The Crystal Star
Before I begin this late (sorry) book review, I have to make a note here about quotations. When we first starting doing these reviews (when was that? Like 3 years ago?), whenever I wanted to quote something from a book I had to type the whole thing myself. Well, it might not sound like much, but it was very time consuming. So a couple of reviews ago, I was lamenting to Zyra that the worst part of the reviews was the retyping and she says, “Oh, I have most of the books electronically and I just cut and paste. Do you want me to send you a copy of the ones you have to review?” I’m sure you can guess what I said! So anyway, the reason I’m telling you this is because I probably now quote more, even though the books are not any better or anything – it’s just easier to add quotes. So, this book has a lot of quotes, probably more than it deserves, but that’s the reason. Okay? Let’s move on.
The book starts off with a bang. The very first line is: The children had been kidnapped. We then learn that Leia is on a planet called Munto Codru with her three children and Chewbacca (no Han – big surprise). And while Leia is doing whatever she does diplomatically, the children are kidnapped and Chewbacca is seriously injured. The Munto Codru bigwigs swear that the kidnapping is all part of their tradition and stall Leia into going into any great lengths to find her children. Although, despite her host’s warnings, Leia does insist on some measures being taken (like locking down the planet).
At least Leia does seem to really struggle with the position she is put in and puts her foot down to a degree. The way that she is often written, you might expect her to say: “Oh, this is normal for my children to be taken and my husband’s best friend to be nearly mortally wounded and I would offend you if I didn’t play along? Alright, just wake me up when it’s over and I’ll sit around and do nothing as instructed.” But she doesn’t do that, thank the gods.
Okay, so like in so many other books, we’re going to have a few different storylines break out here and (spoiler alert) they will all merge together at the end in a nice little package. Basically we’ll have Leia looking for the children, we find out that Han is off with Luke looking for some Jedi Master on some awful planet and then we’ll have the children’s storyline as we find out what happens to them while they are kidnapped. I kinda liked reading about the children’s “adventures” and I think this is the first opportunity that we are seeing them develop some personalities. I will say that parts of this book have the flavor of having been written by a fanfic writer (no offense to us). I just didn’t get a ‘professional’ feel from this author’s writing style. She seems to write in small, simple sentences. IDK, I found it…different. It almost made it difficult for me to read, I know that sounds strange. But it was, so….whatever.
Anyhoo (how do you spell that?). I know in the last review I did, I mentioned how I liked the little bit of Han/Luke bonding time that we got. Well, in this book, it kinda got on my nerves and in parts got kinda creepy. I know, right? You just can’t please me. I guess I just wonder why Han gets to take a ‘vacation’ with Luke and is never allowed to do that with Leia. And although I think Han would have concern for his brother-in-law, at points in the story, Han’s obsession with Luke’s lovelife (or lack of it), just seems over-the-top, IMO. And I guess I just gave you a fairly good synopsis of where Han and Luke are at the beginning of the book. But I’ll elaborate.
Han and Luke are on Crseih Station (really, how do you say that?). Luke’s all focused on finding some Force user and Han is looking to blow off some steam and drink and gamble and get Luke laid. Oh, and they have Threepio with them. While talking to Luke, Han does have a little memory of Leia though, that is pretty nice:
An image came to him, unbidden, of the last time he and Leia had danced. Some reception somewhere, he could not remember when or even what planet the event had been on. Only that there had been a few minutes free of diplomacy, toasts, and salutations, and he and Leia had held each other close in the mirror-fractured light on the sparkling dance floor. A sharp pang of desire and loneliness touched his heart.
Okay, on a totally random, weird note that has nothing to do with plot: when Han checks into their hotel, he gets three rooms. Seriously? Goldenrod needs his own room? I just don’t get that.
There is a little scary part where Han kinda allows this ‘ghostling’ thing to flirt with him and the book says that their species ‘always fascinated him’ as if he might contemplate a little roll in the hay. Apparently if a ghostling ‘does the mattress mambo’ with humans they die or something bizarre like that. But Han cuts her off very early and remains true to Leia and even though he’s been having feelings of letting loose we see that he does have his limits. In the end, it was probably very in character – that teeny bit of contemplation/flirting - I mean, he is a bit of a bad boy, right? On another note, as the ghostling tries to recruit him into her ‘religion’, Han uses the word “proselytize”, which I just can’t see him using so he goes directly from very in character to immediately jumping right out-of-character for me.
