Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Ambush at Corellia - The Review

When I picked up this book, it had been a long, long time since I had read any Star Wars novels.  Well, I’m happy to report that, like slipping on an old pair of jeans, this book felt/read very comfortably right from the get-go.  In fact, it starts off with Han and Chewbacca working on the Falcon and (other than Han and Leia together) that’s pretty good stuff in my opinion. 
I’ll get a little of the plot details out of the way here to make things easier.  This trilogy of books is centered on the Corellian System, where Han Solo hails from.  The planets in the system have a sort of an isolationist thing going on and Leia (as Chief of State) is set to visit the system to try and get trade opened up again.  Han has tacked on a few days ahead of Leia’s trade summit for the family to have a vacation on his homeworld.  In addition, there’s an entirely separate story arc that involves Luke and Lando.  I won’t outline it here, but I will comment on it where appropriate.    
As I mentioned above, we start off with Han and Chewie working on the Falcon getting ready for the trip.  Apparently Han is trying to test the shields on the old ship.  It’s explained that the only way to do that, other than getting shot at, is to lift the Falcon up on its repulsors, turn the shields on and then turn the repulsors off.  If the shields are good, they should hold the weight of the ship up (suspended in mid-air). 
Just a little aside here, I’ve always been in awe of those authors that can write about space flight or engine or ship stuff like this.  I personally muddle through it pretty badly (writing it).  But it’s kinda hard to avoid talking about space ships and space travel in any sort of lengthy story about the Star Wars universe.  I thought the author did a good job explaining what was going on and used just enough technical terms to make me think that he knew what he was talking about or at least knew more than me.  On that note, I often wonder if professional writers just get to say:  “Okay, I wanna say something here about the ship doing something ship-y.  Can you do that?”  And then hand it off to some technical writer…  If so, I need to get me one of those.
Anyway.  The ship holds in midair for a while, but then unsurprisingly, things go a little haywire and the Falcon bumps and bangs its way back to the ground.  Han and Chewie exchange some curses and growls and then agree to call it a night and head home in time for dinner.  Which then has Han reflect on this: 
{Amazing, how times changed, how time changed life.  After all the close calls, all the battles, all the captures and rescues and risks and victories Han had been through, now it came down to getting home to dinner. I'm a family man now, Han told himself, still a bit amazed by the fact. And perhaps the most amazing thing of all was how much he liked being one.

Han Solo looked up into the evening sky of Coruscant.

What was it now? Eighteen years? Eighteen years since he had hired on to fly a crazy old man named Ben Kenobi and a kid named Luke Skywalker out of Tatooine. Taking on that job had changed his life forever-and changed the course of galactic history, if you wanted to get grandiose about it.}

Awwww.  Old Han reveling in being a family man.  I like the reminiscing back to that fateful trip out of Tatooine.  I would imagine that the Big Three would think about that every now and again.

Well, Han doesn’t get very far when he is stopped by a strange woman.  He and Chewie agree to talk to her and we are made aware that there is a probe droid hiding in the distance in the space port watching all of this.  Once aboard the Falcon, things quickly go south when the young woman mentions Han’s wife and family in a vague, semi-threatening way, which leads to this:

{Han stiffened and leaned in toward her, and Chewie bared his fangs.  His family had been exposed to too many dangers, too many times, for him to take even the hint of threat less than seriously. "Threats don't impress me either," Han said, his voice as hard as her face. "With Chewbacca around, the people who make them don't live very long. So you just pick your next words very, very carefully."}

Who doesn’t love protective Han?

The woman very quickly confesses to being Belindi Kalenda, an agent with New Republic Intelligence (NRI).  She confides in Han that the NRI has been losing agents in the Corellian Sector and suspect something big and bad is about to happen.  She wants Han to act ‘normal’, which is to say act suspiciously and wreck havoc wherever he goes thereby providing cover for some additional NRI agents to sneak into the system.

Han immediately wonders if they should cancel the trip as thoughts go to the safety of his children.  The agent assures him that his family will not be in any more danger than they would’ve been had she not approached him and that Corellians respect family.  Han presses her more and she confesses that she just isn’t sure:

{Han looked deep into those strange eyes that seemed to see things that were not there. In his old days, his reckless days, he wouldn't even have thought twice about flying straight into the worst sort of danger. But fatherhood did things to a fellow. It wasn't just that he didn't want to endanger his kids. It went beyond that. He didn't want to endanger himself needlessly either. Not for fear of death on his own part-but the thought of leaving his children without a father-it was something he had to work into the equation.}

In the end, Han internalizes his thoughts and decides that he can’t keep his children in a bubble.  He agrees to go to Corellia and act ‘normal’.  Kalendi leaves and Han and Chewie once again try to head home only to spot the spying probe droid and get entangled in a firefight with it.  The thing explodes, they sweep it up and finally head for home.  We are made aware that the droid is working for some Hidden Leader and is trying to get a message to Luke Skywalker, but can only do so AFTER Leia Organa leaves Coruscant.

Next, we get a glimpse at the little Solo children.  The twins, Jacen and Jaina, have enlisted the help of their younger brother, Anakin, to build their very own droid to clean their rooms and do their bidding.  Where Jacen is the animal-lover and Jaina is the tinkerer (like her Father), Anakin can ‘see’ inside machinery and repair it and make it work.  The children had confiscated an old droid and were doing just that when the thing blows up.  It is their Uncle Luke Skywalker that finds them and, after a stern lecture about misusing droids, helps them clean it up.

We then cut to Leia, who is at home and waiting for everyone to arrive for dinner.  Apparently she had enforced a tradition of family dinners (I like that idea) and is a little upset that everyone is late.  She knows she has no right because, as Chief of State, she missed more than anyone, but she is upset that no one in her family had made the effort to appear on time.  Just as she was about to delay the dinner droid one more time, Han and Chewie arrive:

{She was about to light into them both for being late-but then she got a look at Han's expression, and all her angry words melted away.

