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What’s in a Name? What’s in a Man?

What’s in a Name? What’s in a Man?

Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath trilogy came to a thrilling conclusion this past week (February 21st) with Empire’s End.  The novel completes the story of a group of all new characters following the Battle of Endor, and the destruction of the second Death Star. One of those characters in particular had the largest, and most important arcs of  note: Sinjir Rath Velus. From where we meet Sinjir in Aftermath to where we leave him in Empire’s End, his growth and subversion of several tropes is extremely satisfying.

Sinjir is first introduced in the first Aftermath book that was part of the Journey to The Force Awakens publishing program. He is one of the first characters to be featured in the book as it is told through several points of view. As more is learned about Sinjir, his motivations and faults, come to light. He was stationed on the forest moon of Endor during the battle where he faked his death upon realization of the Empire’s defeat. He proceeded to kill a Rebel soldier to steal his uniform and ship to escape. Over the course of the novel his prowess as an ex-Imperial loyalty officer proves to be quite useful as the group of rebels try to uncover the Imperial plot on Akiva.

Throughout the course of the story more and more about who Sinjir really is, is revealed. In his own mind he doesn’t believe he is worthy of any sort of recompense or genuine happiness. As an Imperial Loyalty Officer he was used as an instrument to work on his fellow compatriots. He learned how to inflict pain on his subjects. Multiple meanings of pain, whether they were physical, emotional, or psychological. One of the common threads that followed Sinjir through the trilogy was how he dealt with this aspect of himself. After abandoning the Empire he was more than happy to spend the rest of his days drinking and wallowing in his own self-pity. This changed obviously during the course of Aftermath when he begrudgingly formed friendships with Jas Emari and Norra and Temmin Wexley. He became fiercely loyal to his friends often fighting and using his skills in their name.

In Aftermath it is also revealed that Sinjir is homosexual. This does nothing to take away from his character but instead increases his growth and importance. One of the most common tropes throughout fiction is to “bury your gays.” In Life Debt Sinjir is shown to have a romantic relationship with Conder Kyl. He struggles with this because of his aforementioned self-pity and his perceived inability to escape his past. He ends his relationship with Conder because he believes his moral ambivalence wakes him not good enough of a mate for Kyl. In probably my favorite sequence in Empire’s End, Sinjir’s backstory of how he became a loyalty officer is revealed and saves Conder from a kidnapping. His acceptance of who he is and what he has done allows him to grow and realize he can find peace within.

Another one most popular tropes that Sinjir bucks the trend on is that redemption can only be achieved through death. Throughout the trilogy Sinjir is not particularly motivated by redemption even if his actions seem to reflect it. His friendships that he forges cause him change who he is for the better without his conscious outwardly acting on it. There are several situations in the trilogy where he is left with moral dilemmas of what to do, and more often than not, he chooses to do the right thing. Especially when in the past he probably wouldn’t have. In Empire’s End he desperately wants to go to Jakku to try to rescue Jas and Norra but Mon Mothma is able to convince him otherwise. He realizes that she is looking out for him and the consequences of him rushing in there blindly could’ve been dire.

In the end there really isn’t another character in the trilogy that goes through as much of an arc as Sinjir. His flawed morality greatly evolves as he forges friendships and romantic relationships. He comes to accept what he has done in the past and is able to overcome it to not let it define him. What do you think? Did you like Sinjir’s story throughout Aftermath? Comment down below or send in an email!

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