Moving on. I guess I’ll check in on the children. They have been kidnapped by a man named Hethrir, who is telling them all the normal Kidnapping 101 type things, like: “Your parents are dead and they want me to take care of you now.” The author does try to capture the children’s voices and, as I said earlier, overall I enjoyed “getting to know” the Solo children as their own little people. The children’s story is told solely in Jaina’s POV. She is very resourceful and mechanically inclined and reminded me of a little Han Solo. Jacen has a ‘oneness’ with animals and I don’t think I’ve ever quite puzzled out what brooding Anakin is/was really supposed to be. Maybe a duplicate of his namesake grandfather? No, wait a minute, that’s Jacen’s job.
So it is a scary thing for children to get kidnapped (no matter how often it happens). There’s a part where Hethrir is separating Anakin from Jacen and Jaina. As Anakin struggles to get free, they ‘yank’ his hair. I really didn’t enjoy reading about things happening to Leia’s children and the saying “If they so much as harm a hair on their head” came to me several times over while reading this story. During the struggle Jaina bites Hethrir and loses a tooth that has been loose. IDK, I know how my kids are about losing teeth and the milestone that represents and I did think the author captured that as Jaina (in the midst of all that was going on) really wanted that tooth!
So, it’s revealed that this Hethrir must have some kind of Force sense when the children release some Force power (Jacen and Jaina try to form a shield of protection and Anakin’s ability just kinda flares out) and Hethrir is able to repress their powers. Jaina describes it as being smothered in a cold, wet blanket. Feeling responsible because she is the oldest, she pleads for Hethrir to allow them all to stay together. She also asks for that tooth (which is currently lying on the ground), but they won’t let her have it and they take Anakin away. Jaina then thinks this:
Jaina felt hurt and embarrassed, scared and mad. Even when she was little, no one had ever treated her like this. She always tried to use her abilities properly. To be responsible. As soon as she had understood what the Force meant, she had known it would be important in her life.
She wished she had Mama to talk to. She was never, never, never allowed to use her abilities to hurt someone. But what about if she had to, what if it was to keep somebody from hurting her or Jacen, what if it was to defend her little brother? She was as responsible for Anakin as she was for the right use of what she could do.
I do think that we really get to know little Jaina in this book and I did enjoy that. The twins are placed in some cold, dark holding cells far apart from one another so the only way they could communicate would be through the Force which they are scared to do since Hethrir senses it and stops them every time they try. While alone in her little room, Jaina thinks this:
Jaina's eyes filled with tears and her vision blurred. She had never before had to think about sneaking just so she could hold her brother's hand. She never had to think about sneaking before at all! And she could not remember the time before she could think at Jacen. She felt so cold and tired and hungry and lonely that she almost burst into tears again. She only kept from crying because she knew that pretty soon she could talk to Jacen and they could figure out what to do.
I really hate kidnappers (or anybody that hurts kids).
Back on Munto Codru, it takes a little ingenuity and nudging from Artoo Detoo (seriously, what would the Solo/Skywalker families do without those droids?), but he proves to Leia that a ship did leave the system after the kidnapping and then leads her to the spaceport. I actually liked some of that part about her ship:
The third was Alderaan, Leia's pride and joy. Alderaan was a sleek little ship with hyperdrive capabilities. Luke had chided her for spending the time to learn to fly it that she could have used to study the ways of the Jedi. But the truth was, it was much easier and faster to learn to fly Alderaan than to learn to be a Jedi Knight. And a great deal more fun. Maybe that was why she loved the little starcraft so much. Her responsibility to the Republic kept her from having much fun.
First, I’m already (as I think I’ve mentioned before) sick of hearing about – in EVERY book – how Leia is neglecting her Jedi training. Blah! But I like here that she’s just like, “Hey, this is easier and more fun and I deserve some fun!” Because she does. Then she goes on to think about how Luke and Han probably work just as hard as she does and deserve some relaxing, too. And then she thinks this:
Once he (Han) fell asleep in his bath. Leia was convinced that if she had come in five minutes later, he would have drowned.