She could instantly see how hard he was trying to pretend everything was fine. Maybe that lopsided grin was sincere enough to fool a bunch of smugglers around a sabacc table but Leia was not buying it.}

I like when they are able to ‘read’ each other like that.  Han and Leia exchange pleasantries and Leia even smells blaster fire on Han, but she doesn’t ask him what went on.  We get a small mention of how Leia hasn’t developed her Force training like she should (even though she doesn’t need it to read Han) and how she regrets it.  (I’ll rant on this later, I think.)  And while Han and Chewie are washing up (Han got a peck on the cheek from Leia on his way to the ‘fresher), Luke and the children arrive from cleaning up the exploded droid project. 

With the arrival of the children, once again Leia can sense that something is afoot.  When she questions Luke, he assures her that he has handled the punishment for whatever the children did and cautions her about ‘reopening negotiations’.  Leia acquiesces and tells Luke to fill her in later (in a day or two, to be precise).

While Leia and Luke are chatting, we get this: 

{Han, sitting back in his favorite chair, couldn't help but smile.  Leia and Luke's side of the family might be the high-and-mighty, important one, all strong in the Force and busy in politics, but it was obvious that his children took after him. So what if that did mean the little monsters were a constant source of aggravation?

It seemed as if none of his children was happy unless they were a hairbreadth from some sort of disaster. He had lost count of the times they had "experimented" with their Uncle Luke's lightsaber. Rules did not set limits for the children of Han Solo-they represented challenges.  Han smiled, thinking back on a few moments from his own childhood. It pleased him no end to see so much of himself in his children.}

I thought these insights into Han were sweet and it’s great to see him enjoying his children.  Overall I was happy with the picture painted so far by this author of the Solo family life.  I felt a little uneasy with the fact that Leia let Han’s mysteriousness slide and then the kids’ right on top of that.  Maybe one instance a night?  But two?  And then anything involving the kids, I think maybe she would’ve waited until after dinner and pulled Luke aside then, but not waited a few days.  I don’t know, that was just me.

I’ll mention here that we are shown a star somewhere out in the universe that has another probe droid watching/recording it as it mysteriously implodes.  We also get a glimpse of the owner of that other spy droid (Gleasry, agent of the Human League) that Han and Chewie tangled with.  He is still trying to get a message to Luke Skywalker.

Well, I’m probably majorly over quoting here, especially since we are only on about Chapter 2 so far, but I have to mention the dinner that the Solo’s and Luke have.  They are discussing the upcoming trip and, as it is from Jaina’s point of view, we are told that she can tell that all the grown-ups are hiding something from each other.  See?  This is why I didn’t like all the “tell you later” stuff, especially when they’re raising a bunch of perceptive Jedi.  Anyway, the children are lobbying to take 3PO along on the trip (but miraculously there isn’t any room for him – see Han, all you had to do was have a passel of kids to get rid of the droids) and sulking, Jaina says this:

{"Maybe there'd be room for the droids if we didn't have to take the dumb old Falcon," Jaina half mumbled, glaring at her plate.}

Ouch!  I really wish I could see Han’s face here…

{There was a moment of utter silence around the table, and Jaina knew, even as the last words were leaving her mouth, just how big a mistake she had just made. She looked up to see everyone, even little Anakin, staring at her. She stole a glance at her twin brother and saw him shaking his head at her in mute exasperation.

"You know how much that ship means to your father," her mother said, using the coldly reasonable tone of voice that was somehow worse than the loudest yelling. "You also know that the Falcon has saved the lives of half the people around this table, some of them many times over. And I know you know that we know you know. So I can only assume you said something that spiteful and insulting with the deliberate intent of being disrespectful to your father. Am I correct?"

Jaina opened her mouth to deny it all-but then she caught Uncle Luke's eye, and knew there was no point to it. For that matter, her mother had the same skills in truth sensing as Uncle Luke. That would be the one facet of her abilities in the Force that her mother would have practiced.}

Okay, I don’t like that dig about Leia and her #@#$ Force training, but I just had to let you guys read that about Jaina’s comment on the Falcon!

Jaina is sent to her room and eventually all the kids act up and are dismissed.  Luke informs Han and Leia that Mon Mothma has requested a meeting with him and the trio discusses the upcoming trip until Leia grows increasingly upset and feels the need to leave the table and escape to her office down the hall.  We then get this (beware, it’s a long quote):

{Why should such a tiny dinnertime scuffle upset her so much? She knew that most of it was the underlying tension at the table, but there was more to it than that. There were times, and this was one of them, when, for no clear reason at all, the whole idea of motherhood, of the job of molding her children into civilized humans, seemed suddenly terrifying.

She saw now just how much of her childhood had been spent being told to be quiet and not to fidget during state dinners, being constantly handed off to nannies and guardians when her father was too busy. She had had far more meals with the droids and servants than with Bail Organa.

And what childhood she did have had not lasted very long. She had still been in her teens when she found herself getting pulled deeper and deeper into politics. It had been a real accomplishment to become a senator as young as she had but the accomplishment was purchased by surrendering the last of her childhood, the last of her innocence. Only now, as she looked at the world through her children's eyes, did she realize just how steep a price that had been.

Han never did say much about his own childhood, or about much of anything concerning his life before leaving Corellia. Luke had come the closest of any of them to having a normal upbringing. He had been raised on Tatooine, thinking a farm couple, Owen and Beru Lars, were his aunt and uncle. But his early life had been just as isolated as Leia's, in its own way. A moisture farm must have been pretty lonely place for a child to grow up on, even in normal circumstances-and circumstances had been far from normal.

Owen and Beru had posed as Luke's uncle and aunt. As best Leia understood, they had been kind to Luke, but in a distant sort of way. There had never been the closeness, the warmth, Leia wanted for her own children.

It didn't escape Leia's notice that neither she nor her brother had actually been adopted by the people who raised them. Circumstances had required a certain degree of subterfuge, of well-intended deception, of careful distance for everyone's protection. Foster daughter and purported nephew were the closest ties Leia and Luke could claim.

There was another piece of knowledge, guilty knowledge, that gnawed at Leia's conscience, and, she had no doubt, at Luke's as well. Each had been the unwitting, unwilling agent of death for the people who had raised them. The planet of Alderaan was chosen as a fit target for destruction by the Death Star in large part because it was Leia's home, and Owen and Beru had been killed by Imperial stormtroopers as they searched for the droids Luke had.

