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A novel by James Luceno (2008, Del Rey)
41 years after Star Wars: A New Hope

Han and Leia search for previous owners of their famous ship after Allana finds a strange item on board, while a previous owner, awakened from a long coma, attempts to complete his last mission.




Read February 6th to 16th, 2010  
    While the concept of the story was interesting, the execution, which felt more like a set of related short stories, was unfortunately fairly dull.

The obvious comparison to be made here is against Death Star, which promised to be a history of the battle station, but ended up being about a small group of people in its last days. Fortunately, Millennium Falcon does a better job.

It's probably hard to make a book like this very interesting, and the author did an admirable job in trying to find a way to present it without doing so in quite a linear manner. So we don't see Han and Leia until we are several chapters into the book. The main character in the book is actually a man named Jadak, who never really owned the Falcon, but did fly it for more than ten years with his partner. They wanted to buy the Falcon from the Republic Group, a bunch of senators and some Jedi who opposed Palpatine's methods, related to the Two Thousand senators from Labyrinth of Evil. Jadak even flew through the wake of Anakin's falling ship from the beginning of Revenge of the Sith to get to his contacts in the Senate. But Security Chief Isard saw the suspicious group of senators and Jedi, and Jadak's escape from Coruscant resulted in a very damaged ship. Reverting to real space at Nar Shaddaa, the Stellar Envoy collides with a cruiser leaving the system, and Jadak goes into a coma.

So the trick to this novel is that we learn about the Falcon's ancient past from Jadak and the people with whom he interacts, and when Jadak returns to the real world, he continues to search forward in time through the people who owned the ship after he did. Han and Leia, on the other hand, search backwards, starting with Lando.

It is partly believable that Lando would name his son Lando, based on the pride the authors have given him in these novels. But for a set of continuous stories like Star Wars, I don't think it's appropriate. Lando's part of the Falcon's story is known from The Hutt Gambit and Rebel Dawn, as well as The Lando Calrissian Adventures, so it wasn't told here. But of course Lando has great information sources, and his staff is able to decode the transmitter that Allana (known as Amelia to everybody else) found on the ship.

Han and Leia, Allana and C3PO travel to Oseon where they meet the children of a previous owner, who owns a huge casino hotel there. That owner was forced to sell the Falcon after he lost a bet on an Imperial/insurgent battle at Yag'Dhul. They point them towards a traveling pet show, where the next-previous owner still lives. He worked for a traveling circus at the time, where he tried to impress a Twi'lek dancer and won her over. Their love was cemented while traveling between worlds, when their animal-holding cargo ship was attacked by pirates, and the circus animals were left behind on an uninhabited world. The Millennium Falcon was used to transport the smaller animals back to civilization, where they would not be eaten by the indigenous life. The original owner of the circus obtained it from another long-lived human, this time a woman who works at the life-extending Aurora facilities on Oboa-skai, which is where Jadak was kept. Dr. Thorp actually knew Jadak, but her interest is in telling them about the kind of clinics she ran with the Millennium Falcon. She set up on numerous worlds, but finally found one that piqued her interest, a world decimated by Imperial forces, in which the people are very long-lived and seemed to be able to tell the future. She thought they were Force-attuned, but Luke would have to test them to be sure. Unfortunately, it seemed that the Imperials either wiped them out, or they left for good, because Thorp found no trace of them afterwards, and was not able to glean anything from the data she recorded about them.

Thorp, on the other hand, had been given the ship free by a member of the Rebel insurgency. The Millennium Falcon arrives on Quip Fargil's planet at the same time as Jadak, who poses as the former rebel to gain their confidence.

Jadak, for his part, went to Nar Shadda, where he had lost the ship to begin with. The mechanic who restored the ship after the collision was still alive, as was the crime boss who actually bought the ship. We got his story earlier in the book, as he made a deal with the insectoid Colicoids, but one of his crew mistakenly showed his long neck, so the Colicoids went crazy and devoured a few crew members before they were able to escape off planet. The buzz droids the Colicoids manufactured were accidentally triggered, and when dumped from the ship (after trying to disassemble it) promptly went after the Star Destroyer that showed up. The resulting explosion put the owner in jail for life. But he was able to make a deal with Black Sun, and although he can't leave the prison planet, his life there is quite opulent. He agrees to tell Jadak about who he sold the ship to if Jadak and the sidekick he picked up on Nar Shadda perform a mission for him: capture a Colicoid witness who is about to allow his species to re-enter galactic civilization. Jadak does this, which results in some chaos on a world based on lawyers, so everybody either follows the rules or sues people, all with religious zeal.

