Han Solo Trilogy 1&2 – The Paradise Snare and The Hutt Gambit
These were okay books, but I was more interested in the history of Han Solo. I was very excited to finally start on the characters from the original Star Wars books. So Han is 19 and a slave on a ship run by a tempermental captain named Shrike. The author, AC Crispin, describes how Han was a begger who was taken in by the captain and put to work begging and stealing for him. We see Han’s survival skills beginning to form, as well as his piloting skills. We also learn that, while a slave on the ship, Han’s best friend was an older female Wookie cook – which explains how he learns to understand the Wookie language.
He escapes the ship and gets a job on the planet of Ylesia – which employs slaves to manufacture spice (i.e. Star Wars’ version of drugs). Ylesia is run by the tlanda Til – which are similar to Hutts, and they are under control of Hutts as well. So we learn a little more of the hierarchy of Hutt power and the different businesses that they have going in that part of the galaxy. Han rescues, and falls in love with, a slave woman named Bria Tharen. But at the end of the first book she leaves him because she is an addict and wants to clean herself up – and not hold Han back. Han had his eye on becoming an Imperial pilot.
So Han is accepted into the Empire’s pilot training program, but the second book starts with him in bar after he was discharged. Apparently, he had rescued and released a Wookie slave who was getting beaten. That Wookie then owed him a “life debt”. Gee, I wonder what the Wookie’s name is? Alright fine – Chewbacca.
It’s in this book where he meets Lando Calrissian as well. And he takes his first contract from a Hutt named Jabba.
The Force Unleashed
This book was based on the video game and you know what? It read as such, too. The first few chapters literally read like levels of a video game. End of the level? Mission accomplished.
That being said, I did enjoy the book. Starkiller is a fantastic character and I wish there was more on him (later, I was pleasantly surprised to see that there was a sequel). However, Starkiller was too powerful. He seemed more powerful than Vader, which doesn’t make sense. Vader was the most powerful Jedi in history by a wide margin – let’s not sully that by suddenly finding his equal just a few years after he turns Sith. Starkiller’s training robot ‘PROXY’ is also too powerful. If droids can be made to turn into whichever Jedi they choose, with almost equivalent powers, then you’d think that all the major companies in the galaxy would be churning out such droids by the hundreds.
Another great thing about the book is it tells us the fate of several Jedi. Naturally, it’s impossible to wipe ALL 2000 or so Jedi who were around when the ‘purge’ happened. So seeing the Empire attempt to hunt them all down was good for some closure. This also marked the first appearance of the grown-up Princess Leia.
A worthwhile book to read if you are following the Star Wars canon.
Lando Calrissian Trilogy (Mindharp of Sharu; Flamewind of Oseon; Starcave of ThonBoka)
In a word – skip.
What a disappointing set this was. While it was nice getting to know Lando Calrissian and witness his personality get created to fit that of what we see in the movies, that’s about all the nice things I can say. “You old pirate!” or “You old can opener!” were nice touches, showing that he had a habit of using nicknames on everyone and just being a friendly, risk-taking gambler. But the plots of these books were ridiculous. I’m reading about Star Wars, not Harry Potter. Introducing magic, or discovering giant aliens that are so big they are starships (and take on the quality of starships) is too unbelievale, even for a Young Adult book. And I don’t mean ‘unbelievable’ in the sense that it’s fiction – even knowing that it’s fiction and wanting to get lost in the story it’s unbelievable. You just can’t bring yourself to buy it. Where are those aliens in later books? You’d think that discovering such creatures would make Lando the biggest legend in the galaxy! And what about that entire temple scene? Magic? I don’t recall magic in any of the movies, do you? What’s the point of the Force if there are mystics?
I was starting to believe that I may never read a good Star Wars book again. The Clone Wars novels were so enjoyable that they are a tough act to follow. The Old Republic books were also very good. So do the books involving the original Star Wars characters all suck?
Death Star brought me back on board.
What an awesome novel. Just…fantastic. I loved this story. It describes everything in and around the Death Star in the final stages of its creation. Every question you ever had about the Death Star is answered here. How did they build a space station the size of a moon? (Wookie slaves, 20+ years of effort) How does it have the power to destroy a planet? (yes, it describes that in detail) How do they get so many slaves? How does it get designed? How do they feed everyone on board? What do the inhabitants do for entertainment? Aren’t there any moral implications from pushing a button that destroys an entire planet and kills billions? Weren’t there any sabotage attempts before A New Hope? (Yes) Did nobody make the moral decision to leave such an evil project and if so, why didn’t the rebels get more information in advance?
Michael Reaves and Steve Perry did a wonderful job of telling us all about this. And towards the end of the book, it tied directly into the movie – but from the perspective of others. Perspectives from:
– Moff Tarkin
– Darth Vader
– A female cantina owner who runs a bar on the Death Star (one of many)
– Her bouncer, a martial arts expert
– An escapee from a nearby prison world who manages to live on the Death Star anonymously because it’s so big
– A prison guard who also trains others in self defense (makes a formidable team with the aforementioned bouncer)
– A librarian (who gets the blue prints of the Death Star out – the plans that the rebels eventually get)
– A Surgeon ‘Uli Divini’, who was also in the Med-Star trilogy (with I-5 and Den Dhur, Bariss, etc)
– An architect who was forced into service because she was in ‘prison’ (all she did was stir up protests, so the Empire arrested her of course)
– A navy pilot
– A gunner (the guy who flips the switch to destroy a planet)
Think about the insight you’d get from these people! Just a high recommend from me. So much about the Star Wars canon is revealed here, and so much is tied together. A+