Monday, March 31, 2014

Review of Star Wars: Scoundrels

Book #10. Star Wars: Scoundrels, by Timothy Zahn. Unabridged audio.

To many, Timothy Zahn's "Thrawn" series represents the best of the Star Wars expanded universe novels. In this one, he returns to the franchise to tell a story from a few years before the events of those stories.

Scoundrels takes place in one of the most interesting (and generally unexplored) time frames in Star Wars, the time between the first and second movies. The Death Star has exploded, but the Empire is still in place, and although there is a rebellion brewing, many of the people in the universe have been relatively untouched by that war. The Universe is a big place, and Zahn's novels set in this time frame simply use the war as part of the backdrop. His focus, especially in Scoundrels, is on characters.

This novel is a basic caper / heist story, similar to Ocean's Eleven or the TV show Leverage. Han Solo and Chewie are on the run from Jabba and the bounty hunters he has hired to find him. He is roped into a scam that will "liberate" enough credits to fully pay off that debt. But in assembling his team, he realizes that he needs to include his old buddy, Lando Calrissian. That would be OK, except that the pair's last meeting ended with Lando saying he never wanted to see Han ever again.

The plot itself is fine, but that is not what this book is about. It is about Han, Chewie, and Lando, as well as the other characters that Zahn introduces. None of these stand out as much as does Mara Jade, who he created for the Thrawn novels. But Rachele Ree, the obligatory tech whiz, and the twin thieves Bink and Tavia are all interesting and well-drawn. 

There are only the very briefest references to Luke and Leia, and these serve to build the bigger universe. Overall, this book did what it set out to do -- it tells a fun yarn, in a universe we know, with characters we love.

source: public library

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