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A novel by Brian Daley (1980, Del Rey Science Fiction)
Book 3 of the Han Solo Adventures
5 years before Star Wars: A New Hope

Han and his employer go searching for a long-lost treasure.



2 stars

Read July 26th to 29th, 1995  
    The following review and extended summary were written in June 2001.

Decent, once again, but nothing really ground-breaking.  It didn't hold my interest for too long.

As usual, this book starts with Han trying to find work outside the Corporate Sector.  And, as usual, it ends with him running away from a disastrous encounter with his employer and heading back to the Corporate sector to find illegal work.  

In this case, the first two chapters end amusingly as Han dumps a load of fertilizer on his previous employer, and then ends up destabilizing an entire planetary government because a group from that government tries to cheat him.  

The real action comes when Han returns to a planet and finds his old companion Badure (whom I believe we meet for the "first" time in The Paradise Snare, or The Hutt Gambit), who taught Han how to make the Kessel Run, and who saved Han and Chewie's lives, so Chewie owes the man a life debt.  I'm not sure how this life debt works, but if Chewie had to owe everybody who saves his life a debt like that, I think he'd be exhausted trying to honor it all!

So barely knowing anything about yet another run, Han and Chewie take Badure up on his offer.  It turns out that Badure has found the logbook to a treasure vessel of Xim the Despot, a tyrant who lived well before the Old Republic.  Hasti, Badure's associate, whom I didn't trust, has the access codes to the logbook.  She turns out to be dependable, after all, though, so my worries were unfounded.  But I still expected Han to be double-crossed.  

They cannot access the logbook once they reach the vaults, though, and proceed back to the Falcon, only to come under attack by some competitors, who nearly kill the group, and capture Han's ship.  

The others are ready to give up, but Han will not leave without his ship.  So he hires a group of natives to row him across the large lake separating the city from the mines, where the Falcon is being held.  A competition between rowing businesses nearly drowns them in a sort-of amusing fight and race, but they finally get across, barely!  

Crossing over the mountains to the mine is much more difficult, however.  They pass through a field of some sort that drains their energy, putting them to sleep.  When they wake up, they are left alone for some time, and Han and Hasti start to fall in love.  They kiss, but Hasti pulls away, because she knows that Han will never really let anybody into his life.  This seemed much more real to me than the relationship with Bria in the Paradise Snare.  

It turns out that some native colonists, who have managed to keep out of contact with any Republic, Imperial or Corporate sector forces for millennia have captured the small group.  With the help of Bullox, Blue Max and the alien Professor Skynx, they are able to determine that the natives plan to sacrifice these people  to their gods.  But using a technique that would later be adapted for Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Chewie uses a large gong as a shield as the team escapes.  

Skynx also determines that these natives are what is left of the crew of Xim the Despot's treasure ship.  Unfortunately, before they can take advantage of this information, the religious natives activate Xim's robotic army.  As Han battles his competitors for possession of the Millennium Falcon, Gallandro appears, wanting both revenge for the events from the last book, and a part of the treasure. Luckily, the robotic army arrives just in time.  

Bullox and Blue Max try to stop the army, both with access codes they had scrounged and with reasoning, but they only manage to get the army to spare the Falcon.  Finally, the two robots lure the army onto a bridge that breaks with the loading due to the frequency of vibration in time with the bridge's natural frequency.  Gotta love physics!

Gallandro teams up with the group, and they prepare to rob Xim's vault.  But Gallandro turns on Han once they find the vault, and injures him.  But he also sets off the defensive systems by pulling a gun in the no-weapons zone that served as a vestibule to the vaults, as he tried to kill Skynx.  The defensive systems cut him down and burned him beyond a recognizable body.  I don't know where Anja heard about her father's death, but her accusations towards Han, as made in Return to Ord Mantell, were obviously not well researched!

As we know, though, Han does not get rich, so something had to happen that prevented him from getting the treasure.  So it stands to reason that the treasure is not what it seems.  It was priceless millennia ago, when traveling through the stars was more dangerous, and shielding technology was primitive, but today, the entire treasure couldn't buy a used starship, let alone the planets Han intended to buy!  Only Professor Skynx is happy, as there are documents and artwork here that describe the state of the Galaxy before the Old Republic.  That is priceless in its own way.  But not to Han, who still tries to find a way to make money out of this deal.  

Good hand-to-hand battles and some decent character work make this a fine addition to the Star Wars saga.  Han and Chewie are true to form, though the author spends a lot of time describing things that seem to be of no use.  But that's storytelling, and items are just a part of the Star Wars universe as the characters are.

The Han Solo adventures are not the best books in the saga, but they are true to the adventurous spirit.  And thus are worth the read.


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