In the original expanded universe canon, it was explained that Chewbacca owed Han Solo a life debt after Han freed Chewie from a group of enslaves Wookiees while enrolled at the Imperial Navy, and the Empire was occupying Kashyyk. It seemed like that remained the most popular story behind the life debt amongst Star Wars fans even after Disney bought out Lucasfilm and announced that all previous Star Wars books were not canon too.
However, in Aftermath: Life Debt by Chuck Wendig, the latest Star Wars novel, the official story behind Chewie’s life debt to Han has been revealed, in the new canon at least. For what it’s worth as well, the story is sticking fairly close to the expanded universe version as well.
Instead of Han being enrolled in the Imperial Navy though, in the book Han has already made a home for himself out of the Millennium Falcon, and saves Chewie from enslavement on Kashyyk after the Empire has taken over the planet. Han describes the Empire’s cruelty in the book as the following (transcription via Screen Rant):
“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.”
Solo’s conscience gets the better of him, as it usually does when it comes to Chewie, and he helps smuggle the Wookiee off the planet, something that Chewie believes means he owes his life to Han, though the smuggler doesn’t quite see it that way:
“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.”
The novel ends after Kashyyk has been freed from the hold of the Empire, and Chewie is able to return home to his family, as Han and Chewie part ways so Han can start his family with Leia. Despite Chewie’s desire to be Han’s co-pilot as well, Solo tells him they’ll see each other again, because…
“I’m gonna be a father and no way my kid won’t have you in his life.”
Which just makes that particular scene at the end of Force Awakens even harder to watch. Dammit.
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