It took almost the entire book to get interested in this story.
The young Han Solo doesn't seem all that interesting to me. Actually,
I find Han, roguish and dashing as he is, to be one of the least interesting
characters. In every book, he seems to be lost for something to do.
This book is no different. The story could be given to
anybody, from the Star Wars universe that we know, or to somebody else.
The only thing that marks it as Star Wars is the spice, the worlds of Alderaan,
Kashyyk, Corellia (and its sister planets), and Coruscant. All the
aliens were new, except for the Hutts. I think we should have seen
more classic aliens, and fewer new ones.
Speaking of Alderaan, I think it's silly that we should be given
a glimpse into Bail Organa and his daughter Leia here. It's as if
the author wanted us to see the polarity of Han's feelings for Leia in
the past as opposed to the future.
I did sort of enjoy the exchange between Han and the couple that
would later (in the Young Jedi Knights)
become Raynar's parents.
Other people we know from the future are Han's cousin, Thraken,
who seems as off-balance as a kid as he will become in the Corellian
Trilogy. It seems that sort of disorder started early on in life.
Han has escaped from his master, where he was being used as a
slave, really, to beg and pick-pocket, and to scam rich families.
He couldn't kill his master, because he's not cold-blooded. It seems
that he can't think properly, either, because he should have realized that
Garris Shrike would not let him live if he caught him, and that he would
continue harming people well into the future. The galaxy would be
better off without him.
But Han leaves, leaving behind a Wookie friend to die.
He stows away on a robotic ship bound for a planet called Ylesia, where
they need pilots to ferry their pilgrims and their cargo from place to
He soon discovers that the pilgrims are lured to this paradise
to work in the spice processing plants. They are addicted to some
sort of telepathic mating call, and forced to stay on the planet, thinking
of it as some sort of religion. He decides he should get out of there
as soon as possible. But he is assigned a bodyguard to make sure
he doesn't leave.
Han falls in love with one of the pilgrims, and gets her transferred
to a safer job. His bodyguard is as honour-bound as a Wookie, but
does nothing to stop him from mingling with the pilgrims, even when it
is apparent he is having some adverse effects (from the Ylesian point of
Han runs spice to several rendezvous points before being attacked
by pirates. His bodyguard is injured, so he heads for a medical base
on Alderaan. I didn't realize that Alderaan was so close to Hutt
space, that it would be the closest port to the rendezvous with the Hutts.
Anyway, Han tries to sell the spice on Alderaan, but is politely
warned to leave before he's arrested. So he surprises his bodyguard
by returning, and again surprises his Ylesian bosses by not reporting the
spice "stolen" by the pirates and making a profit himself, as he would
have, if he could have.
Thus he has gained their trust. So he immediately plans
to steal from them and make his getaway. He tapes the head priest
saying the Exultation is a fake, and shows it to Bria, his favourite girl.
She doesn't take it well, but eventually realizes he is right. He
discovers that his bodyguard Muuurgh's mate is being held as a pilgrim
(I saw this coming from a long way off), and convinces them both to join
First they try to steal from the head priest. That goes
rough, but they get out with a bunch of valuable stuff. Then they
go rescue Muuurgh's mate. That goes off with barely a hitch.
Then they return Muuurgh and his mate to their planet, and go to meet Bria's
family on Corellia.
Another name is dropped on Corellia, that of Corran Horn's father
or grandfather, in CorSec security (from I, Jedi).
Things don't go well at Bria's family's house. They know he's low
class, and eventually realize he's a thief. So Han and Bria take
off for Coruscant.
There, Han's business transaction goes off worse than anything
else. But Bria is able to help him out, and, although she leaves
him (because of her, not him), he is able to make the leap into his lifelong
dream: entry into the Imperial Academy.
Once accepted, he comes across his old master, Shrike, and ends
up in a fight, killing the last person who knew about his past (aside from
Bria, I guess).
I began by liking Bria, but ended up wishing she could grow up.
She turned into a whining little girl, who thought she was dragging Han
down. I expect to see her in the upcoming books, but I also expect
her to die before the trilogy is over.
There's not much else to say about this book. It is pretty
forgettable, but builds up to action near the end. Just when it begins
to get more interesting, the book ends. I hope the momentum does
not trickle to a halt in the next book.