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 Daniel José Older’s Last Shot.
There may be some mild spoilers
Words were always there when he needed them to get out of a tight spot.
This is almost 4 stories each set at different time, which all combine into one larger story.
The main story is set 2 years after the Battle of Jakku and follows Hand and Lando working together with a crew to find an item called the Phylanx Redux Transmitter for a criminal named Fyzen Gor, an item and criminal they both have a past history with.
Two of the other stories show both heroes’ past with these 2 things: Han from a mission with Sana Staros about 10 years earlier, Lando from an adventure he and L3-37 went on when they still owned the Millennium Falcon.
Finally, there is a storyline set about 20 years before the main story, which shows the rise of Fyzen Gor.
Unsurprisingly, these 3 characters are the main points of view, though some other characters will also have some moments where we see the events through their eyes.
So I love Han Solo as a character and have generally enjoyed stories featuring him through all the ages. However, I have come away from this novel feeling a little underwhelmed.
“Come back to me alive, Captain Solo. That’s an order.”
The known characters all feel very familiar to their portrayals in the movies and other media, also making the younger Han and Lando feel different to the ones post-Jakku. The books added some great insight to the pair of them, furthering their friendship but also keeping that spark of antagonism between them, while also expanding the characters by looking at Lando’s thoughts on settling down with someone and Han’s thoughts on fatherhood and adapting to such a huge change in his life.
I really enjoyed some of the other characters introduced, notably Taka, who was the second non-binary character introduced to Star Wars (behind Eleodie Maracavanya, who was introduced by Chuck Wendig in the Aftermath Trilogy), but the first to have a significant role within the story. As well as being a great character in themselves, I love the way that Older wrote the character and didn’t make their gender important – to the point that I had been reading the novel for days and suddenly realised that I couldn’t remember if Taka was meant to be male or female, leading me to finding the truth on Wookieepedia. It was really progressive writing from Older as gender should not be something crucial to introducing the character. The idea of an Ewok that was not just technologically savvy, but actually a slicer, seemed ridiculous when I first heard it, but I actually thought that the character of Peekpa worked really well in the novel. I was a little disappointed by how much of a marginal character Chewbacca felt in the main storyline, while I also found it a bit tiresome seeing everybody’s lines typed out in the way they were spoken – I was just about able to cope with characters that didn’t speak Basic, but then having a character with a speech impediment was hard to read. I also found myself really uninvested with the character of Fyzen Gor, which is not ideal for the main villain as it made it very hard for me to be fully invested in the threat to our heroes and it impacted my ability to really get into this story.
Lando really didn’t care how she said his name, as long as he could find a way to slide that dress off her later that night.
I also think what didn’t help was the repeated switching of time-frames. While it had to be written in such a way to not give away what Gor’s plan was and how everything would be resolved early in the story, I found it harder to switch between timelines than characters, probably not helped by the fact that the same characters would often be either side of the time shift. What also doesn’t help is that the math doesn’t quite add up as it would have “young Lando”‘s storyline at a time after he had lost the Falcon to Han.
What I also really liked about this book, was how much it made reference to another author’s work in Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath Trilogy, with one character from those stories appearing in a scene and a number of other characters and events mentioned. As someone who looks at the galaxy as a whole, it was great to see some of these connections as they made sense considering the trilogy was set only 2 years before the main storyline of this book.
Should I read it?
“Great,” Lando said. “We’re all gonna die.”
It certainly wouldn’t be one of my first choices if I was told to recommend a book to someone, but I still think it is worth a read, if only for the added characterisation for Han and Lando.
I do however think that it means this book benefits from having read Chuck Wendig’s aforementioned Aftermath trilogy so that these connections mean something to you rather than feeling like often unnecessary information.
Moments in Canon
He didn’t like describing things, and he especially didn’t like it when those things were feelings.
- Kasha had previously been a member of the Free Ryloth movement
- Han and Lando discuss the time Lando betrayed him to Darth Vader on Bespin
- Lando has taken over a company called VylarTech. Now called Calrissian Enterprises, they produce most of the droids used in Cloud City and many others around the galaxy
- There were a number of links and references to the Aftermath Trilogy, which I will mark in red so that you can easily avoid these if you are yet to read that trilogy and want to go in knowing nothing:
- Chewie starts this novel still with his family on Kashyyyk, where he has been since finding them in Aftermath: Life Debt
- Needing a slicer, Han goes to Conder Kyle, who helped him on a job in Aftermath: Empire’s End
- Conder tells Han that Sinjir Rath Velus is still working with Mon Mothma
- Mon Mothma is planning to demilitarize the New Republic during the trilogy, something we see has been happening by the time of this novel
Have you read this book? What were your thoughts on it? Thanks for reading. May the Force be with you…