To make his biggest score, Han’s ready to take even bigger risks.
But even he can’t do this job solo.
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? (summary from goodreads)
Scoundrels is set right after Star Wars: A New Hope. Don’t worry if you’ve never read a Star Wars Expanded Universe novel before — you don’t need to know any background. As someone who has been disappointed by some of the EU developments and experiments (such as the Yuuzhan Vong war and the Red Harvest horror/zombie novel) I was a little worried, but I shouldn’t have been. Timothy Zahn has always been one of my favorite EU authors, and in Scoundrels, he delivers an exciting adventure that I devoured in a matter of hours.
Remember the big reward Han got at the end of “A New Hope?” The one he needed to pay off Jabba? Well, he lost it, and with Jabba still after him, he needs a job with a big payoff. It’s his lucky day when a guy named Eanjer claims he’ll split 163 million credits with Han if Han can help him recover the stolen credits. The only problem? The guy that has Eanjer’s credits is a Black Sun sector chief, and Villachor is serious about his security. Paranoid doesn’t even begin to cover it.
Even though Han’s a smuggler, not a safe cracker or thief, he’s sure he can do the job. Using the huge payoff as a lure, he assembles a team including his faithful sidekick Chewie as well as Lando Calrissian. Also included are Winter and Kell Tainer, faces experienced EU readers will recognize, and some new rogues, such Bink and Tavia, as a pair of identical twin thieves.
The heist is the focus of the novel. As always with Han, nothing is as easy as it sounds, and before he and the team know it, they’re in way over their head. Besides getting into a virtually impregnable safe, they’ve got a Black Sun Vigo in the mix and even some Imperials. I don’t want to spoil anything, because part of the fun is figuring out all the clues. I will say the ending surprised the kriffing Sithspit out of me! I SO did not see it coming, but I’m sure if I reread the book, I’d see clues pointing it out.
Scoundrels isn’t the typical Star Wars novel, full of space battles and lightsaber fights. Because Han, Chewie, and Lando are familiar characters, we don’t learn a whole lot of new information about them. Zahn instead develops the ensemble cast. I particularly enjoyed seeing Winter in a bigger role, and watching Villachor try to figure out the right thing to do — aka how to stay alive.
I tend to prefer the older EU books, such as the Thrawn trilogy, the X-Wing series, and the Jedi Academy trilogy. I’m happy to say that Scoundrels will join those favorites in my Star Wars section, and I look forward to rereading it in the future. I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a Star Wars book so much.
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