Star Wars: Expanded Universe Read-Through “Rebel Dawn” by A.C. Crispin

rebel-dawnI have embarked on a quest to read through the Star Wars Expanded Universe once more. Be sure to check the linked text there to see other posts in this series. Here, we go back to the future past to see the origins of Han Solo with book three of the Han Solo Trilogy, Rebel Dawn by A.C. Crispin. There will be SPOILERS in what follows.

Rebel Dawn picks up with Han Solo on his quest to acquire a ship. Of course, he gains said ship through gambling… against Lando Calrissian. Millennium Falcon, acquired. The rest of the plot follows interactions between Han and Bria, his old lost love from the first book in the trilogy, along with Chewbacca and Lando. The growing tensions leading towards a Rebel Alliance are laid out alongside conflict between the Hutts.

Crispin once again does a fantastic job writing the characters in believable ways with realistic motivations, demeanor, and dialogue. Each character feels unique with his or her own motivations and subtle actions to distinguish them from each other. This is particularly interesting when it comes to the Hutts. Crispin makes each Hutt unique in both personality and motivations. She did a fantastic job simply making the Hutts seem like a complete people group, as opposed to just inventing some characters and putting Hutt skins on them, Crispin’s writing presupposes and provides a whole background world from which the Hutts spring, thus giving them much more depth than if she’d simply done it the other way around.

Another interesting part of the novel is that it gives insight into how the Rebellion began. Imperial atrocities are hinted at alongside the activities of characters like Bria who are working to undermine the Empire in whatever way they can. Thus, the stage is set in these novels for the Original Trilogy.

There are two primary downsides to Rebel Dawn. The first is that, like the previous two books, while Crispin is extraordinary in her capacity to portray characters, she does very little to describe the locales in which the characters operate. There are a few exceptions, of course, like Cloud City, but overall the locations are just the blank canvas on which the characters operate. The other problem is that the book seems pretty rushed towards the end as a lot of loose threads have to be wrapped up while also having to skip ahead to the “present” time of the Original Trilogy. It just doesn’t wrap up as nicely as the other two books in the series.

Rebel Dawn is an excellent read that fills in a lot of backstory for Han Solo and Chewbacca, as well as for Lando and even in a very small way for Leia. Not only that, but it gives a lot of interesting detail about the lives and practices of the Hutts as well as giving background for how the Rebellion got started to begin with. I recommend it highly to those who love Star Wars.

The Good

+Great character development
+Ties back into the Original Trilogy
+Plenty of intrigue
+The Hutts are extremely interesting

The Bad

-Minimal description of locales
-Seems rushed at points

Best Droid Moment

Droids were too rarely mentioned to have one 😦

Grade: A- “Another solid entry in the Star Wars universe from Crispin.”

Links

J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason– Check out my “main site” which talks about philosophy of religion, theology, and Christian apologetics (among other random topics). I love science fiction so that comes up integrated with theology fairly frequently as well. I’d love to have you follow there, too!

Reading through Star Wars: Expanded Universe– Here you can read other posts in this series (reviews of other EU books) and make suggestions about what I should include in my reviews.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

There are other posts on science fiction books to be found! Read them here.

SDG.

 

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Star Wars: Expanded Universe Read-Through- “The Hutt Gambit” by A.C. Crispin

thg-crispin

Hutts and Boba Fett? Now we’re in trouble.

I have embarked on a quest to read through the Star Wars Expanded Universe once more. Be sure to check the linked text there to see other posts in this series. Here, we go back to the future past to see the origins of Han Solo with book two of the Han Solo Trilogy, The Hutt Gambit by A.C. Crispin. There will be SPOILERS in what follows.

The Hutt Gambit

The Hutt Gambit features an older Han than we saw in The Paradise Snare (see my review). Here, Han has been kicked out of the Imperial Navy because he saved Chewbacca from slavery. Thus, he’s “stuck” with Chewbacca, who has sworn him a life debt. They go off to work as smugglers, trying to save enough money to buy their own ship by working for the Hutts.

The plot is extremely character driven, but unlike the previous book, the side characters get serious development. The Hutts in particular get fully realized stories, with motivations to drive them and even a developed view of the world. Although there is little description of the planets themselves (more on that below), the Hutts that are met in the book are enough to make a great setting and a genuine feel of uniqueness–something that doesn’t always happen with all the aliens in Star Wars. The dialogue is fantastic. It reads as though it is actually people talking with different motivations and thoughts happening behind the words, which makes it feel real.

Reading The Hutt Gambit made me desperate to tread more by Crispin. I think I’ll go check out her other fiction at some point, because the way she writes characters is just phenomenal.

That said, there are some downsides to this book. There is very little development of the various places that are visited. We learn that the Hutt world, Nal Hutta, is swampy, but there aren’t really any descriptions of places or flora or fauna. It’s unfortunate because in many of the Star Wars novels, the planets themselves act as secondary characters in their own right, whether it is through physical hazards or unique locations or other features. Crispin is skimpy on these details and seems to leave locations largely to the readers’ imagination. This lack of description bleeds over into pretty much any scene of the book, as action largely takes place against a blank, imagined canvas. Again, this is a pretty major strike because Star Wars does seem to rely so heavily–and excel so much–in creating unique locations and settings throughout.