That was why he and Luke had gone on a quest together. They were both burning out. They needed time off.
She doubted Luke would find any other Jedi Knights on his quest, but she hoped he would find some rest. And she hoped Han would let loose, like in the old days.
Awwww. First, what a visual coming home to a shriveled up Han Solo in the tub, huh? Wait a minute, didn’t somebody write a fanfic about Leia coming home to find Han in the tub? (wink, wink) And then I like that she wants her husband and her brother to have a good time.
Okay, a couple of other quick things here. I liked this as Leia was thinking about her little ship:
It was registered to a person who did not exist, a second identity Leia had established so that someday, sometime, somehow, she would be able to take a few days off and fly away to a pleasant place without being recognized.
So at least she WANTS to take it easy, even if she’s never able to. And then this between her and Artoo, I thought was cute:
Artoo-Detoo broadcast a loud electronic raspberry and shut down the transmission.
"Got that one from Han, did you?" Leia said.
I told you I was having quote overload here, but here was another thing Leia thought of as she recalled her Force training with Luke:
"Every time you reach a new stage," he had said, "you realize that you really don't understand anything, you have to go back to the beginning, to the most basic practice, and learn what you didn't see the last time through."
"That's very encouraging," Leia had said in a dry tone that Luke chose not to acknowledge.
For some reason I like the little visual I get there of serious Luke with his super, duper important Jedi teachings and then smart-mouthed Leia’s response…
Anway, all of that got Leia and Artoo off the planet in her little ship and using her limited Force abilities, they are following a ‘trail’ into hyperspace to find the children. Oh and even though he was really, really injured and Leia was trying to leave without him, Chewie manages to sneak aboard before she leaves.
Hethrir continues to manipulate the children for several days. He leads an organization called the Empire Reborn. I think the name is self-explanatory so don’t ask me to explain exactly what their plans are other than the usual taking over the galaxy and appointing some crazy man as “Emperor”, namely Hethrir himself. The kids are fed gruel and they make some friends and cause some havoc. One older boy carries Anakin while Anakin sleeps throughout almost the entire book. It’s never said if Hethrir is making him sleepy or drugging him, unless I missed it, but you get that feeling since, literally, that’s all the youngest Solo does the entire time.
Back to Leia. The hyperspace trail that she was following lead her to a graveyard of slave ships full of stolen people trapped in some kind of stasis. She meets a woman that comes from a planet that had had their entire population obliterated by the Empire. And in fact, there is an entire ship full of these people that were thought not to exist any longer and Leia thinks this:
Leia wished she could find a shipful of people from Alderaan.
Whenever Leia thinks about Alderaan, I feel sorry for her.
She and Chewie rescue this woman and offer to help everyone else escape. And I really didn’t get this part, but there was this guy and he refused Leia’s help and said everyone would just rather float around in space unaware of time and stuff and Leia lets him go. As she is leaving the slave graveyard, she sends an anonymous SOS to General Han Solo to help all the people she is leaving:
She sent an unsigned message, an SOS from the stolen ships, to General Han Solo. Lelila the bounty hunter could not afford to think of asking the famous freedom fighter to come to her aid; she could not afford to think of the touch of his hand, the warmth of his body in the night, his grief and rage when he learned all that had happened. (And that you hadn’t told him…)
Warning, RANT approaching. What is the deal with communications in the SW universe? I mean, even we can talk to each other on airplanes and cruise ships, why does it seem so hard for Han and Leia to communicate with each other unless they are in the same room? All of these books are the same on this note. Even when on the same planet, they never ‘call’ each other and let each other know what’s going on. It’s always either to protect the other one by keeping them ignorant (which may have happened when they were younger, but I just can’t see them functioning that way as a married couple and parents) or there’s jamming or they just don’t think about it. It’s a GIANT pet peeve of mine! END OF RANT.
Regardless, Leia sends Han a note about these slave people but not about his own children. Okay, moving on.
