Monday, February 24, 2014



This book has confirmed it : Han Solo is the white hat wearing cowboy of the future!?
Actually, maybe more like a grey hat.

I've been reading a lot of western books lately and as I listened to this book, I quickly came to the conclusion that Han's character was like a replicated cowboy of the past. In old westerns the protagonist never goes looking for trouble, but, trouble always seems to find him. He lives on a code of ethics higher than the criminals around him, as in he never shoots first and does not shoot to kill - unless needed. He has a crusty exterior, but, a generous heart. And, is the fastest draw this side of Tatooine! A smaller similarity is that he has a non-english speaking sidekick that shows up just at the right moment to save his hide.
Wow, I sound like a literary genius...comparing old westerns to Star Wars to Scoundrels.

Scoundrels is one of those feel good crime novels. Yes, I said 'feel good'. One of those stories where you get a bunch of sarcastic criminal buddies in a room all planning on breaking into an impregnable vault to steal millions of dollars (or space credits in this case). However, this simple break and enter soon turns into a much bigger and complicated ordeal. With a few plot twists the gang finds itself not only dealing with a locked vault, but with a powerful intergalactic criminal organization...and the Imperial forces as well (damn that Vader, can't leave anything alone!) Against all the odds they manage to get away free and clear with the money, leaving a wake of angry vengeful evil aliens (and Lando) lost in a cloud of dust. But, with a deceptive plot twist their fate and the value of their treasure is not all that certain.

Overall, I found the book riveting. It was full of unexpected plot twists and exciting edge of your seat (or fingertips in this case) action. All of the 'scoundrels' (Han and the gang) were all lovable, both in their sarcastic wit and their individual expertise in one certain criminal aspect. They were the kind of people I'd want to hang out with, especially if I were marooned on a far off planet. They all seemed to be having a great time working their game and solving the complex problems of getting in to this giant vault. Even with the constant feeling that they were going to be nabbed at any moment by a smart security guard, or just by bad luck. But, everything seemed to be going their way. The force was with them. 
I also liked how the story progressed. It started out simple. Then there was a small twist. Then another layer was added. Then another plot twist. Then a mystery character. Then a hint at something larger. It got very complex right at the end. Then it all exploded and the pieces fell into place. Wonderful writing by Zahn.

I listened to the audiobook version, which I was surprised at. It was more than just a reading. There was Star Wars music added in, and sounds of ships blasting off in the background, the chatter of alien crowds. The action scenes were brought up a notch when you could not only picture the blasting, but, hear it at well. Very well done.

My only critique of this book, which is something that is almost expected, is the almost unbelievable ways the gang can escape trouble. It starts with the crime bosses and their complete lack of common sense. Many times throughout the book one of the gang is captured and interrogated by the 'boss'. You'd think most high level crime bosses would not shy away from using violence and/or murder, but, in this case they did. On numerous occasions when Han or Lando were caught they either let their hostage go free with a only a warning or they let their hostage go free with a non binding naive feeling deal of some sort (ie meet me next week with the star credits...or else!). Realistically they should beat them to a pulp and keep them locked away, or simply shoot a blaster hole in their head. But, I guess that would stop the story right then and there. So, we have to make some concessions. Further to this, the ease of breaking in and escaping was pretty high on the scale of unbelievable. Even with Zahn's attempt at explaining the highly detailed plan and how everything (conveniently) came together. But, then again this is a Star Wars book. Remember the movies? Episode 4 - A New Hope, when Han and Luke managed to trot around the death star for hours on end without anyone noticing them? At the time it seemed believable, right?
If you are one of the ten people who have never seen Star Wars you might as well skip this book. There is a lot of backstory and history left out, under the assumption that it is common knowledge. Things about Princess Leia and Alderaan, Luke and the Force, Darth Vader and the Death Star, etc. The ending will also be a mystery to you, not an earth shattering shocker like it was for me!