“We just weren’t cut out for the honest life.” — Han Solo
Han Solo’s Revenge is the second book of The Han Solo Adventures, a trilogy of Han Solo novels written by Brian Daley. After finishing the first book in the trilogy, Han Solo at Stars’ End, I was very excited to read the second book. The first book was a great, fun adventure starring two of my favorite Star Wars characters. I was hoping the second book would provide similar entertainment, and it did! For the most part.
Han Solo’s Revenge begins on a remote planet called Kamar, where Han Solo and Chewbacca have made a business of showing holodocumentaries to the native people of the planet using a holoprojector they got stuck with. The native species of Kamar are primitive, and seem fascinated by the holoprojection. Every night they come to watch, paying Han and Chewie with little trinkets, jewelry, and artifacts from their people for admission. The duo have amassed quite a collection of valuables from the natives. One night Han decides to play a different movie, instead of the documentary he has shown them every single night for the past eleven nights. When the new movie starts, the natives are confused, and quickly become enraged to the point of destroying the holoprojector and causing Han and Chewie to run to the Millenium Falcon for safety. The two fly away, and decide that they desperately need to start taking smuggling jobs again to make some money.
In their desperation, Han Solo accepts a job without bothering to find out what it is he’s being asked to transport. When he goes to pick up the shipment, he discovers that it is a shipment of slaves, and Han and Chewie want nothing to do with slavery. Han refuses to take the slaves aboard his ship, but is forced into doing so anyway. With the help of Bollux and Max—two droids from the previous book who are a couple of my favorite characters—he is eventually able to let the slaves off his ship before he takes off, but he is furious that he had to get involved with slaving in the first place. He decides that he is going get revenge on the man who set him up to do this, and to collect the 10,000 credits he was promised for the job. So Han and Chewie set off for the planet Bonadan.
In their quest for payment and revenge, Han and Chewie team up with a few interesting characters. One of them is a woman named Fiolla, who works for the Corporate Sector Authority (basically a smaller-scale portion of the Empire that governs a certain sector of space, as opposed to the galaxy as a whole) but ends up on the same side as Han Solo. Fiolla is a strong character who hopes to change the Corporate Sector for the better from the inside. One thing I like about her especially is that she isn’t your standard one-off love interest character. There are moments when Han and Fiolla show interest in each other, but it is never serious and is never a main focus of the story. There is no love story here, which is refreshing in a way.
Another fun character to join the cast is a little guy named Spray. Spray is a Tynnan (essentially an anthropomorphic otter) with webbed feet and hands, large buck teeth, and speaks with a lisp. Spray is a “skip tracer”, meaning he finds people with large outstanding debts, and Han and Chewie have a lot of those. He ends up tagging along with Chewbacca, as the Wookiee flies the Millennium Falcon to rendezvous with Han and Fiolla on the planet Ammuud. The two make for a fun team, even though Spray cannot understand Chewbacca’s language.
The overall plot of this book wasn’t quite as exciting to me as the plot from the previous book, but it still had some great moments of action, suspense, and humor. Daley’s depictions of Han and Chewie are still great, though he still gives Han a few weird lines of dialogue that don’t feel like something Han would ever really say (“you two lads constantly wozzle me”). I am impressed at how well Daley is able to write Chewbacca without him having any lines of actual dialogue. Different authors of the Expanded Universe treat the way Chewbacca communicates differently. Daley just describes the sounds Chewie makes (a “bark”, or a “howl”) and, like in the movies, we understand what Chewie means based on how the characters around him act. This is done very well in the novel. However there is one line of the story where the narrator tells us that Chewbacca is “frustrated that he’d never mastered basic” (“basic” is “English” in the Star Wars universe). Is it even possible for a Wookiee to speak basic? Does that ever happen in any other story? To my knowledge it does not, but I guess I’ll find out in the future.
There are still a few weird inconsistencies. In the last review I pointed out how instead of “days” and “hours” Daley used the terms “rotations” and “Standard timeparts.” Well, this time he actually does use the word “days”, but for some reason uses both “hours” and “timeparts” at different points in the story. Maybe “timeparts” weren’t meant to be hours after all and I was just misinterpreting the word. But if that’s the case, then what is a timepart? A minute? A second? It makes by far the most sense as an hour.
Like the debut of the Z-95 Headhunter in the last book, there are a few things that make their first appearances (to my knowledge) here in Han Solo’s Revenge as well. Swoop bikes make their first appearance in this book, which we get to see every once in a while in future EU stories (Knights of the Old Republic being a notable appearance). At one point in the book, Han boards a passenger liner called the Lady of Mindor. “Mindor” is the setting of one of my all-time favorite Star Wars books, Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor, by Matthew Stover. Little references (or I guess “first appearances” would be more accurate) like these are scattered throughout the book, and I assume there are probably a bunch that I missed.
There are some cool little details explained in the book. It explains that inside the Falcon’s top and bottom gun turrets gravity is altered, so that the person in the top one can sit facing directly upward, and the person in the bottom can sit facing directly downward without the gravity pulling them into our out of their seats. We see this happen in A New Hope without it being explained, but honestly I had never even given it any thought until I read this. I liked learning little bits like that!
This was a good book overall, but I felt it wasn’t quite as good as Han Solo at Stars’ End. I can’t exactly put my finger on the reason, but I just enjoyed this one a little less. Han and Chewie’s relationship wasn’t explored as much as I would have liked, except for very briefly in the first chapter of the book, where the narrator tells us that “there were few of his own species to whom Chewbacca was as close as Han Solo, and the Wookiee was, in turn, Han’s only true friend in the galaxy.” I was happy to see the return of Bollux and Max, who are great characters who I’d love to keep seeing in future stories. As I was reading this book, I kept being reminded of James Luceno’s Agents of Chaos books, a duology of Han Solo novels in The New Jedi Order series. Apparently Luceno wrote those partially as a tribute to Brain Daley’s Han Solo books, so the fact that the books remind me of one another is probably a sign that Luceno wrote a pretty good tribute.
To me, this one was good, but not great. It was a fun, enjoyable read, but I don’t know that I’ll ever have a strong desire to come back to read this one again any time soon. I am happy that I read it, and it was good enough to keep me excited for the third book in the trilogy, Han Solo and the Lost Legacy.