With all that baggage to carry around, it was scarcely surprising that Leia was determined that her family would be a family, and not just a collection of strangers who happened to share some ancestors. Nor was it ever far from her mind that the children of powerful or prominent families often found themselves as players-or worse, pawns in complicated power struggles. Even if her children were not going to inherit her office or her powers, they were still the next generation of what came close to being the Republic's royal family.

Like it or not, intended or not, her children were, in effect, the second generation of a dynasty. It did not take much imagination to see the dangers in that. The temptations of power and wealth could be strong. Suppose that, somehow, they proved stronger than family ties?

Suppose, twenty years from now, Anakin were plotting to gain some advantage over Jacen? Suppose some untrustworthy adviser urged Jacen to push his brother and sister out of the way of some glittering prize?

It seemed impossible - but history was littered with such tales. But there was more, and worse. That her children were strong in the Force was, beyond doubt, a great gift. But it was also a great danger. It was never far from Leia's mind that Darth Vader, her father, her children's grandfather, had likewise been strong in the Force-and had been destroyed by the dark side. The day would dawn, no doubt, when each of her children would have to face the dark side. The very idea terrified Leia. It made her fear that they might someday bicker with each other over money or power seem utterly trivial.

Every little outburst of childhood surliness, every momentary black mood, every childish temptation to tell an obvious fib, scared her to death. It was illogical, irrational, but she could never stop herself from wondering if this bit of childish naughtiness or that bit of youthful bad judgment was ally to a child succumbing to some temptation of the dark side of the Force.

In theory, that was not supposed to be possible. Jedi lore held that childish innocence was a bulwark against the dark side. But Jedi lore also held it all but unheard of for any child to display the ability and strength in the Force that her children exhibited.

The dangers were great, but it seemed to her there was but one defense against both dangers, a defense so commonplace that it almost seemed absurd that it could triumph over such mighty forces, but there it was. The best she could do was to raise her children well.

Leia Organa Solo was bound and determined that her children would reach adulthood with their characters strong and firm and honest, their family ties solid, with love in their hearts for each other. If that meant being strict with her children, or sending Jaina to bed straight from dinner, or refusing them droid servants, then so be it.

Leia propped her elbows up on the desk and rubbed her eyes. She was just too tired, that was all. A minor dinnertime squabble should not induce this much worry. It would be good to get away, take a rest.}

I don’t know if I can explain how much I liked and hated this passage.  I LOVE it because it is the Leia that I think would develop from the person we meet in the movies.  From the first paragraph, where she admits to being terrified by motherhood (who hasn’t felt that?) to her worries about childish antics being harbingers to some horrible fate (what parent hasn’t had some of those irrational fears for different reasons?) to her determination to provide the love and support that she rightly believes would be the answer to all of those worries.  Now, I HATE this passage because the EU does not follow through with this Leia.  I don’t think I have to say any more than that.

Next, we have the visit with Luke and Mon Mothma.  Oh, what is that woman up to now you ask?  Actually, I’m pretty (mostly pretty) happy to report on what old Mon has to say.

Mon Mothma starts off by asking Luke what he is up to.  We find that the Jedi Academy is running well on its own and that Luke pretty much has nothing to do.  Mon observes that heroes often find themselves bored during peacetime and alludes to someone else who had to make the change from war hero to contributing member of society.  Luke assumes she is speaking of Han, but Mon corrects him and tells him she is referring to Leia.

Luke argues that changing to peacetime was no big deal for Leia because she just went back to doing what she was doing before.  To which, Mon says this:

{"Leia shows few signs of enjoying her work-but she is good at it. Probably better than I was. But tell me-what sort of a Jedi is Leia?"}

I cringed a little here preparing for the onslaught of “You should be training your lazy sister to be a Jedi”.  Especially when Mon said this:

{"Yet it has always been a regret to her-and to you that she has not developed her skills more. And if I am not mistaken, the issue has been the cause of gentle and repeated reproaches from you?"}

Mon even says this:

{"Do you find it upsetting that your sister has great gifts and has not developed them? That she has not made use of them? Do you find it something close to a scandalous waste?" }

Neither Luke, nor us, really know where Mon is going with this as he continues to agree with her.  But happily, the conversation takes a different turn than I think Luke (and myself) expected.  In fact, when Luke agrees that Leia’s training has been a source of disappointment in her for him, Mon says this:

{"Then, Luke Skywalker, I suggest you consider the fact that some mirrors reflect both ways." Suddenly there was nothing remotely gentle or subdued about her voice or her manner.}

Me and Luke say, “Wha-?”

Mon continues:

{"I have heard it time and time again, from all sorts of people," she said, somewhat testily. "How the two of you are twins, how you each inherited the same potential, but only one of you made use of it, while the other chose to do something else, something less. People say what a shame it is. And always it is Leia Organa Solo, the Chief of State of the Republic, that they talk about that way. The Chief of State, and they whisper that she has not done enough with herself!" }

You go girl!  And she does, by saying this:

{"My point is that I think it is long past time for you to consider that Luke Skywalker made some choices as well.  It is long past time to reflect on the fact that you have talents and potential you have never developed."

"For instance?" Luke said.

"If Leia has potential in the Force because you, her brother, have shown you do, does it not follow that you have potential in other areas because Leia, your sister, has shown she does? She has become a leader, a stateswoman, a politician, a spouse, and a parent. She is building the New Republic even as she is raising a new generation of Jedi.”}

I LOVE this.  Mon Mothma, the greatest B#@$ of the Star Wars universe taking up for Leia.  I can’t tell you how much I liked reading this part.  It felt so refreshing and empowering!!  Anyway, she goes on to describe to Luke that his Jedi Academy he is building will someday be thousands of Jedi Knights and will be in need of leadership, especially politically and she asks Luke if he has the skills necessary to be more than just a puppet or a figurehead:

{"Will you know the craft of leadership, of negotiating when you should and of making difficult decisions when you must? Or will you be full of good intentions but ill trained and ill prepared to function in the world of politics, so that others must guide and control-and manipulate-you? If you are to be a real leader for the people, you must prepare for the job, just as you prepared to be a Jedi. You must undergo the training that Leia underwent while you were learning your Jedi skills."

