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A novel by Brian Daley (1979, Del Rey Science Fiction)
Book 2 of the Han Solo Adventures
5 years before Star Wars: A New Hope

Han joins up with an Authority agent to find a slaving ring.



2 stars

Read July 22nd to 25th, 1995  
    The following review and extended summary were written in June 2001.

Not the most exciting or interesting adventure, but we do get to learn plenty about Han Solo's beliefs.  

I wonder if Han and Chewbacca's currently-accepted back history were written before this novel, or if it was developed afterwards.  Because it is a good bet that Han's views on slavery stem from his encounter with Chewie so long ago when saving him from Imperial slavers.  

That is the entire main plot of this book, which is enjoyable, but not much else to speak of.  Han is so desperate for cash that he takes on a deal blind.  Unfortunately, it nips him in the butt, as the man flashes a gun at his head and forces him and Chewie to take on slaves.  But they barely get off the ground before something happens that gets the slavers killed and frees the slaves.  

For Han and Chewie were so desperate for repairs, too, that they installed "fluidic" systems instead of the normal replacement parts.  They have also taken on Bullox and Blue Max (who gets another awkward sentence about why he's named that way), from the last book, who are apparently paying their way as passengers by working.  Somehow I can't see Han doing that, even for the extra labor.  

A near-burst had earlier sent the two droids to make a temporary fix to the fluidic systems, with Han saying that they could have been up to their chins in fire-extinguishing foam (though why the system would flood the whole ship is beyond me).  So when the slavers take over, the droids undo their work, and the foam distracts the slavers long enough for Han to regain control of the ship.  

And so begins a long search for the slavers' boss, from whom Han wants to get his money, even though he never did the actual job.  He stakes out the meeting point, to no avail, and meets with a woman who turns out to be a Corporate Sector Authority agent.  She leads him on a wild goose chase, while they also outrun the slavers' contact on swoops (introduced way before Shadows of the Empire, where I thought they were first seen!).  

Chewie, meanwhile, investigates somebody trying to gain access to the Millennium Falcon, and who claims to be a collections agent, for somebody to whom Han owes money.  The little alien follows Chewie around, and they meet up with Han and the woman, Fiolla, who has entered into a reluctant partnership with the smuggler.  

To escape notice, Chewie and the collections agent lift off in the Falcon, and Han and Fiolla take a passenger shuttle into orbit.  But their ship is boarded by pirates (claims the crew), though Han reasons that it is the slavers, looking for them.  They bail out in an escape shuttle, and land on the planet where the Falcon is marooned. How likely is that?

Because, you see, a bomb had been planted on the outer hull before the Falcon had lifted off.  But it didn't do so much damage because of the fluidic systems.  Which explains why the author went to so much trouble to describe the fluidics to us...

Han intervenes in a clan dispute which I really didn't understand, and almost gets into a shootout with famed fast-draw Gallandro, who eventually ends up being father to Anja, from the Young Jedi Knights Under Black Sun trilogy. But Gallandro decides that he wouldn't fight Han today, which will lead to their encounter in the next book.  

Chewie is chased away from the ship by a giant herd of stampeding animals, and returns in time to meet with Han and Fiolla.  After Han and Chewie replace the damaged fluidics with real electronics (now that their purpose is over), the slavers find them again.  

Up into space we go, and the slavers capture the Falcon in a tractor beam.  At the same time, an Authority security vessel approaches, and takes the slavers captive, that being Solo's Revenge, I suppose.  There, it is revealed that the collections agent is actually the Authority overseer for this sector, and Gallandro and Fiolla are his agents.

Gallandro takes possession of the Falcon, but Han is able to overcome him using his wit more than his gun, and he exchanges his own freedom for that of Gallandro's, thus assuring that their next meeting will not be a pleasant one.

And there we have it.  Not much to this book.  What battles there were had some interesting moments, but nothing like in the last book.  This one mostly had Han reacting to events, not really controlling them, as I enjoy more.  Entertaining, but not much more than that.


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