; it will just make the experience more rewarding.

Lucasfilm’s story group doesn’t just arbitrarily do things, there’s a purpose behind each and every move they make. It’s no surprise that Episode VIII director Rian Johnson contributed story ideas for Bloodline, which lays the foundation for the political landscape of the galaxy. The Han Solo spinoff is arriving just five months after Star Wars 8, so it wouldn’t be a shock if Life Debt was the studio’s way of introducing concepts that tie into the movie, allowing fans to familiarize themselves with the history. Time will tell.