Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Shepherd492 reviews: Star Wars: The Han Solo Adventures

Star Wars: The Han Solo Adventures (Brian Daley)

The Han Solo Adventures is a collection of three loosely connected tales involving Han and Chewie's exploits prior to A New Hope. Because this is a collection of stories, I will grade each story separately, covering the main points, flaws, and positives with each story, and giving a grade out of thirty three points, then adding them together + 1 to get the final score.

Han Solo At Stars' End
Han and Chewbacca team up with a ragtag group of rebels in order to track down missing people. This story features a brilliant foreshadowing of the "Han shot first" debacle which would not occur for another twenty years "I happen to like to shoot first, Rekkon. As opposed to shooting second." (pg. 83) Han and Chewie are portrayed nicely, although Han seems uncharacteristically quick to fury in two separate parts of the novel, something that I can't remember happening in the movies.

The plot itself is OK, there is a rather predictable traitor in the group, and the villain at Stars' End isn't too impressive, but the book ends with a fantastic action sequence, and another sequence in which Chewbacca is captured also serves as a high point. There are several original characters introduced, the most prominent being two droids; Bollux and his companion, Blue Max. These two play a role in all three of the tales, and their routine gets old about midway through the second story. The other companions aren't prominently featured, and mostly go undeveloped. Overall a shallow, but mostly entertaining plot, good characterizations of the important characters, and a wonderful bit of prescience makes this the best of the bunch.

Sub Score

Han Solo's Revenge
This story begins Han and Chewie in a very tight spot. Their method of turning the tables and surviving is classic Star Wars, and easily the highlight of this portion of the collection. From there, things fizzle out as the plot meanders, then is quickly solved with only minimal involvement from Han and Chewie. Though characterized nicely, Han and Chewie aren't given alot to do here, and in fact the conclusion didn't exactly feel like revenge. They aren't the ones to defeat the villain, though they do get their money back. The new characters here, Fiolla and Spray, form probably the most interesting group in the series. Fiolla is an above average love interest, and Spray is great comic relief in some places, and in others a genuinely likeable character, one of the only characters that actually develops over the course of these stories. The villain here is not introduced until the final third of the book, and he has such a scant presence in the story that he isn't very effective. Overall a lacking plot, less than spectacular villain, and disappointing conclusion outweigh the two good action sequences, solid characterizations, and above average new characters.

Sub Score

Han Solo And The Lost Legacy
 The final tale in this collection reads more like an Indiana Jones novel than a Star Wars one. Han meets an old friend who has uncovered some info on a long lost treasure, and Han agrees to join him. Their quest gets complicated when the Falcon is stolen, and the ensuing trek across the planet of Dellalt is the focal point of this story. Once again, Han and Chewie's relationship is handled very well, and is probably the high point of this particular story. A character from the previous story is shoe horned into this one, and he acts as one of the two main villains. His defeat has to be one of the lamest, most anti climactic that I have seen, and he serves no real purpose in the story beyond that. The other villain is featured only briefly, and bows out just as meekly.

The action sequences here definitely read more like an adventure novel, and most of them are rather boring, the sole exception being the penultimate fight in the mining compound. There is a dull scene featuring some kind of aquatic bulls that is completely unremarkable except for the fact that it serves as the origin of Han's scar on his chin. Another scene, where the group is about to be sacrificed, is even less interesting. I can't say I liked this one; awful villains, boring action sequences, and average at best companions made this my least favorite in the collection.

Sub Score

In conclusion, The Han Solo Adventures is a collection of light hearted, simple action adventures with almost exclusively good characterizations of the two most important characters; Han and Chewie. One other aspect worth mentioning here is how remarkably well these stories fit into the canon established by the more recent Star Wars lore. Only some unconventional labeling ("boats" for small, sub light starships, for example) reveal it to be an older work. It isn't perfect, and in fact fails in many respects (such as memorable villains and supporting characters), but fantastic action sequences, and Han and Chewie, are enough to earn it an above average score.

Final Score

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