It’s time to start a new year! Join Karl and Jason as they sit down to discuss the value of friendship as shown to us through the Star Wars saga! From the iconic relationship between R2D2 and C-3PO to the dysfunctional friendship of Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi, your hosts talk about how good friendship can lead to the redemption of a galaxy! So sit back, relax, and usher in this great new year in the Lair!
I really, really wanted to love this book. It was written by Tim Zahn, the man who defined the Star Wars Expanded Universe. It was a Star Wars version of the movie Ocean’s Eleven, and I loved that movie. The main character was Han Solo. This book had to be awesome, right?
Well, before I get too deep into it, here is the official book summary.
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?
A story about Han Solo leading a team of scoundrels to steal a lot of money is a cool idea. The problem is we kind of already know how it’s going to end. Ok… maybe not exactly… but we know Han can’t end up rich at the end. So throughout the book we are left wondering what exactly is going to go wrong. This actually isn’t so bad though. Zahn is a masterful storyteller and he does a great job of not tipping his hand until he has to. You literally do not get the full payoff of the story until the very last line of the book and I loved that
And the story wasn’t bad. It was actual a great story. The problem for me was how much of the story was unnecessary. The meat of the book comes in the last 7 chapters. Everything before that is set up. Long, repetitive setup. I kept thinking to myself, please just rob the place already! I know a story like this needs to establish the characters and the gameplan, but I felt it just took way too long. By the time the story started ramping up I had all but lost interest. I really think Scoundrels would have worked better as a short story rather than a full length novel.
The characters were also lacking for me. There were so many of them, but very few of them I found interesting. Han, Chewie, and Lando were pretty much themselves although there were a couple of moments where I felt Han was out of character. He seemed a little too calm and collected and not the same Han that runs headfirst into a squad of stormtroopers in A New Hope. I wish Chewbacca was used more. He was basically there because he had to be. Fans of other EU stories will be happy to see Winter and Kell Tainer on the team, but neither of those characters were my favorites in the book. The standout characters in my opinion were brand new to this book. The imperial agent Dayja and the “ghost thief” Bink Kitik were both very interesting and I hope to see them both again in future Expanded Universe stories.
I think some people will love this book, but it just wasn’t for me. Like I said earlier the overall story is great, and if you are a more patient reader than I am, you may actually enjoy all the set up. I just found myself bored through most of it. Once the book did pick up speed it got really good… but then it was over.
That’s three Star Wars novels in a row about undercover missions and daring heists which do not focus on Jedi characters. Can I have my Jedi and lightsabers back now?
Random Thoughts and Observations
It’s still weird seeing Clone Wars references in a novel set in the Original Trilogy era. (page 16)
There was also a seemingly forced reference to the Old Republic era characters Revan and Malak. (page 183)
Loved the use of the Z-95 Headhunter.
Jaxxon’s species makes an appearance. (page 243)
Zahn uses the phrase “carry the football” which I thought was an odd real-world reference. Apparently it’s not the first time the word football has been used in Star Wars though. (page 341)
Now we know Lando has a “number-three-type mustache”. (page 376)
Oooh, I know some people who will just LOVE the very last line of this book and others who will HATE it. Should lead to some fun discussions.
Scoundrels will be released on January 1st and will be available at Amazon.com and bookstores everywhere.
Let me admit this right up front: I LOVE STAR WARS! You might think that is an obvious statement considering where this article is getting posted… but let me clarify. I LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT STAR WARS. That includes the Prequels. That includes the EU. That includes The Clone Wars TV show. I recognize that there are plenty of missteps and imperfections throughout, but even knowing that, I still love it all.
One thing that has really bothered me has been seeing the “blogosphere’s” pretty negative reactions to Star Wars Detours. I was lucky enough to have been able to attend Celebration VI and was in the room for the official unveiling of the series. I have to tell you that I was thrilled (as was everyone else in the auditorium) with what they had done with the series, and I am incredibly excited to see what else they do. I think that the bloggers who are less than excited for the series might just be missing some of the key setup for the series, so I wanted to share with you the context that was given by the creators when they unveiled the series.
