I don’t always read ‘Star Wars’ novels anymore but when I do, they are by Timothy Zahn. Zahn to me is who should be in charge of writing all of the upcoming ‘Star Wars’ films as I honestly feel that he has never let us down with a solid story set a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.
With that kind of hype in my mind when I read his novels, it’s clear that I have set the bar pretty high. How did this one fare?
Zahn’s most recent tale, ‘Star Wars: Scoundrels’, centers primarily on Han Solo. We always hear in the movies how much of a scoundrel he can be and this is the first novel that I truly feel has fleshed out that idea.
There has been a lot of comparisons to ‘Oceans 11’ when I heard about this book and those are rightfully used. At it’s core, this isn’t a story about The Republic trying to restore itself from The Empire (though both the Rebels and an Imperial agent do make an appearance). This isn’t a story about good vs evil. This isn’t even a story that has any care for the Jedi of The Force. This is a heist story plain and simple.
Of course no ‘good’ heist story is EVER plain and simple.
‘Star Wars: Scoundrel’ takes place after the Battle at Yavin. Han had big plans for his reward for helping destroy the Death Star. Well one big plan – paying off his debt to the Hutts and getting clear and free of the bounty on his head. On it’s own, that’s a great plan, but we find out within these pages that he has lost his reward to a group of pirates and now has to come up with a way to get out of debt or he’ll be on the run for good.
Right off of the bat he is given a job offer with a payoff that would set Han back on the good side of the Hutts with more to spare. To pull off the caper, he pulls together a crew of unsavory characters including a few names you’ll know from the original trilogy. Aside from his smuggler pals, he recruits a couple of thieves and an explosives expert to round out his crew.
This is such a stand alone novel that you could most likely enjoy reading it even if you aren’t familiar with the original trilogy. Of course, I’m not sure who would be opening up a random ‘Star Wars’ novel without having read the trilogy first!
In fact, aside from a character named ‘Winter’ (for those familiar with Zahn’s novels) you aren’t going to know much of the other characters beyond Han Solo, Chewbacca, Lando Calrissian and the Hutts.
With a great cast set by the only ‘Star Wars’ author I can’t help but read, I’m going to just have to call this a perfect book. If I had a complaint at all, it’s that it had to end! Yes it’s not canon (nothing in the Expanded Universe is) and it’s not even a truly epic story in the terms of The Republic vs The Empire. It IS a fun read and probably one of the best Han Solo stories I’ve read to date. I can’t remember the last time I just sat through and read a novel in a day, but this one fit the bill perfectly. ‘Oceans 11’ inspired or not, this is a great heist novel and one for any ‘Star Wars’ or crime series fan to pickup immediately!