Tag Archives: Han Solo

Book Review: ‘Star Wars: Scoundrels’

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.

- Aaron Goins

SWR Staff United: Why We Love Star Wars

Disney bought Star Wars, Disney bought Star Wars…those are the words that have been rippling through not only the Star Wars community but the Disney community as well. Fans have been tested as to what kind of fan they truly are. We have seen many fans that have now denounced Star Wars and George Lucas because of this move. We have seen others that it has strengthened their belief in the Star Wars saga. It is amazing to me how this kind of news can shift someone’s fandom of something they have probably loved their entire life. While the reactions to the news have ranged from anger to elated with some anxious/confusion mixed in I think we can all agree that the Star Wars universe will forever be changed.

The Staff at the Star Wars Report were just as effected by this news only all of us were effected differently. Some of us just want to sit back and wait to hear what the new movie will be about while some of us like to speculate and develop theories. We all have our own concerns based on what part of the universe we care about the most and I think it is our passion that pulls us all together. During times like this as the rumor mill begins to circulate we have all taken an introspective look at our own personal fandom. We have all been trying to answer the question of why we love Star Wars?

We all have come together because we all have a very strong passion for the Saga but how we got here and why we are still here are different stories. As we talked about this we decided that we wanted to take a look at why each of us has this passion and what exactly it is about Star Wars that keeps the force flowing through us.

As we started down our introspective journey we had to first take a look at how we got here. One thing we found is that none of us saw the original trilogy in the theater when it first came out. This was astonishing because generally speaking there is always one person in a group that is old enough to remember the OT being released in theaters. Not in this group! All of us were introduced to the films either on VHS tape or on TV if it was being aired. We were introduced by our parents or even by our Catholic Grandparents. Some of us saw them when were very little like me (Teresa), Ryan and Pete. The rest of us were about 9 or 10 years old, well unless you are Riley and Bethany. These two first saw Star Wars by watching the Phantom Menace when they were in their teens! It does not matter what age we got introduced or how we got introduced the key thing is that we all found Star Wars!

Even though we all may have been introduced to Star Wars there came a time when we actually liked Star Wars. For some of us it took us a while to truly like it. We liked the action and we definitely were entertained but it would be later in life that we would really start to understand the story. As kids the character development and the story development was a little underneath us, but as we grew and watched it more we began to understand the story and the depth that Star Wars would take us. For some of us however the things that got us hooked were the sounds, music and visuals. The special editions were huge for the Staff of the Star Wars report as many of us got to see the Original trilogy in theaters and this experience far eclipsed watching it at home, thus getting us hooked further.

Liking Star Wars does not get you to where are all of us are today in our fandom. There had to be at least one thing that when we saw the films we got ourselves hooked. I actually think this topic is one that shows how different yet alike we all are. For some of us it was the Jedi vs. Sith and they way the interacted with each other in the saga. For many of our staff it was the existence of the force and the way that it flows through the universe. Still for other it is the themes that comprise the story and the mythology of the characters. Then there are the few of us that can remember one simple thing that hooked us, it could be small like a lightsaber or as simple as a character like the Ewoks.

Everyone always gets asked what their favorite film is and that is no different here. We all have different favorite films and sometimes that even changes depending on where we are in our lives or what our mood is. For almost all of us it is a toss up between 2 or 3 films. With having a group that is as young as we are it is inevitable that some of our favorite films are going to be the prequels. While my favorite film is not a prequel film my order of preference has them before Empire Strikes Back, which tends to blow some other fans minds. The two films that take the majority of the votes from our staff were Return of the Jedi and Empire Strikes Back with Revenge of the Sith in a very close 3rd.

