To make his biggest score, Han’s ready to take even bigger risks.
But even he can’t do this job solo.
Star Wars: Scoundrels is Timothy Zahn’s latest contribution to the Star Wars Expanded Universe. The story features Han Solo and Chewbacca in the time just after the Battle of Yavin. As the publisher’s summary puts it:
Han Solo should be basking in his moment of glory. After all, the cocky smuggler and captain of the Millennium Falcon just played a key role in the daring raid that destroyed the Death Star and landed the first serious blow to the Empire in its war against the Rebel Alliance. But after losing the reward his heroics earned him, Han’s got nothing to celebrate. Especially since he’s deep in debt to the ruthless crime lord Jabba the Hutt. There’s a bounty on Han’s head—and if he can’t cough up the credits, he’ll surely pay with his hide. The only thing that can save him is a king’s ransom. Or maybe a gangster’s fortune? That’s what a mysterious stranger is offering in exchange for Han’s less-than-legal help with a riskier-than-usual caper. The payoff will be more than enough for Han to settle up with Jabba—and ensure he never has to haggle with the Hutts again.
All he has to do is infiltrate the ultra-fortified stronghold of a Black Sun crime syndicate underboss and crack the galaxy’s most notoriously impregnable safe. It sounds like a job for miracle workers . . . or madmen. So Han assembles a gallery of rogues who are a little of both—including his indispensable sidekick Chewbacca and the cunning Lando Calrissian. If anyone can dodge, deceive, and defeat heavily armed thugs, killer droids, and Imperial agents alike—and pull off the heist of the century—it’s Solo’s scoundrels. But will their crime really pay, or will it cost them the ultimate price?
My Reaction: Finally, a Star Wars novel that focuses on the seedy underside of the galaxy!
In order to appreciate the story one really needs to ignore what most people (likely anybody who picked up this book) already know – Han Solo, the down-on-his-luck spacer with a bounty on his head, actually has a heart of gold and becomes a General in the Alliance while marrying a princess. Scoundrels demands the reader suspend knowledge of that future and try to imagine Solo as a schemer always looking over his shoulder and trying to get “the big score” to settle his debt to Jabba the Hutt.
The story is about a caper, with the main schemer (Han Solo) being the ringleader. Reportedly Zahn drew his inspiration for the story from the movie Ocean’s 11. Maybe this is why I have a hard time getting into the book; crime stories are not my thing.
There is alot of backstory contained here. Zahn surprised me with by fitting so much of the Expanded Universe into his book. Lover’s of the Expanded Universe will eat up all the connections. Which leads to a problem – if you don’t know much of the Expanded Universe there becomes that much less to appreciate in the story.
Buy it if you are a die-hard Star Wars fan. Buy it if you like to see capers in space. Pass on it if you are neither of the above.