Star Wars: Millennium Falcon by James Luceno (book review).

May 4, 2022 | By | Reply More

Writing a novel about a spaceship, albeit one as famous as the YT-1300 freighter ‘Millennium Falcon’ might seem a strange idea, but James Luceno pulls it off. Perhaps because the ‘Falcon’ was given a personality of sorts way back in the first ‘Star Wars’ film, the idea she’s a one-off isn’t difficult to accept and we also learn that she has a history with at least one previous owner, Lando Calrissian, appearing in the second film.

What Luceno does here is dig into this presumed history, going all the way back to her construction some 60 years before the Battle of Yavin. Through a succession of handlers and owners, not only is the history of the ship revealed, but also something of the politics of the Republic as well. Luceno handles this deftly, giving just enough to help the reader tie in bits and pieces from the films and other novels, while not spending too long with unimportant characters we’ll never see again.

But with that said, one pilot, Jadak, becomes the lynchpin around which the novel largely hangs. An Old Republic pilot, he and his co-pilot find themselves on a disastrous trip that almost ends with the destruction of their ship, at that point called the ‘Stellar Envoy’. He wakes up years later in a secret medical facility, having missed out not only on the Rebellion, but also of the events that happened after the downfall of Palpatine.

At this point, it’s worth pointing out the novel is not canon, but one of those ‘Legends’ stories overtaken by the events shown in the sequel films. Not only are Han and Leia very different people to the ones we recently saw in the films, but there are also numerous important characters and events that no longer exist in the current ‘Star Wars’ canon.

Meanwhile, Han and Leia, along with the adopted daughter Allana and the droid C-3PO, set about on project to learn more about the history of the ‘Millennium Falcon’. Initially, this seems to be more a family activity than anything else but, before too long it becomes evident that the ‘Falcon’ or at least the ‘Envoy’, was carrying something of incredible value when Jadak crashed her over Nar Shaddaa.

In a sense, the story then becomes a classic MacGuffin hunt. Needless to say, there are others operating behind the scenes, providing the degree of threat required to ensure the story has the sort of tension and pacing we expect from a ‘Star Wars’ novel. Luceno has, of course, written a number of ‘Star Wars’ novels and, while the events of this novel are relatively inconsequential, he embeds the story skilfully into the tapestry of post-Endor events.

So, the story hints at Han and Leia’s uncertainty about the new head of state, Admiral Daala, a former Imperial now seemingly committed to peaceful and efficient government. Her relationship with the heroes of the Rebellion is difficult and, ultimately, the novel ends with the revelation that she’s ordered the arrest of one of those heroes for dereliction of duty.

The ‘Falcon’ is little short of a character in her own right and the story gives plenty of space for readers to better understand what she means to Han and Lando, as well as her previous owners. It’s also nice to see a less dysfunctional Han-Leia relationship, as loving parents as much as anything else.

With its lightweight storyline and, ultimately unimportant conclusion, this isn’t an essential read by any means, even if you prefer the ‘Legends’ over the canon established in the sequel films. But it is fun’ and Luceno can handle a word processor with the best of them.

Neale Monks

May 2022

(pub: Del Rey/Ballantine Books, 2008. 317 page hardback. Price: $26.00 (US), $30.00 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-345-50700-6)

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Category: Books, Star Wars

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