My battered and much-loved copy of The Hutt Gambit!
This is book 2 of the Han Solo trilogy and I think it pretty much has everything you could possibly want from a Star Wars book – it’s pacey, filled with smugglers, blaster fights, Hutts, bounty hunters (oh hi there Boba!) spaceship dog fights aaaand Lando! Yes that’s right, we finally get to see how our two favourite scoundrels met! This in turn leads to Han encountering the ship that stole our hearts – the Millennium Falcon.
We also get in in-depth look at the mind-boggling politics of the Hutts, including possibly the most interesting and, dare I say, likeable Hutt – Durga. There was something really appealing about Durga, he’s a bit of a runt of a Hutt but makes up for it with a wily and cunning mind which makes him a force to be reckoned with. I also can’t talk about this book and NOT mention that this is where we see Han and Chewie come together
to form one of the strongest, most enduring and recognisable partners in science fiction. Cue alllll the feelz ❤
This book where Han properly starts his life as a smuggler and most of the action takes place on one of my personal favourite locations in the Star Wars universe – Nar Shaddaa. Nar Shaddaa is similar to Coruscant in that it’s entire surface is covered in a city sprawl.
Unlike Coruscant however, which has it’s nice, very wealthy sections (particularly the higher up you go), Nar Shaddaa is ridden with crime, pollution and general scum. It is however the place where Han is at his most happiest. He has a girlfriend, a little pad, a handful of good buddies and lands steady work from former Imperial classmate and now smuggler, Mako Spince.
Unfortunately the Smugglers’ Moon is next on the Empire’s hit list, and since no-one upstanding is willing to defend a planet of, essentially criminals, it’s down to Han to rally the smugglers to do it themselves!
Not only do we see Han really earn his stripes as a pilot – including his first crack at the Kessel Run (with a handy explanation of what a parsec means for anyone who was a little lost in A New Hope haha) – but we also see him grow as a leader. It’s a nice hint about the path we know he will one day take as a General in the Rebellion. Leia was right – Han is a natural leader and people look up to and respect him.
A.C.Crispin creates such a great sense of place in all these books. From the steaming, humid swamps of Ylesia in The Paradise Snare, to the grimy, festering, crime-ridden streets of Nar Shaddaa – I always felt like I was stood by Han’s side in all of these places,
blaster on hip and ready for action! Although A.C.Crispin is great at building a fully realised world and life for Han on Nar Shaddaa, this book still tears along at a rollicking pace and culminating in a breathtaking climax.
We jump straight in to Han’s life after he’s been booted out of the Empire. Maybe a little bit more of his life in the Imperial Navy would have been good – just as an indulgence. It’s only a very minor quibble though and the book lacks nothing for missing this out. In fact, it might have got a bit bogged down in the past if A.C.Crispin had chosen to look back at this.
I think the Hutt Gambit is a great, self-contained story of it’s own and it’s nice to have a middle book that really doesn’t suffer from that ‘middle book syndrome’. It’s a strong story all on it’s own and, for me, is the One To Beat for the rest of the Expanded Universe!
Rating: – 5 out of 5 Death Stars! Full marks for The Hutt Gambit!