Finished the book and it's my favorite of the three. I think Wendig got his groove with this one.
Now for some spoilers for Skywalker2B...major, major spoilers.
Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)
At first they keep it kind of vague on what's going on with Rax and Palpatine. Palpatine talks about seeing different possibilities for the future. He's not sure how things are going to turn out with the battle at the 2nd Death Star. Either way, he's talking to Rax about the Observatory and the Contingency.
Later on, we find out more about these things. There's a flashback scene of Palpatine playing some Star Wars version of chess with Rax as a kid. During the game, Palpatine is using analogies with all the pieces and what the represent in the real world, with the gameboard being the galaxy itself and him being the emperor. He makes it clear that if he should die, he doesn't want anyone else ruling the galaxy. He'd rather clear the board off completely.
Thus Rax is the Contingency. If Palpatine dies, it's up to Rax to kill everyone off. But Palpatine gave him another mission, too. Through Thrawn, Palpatine learned that there is something out in the Unknown Regions. Up until now, no one has ever been able to venture into the unknown regions as there's all kind of hazards that make it impossible. Every dies or comes back crazy. But Thrawn comes from the Unknown Regions, and Palpatine becomes obsessed with getting there. He says he can feel some power there out beyond. So he invests all these resources in Observatories, structures devoted to calculating a route through the unknown regions with drones ships blazing a path.
Well the machines finally finish plotting the path, and it's Rax's job to make the journey. True to Palpatine's intent, he essentially destroys the Empire and takes a chosen few to go to the Unknown Regions where Rax intends to rule his own empire.
Alas, Rax dies in this book. He is not Snoke. Snoke is never mentioned or hinted at in the book. But the book does confirm that Palpatine's Eclipse Star Destroyer has already made the journey to the Unknown Regions and is waiting for the chosen Imperial survivors, which includes Hux, Hux's dad, some brainwashed Imperial kids that Hux's dad trained, and Sloane who manages to survive everything and go on the trip, even though Rax tried to cut her out of the picture. He changes his mind about her while he's dying, saying she was worthy after all.
We don't get anymore than that. They go on the journey, but we don't know what they find. They stop short of that, so we don't know who was on the Eclipse Star Destroyer, or how they greeted Sloane's arrival.
Most of the core cast survives. Norra kind of ends up with Wedge after the battle of Jakku as her husband dies fighting Rax. The climax of the battle of Jakku is that Rax has a secret weapon that will blow up the entire planet and all of the Imperial forces and New Republic forces gathered for the battle. Norra, her husband and Sloane team up to fight Rax in the Observatory and they beat him, but they all suffer injuries. Norra's husband dies, Norra lets Sloan leave without killing her, and Norra goes off to safety.
During the battle of Jakku, Bones saves Temmin's life from an AT-ST, but dies in the process as a New Republic starfighter flies by and blows up the AT-ST and the droid. Jas lives partners up with Dengar, Embo and a female Rodian bounty hunter. They all end up taking care of Mercuial Swift, as Jas turns them again him. Embo's dog has sadly died sometime over the years, but it was cool to have Embo alive with a couple scenes.
Jom has a very small role in this book. He winds up getting on a ship heading to the battle of Jakku and afterwards, we find out he died in the battle.
Sinjir and his boyfriend live. Sinjir even becomes one of Mon Mothmas advisers. He has a pretty good story arc in the book, finding some piece for himself and his peculiar talents.
There's a political plotline with this alien who is trying to get elected the next Chancellor, so Mon Mothma deals with that throughout the book. The alien gets really radical toward the end and actually tries to blow up Mon Mothma but she gets lucky and had already left the building. They catch him which secures Mon Mothma's re-election.
With the interludes, the Mandalorian sheriff guy on Tattoine takes out the big gang on the planet with the help of the baby Hutt and Malakili and some Tusken Raiders.
The acolytes of the beyond get another interlude with some female taking control with the help of a dark side mask and a lightsaber.
The transgender alien pirate lord successfully takes control of a super star destroyer and takes out an Imperial fleet.
Chewbacca finds Lumpy on Kashyyyk and they're reunited as father and son.
Jar Jar has an interlude. Yes, he lives, but supposedly he has no friends and people are distrustful of him because of how he enabled Palpatine to come to power. Regardless, he adopts a boy no one wanted and he makes him laugh.
Mas Amedda manages to escape Coruscant and house arrest with the help of the Ankle Bitter Brigade. He ends up being the one to surrender the Empire to the New Republic after the battle of Jakku.
That's most of the big items. It really is worth reading.
"I believe toys resonate with us as humans, we can hold them, it's tactile, real! They are totems for our extended beliefs and imaginations. A fetish for ideas that hold as much interest and passion as old religious relics for some. We display them in our homes. They show who we are. They are signals for similar thinking people. A way we connect with each other...and I guess thats why I do toys. That connection." -Ashley Wood