So, Jaina is still trying to puzzle her way out of her predicament. She was able to figure out that the kidnappers were lying about her parents being dead. Her and Jacen lied and said that Jacen was the oldest and when Hethrir didn’t know the truth, they decided that he didn’t know their parents at all and that he was lying about everything. While she is plotting what to do, Jaina thinks this:
I have to let Mama know about the Empire Reborn, Jaina thought. Somehow. I have to let her know about Hethrir. He sounds like one of the evil tyrants Mama fought against, before I was even alive.
Jaina wondered if the fight would have to happen all over again.
Well, you know what poor little Jaina? Yes, the answer to your question is sadly yes. And not just once but a million times over – you and your family will have to fight this same battle again and again. Sad, isn’t it? What’s sadder? I pay lots of money to read about it…
Meanwhile, Han, Luke and Threepio are tracking down some mysterious message which leads them to none other than Xaverri (Han’s old magician girlfriend, remember her?). I actually liked her and Salla and anyway Xaverri shows Han and Luke some big blob thing that heals people and tells them how dangerous it is. Han immediately tries to dissect the scam, even though Xaverri ensures him that it is not a scam as she was one of the biggest scam artists of all time. Han is still very skeptical and Luke is…intrigued – I guess would be the word. As Han is talking to Xaverri and arguing that Waru (that’s the big blob’s name) is a fake, he and Xaverri have this conversation:
"Do you think I have completely lost my mind?" she asked, her tone cold.
Her contempt goaded him.
"Yeah, that would about cover it," he said.
"I, Xaverri, the best creator of deceptions in the old Empire?"
"We all change," he said. "Look, if somebody had a really fine scam, one even you couldn't figure out--then you'd be easy to fool. You're so good, it's hard to imagine anyone better."
There were several examples of Han’s flippant mouth and attitude that I actually enjoyed during this book. For some reason, I liked this exchange with Threepio and Han:
"Our resources are severely depleted. If you plan to gamble--and I certainly do not wish to imply that I believe you should not gamble, or that I believe there is anything wrong with gambling, or that there is any possibility that you might lose--but if you plan to gamble... don't you think it would be for the best, merely as insurance of course, for you to leave some of your previous winnings in my care? That way I could pay our outstanding bill at the lodge. I noticed the lodge-keeper toting up our accounts as we left today, and he fixed me with a positively poisonous glare!"
Han pulled a wad of credits out of his pocket and thrust it into Threepio's fingers.
"When you want some money, all you have to do is say, "Can I have some money?"'" Han said. He laughed, thinking about the gaming table, the cards that he trusted to go his way. "Plenty more where that came from."
He strode away.
I forgot to mention that that guy who wished to keep floating around in space had actually recognized Leia. This prompted Leia to work on her and Chewbacca’s disguise which lead to some cute moments between Wookiee and Princess:
She took Chewbacca to her cabin and pulled out all the cosmetics in the dressing-table drawer. Chewbacca looked at them quizzically.
"You didn't think my eyelids were this color naturally, did you?" she asked. "Didn't you notice the color changes sometimes?"
"No, my skin doesn't camouflage itself!" Leia said.
As she spoke, she pulled the pins from her hair and unbraided the long plait. Chewbacca watched with astonishment.
I so seldom take my hair down, she thought. Hardly anyone has seen me with my hair down in years... except Han.
She had thought, over the years, of cutting her hair, but the idea was too radical. On Alderaan, adults grew their hair long and usually kept it bound.
Feeling reckless, Leia brushed her hair loose and free over her shoulders. She stood up. Her hair spilled almost to her knees. She kept brushing it, till it parted down the center and hung on either side of her face and draped down over her breasts. It tended to fall across her eyes, so she looked out through a curtain.
All the better, she thought. All the better to hide me with.
She rummaged through the bottles and packets. Some she had bought on a whim and never even tried. She kept them on her ship because her ship was her place for whims and fancies.
Leia remembered the first time she had taken Han out on Alderaan. She shook the stirring memory away. Now was no time for such memories.
Yes, yes it is the time for such memories! Okay, missing moment alert, girlies…
Leia then uses these things to color Chewie’s hair:
Amused, the Wookiee let the color-crawlers have their way with his fur. (That’s just not the way I would word that sentence…)
"Soon you'll just be one more brindled Wookiee," Leia said. "Now. What about me?"
Chewbacca chose several different greens and handed them to her.