There was an unmistakable hint of reproach in her tone, if not in her words. Leia was learning and doing the boring, necessary drudge work while you were out having exciting adventures. She did not say it, but Luke got the message.}

They continue on a little further and in the end Luke agrees to consider Mon’s words.  Mon Mothma then confirms that Luke has a meeting with Lando and encourages Luke to accompany Lando on the venture that he will propose.  Luke then leaves Mon’s apartment totally flabbergasted by the visit.

Okay.  I just totally loved this conversation with Luke and Mon.  We don’t need to go in to the injustice that I think Leia gets throughout the EU while Luke soars high on his Jedi horse.  But let me just tell you that as awesome as that conversation was, it is absolutely ridiculous that Mon’s answer to the entire thing is for Luke to go with Lando.  I won’t tell you yet what the ‘venture’ is, but let’s just say you will die a thousand deaths when you find out that after all that awesomeness that was the above conversation, that THIS was the advice Mon ended with:

{"On the contrary, I would like you to offer him every assistance (speaking of Lando).  That it is grandiose does not make it ill advised.  No. Help your friend. I believe that in doing so, you will do yourself great good as well."}

I just can’t even…  Just wait.

The next part is all about that NRI agent, Belindi, landing on Corellia.  She isn’t sure if she is the only agent sent or a decoy or one of many.  She has problems (which suggest that someone knew she was coming – i.e., a leak at the NRI) but eventually lands and lives.

We then cut to the Solo’s as they prepare to depart Coruscant.  Luke is there to bid his farewells, Han is dealing with the spaceport authorities and Leia is dealing with political lackeys getting last minute time with her.  Luke helps get the kids settled around the Falcon and when he returns to Leia with the intent of ‘rescuing her from the crowd’ he finds this:

{But he should have listened when Mon Mothma reminded him that he was not the only one of the two siblings with skills the other had not developed. The crowd around her was already melting away, each dignitary and hanger-on leaving with a smile on his, her, or its face, clearly pleased with the results of the conference, each of them plainly feeling that the Chief of State had paid special attention to his, her, or its concerns. Luke had never been that good with people, and he felt the slightest pang of envy to see the apparent effortlessness with which she handled them all.

It was the same old story, of course-everything was easy if you practiced the skills required for years on end. He had sold Leia short. He could not make it up to her all at once, with a single gesture-but at least he could make a start.

She was bidding her farewells to the last of her visitors as he came up. She turned to him and gave him the starburstbright smile that always melted his heart. There was no contrivance, nothing but the deepest and sincerest feelings behind that smile. Maybe that was the secret. She always did feel the emotions she was expressing. "Hello, Luke," she said. "An exciting day."

"That it is," he agreed. "You're finally going to get a look at where he came from," he said, nodding toward Han, who was still shouting at the Wookiee and the ground staff even as he kept an affectionate arm around his son. "Must be hard being married to a mystery man," Luke said, only half joking. "I bet you're looking forward to seeing where he got his start."

"Oh, Han's no mystery man," Leia said. "What you see is absolutely
what you get. His past is a mystery, yes. He's never said much and I doubt he ever will. Anyway, I don't think a family tourist trip is going to do much to shed a dazzling light on the hidden corners of his personal history."

"And that doesn't bother you?" Luke asked.

Leia shrugged. "It used to. Not anymore. Han is Han. How much more do I need to know?"

"I suppose," Luke said. "Still, take a look at Corellia, and tell me all about it."}

I liked this exchange, of course the part about Han and how Leia feels she knows everything she needs to know about him.  But also, again, Luke’s thoughts on Leia and how he has sold her short.  Loved it.

Luke then presents Leia with a lightsaber.  She, at first, tries to reject the offer knowing that a Jedi is supposed to build their own.  But Luke says this:

{"But Mon Mothma reminded me that the reverse is also true,” Luke replied. "There is much you have to teach that I must learn. None of us ever learns all that we should know. If it happens that you don't know a few mind tricks or haven't gotten every move with a lightsaber down cold, that has not prevented you from fighting for justice, or knowing right from wrong and acting on it. Take the lightsaber. You have earned it-and you might have need of it."}

Leia takes it, thrums it on and then challenges Luke to a duel.  I liked this part as well.  Leia, for as serious and determined as she can be, can also be adventurous and playful.  She then goes on to kick Luke’s ass in front of the kids, which was totally awesome as well.  When they’re done, she says this:

{"I've been practicing when I can, on the quiet," she said, her voice a bit more serious. "Even Han doesn't know about it.”

"Practiced how?" Luke asked.

Leia shrugged. "With the lightsaber I already have, which is nothing like as good as this one, by the way.  Against a series of drone opponents. Mostly I've been working in the courtyard behind my office. I haven't been able to do much practice, but I guess it's done some good."

"I'll say," Luke said, massaging his wrist. It still stung a bit from having the lightsaber knocked out of his hand.}

See?  I would totally believe this part, too.  That as busy as Leia is and as much as stupid Luke harps on her relentlessly, that she would find time to practice on her own if she felt that it was important.  And then, of course, that she would be totally awesome at it.

We then see Han dealing with the spaceport bureaucrats while Luke and the newly arrived Lando watch on.  As the final inspector leaves, Han says something about winning a bet, to which Leia says:

{"Han! You and Lando haven't been betting on the Falcon again," Leia said.}

Haha!  I thought that was a cute reference to all those crazy bets Han and Lando had at one point handing the ownership of the Falcon back and forth.  But it was only a bet that Lando’s forge papers wouldn’t get past security.  Luke then freaks out that Han is forging inspection papers and when Han sloughs it off, Luke says this:
{But it wasn't good enough, Luke told himself. Not by half. "Han-wait a second," he said. "It's one thing to risk your own neck in a dicey ship. But you can't take your wife and children along in a ship that the safety people won't pass."

"Take it easy, kid," Han said. "You think I'd take chances on my children? Or that Leia would let me even if I wanted to try? I promise you all the safety systems they were worried about are at spec or above. That wasn't the problem."

"I don't get it,” Luke said.}

No, Luke you don’t get it.  I realize now I may be a little hard on Luke for this book review.  Apologies to diehard Luke-y fans.  Han explains that the Falcon is rigged up BETTER THAN specs but he doesn’t want anyone to know what the ship is capable of.  DUH.

Okay, now the moment you’ve been waiting for…what the hell is Lando’s deal and what did Mon Mothma think was the answer to her wonderful speech earlier?