What’s Going on with the Death Star?
The series takes place between episodes III and IV. During this time, there is no real war going on and there is a relative peace in the Galaxy Far, Far Away. So what is an Empire to do? Well, the truth is that Palpatine is solidifying his grasp on the galaxy by constructing a technological terror that will keep the citizens in line. He cannot justify constructing the Death Star during peacetime and he also can’t hide the fact that he’s building something the size of a moon… so he has to disguise it! The cover story becomes the construction of a giant mega-mall. I love this for several reasons. First, it is canonically consistent. Do I think the true canon has a Death Star mall project? No, but I do like the idea that Palpatine’s ties to the businesses and bureaucrats would absolutely make it feasible for him to make his “signature achievement” a giant mega-mall. The other thing that is great about this is how they built in a lot of subtle benefits from this setup. Stormtroopers who volunteered to support their Empire are now stationed as mall cops!
The Empire’s need for safety inspectors to not think of the giant lasers as shopping hazards. Palpatine stopping in for progress inspections and Vader performing ribbon-cutting ceremonies. All of these things were mentioned at the panel and all of them seem to be humor goldmines just waiting to be mined.
Who is that Bratty Girl?
As Seth Green put it, Princess Leia at this point is a teen princess who is known throughout the Galaxy, is the daughter of one of the richest, oldest houses of royalty anywhere… and she doesn’t know who her real father is. This is the perfect formula for a full on, teenage, drama queen. She travels everywhere with her body doubles, so she even has a built in bully-pack! I think it’s a great take on a character that we all see so differently as she grows older. It’s funny to think that Princess Leia used to be her Galaxy’s Paris Hilton. Full of comic potential, I can’t wait to see more about her dealing with glamour, fame, beauty and money. If they can also include subtle references to her latent Force-abilities, it would be great to see what a mean bully (but not quite evil Sith) would do with minor Force abilities.
Chewie the Housewife?
So I admit that this clip was a little bit of a letdown for me. It was based on one of the two dynamics that the creators said they wanted to explore in the Han/Chewie dynamic. They pointed out that at this time, Han and Chewie are loners and that they are busy smugglers. This means they must spend a LOT of time together in the Falcon, making them like an old married couple. To me, this was funny, but a little contrived. However… the second aspect of their relationship which was mentioned has me more excited than anything else that was said. Seth Green pointed out that Han and Chewie are best friends… but Han also kind of owns Chewbacca… which has to be awkward when it comes up! I think this will be hilarious and I can’t wait to see more of that side of their relationship.
There were so many other little things teased, here are just a few main points:
- All of the ships are going to be modeled after the old toys, right down to the buttons and the ways the canopies open. Great throwback there!
- There are still some clone troopers alive and its funny to see the real, battle-hardened veterans try to lead the new, bumbling recruits and turn them into “brothers”.
- Jar Jar Binks: “You will either love him more or hate him more.” that’s a direct quote and one that intrigues me.
- I like that they are including all of the bounty hunters, and Matt Seinreich promised that this series will make you absolutely love Dengar.
- Obi-Wan being a drunk has been a humorous idea among fans for a long time. Looks like they brought that into their writing. A scene of him being nagged by Qui-Gon Jinn was shown and it was great!
What Really Matters
At the end of the day what really matters is that the people who are working on this show are incredible Star Wars fans. They know every minute of the movies back and forth, they know who “Pruneface” is, they know what aspects of the saga we like to poke at on the message boards. I think that’s the main sense of context that is missing when you look at the clips online without hearing from the creators. They have incredible talent involved in the making of this show (Including Billy Dee Williams and Anthony Daniels to name just two.) Watching how excited this group of creators was to be working on Star Wars made me confident that they understand both the reverence and the rancor that Star Wars fans feel toward the Galaxy Far, Far Away.