"I look terrible in green," Leia said. "I can't imagine why I bought those." She chose, instead, several shades of ordinary brown and let them loose in her hair.
I can't imagine why I bought these colors, either, she thought. I gave Chewbacca the best shades. Oh, well.
She chose one package of very dark green and opened it into her hair.
Chewbacca whuffled with approval.
I'm going to look so boring, Leia thought.
Is it just me, or is this really cute?
She envied Han his beard. Such an easy way to hide one's face. She considered disguising herself as a man, but only for a moment.
In stories, she said to herself, princesses always disguise themselves as princes. But princesses in stories never have any hips. They never have any breasts. No. I'd look like a woman in disguise; I'd only draw more attention.
Better to be invisible.
Leia then proceeds to take on a persona of a bounty hunter named: Lelila. She actually uses the disguise to shore up her emotions and gather her strength to find her children, knowing that they need her to be strong and resourceful and not a blithering mess. Oh, one more thing with Chewbacca, though as they are done with their disguises (a sad thing):
Chewbacca gazed at his changing fur with every evidence of fascination. But then he sighed, deeply, woefully. His sigh echoed in the empty space in Leia's heart where she could not find any perception of her children.
I really, really don’t like missing children! I mean, it is every parent’s worst nightmare.
This is just a little bit of Leia trying to slip into her protective persona of tough bounty hunter:
Unwillingly, Lelila sat on the edge of the chair. Her nerves tingled as if they extended beyond her skin. They made her restless and sensitive. If she tried to use the sensitivity, she slipped off into the despair that had gripped her previous identity. As soon as she had reached this wilderness of drifting, dying ships, her sensitivity had not only failed but punished her.
Lelila the bounty hunter craved action, any action, that would keep her from remembering.
Okay, now this has happened in other books as well, and I’m going to point it out here. Leia sometimes seems absolutely clueless and naïve sometimes. Like when she discovered the slave ships, she says this on slavery:
"But that would have stopped!" Lelila cried. "It would have stopped when the Empire fell. Wouldn't it?"
Seriously? Is this woman really the Chief of State of an entire galaxy? Come on. Does she really think that slavery still didn’t exist ANYWERE in the ENTIRE galaxy? I don’t buy it.
Back to Han. Goldenrod is still on his case about not having money and he is now very worried since there isn’t any food in the kitchen for him to cook. There’s a small sub-story about Han gambling, but let’s just say they their finances were fluctuating this entire trip. Aggravated with Threepio’s nagging, Han says this:
"We're on vacation! Half the fun of being on vacation is eating in restaurants!"
There’s a lot of Han being tired and hungover and Luke showing up in his room and turning his lightsaber on and off in a strange way like that chick on Fatal Attraction with the floor lamp. As the story continues, Luke gets more and more…brooding and whiny. I know, right? You didn’t think that was possible, did you? There was also a cute part when Han was running to find Xaverri at Waru’s dome and I guess he realizes he’s a little out-of-shape:
Han was badly winded by the time he reached Waru's dome, even taking the shorter public route.
Too much generaling, Han thought, and not enough work.
Although, Han hasn’t been a general since like COPL, right?
I realize I’m really not weaving much of a plot here, but I don’t think I had much to work with anyway.
So, Han witnesses the Waru kill a little boy that he was supposed to try and heal. And not just kill him accidentally but murder him and enjoy it in the process. This REALLY affected Han.
So, Han witnesses the Waru kill a little boy that he was supposed to try and heal. And not just kill him accidentally but murder him and enjoy it in the process. This REALLY affected Han.
Sorrow swept over him, and terror. In his mind, the memory of the Ithorian family transmuted itself to his own family. Though he knew it would never happen, he could not wipe away the image of him and Leia, Jaina and Jacen, begging Waru for help and placing Anakin on that altar. Though the oppressive heat made him sweat, he shuddered.
He had risked his own life a thousand times. He had never felt vulnerable, as he felt vulnerable now.
The kids are on Munto Codru, Han reminded himself. Jaina is dismantling some chrono; and Jacen is making friends with some critter that we'll find out later is maybe just a little bit venomous; and Anakin is watching everything, taking in everything, looking for mischief to get into. Leia is watching over them, and Chewbacca is keeping watch over them all. They're fine, they're safe.