I’m just gonna type it because…it’s just really, well, here you go:  Lando asks Luke to go on a galaxy-spanning journey with him to woo a rich wife.


Grand Master Jedi Wizard Luke Skywalker on Star Wars Universe’s idea of “The Bachelor”.

Luke agrees.  They plan to depart the next day.  Oh, and they’re taking C-3PO and R2D2.  Okay?  Moving on.

We are finally aboard the Falcon with the Solo’s on the way to Corellia.  The kids are, for a change, behaving and Leia thinks this:

{She smiled at herself. No doubt she had that habit in common with every mother in history. When they were good, they were her children. When they were bad, or when she feared they might be bad, they were Han's. }

Along the way, the family are all together in the lounge and we get this:

{Leia was seated at the far end of the table from Chewbacca and Anakin. In theory, she, too, was reading, giving herself the rare treat of curling up with a good book instead of slogging through some bureaucratic report. She had been looking forward to this for a long time. Instead she found herself doing little more than sit there in a maternal glow.

She was basking in the moment of family, with her children and her husband around her, all safe, all well, and all happy to be together.

"What's it like, Daddy?" Jaina asked, looking up from her book. There hadn't been much in the way of conversation for a while, but it would seem that Jaina had something on her mind.

"What's what like, Princess?" Han asked, turning around in his swivel seat.

"Corellia. What's it like? I keep hearing everyone being so excited that we're going there, but no one ever says much about the place." Jaina stood up and walked over to her father.

Han seemed flustered for a moment, and Leia looked at him intently. Han had hardly spoken about his homeworld, and had said even less about his life in the Corellian Sector.  For years, she had forced herself to restrain her curiosity.  But now. Now he would surely have to say something.

"Well," Han said thoughtfully, "it's a very interesting place."

"And you lived there when you were a kid?" Jaina asked as she climbed up into her father's lap. Jacen stayed where he was, sitting crossed-legged on the floor, but Anakin took his cue from Jaina. He hopped down from where he was sitting next to Chewie, went around the table, and climbed up into his mother's lap. He could tell when it was story time.}

Story time at the Solo’s!  This is a great little snippet of family time for them.  I find it a little hard to believe that Leia knows NOTHING of Han’s childhood.  Am I wrong to think that he would’ve opened up to her about it?  I don’t think I'm wrong.  I also like that he calls Jaina "Princess".  I just really think that's cute.

We then get a fairly detailed account of the Corellian sector.  So family time was a veiled attempt to give the reader their history lesson on where we are headed?  It was still nice anyway, right?

Near the end of the history lesson, um story, Han says this:

{And don't forget that half the galaxy is still recovering from the Imperial-Alliance war. Corellia has probably taken its lumps along with everyone else. But Corellians don't like to show their dirty laundry in public. So we might find out it's the beautiful, well-run planet we hear about, the kind of place it was when I lived there. Or we might discover it's a hardscrabble sort of place, with lots of problems and lots of things not working very well."

"I don't want to go to any place that's all crummy, Jacen said.

"But it might do you some good if you did," Han said. "Your mother and I both feel it'll be good for you to see something of life besides the cushy deal you have on Coruscant. You should see how the other half lives. After all, it's how your parents lived, not all that long ago."

"Were you guys poor and stuff?"

"Well, I always was," Han said. "And your mother well, she lost everything she ever had in the war."

That was an understatement, Leia thought. The Empire had destroyed her entire planet, for no better reason than to terrify the rest of the galaxy.}

I love the “Were you guys poor and stuff?” question.  So sounds like what any little child might ask.  They continue the history lesson a little bit further and we have this:

{Leia listened to Han, every bit as swept up in his words as the children. A city full of parkland and wide-open spaces sounded good to her. She had had enough of the troglodytic life of Coruscant for a while, whether or not the children had. And if Han didn't say much about the casinos and saloons and nightclubs and less reputable establishments that clustered around Coronet's spaceport, she knew they were there as well. Even if she would never go into them herself, they were part of the legend of the place, part of Corellia's rough-and-tumble heritage of smugglers and pirates.

There was a certain romance to such places. Maybe she would go into one or two of them, one night. She could get the children tucked into bed, get Chewie to watch them for the evening, dress in something the Chief of State would never wear, and then slip out with her husband, get him to show her some of the more grown-up playgrounds of Coronet. There could be no harm in taking in a show or two, or even trying her own hand at sabacc. But it seemed that Han had moved past Coronet while she was distracted, and was telling them about the other worlds.}

Ha!  I love this.  I remember reading this for the first time and my mind going wild with ideas of a night on the town for Han and Leia.  Love and totally believe that she would do this.  Don’t believe that she doesn’t yet know how to play sabacc, though.  I’m thinking Han would’ve given her a few lessons by now.  Anyway, Missing Moment opportunity alert!

We then move into an entire chapter of Luke and Lando.  First, pivotal to the plot, we see that the spy guy from the Human League failed to get his message to Luke Skywalker before he disappeared with Lando.  Second, nothing else pivotal to the plot happens…  But I will tell you that Lando’s first attempt at woo’ing a rich woman ends up with him nearly getting killed and R2D2 and C3PO saving him. 

Moving on.

The next time we see the Solo’s the paragraph starts with this sentence:

{Han Solo had gone to sleep happy indeed.}

Hmmm.  Missing Moment opportunity alert!  :-)

The chapter then goes on to say this: 

{After tucking the children in, he had gone to be by himself and shut his own eyes, thinking nostalgic thoughts about his old homeworld. He had felt full of love and pride in his children, felt glad that everyone was safe and secure aboard the good old Millennium Falcon.}

That’s nice, but I had something a little different in mind.  He then has a bad dream about the trip and begins to think through their reentry into the Corellian System.  He wakes up early, heads to the cockpit and finds Chewie at the helm.  Tells Chewie that he is worried and then goes to talk to Leia before they exit hyperspace.

He finds Leia with the children and in a moment alone she (finally!) asks:

{"What is it, Han?" she asked, before he even had a chance to speak.

"What's what?" he asked, a little baffled by her rather clipped tone of voice.

"What is it that has had you worried since before we left?"

