I think they’re getting the hang of this new Expanded Universe.
We’re several years into the new canon now, but it’s been curious to watch how the books (and comics) have changed from our first tentative steps with A New Dawn. It might be no less a balancing act, but it feels like everything is both settling into a rhythm and not afraid to try something new.
Last Shot is the latest example of how the novels are able to both enhance the films (in this case, Solo, mostly) and stand on their own as complete stories.
Daniel José Older’s Last Shot is primarily a Han Solo and Lando Calrissian adventure, with flashbacks that bracket Solo (Lando before, Han after) and a primary plot that takes place about three years after Return of the Jedi (or two after the Aftermath trilogy, though you don’t need to know those books to understand anything here.) Han is trying to adjust to being a husband and father, and Lando is back in Cloud City and dealing with… Feelings. And then a droid attacks.
The main plot is a little bit silly*, but in a way that works for a Star Wars novel – and despite all that, the lead antagonist, Fryzan Gor, manages to be fairly creepy. And lest we think that Lucasfilm has forgotten about the prequels, his story starts on Utapau.
* I do have the perfect reference, but it’s a gigantic spoiler so I’ll just wait and tweet it after everyone else has already talked about it. Plus I can’t find a gif.
But the important thing is, Lando nabs Han out of his space Lego-strewn apartment, they gather themselves up a team – yes, Chewbacca joins in, and there’s an Ewok – and head off to find out what the hell is going on.
There are also – believe it or not – some interesting ethical implications raised – what about the rights of droids? (It seems we might get more of this from L3-37.) Why are folks still surprised that an Ewok could be a slicer, in a world where galaxy-class co-pilot Chewbacca is the main cast’s most reliable father figure? And are Gungans as sick of the “meesa, meesa” schtick as we are? And does Han ever actually ever figure out that Sana just isn’t that into him?
When it comes down to it, Last Shot is simply a fun book. I’m hardly a big Han or Lando fan, but I breezed through it quickly, and, yes, actually enjoyed it. I can only hope Solo manages to do the same.
Last Shot is available now in hardcover and eBook. A copy of the book was provided by Del Rey for review.