But he could not stop shivering.
So, he ends up having a dream about what he had seen with that Waru guy and wakes himself up in a panic:
"It was just a dream!" Han said again. The knowledge of his complete vulnerability swept over him, even stronger than the night before. He imagined what it would be like never to hold Leia in his arms again, never to hug his children again, never hear them giggle, feel them cover his face with wet childish kisses.
I’ll say again that he was REALLY affected by what he saw. So much so that he couldn’t fall asleep again until Xaverri held him in her arms and he was able to drift off to sleep. This was after Han asked Luke to leave the two of them (Han and Xaverri) alone. WELL, the next morning Luke is NONE TOO HAPPY that Han spent the night with another woman (even though nothing happened). IDK, I kinda gotta give Luke some props here for sticking up for his sister. He even pulls his lightsaber on Han:
"What the hell's the matter with you?" Han asked, poised halfway between laughing and losing his temper. "What are you going to do? Chop me into little pieces because I spent a few hours alone with an old friend?"
He had not intended to sound defensive, but that was the way it came out. It offended him that Luke felt the need to chastise him for his behavior. It insulted him that Luke felt the need to remind Han of his vows to Leia.
Han has some thoughts about his feelings for Xaverri:
Han still had feelings for Xaverri; he could not deny them. He would not. But he did not believe he should be chastised for them.
Am I supposed to forget that I ever loved Xaverri? Han thought. I chose Leia, and she chose me. Because we loved each other. None of that has changed. I love her. I love her now. What I felt for Xaverri was... a long time ago.
He wondered if he should find Xaverri and ask her to stay away from Luke for the next little while. Or find Xaverri, then go find Luke and both tell him about last night. But that felt too much as if Han had something to apologize for.
I thought this was handled appropriately. I don’t think Han would ignore anyone he really cared about just because she was a woman and he was married now. I think he would expect Leia to trust him and I think she would. Now, I’m not saying she would probably want a really good explanation for the events as Luke would present them to her, but I think she would believe and trust Han’s word and faithfulness.
So, back to Leia (or Lelila) and that woman, who are still trying to find the missing children. Apparently, the woman has a little boy that is missing, too. There is one point where Leia is impatient at having to wait for one of this woman’s contacts to greet them and she thinks this:
Why don't they welcome us? Lelila asked herself. Then she thought, Who do you think you are, some princess who's welcome anywhere she cares to go?
Haha. Yep, actually, that about sums it up. Well, Leia and that woman (I kept forgetting her name, but I finally looked it up – Rillao). Leia and Rillao visit some planet and talk to a fountain of water or something and then eventually find the children on some man-made planet that they are being kept on. Except Hethrir has taken Anakin and the little boy Tigris (turns out to be Rillao’s son), so Anakin is not there when they arrive.
While all of that was going on, Jaina and Jacen led most of the children on a daring escape that included dragons and thorn bushes and swampy marshes. And when Jaina and Jacen finally rushed into Leia’s arms, she thought this:
Lelila the bounty hunter vanished as if she had never been.
Awwww. She’s got her kids back (most of them, anyway).
Leia and Rillao free all the children and then free the cook (who has been a slave). Leia then finds that she has to cook for all the hungry children but the now-freed cook offers to even though she doesn’t ‘have to’ anymore and Leia thinks this:
"Thank you, then," Leia said. She smiled ruefully. "I've never had occasion to learn to be a good cook."
So you see? It’s not just us that make Leia clueless in the kitchen. And really, if you think about it, she probably hasn’t had the occasion to learn to be a good cook.
Now, Leia, Chewie, Raillao and the twins are off to Crseih station to find Anakin (yes, that is the same planet that Han and Luke are on). Isn’t that nice how that always happens? The planet full of kids is sent to Munto Cudro where apparently kidnapping is a national pastime, so that makes perfect sense, right?
Back on Crseih station, Luke is just dying to jump into Waru’s blob. I mean, really? THIS is the last hope of the Jedi? What a lost cause. I’m totally convinced that Han is the real hero of that universe and I’m sure I’m not alone here. Anyway, as Luke is practically tongue kissing the Waru thing, Han is apologizing and pulling Luke away and he thinks this:
Wait a minute! Han thought. I'm trying to be diplomatic--while I'm dragging Luke out of here?