Out of reflex more than anything else, Han threw a big, lopsided grin on his face, and got all set to deny it all. But then he stopped, and let the smile fade away. This was his wife. This was the mother of his children. More to the point, this was Leia Organa Solo, Chief of State of the New Republic, war hero, strong in the Force, and capable of being every bit as ruthless as a Noghri assassin. He couldn't play the fool with her and have the slightest hope of getting away with it.

Besides, it would be wrong to try. It was his duty to play it straight, and there was nothing more to be gained by his pretended things were fine. Not when it was plainly obvious he wasn't fooling her.}

That’s right, flyboy.  He goes on to tell her everything about meeting Belindi Kalenda and fighting with the probe droid.

{Leia raised an eyebrow. "I thought I noticed something burned smelling when you came home that night."

"I don't know why I bother trying to fool you," Han said.

"Well, don't try. Was there anything else? Nearly getting killed by a probe droid is bad enough, but is there more that's got you worried?"}

The two compare notes on what they know and decide to go forward with the trip cautiously.  Han heads to the cockpit, leaving Leia with the children.

At the last minute, Han decides to shake things up by dropping out of hyperspace early, thwarting any attackers that might be lying in wait.  He coms Leia who asks if he’s ready:

{"Just about," he said. "I'm going to drop us in twenty seconds early, just to be on the safe side." Han kept his voice casual, knowing that the kids could hear and not wishing to alarm them. He wanted to sound like some routine matter, rather than a major change in plans.

"That sounds fine," Leia said, her voice every bit as relaxed as his own. "I was about to suggest that myself."

"Glad to hear it"' he said. "See you on the other side." He flicked the intercom back to the off position, and doublechecked the switch setting. This would be the perfect time to leave it on by accident. If things did get hot, he didn't want the kids back there listening in.}

I failed to mention how well Han and Chewie worked together with that probe droid in the beginning, but they did.  I liked that.  And I like how Han and Leia work together here, wordlessly trusting each other.  I also like that Leia had thought of doing the same thing as Han came up with.  I think she would be savvy enough to do so.

The Falcon drops out of hyperspace early and they do find some ships that had been waiting at their designated entry area.  A strange flyby ensues where the interlopers give a half-hearted attempt at attacking the Falcon before heading straight into a waiting convey.

Han and Chewie discuss the altercation:

{Chewbacca's voice hooted again, a bit softer, in Han's ear.

"So if they were pirates, they would have tried to disable us, not fry us. So what? They didn't try that either.  And they should have. They had us dead to rights. A blind shot to our rear as we were coming out of hyperspace, and we'd be lunch."

Leia's voice came on from the ship's lounge. "Han, this is Leia on a headset link." She was telling him the children couldn't hear. "What's going on?"

"Later, leia. Don't joggle my elbow just now." Han reached up and cut the lounge out of his com circuit. Not the most respectful way to treat his wife, but on the other hand, one distraction too many could be fatal just now. He could apologize later, if they lived.}

The Falcon approaches the convey after being hailed by it and told that it’s their escort.  As soon as they are close enough, the interlopers once again try to attack the Falcon and the convey puts on a show of destroying them.  Han mans the quad lasers, leaving Chewie in the cockpit but doesn’t put up much of a fight since he figures the entire things was a performance to get the Solo’s to trust the convey.  When it’s over, he acts as if he is grateful and agrees to follow the convey in, not wanting to tip his hand.  He then returns to the cockpit: 

{Han stepped into the cockpit, and was not overly surprised to see Leia in the pilot's seat, watching the main viewport. He hadn't really expected her to sit by quietly while the ship was under attack. He was glad she hadn't. Assuming she had the kids squared away, getting a second pilot into the cockpit was the best thing she could have done. She turned to face Han. "Did you have a nice chat with our new friends?" she asked. She clearly wasn't too happy about being cut out of the comlink.

"Oh, yeah," he said. "Great bunch of folks. Are the kids still okay?"

Leia nodded toward a small repeater screen that was showing a view of the lounge. Han could see three small figures, their expressions very serious, very solemn. "I told them that if they moved out of view, there would be no dinner for a week," she said. "For once it seems like they knew when I needed them to obey. But what the burning skies is going on, Han?"

"Sorry I cut you off from the com back there," he said, answering the hurt in her voice rather than the words of her question. "I just needed to concentrate. If things had gone the wrong way, we could have been in trouble." Han wasn't really paying attention to what he was saying. His mind was on the problem at hand, not on being polite to his wife.}

I like that Leia knew to go and fly the ship, but I don’t know if I believe that she would be so hurt by Han being short with her during an attack?  Oh well, maybe it's just Han being overly attentive to Leia's feelings?  Regardless, Han then shares his theory with Leia that the whole thing had been a setup.  They follow the convey in and land in the designated spaceport.

We then cut to Mara Jade, looking as beautiful and curvaceous as ever.  She receives a strange imperial-looking holocube labeled as such:

{To be opened in the presence of Leia Organa Solo, self styled Chief of State of the so-called New Republic, Han Solo, and the de facto governor-general of the Corellian Sector, Code Rogue Angel Seven. }

She tries to open it but can’t and eventually decides to head to Corellia and deliver the cube as directed.

The Solo’s, meanwhile, are arriving on Corellia and Belindi Kalenda (the NRI operative) is lying in wait several meters away in a field outside of the spaceport watching and waiting for their arrival.

{Organa Solo stepped away from the ship-and then hesitated a moment. She stopped walking, and frowned, a bit uncertainly. She looked around, apparently scanning the horizon-and then stopped, staring straight at Kalenda. For a terrible moment Kalenda was certain that Organa Solo had spotted her, decided she was a sniper or a terrorist, was going to shout a warning to her family, alert the local security forces. Kalenda wanted to dive for cover, run for it, but she knew better. Staying absolutely still was much more likely to keep her alive. And besides, what were the odds that even a Jedi adept would be able to see or sense-a single watcher from that sort of range?}

Kalenda sees Leia shrug it off and then follows the family to where they are going to stay for their vacation and finds an empty villa not far from there where she can watch them and wait.

Insert a plot-free chapter of Lando and Luke here.

