by Timothy Zahn.
Okay, so we all know about Disney. And we all know that my Star Wars dates run 1977-2012 even though the official dates are 1976-2014. I’ve rejected everything published since the buyout (yes, I know Maul: Lockdown was a 2012, but as time passes, it becomes more and more likely I’m going to dismiss that from my canon).
So meet the exception to the rule: Timothy Zahn’s last Star Wars contribution, a fun little heist movie set between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. Featuring Han and Lando.
Wait, what? Han and Lando in an adventure set during the OT? You heard me . . .
It’s months after the Battle of Yavin. Han Solo’s not trying to be part of the Alliance, but he can’t get that princess off his mind. Which is awkward because the other thing he can’t get off his mind is money. Money he owes to Jabba the Hutt.
He can’t pass up the lure of a high-stakes heist — going up against Black Sun will be anything but easy, but with great risks come great rewards, and even split ten ways, a massive prize is a massive prize. So he assembles his team and goes out to lift 163 million credits from a gangster. Yes, it’s Ocean’s 11 in a Star Wars skin. Yes, I’m okay with that and it’s lots of fun.
There’s just not much else you can say about a heist novel. Han’s crew is drawn from a list of familiar faces and new names, and there’s some interesting stuff with Winter who does not yet know Leia survived Alderaan. My biggest problem was accepting that this wasn’t a pre-ANH novel and yet Han and Lando were together.
It’s closing on two decades that I’ve known Han’s “that was a long time ago, I’m sure he’s forgotten about that” refers to the raid on Ylesia. That Han and Lando hadn’t seen each other in a decade. Accepting that their last encounter was only a couple of years ago was tough and I resisted Lando’s appearance as being as forced as Obi-Wan and Anakin’s in Outbound Flight . . . but as usual, the man responsible for at least half if not more than half of Star Wars in its entirety knows better than I do.
This book is just “a day in the life.” It’s a few weeks of Han’s everyday existence before the Alliance. And while this date last year to me feels as close as yesterday, to these thieves and smugglers, to the guy who thought of Obi-Wan as “an old fossil,” something that happened a couple of years ago does qualify as “a long time ago.” The Ylesia business would be ancient history on their radar. In fact, that Lando and Han are seemingly always reuniting after a grudge goes a long way to show their relationship; if they’d spent a decade furious about Ylesia, would ROTJ really demonstrate such unconditional and unquestioning forgiveness? In the end, it works better.
So pick up this realcanon heist novel with confidence, but don’t expect it to be any more than that: it’s a standalone one-off that is meant to be fun, so if it doesn’t sound fun to you, don’t try to force it. If it does sound fun, enjoy away!