Just a little bit of Leia rubbing off of him, I’m sure. This is between he and Luke:
"I am! Something's happening to me, Han, something terrible. Can't you see--?"
"I see you're behaving like a jerk," Han said. "Why'd you tell Waru who you are?"
Luke proceeds to continue to give Han a hard time about Xaverri. He is nothing if not persistent when it comes to protecting his sister. If only he worried about falling victim to the Dark Side in the same vein… Meanwhile, Han is thinking this:
"I loved Xaverri," Han said. "I loved her. I won't deny it. I can't. If she hadn't left me--I don't know. It doesn't matter, Luke. Can't you see that? I promise you, brother--what Xaverri and I were to each other years ago has nothing to do with what Leia and I are to each other now."
At the end of the story everyone ends up on Crseih station. Hethrir is presenting the grandchild of Darth Vader (aka: Anakin Solo) to Waru in exchanged for galactic domination. Rallao’s little boy, Tigris, saves Anakin even though he has cowered under Hethrir for five years. Leia shows up with her crew. Han is there and Luke and well, everybody. When Leia sees Han she runs to him:
Leia ran to meet him. She pushed her hair back from her face; it flew behind her in the wind of her speed. Han slid to a stop in a small avalanche of gravel and dust. Astonished, he enfolded her in his arms.
"Leia--what--?" He touched her hair, her painted eyebrow, her cheek.
Everybody is brought up to speed and Luke finally succumbs to his weakness and jumps into the blob that is Waru. Leia proceeds to jump in after him but eventually she starts to get sucked in so deep she doesn’t think she’ll be able to save Luke. Dun, dun, dun, as Han is looking on he turns to Chewbacca and says:
"Take care of the kids," he said.
Jaina had never heard Papa's voice sound like that before. He looked at Jaina, and at Jacen, just a quick look that did not even last a second.
"I love you," he said. "I'll always love you."
He turned around and ran away and leaped up at a huge quivering gold sphere.
Han swims down to find Luke and Leia. (Oh, and I don't like that the kids call Han: Papa. Just doesn't sound right)
"Han--!" Leia's warm fingers wrapped around his. He melded into a circle with his love and his friend. They swam, back to back, kicking, twisting, fighting.
The whirlpool swept them around and pulled them inward, toward the point of utter darkness.
"Swim!" Han yelled. He knew--How do you know? he asked himself, and answered, I don't know, I only know what I know-- if they touched the darkness, they were doomed forever.
(There was a point earlier in the book where Han argued with Luke that he knew what he knew because he knew it and I guess this ties in with that…)
"Swim!" Han shouted. "Please, Leia, I love you, swim!"
But she was captured by Waru's promises, by Luke's fascination. Her fingers slipped from his hand. Her beautiful hair waving around her, hiding her like a cape, she dove and descended into the golden light.
"Leia!" He dove after her, toward the cold darkness.
Leia basked in the siren song of Waru's promises. The melody distracted her from the voice calling behind her. She followed Luke toward—
And just when it seems as if they will all succumb to the blob’s darkness, the voices of the Solo children snap Leia out of it and they all end up swimming free before the blog sucks Hethrir inside of itself and blows up or something along those lines.
Then, of course, Luke sees the error of his ways (again) and thanks the children for saving them:
"Thank you, young Jedi Knights, for calling me back."
"You're welcome, Uncle Luke," they said.
"Hey," Han protested. "Don't Leia and I get any credit?"
Raillao is reunited with her son, even though he is a bit brainwashed (oh, and it turns out that Tigris was not only Raillao’s son, but Raillao and Hethrir’s son together and that his birth was orchestrated by none other than Darth Vader in hopes of creating a child strong in the Force). Eh, that was all kind of convoluted and I forgot to mention it earlier. It was a little creepy for Leia to hear that story, I think for obvious reasons.
Here’s a little Solo reunion time:
Han sat behind Leia.
"Are you okay?"
She nodded, too tired to speak.
Jaina nestled in her lap next to Jacen. Anakin ran over and cuddled with his brother and sister. Leia hugged them. Han put one arm around them all, and stroked Leia's hair. Leia leaned gratefully into Han's warmth and strength.