In the Solo villa, we find out that Leia and Han, in spite of the fact that Han had already demonstrated an encyclopedia-type of knowledge regarding his planet, are going to hire a tutor for the children to guide them through their trip to Corellia.  I immediately got skin prickles at this with visions of Han and Leia shoving the kids off on some stranger for the rest of the book.  Well, that’s not exactly what happens, but I’ll get to that.  First, we have this:
{"Do you think you can handle this tutor thing on your own?"

Leia looked up at him in mild surprise. "I suppose so," she said. "Why? What's up?"

"I don't know, exactly," Han said. "I just feel like I have to get out of here, go and see what it's really like in town. Walk around on my own two feet, instead of driving around in a nice armored CDF landcruiser. I can catch the airlifter shuttle at the village station."

Leia nodded, her expression a bit sad and serious. "I was half expecting you'd want to go in," she said. "Go on and get a look. I can find a tutor by myself. The first of the candidates is due in an hour.”

Han leaned over and gave his wife a gentle kiss on the cheek.  “Thanks," he said. "It really is something I need to do."

"Don't forget we have dinner with the Governor-General tonight at Corona House," Leia reminded him. "The hovercar is supposed to come for us at eight o'clock."}

That’s nice, Leia knows him so well and doesn’t give him a hard time.  Anyone else think Han might not make it for that hovercar?  I did.

And I was right.  Han takes a tour around town, which was pretty nicely described through his eyes as seeing his hometown again after so long, but I’m not going to paste it here, sorry.  In the end, though, he finds trouble as he is wrapped up in some sort of drunken parade/demonstration thing with patches on their clothes that say “Human League”.  Well, someone seemingly recognizes him, clobbers him over the head and takes him prisoner.

A day in the life of Han Solo.

Leia, in the meantime, hired the perfect tutor.  Someone named Ebrihim that has an astromech droid like Artoo that speaks basic named Q9.

Han wakes up in his cell, only for his captors to identify him and decide to let him go.  But not before clobbering him again so he passes out.

We then skip on over to Leia:

{It was evening, getting on toward night, and Leia could not decide whether to be angry or worried. Either Han was off having such a good time with some old cronies that he had forgotten to call home, or else he was in trouble.}

Okay, so DOES Han EVER go off with his old cronies and disappear for long periods of time?  I mean, if this is the first thing Leia always thinks of, then this is what he must always do???  Yet, that’s just not the impression we get from anything else EXCEPT these worries of Leia’s.  What’s up with that?  Other than her wanting to think THAT rather than think he is in trouble, I just don’t get it.

Leia spots a hovercar approaching and thinks it’s their ride.  But when the car comes in too fast and without lights she knows that it is not the Governor-general’s car and sounds an alarm.  Kalendi is watching from her villa and sees the hover car dump Han out onto the pavement before speeding off.  Specifically she sees this:

{The figure lurched to its feet, and she saw Han Solo looking very much the worse for wear.}

We then cut to dinner, well, to the end of dinner.  But all had not been perfect:

{Getting Han patched up from his injuries had put them behind schedule, but they had turned what was meant to be a social occasion into something closer to a council of war.}

I just think that first sentence is funny.  So, after being knocked unconscious, TWICE, and dumped out of a hover car while moving, Han made it to dinner…but he WAS late.    

The Governor-General (Micamberlecto), Han and Leia discuss the status of Corellia.  All is not well.  The parade that Han ran into is nightly demonstration that usually ends in violence all spear-headed by the Human League and its “Hidden Leader”.  All in all it just seems to be pitting the three different species that reside in the Corellian sector against one another and as far as they can tell, the Human League wants to declare independence for Corellia and keep it isolated.

In the end, they decide that it’s best for Han and Leia to continue their vacation but they do decide to move the Falcon out of the spaceport and onto the roof of the Governor-General’s house for safe keeping.

Back at the Villa, Q9 (the tutor’s droid) lets Han know that he is being watched and Han spots Kalendi in the nearby villa.  He doesn’t really understand or know why she is there and apparently with no backup.  He stops trying to figure everything out and the whole thing is chalked up with this statement:

{Han hated politics.}

Yes, I bet he does.  But boy is he knee deep in it?

Next, as part of the family vacation, the Solo’s visit an archeological dig site.  The children, with the help of Anakin’s mechanical prowess, stumble upon some large, strange machine that they believe is what the diggers are REALLY looking for.  They button everything up so that the people won’t find it and then leave the dig site.

I won’t mention how no one seemingly noticed the kids disappear during the trip.  But Leia was looking for them when they finally returned.

Lando is on his third prospect now, Tendra Risant.  After the first two disastrous trips, Lando decides to call ahead for this one.  The pair have a nice long chat and fall in love over the holo.  We also get a glimpse of Mara Jade as she is on her way to Corellia.

The Solo’s are relocating from their Beachside villa and into Corona House as the family vacation part of their visit officially comes to its end.  They are making the move and it is decided that Han will spend the last night by himself in the villa alone.  Why?

{It had taken some finagling on his part, but he had managed to convince Leia that he should drop everyone off at Corona House, and then fly on to the villa, sleep there, and clear out the last of the family's belongings in the morning. Leia seemed to think that Han wanted to get a night of peace and quiet before diving into the grueling social whirl of a diplomatic meeting, and Han was quite willing to leave her with that impression. He had his own private agenda to take care of overnight, and he could not do what he had to do with company around.}

A night of peace and quiet?  Really?  Some parts of this book are really stupid.  But we do get to see that that isn’t what Leia really thought, as she and Han put the kids to bed: 

{"They are beautiful, aren't they?" Leia asked, sliding her arm around her husband's back as they looked down on the three little people, innocent and asleep, all the cares of the galaxy quite out of their minds.

"Oh, yeah," Han said. "That, they get from your side of the family. Wonderful children. Beautiful children."

Leia nestled her head on Han's shoulder. "You'll be careful tonight, won't you? I want these guys to have a father in the morning."

Han sighed and patted her on the shoulder. "I don't know why I even bother trying to keep you from worrying," he said. "It's not that big a deal tonight. No real danger. I just need to do something without being seen."

"And I shouldn't know about it?" Leia asked.

"Probably best if you don't. For one thing, we don't really know who might be listening in right now. But you might say I'm going to take out a little insurance policy, and the less anyone knows about it, the more likely it is to work. Besides, I don't know if it's the sort of thing we can really count on."