It turns out the ship was impounded, and ended up in the hands of a Sullustan ship thief. I think I liked the story of Zenn Bien one of the best, as it had a few more unexpected turns to it. With an Imperial defector, Bien stole the ship and brought it to a refueling station, then toward the next rendezvous point, where they were pulled out of hyperspace by an Interdictor, which was new at the time. It turns out the ship smuggled various small species, such as Jawas and Rodians, onto the Star Destroyer in order to steal its hyperdrive and destroy its gravity well generators, delaying the building of such ships for several years. So the ship ended up in the hands of the Rebel Alliance, which fit it with incredibly high yield explosives in order to hit the Imperial Bilbringi shipyards. But Fargil, the Imperial defector, fell in love with the ship, which he named Millennium Falcon, and couldn't detonate the ship in the yards. Instead, he dumped his cargo, which doomed the entire plan and gave it away. I couldn't believe Leia would so easily forgive this person for bringing such a loss to the fledgling Rebellion.

I also had trouble with the entire portion of the story where Jadak pretends to be Fargil. While he is telling Fargil's story, Leia has nothing more than a vague feeling that the man is not telling everything, even though his partner is actually trying to steal the ship at the same time. I can not believe at all that a slicer droid could get though Han's security, even though it didn't amount to anything, because somebody else stole the Falcon afterward, but Han's default programming brought it back to the spaceport. I have more trouble with this kind of programming, because so many people have flown the Falcon, from the young kids to others, while Han was either incapacitated or captured or not around.

Jadak is after the Falcon because the Republic Group of his last mission told him the ship was the key to a great treasure that would restore honor to the Republic. Another long-lived humanoid, a lawyer who actually represented the Colicoids as they tried to re-enter galactic civilization, collects all sorts of Republic-era artifacts. He twists the laws to his own benefit, and offers to keep Han and Leia on the planet for a long time in legal tangles if they charge the would-be thieves with anything. Leia knows Lestra Oxic from her days on Alderaan, and knows him to be a good lawyer, so they drop the charges. I fully expect Oxic to become one of the lawyers that either defends Luke or prosecutes him in Outcast, as it is revealed at the end of this book that Luke will be charged with Jacen's fall to the Dark Side.

We get a little information about the Galactic Alliance at this point in the saga, interspersed with the story of the Falcon. It seems that all the systems are behaving themselves, as they said they would at the end of Invincible, which is equally hard to believe. Daala is surrounding herself with Mandalorian guards, and the Jedi are once again in the bad books. A young Jedi named Heff rescues Han and Leia at the pet show (where Allana was kidnapped in an attempts to blackmail Han into having Lando sell some terrorists his droids), but seems to be going down the same road as Jacen. He "feels like Jacen" according to Allana, and Luke can't control him.

There was so much promise for the Jedi at the end of the Yuuzhan Vong war, but that seems to have been squandered. I will probably repeat this when I start Fate of the Jedi, but one of the biggest problems I had at the end of the Legacy of the Jedi series (other than everybody being out of character and a lack of believable situations) was that they killed off so many interesting characters, like Pellaeon, Isoldur, Jacen, they ruined Tahiri, and so on, but they didn't replace any of them. All we get is a grown-up Ben, and now we have little Lando. New, characters, especially young ones, are so rare that the series looks like it will become inbred rather soon.

Jadak finally convinces Han to give him a lift, and when alone, he sneaks into the cockpit and types a command into the navicomputer, which activates the transmitter in Han's pocket. That, in turn, takes them to a planet that has been transformed by the Yuuzhan Vong, and is in the process of dying. But they manage to find the place where the treasure would be, and Oxic follows them. The Falcon has a bit of trouble getting inside, which seems strange, as the Republic Group would have been unable to get its treasure if the Falcon had been heavily damaged and they had to use another ship, for example. The treasure? Of course it is not valuable now, but it is the seal of the Republic that used to be in the Senate chamber. And it's a fake! Why the trouble getting into the temple, and why a fake? It doesn't make much sense, but I suppose it gets Jadak away again. Han and Leia also go on their merry way, to join Luke at his trial.

As for the early days of the ship, the mechanic on Nar Shadda found out about its turbulent birth, where it nearly destroyed its sister ships in production testing -strong-willed even then! It had been sold to Corellian brothers, who used it to ship freight within that complex system. One brother was killed by a smuggling consortium, while the other lived a while longer, getting deeper into smuggling, until he was killed by Republic forces, possibly in the Stark Hyperspace War? After that, it got into the hands of the Republic Group.

There were so many references to other stories, which was really nice. I especially liked the references to the Yuuzhan Vong war, and some to various prequel stories, and of course Jacen's fall. Some authors are very obvious in their references, like they were trying too hard. But in this story, the author managed to weave them in seamlessly and naturally.

Was the story successful? I suppose so. Was it interesting? Not very often. The conclusion, as half-expected, was a disappointment, but fits in with so many other Star Wars treasure hunts. Han even mentions the absurd ending of his adventure to the treasure of Xim the Despot! I only hope that I can muster some enthusiasm for the Fate of the Jedi series, which comes next.


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