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.
+Strong development of Solo
-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.”
The Paradise Snare is a solid beginning of the origins of Han Solo.
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.
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