Artoo tweets that he’s figured something out and Han says this:
"I'm not sure we can stand another ominous discovery," Han said indulgently. "Can it wait till after supper?"
Then Han turns to Leia to leave and says this:
"Let's go, love," Han said to Leia. They held hands and walked toward the hillside trail. Rillao and Luke and the twins followed.
I don’t think Han would call Leia “love”. Doesn’t sound right to me. And they really didn’t seem like they were in a really big hurry to escape an exploding planet. They stop and try to convince Tigris to go with his mom, and Tigris is really bummed about not having the Force and Han tells him this:
"Wait a minute!" Han said. "Kid, you saved my son's life. Maybe you can't use the Force. So what? Neither can I, and it hasn't held me back."
"Who are you?" Tigris said.
Han laughed, surprised. "Maybe my disguise is better than I thought. I'm Han Solo."
Artoo finally tells them that the big star of Crseih station is going to explode and Han and Leia have this conversation:
"What about Crseih?" he said to Leia.
"What about it?" she replied.
"What about it?" she replied.
"When the star goes--the station will get blown to dust."
"Subatomic particles, more likely," Leia said with some satisfaction.
"Leia!" Han protested.
"She is right," Rillao said. "This place is best destroyed."
"People live here," Han said. "A friend of mine lives here."
"Warn her," Rillao said.
"If I can find her," Han said.
"If Xaverri does not survive," Rillao said, "it will be a shame."
Leia relented. "We'll warn everyone. Of course. But surely they keep watch on their own star. Surely they know they have to evacuate! This is supposed to be a research station, after all." (Sure, but you didn’t know slavery sill existed in the galaxy, after all)
"Whatever was done here," Han said, "you can hardly call it research."
Leia slipped her hand into his.
"How could I not know about the trade?" she said. "I thought everything was going so well, and all along the Empire still terrorized people, in secret--!"
"You sent Winter to investigate--"
"I never talked to people who might have been affected. Back on Munto Codru, I spent a whole day talking to officials and ambassadors, and when I asked about the people still waiting to talk to me, I let myself be told they didn't have anything important to say."
"Sweetheart," Han said. He put his arm around her shoulders and drew her close. She leaned against him and embraced him, and they walked close together. "You've been working yourself half to death--you expect too much of yourself."
"I could say the same of you," Leia said fondly.
Oooh, fondly. What a steamy scene...for this book anyway. We get a little more, as follows:
They walked up the hill in silence, and passed into the airlink.
They walked up the hill in silence, and passed into the airlink.
Han leaned toward Leia and whispered, "Did I tell you how much I like your hair that way?" He twined his fingers in the long, smooth strands.
Her free hand flew to her head.
"I forgot it was down!" she said.
She decided to leave it that way.
And then they did the nasty in the elevator. Not really.
Then, Leia is flying Alderaan with the kids and Han is going to the Falcon. As Xaverri escapes in her ship, Leia thinks this:
In the distance, Xaverri's ship vanished into hyperspace. Leia was curious about her. She wanted to talk to her, to learn more about the times in Han's life that he usually avoided discussing. Strangely enough, she did not feel jealous of Xaverri.
I always believed, if I met her, I'd think she wasn't good enough for Han, Leia thought. But she was. And I'm glad.
I, like Leia, would much rather find Han’s old girlfriends to be people of substance than, well, BRIA.
Artoo disappeared and Han refused to leave without him (you see he does love those droids). There is a moment of tension when we aren’t sure if Han will make it out in time:
She watched intently for the Millennium Falcon.
Where are you? she cried in her mind.
But he does and Artoo found a way to save Crseih station by moving it to revolve around another star or something. And that’s basically the end of the story. As for the Han and Leia Factor, I think we are going to go with a 2.5+. It was difficult to rate this book. They (H/L) seem to be in character, yet the story/plot is so....so something not worth rating very high. Really, if you read everything I've posted here, you've read everything worth reading... I'm just saying.
I wanted to comment on the cover of this book. I find it ironic how they make Luke look so macho and Jedi-awesome, when really he is a complete idiot in the story. LMAO.