The Hutt Gambit is a thoroughly enjoyable read. It surpasses The Paradise Snare in many ways, and is a solid entry in the Star Wars Expanded Universe.

The Good

+Totally character driven
+Excellent plot
+Great action scenes
+Creates fully-realized background for Hutts

The Bad

-Not much description of planets or set scenes

Best Droid Moment

Hardly any droids means this category is sad

Grade: A “Thoroughly character-driven with plenty of action, intrigue, and ‘Star Wars’ feel, this is a great Star Wars book.”

Links

J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason– Check out my “main site” which talks about philosophy of religion, theology, and Christian apologetics (among other random topics). I love science fiction so that comes up integrated with theology fairly frequently as well. I’d love to have you follow there, too!

Reading through Star Wars: Expanded Universe– Here you can read other posts in this series (reviews of other EU books) and make suggestions about what I should include in my reviews.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

There are other posts on science fiction books to be found! Read them here.

SDG.

Star Wars: Expanded Universe Read-through- “The Paradise Snare” by A.C. Crispin

Who's 'scruffy looking'?

Who’s ‘scruffy looking’?

I have embarked on a quest to read through the Star Wars Expanded Universe once more. Be sure to check the linked text there to see other posts in this series. Here, we go back to the future to see the origins of Han Solo with book one of the Han Solo Trilogy, The Paradise Snare by A.C. Crispin.

The Paradise Snare

Who doesn’t love to get some background into their favorite characters? (Put your hand down, you!) Seriously, it’s always exciting to learn more about beloved characters’ pasts, though it is sometimes with some trepidation that we explore, hoping our image of them will not be shattered. A.C. Crispin’s “Han Solo Trilogy” is an origin story for everyone’s favorite scoundrel, Han Solo.

One of the most problematic plot devices, in my opinion, is what I have dubbed the “kill a ‘protagonist’ handle.” Okay, I just made that up. But what I mean by it is a reference to when authors start off a book by introducing a character who is clearly a “good guy” and then killing them fairly briefly. Why is this such a problem? The reason is because we haven’t been given any reason to care about the character before they die, so it is not as impactful as the death of a character should be. This happens in The Paradise Snare with Dewlanna, the Wookie who took care of a young Han Solo. I’m glad Crispin developed Dewlanna’s backstory more through Han’s reflections, as this softened the contrived feeling a bit.

The Paradise Snare is a pretty sweet concept too. As I said, origin stories are usually pretty thrilling, and ever since I first saw the movies I felt there was more to the story of Han Solo than met the eye. It’s good to get this development into the past to ground some of the aspects of his personality. Moreover, Crispin did an excellent job capturing the “feel” of Star Wars and Solo in particular. The dialogue is very well written throughout, something that is not always the case in the Star Wars universe *cough* prequel trilogy *cough*.

Solo seems like a very real character, with differing motivations, reactions, and actions that all seem to fit with what we already know as Star Wars fans. Moreover, he can act in unexpected ways that nevertheless seem to fit his character. Bria, another Corellian, is also fairly well-developed, though we don’t get to spend as much time with her as we do with Han (for obvious reasons). Most other characters feel very tertiary and have little motivating them. I think this is more a product of the purpose of the book and its focus on Han than anything else, however. Crispin captured the feeling of Solo very well.

One thing that was a downside throughout was that none of the locations seemed particularly developed. There were some descriptions, yes, but overall the different planets almost all felt like mere wallpaper for the story to occur in front of. One of the great things about Star Wars is all the diversity of planets, and although Crispin did capture this at moments, it most often seemed like there wasn’t much to hold on to so far as the settings were concerned.

It’s always tough to grade a childhood favorite, and I loved the Han Solo trilogy. There are a few problems in the book, sure, but the question is what is it that readers are looking for in such a trilogy. The answer is some good action, development of the character we’ve grown to love, and a solid story. The Paradise Snare checks out on each front. A strong start to the series.

The Good

+Strong development of Solo
+Great dialogue

The Bad

-Not enough development of the various locales
-Secondary characters feel like window dressing

Best Droid Moment

I was a fan of the R2 unit on the ship Solo stowed away on threatening to have him arrested on arrival.

Grade: B+ “A strong lead book that gives plenty of reasons to read on.”

Conclusion

The Paradise Snare is a solid beginning of the origins of Han Solo.

Links

J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason– Check out my “main site” which talks about philosophy of religion, theology, and Christian apologetics (among other random topics). I love science fiction so that comes up integrated with theology fairly frequently as well. I’d love to have you follow there, too!

Reading through Star Wars: Expanded Universe– Here you can read other posts in this series (reviews of other EU books) and make suggestions about what I should include in my reviews.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

There are other posts on science fiction books to be found! Read them here.

SDG.