Welcome to Book Reviews. In this series I will look to review any canon books that come out in the Star Wars galaxy as I work my way through them. I am no expert book critic or expert in writing (as you may be able to tell), so this is very much from a fan’s point of view. In each review, I will also try to point out a few “Moments in Canon” – moments that link into the wider canon and references to other canon stories. Today I will be looking at Mur Lafferty’s Solo: A Star Wars Story: Expanded Edition.
The novelisation of the movie, the book is mainly set 10 years before A New Hope, with the opening section 3 years earlier and focuses on the story of how Han Solo left Corellia, met Chewbacca and turned to a life of smuggling, including his first interactions with Lando Calrissian and the Millennium Falcon.
He didn’t even think he could ever find a ship this perfect, even if he had sold all of the coaxium on Kessel.
The story shows a number of viewpoints, the main ones being Han, Qi’ra and Lando. As an expanded edition, the majority of the story follows the movie, but there are some scenes left out where they don’t fit the viewpoints being shown, and also some scenes are added in or extended, very similar to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
His own ship. A copilot and friend he trusted with his life. They were finally on their way.
Let me start by saying: I am a fan of Solo: A Star Wars Story, so I was always going to be going into this book feeling pretty good. Also, as this is a novelisation of a movie that has been out for over a year, I will be much more open about plot details, so be aware that there may be spoilers if you have not seen the movie.
I really enjoyed this book. Much like the film, it felt like a fun adventure and was more light-hearted than some of the more serious novels, while also being able to suitably handle the more serious moments.
The way Han is written I this story feels faithful to both the movie and the other stories I have read that are set around this time, while the ability to delve into how he is thinking did a really good job of helping to set up the character he becomes that we have seen since 1977. Qi’ra also came across really well as someone who is always calculating and adapting to survive, which makes her decision to stick with Crimson Dawn rather than leave with Han so much more understandable. Beckett and all the other characters come across very faithful to what we see on screen, but I want to take a moment to mention the portrayal of L3-37. I was not a massive fan of the character in the movie, but I think the book did a great job of building on that character, cutting or glazing over a few moments but expanding on others and helping us see things from Elthree’s point of view. So good was the writing of the character, I found that her death on Kessel impacted me more in the novel than in the movie!
All she needed was a battle flag, but she was already a war hero.
In terms of the story itself, I don’t feel that I can comment much on this for the book, as it was constrained by having to follow the story from the film. Instead, I want to mention a few moments from the book that have stuck with me, despite it being over a month since I finished reading it. First of all, I want to praise the scene of Elthree and Qi’ra talking together in the Falcon’s cockpit. While I was not a fan of this scene in the movie, the scene is extended here into a discussion where Qi’ra’s role as a slave to Crimson Dawn is compared to that of a droid. It was moments like this that made Elthree’s focus on droid rights so worthwhile to the story, while also being a great way to explain what happened to Qi’ra in the 3 years after Han escaped Corellia. Sticking with Elthree, I really enjoyed being able to see her integration into the Falcon from her point of view. It wouldn’t have worked in the movie, but this was a great example on how the novelisation can build on the story. Finally, I want to give a mention to the epilogue. I won’t give any details on it as I don’t want to spoil it for anyone yet to read the novel, but it was a great moment to help connect the galaxy while feeling completely in place with the stories we have been given.
Should I read it?
Maybe Val and Rio had gotten off easy.
If you liked the movie, then I highly recommend the novelisation. If you did not enjoy the movie at all and don’t like the way Han is portrayed in this time-frame, then it is skip-able. If you are on the fence, then I would suggest giving it a go; it is an easy read with a good blend of characterisation and action, and you may find yourself enjoying the story more.
Moments in Canon
Only Jedi summoned things with the Force. Jedi and Sith Lords. She suddenly understood from where Dryden’s paralyzing fear of his master originated.
- Corellia’s crime and issues with criminal gangs has increased since the Empire took control
- Chewie was captured fighting the Empire
- The Conveyex heist was Qi’ra’s suggestion
- Lady Proxima sold Qi’ra to a slave dealer, who in turn sold her to Dryden Vos
- Elthree was an astromech who modified herself, including making herself bipedal
- Teräs Käsi was developed to counter the Jedi
- Qi’ra had only seen Maul once before the events of this story, and was not aware of his identity as a former Sith
Have you read this book? What were your thoughts on it? Thanks for reading. May the Force be with you…