As we dug a little deeper past our favorites and began to analyze our lives because of Star Wars I felt it was fitting for us to look at the things we do in our lives that are because of what we have learned. Here is a quick list of the life lessons we have taken away:

  • Always commit to the things you want in life. Do them with passion and with strength or don’t do them at all
  • Never just be yourself…make yourself. Choose your own fate.
  • Never give in to your dark side.
  • If you have a chance to do the right thing…Do It! Do not be afraid and don’t step back.
  • Your choices make a difference and they shape your personality and character
  • Never be afraid to show your true self
  • We all make mistakes, to change all you have to do is choose to act

 

It is always easy to think about who your favorite character in the Star Wars universe is. However, it is harder to decide which character you most identify with because sometimes this character is not your favorite. Sometimes this character is someone that you do not even like. I identify the most with Padme Amidala I have a set of skills very similar to her and what she uses to keep the peace in the senate. I am also a fighter for peace and equality just as she is. Her strength is something i also see in myself but at the same time I admire her positivity and sense of self. Each one of us identifies with a character in a similar way. Riley most identifies with Han Solo because of his ability to take things in stride. Mark also identifies with Han but for much different reasons. Mark sees the Han that evolved in the Expanded Universe. He sees a person that was dealt a lot of hardships and learned to evolve from the pain and become even stronger. I think there were a lot of young fans out there that identified with Luke but we have four staff members that truly identify with Luke because of his compassion for others, willingness to do what is right and his passion for adventure. We only have one staff member that identifies with Chewie and his loyalty. The reason that Star Wars impresses me is the fact that there are so many diverse characters to choose from.

The final aspect of being a fan is recognizing all of the things that the world of Star Wars contributes that has nothing to do with the movies. We as a staff can all agree that the world of Star Wars fandom has brought many things to our lives. From friends that we make because we all love the same thing to the books that we read so that we can dive deeper into the world we love. The one thing we can all agree upon is that the world of Star Wars has never stopped growing regardless of the fact that the last film came out in 2005. We have gotten so much content through the years on top of the fan conventions that we have also gotten to enjoy. With this new evolution as Star Wars continues through Disney the one thing we know will happen for sure is that we are getting more Star Wars. It is a great time to be a Star Wars fan and to appreciate all the reasons that we quite simply Love Star Wars.

Teresa (@icecoldpenguin@fangirl_ND) 

Star Wars nerd at heart and a pop culture fanatic. Fangirl blogger, movie and book reviewer. Avid reader and film goer.I love penguins! Creator of the Fangirl Next Door website and podcast and staff for Jedi News UK.

http://www.fangirlnextdoor.com/

Like Wraith’s In The Night – SWBTF #38

Play

Wraith Squadron! Aaron Allston! X-Wings! Wedge, Wes, and Face! All on the next Star Wars Beyond the Films, YOUR Star Wars discussion podcast! YOUR ticket to the EU!

This week true believers, Fanboys, Fangirls, and respected aliens around the galaxy, your EU Guru; Nathan P. Butler and The Defender of the EU; Mark Hurliman recruit you once again. This time to discuss Aaron Allston’s part of the X-Wing series, all part of the trail that is their Hunt for Mercy Kill. Strap in and tighten the crash webbing, Star Wars Beyond the Films is setting off on a trip to adventure!

Focusing this time on Aaron Allston’s installments of the X-Wing series, this week’s episode touches on those timeless EU novels;

  • Star Wars: X-Wing- Wraith Squadron
  • Star Wars: X-Wing- Iron Fist
  • Star Wars: X-Wing- Solo Command
  • Star Wars: X-Wing- Starfighters of Adumar

Once again, your dynamic duo cover entirely too much X-Wing goodness in their ONE hour, but don’t worry, give it ago; you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you might even get a little education on the EU while you’re at it. But no matter how you slice it and dice it, you’ll be having another adventure Beyond the Films. So once again, sit back, hang on, enjoy the show and may the Force be with you!

Email:         beyondthefilms@starwarsfanworks.com
Facebook:   http://www.facebook.com/swbeyondfilms
Twitter:      twitter.com/#!/SWBeyondFilms

Star Wars Detours Panel at Celebration 6

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.

Everything Else

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.

~ Mitchell Hanan

Full Cover of Star Wars: Scoundrels Revealed

Over at the official Star Wars Books Facebook page the full cover for the upcoming Timothy Zahn novel Scoundrels has been revealed.  Looks like some pretty interesting characters are on the roster including (from left to right) Kell Tainer, Winter, and new characters Zerba Cher’dak, and Bink Kitik.  Check out the image below.

 

- Aaron Goins