Time to kick things off with A.C. Crispin’s magnificent Han Solo trilogy! Starting initially about 10 years before A New Hope this trilogy focuses on the adventures of our favourite smuggler, Han Solo. Without any further ado:-
The Paradise Snare
We start off proceedings with Han as a very young boy, kind of an Oliver-Twist figure, scrounging for food and scraps on the streets of Corellia. We don’t hang around Corellia for long as Han is soon whisked away for a life of crime by the pretty nasty piece of work that is Garris Shrike (a space bandit of sorts). Years later as Han manages to break free of Shrike’s crew to pursue his dreams of becoming an Imperial pilot. To do this, he needs to pick up some decent experience so winds up on a piloting job on the steamy, swampy planet of Ylesia.
Ylesia is where things really pick up in the story. We are introduced to several key new characters including Teroenza – a T’landa Til (a cousin species of the Hutts) who is pretty much our main antagonist for the story, Bria Tharen – a human female who has fallen victim of the fake religious cult which is serving as a cover for a spice mining facility – and Muuurgh – a Togorian male who is assigned as Han’s ‘bodyguard’ and is essentially Chewie’s predecessor.
A.C. Crispin does an incredible job of getting under Han’s skin. He was already a fully realised character in my mind before reading these books and A.C. Crispin really does him justice which can’t have been easy! She also takes a lot of care in fleshing out the support characters so they feel like strong characters in their own right. We also get an introduction into the machinations of the Hutts and start to see them as the criminal masterminds that they really are.
There honestly isn’t much to criticise here! I think this is a fantastically well-rounded book – filled with action and excitement whilst still taking the time to develop characters and give us a fascinating insight into Han’s background. It sets up several key influencing points for Han, including his relationship with Dewlanna (a female Wookie also stuck on Shrike’s vessel) together with basically everything that happens on Ylesia (namely the slavery and ‘hokey religions’ ummmm!) makes Han’s later insubordination to save Chewie completely make sense.
My only tiny gripe would be that, try as I might, I can’t picture what a T’landa Til looks like! Kind of like a rhinoceros with a much longer neck?? Who knows?!
Rating:- 4 out of 5 Death Stars!