"All right," Leia said, but the tone of her voice was not altogether happy. "I love you. I trust you. Do what you have to do to take care of us."

"Hey, Your Worshipfulness," he said, calling her by the old teasing nickname, "that's all I ever do."

Leia laughed, and looked up at him. "You always were a good liar," she said, and kissed him.}

So, that’s more like it.  And a kiss!  And then the next paragraph starts like this:

{Han said his goodnights to Leia…}

Missing Moment Opportunity alert!  Although when the rest of the sentence says this:

{…and then went to Chewbacca's quarters, just down the hall from his own apartment.}

It’s pretty anti-climatic while you are reading it.  Not to say that something couldn’t have happened there.

Han goes back to the villa and meets up with the NRI agent, Belendi.  He finds that she is working alone and they agree that she should keep an eye on the Solo’s and just wait.  Han brought her stuff to eat and sleep on, which I thought was really nice of him.

Lando meets Tendra only to find that:  A) he’s got to immediately leave her planet because they don’t want visitors and B) that she can’t marry anyone without her father’s permission or she’ll lose her money.  But Lando is smitten and vows to figure something out.

Fast forward to the long-awaited trade summit on Corellia.  Hardly anybody showed and the Solo’s are bored in the reception line.  We do get this, however after Han says something smart about nobody being there:

{"Quiet, Han," Leia said, keeping the smile on her face looking warm and sincere as she chided her husband under her breath. Han had to admit she looked stunning in the flowing, off-the-shoulder royal-blue gown she had chosen.  It set off her coloring and her eyes and hair beautifully.}

Yeah, Han’s checking her out alright.  They continue to greet the few guests that are there and all of them appear to be pretty inebriated.  Han continues to complain:

{"I just can't keep this smile pasted on my face much longer."

"Well, how about being completely astonished instead?" Leia asked.  "Could you handle that?"

"I suppose," Han said.

"Then look to see who's fourth in line at the moment."

Han looked up, and was sufficiently amazed that he failed to make any snide comments for the next three delegates. In fact, he was not aware of talking to them at all. Mara.  Mara Jade. Ex-Emperor's Hand. Ex-smuggler. The woman who had sworn to kill Luke, and then had a change of heart.

There she was, in a long black gown that seemed to make her seem even taller, even more slender-and even more threatening. The years had been good to her. She had lost none of her poise, none of her beauty-and she looked as dangerous as ever. He and his family had been on better terms with her in recent times, but there was something in her demeanor tonight that set off alarm bells in his head. It would be best to tread carefully around her.}

Oh, beautiful Mara Jade.  Remind me someone, have we read yet where she allegedly sleeps with Lando?  I can’t remember.  I know she is wearing his shirt and looking sleepy in some book.  Which was that and when?

Anyway, so Mara tells Han and Leia about the message cube.  Han, Leia, Mara and the Governor-General slip away to the Solo’s apartment and watch the message cube while the children secretly watch on.  But first, they discuss the cube and its markings:

{"Believe me," Mara said, "I've looked at that thing up, down, and sideways. Nothing on the bottom. The only markings are the ones you see on the top."

"Which look suspiciously like an Imperial code I used to crack now and again for very profitable reasons," said Han. "To be opened in the presence of Leia Organa Solo," he read, "`self-styled Chief of State of the so called New Republic, Han Solo, and the de facto Governor General of the Corellian Sector. Code Rogue Angel Seven." Well, they're not going to get high marks for politeness, that's for sure. What’s the Rogue Angel Seven business?"

"Oh, nothing very much," Leia said. "Just the key phrase for my private diplomatic cipher. Someone wants us to know they can read my mail."

Micamberlecto let out a low whistle, a sound that somehow seemed wholly incongruous coming from him. He unfolded his long, multijointed legs and leaned in closer to the cube to get a better look. "Someone knows, someone knows very much about us," he said.

"The thing I don't understand," said Mara, "is why they used me for the courier, whoever they are. They'd have to know that my relations with you people haven't always been of the warmest."

"I can answer that," Leia said. "You were second choice. Luke. Luke was intended to be the courier for this message." She pointed at the cube, still being careful not to touch it, and pointed at the lettering peeking out from under the label. "I don't read it myself, but that looks like the written form of Jawa."

"Jawa?" Mara asked.

"The language of a race from Luke's homeworld, Tatooine. He could read it pretty easily, but most other people couldn't make anything of it without a great deal of effortthe same way you could read the Imperial code. I'll bet that's the same message as the code, intended for Luke's eyes."

"So why didn't Luke carry it?"

Leia shrugged. "I don't know," she said.

"I do," Han said. "Remember he was going to go meet with Lando about some business deal just before we left. Lando told me that he was planning to go off on a trip before he came to the trade summit here. My guess is that Luke decided to go along for the ride, maybe on the spur of the moment."

"And so he wasn't there to get the message cube," Mara said. "So when they couldn't find him, they threw together a backup plan and came looking for me. It makes sense."}

Total sense.  So what did the message say?  Read on:

{Without any preamble, a screen full of numbers appeared, and stayed on the screen. A male human voice began to speak in Corellian-accented Basic.  "This will be your only notification prior to events," the voice said. "Inform no one of this message and await instructions so as to avoid the need for further action. We will be monitoring all communications. Do not attempt to call for help. Any violation of instructions will result in an acceleration of the schedule." The numbers stayed on the screen, but the voice said nothing more. Han frowned. "That voice almost sounded like me," he said. "Why would they want to simulate my voice?"}

Well, they can’t figure out why anyone was trying to sound like Han but they do figure out that the numbers on the screen correspond to stars in the galaxy, the first one being that star that was recorded blowing up.  The Governor-General just so happened to get a video of said star’s explosion.  Each successive star is populated more and more greatly, ending with the capital of the Corellian system:  Corell.

The group figure out that with the timing of the message cube delivery and the taping of the star’s explosion, it is possible that the threatening group COULD have caused the star’s explosion and their threat could be real.  Or it could be a hoax.

As they figure all of this out, the kids are watching on (in secret) in horror.

The next morning, we have Leia waking up Han to find the city surrounding them under attack.  Half of the Governor-General’s forces had betrayed him and half were still loyal.  In the Corona House, Han and Leia are separated by a few floors from the children when the first explosions happen.  Han raises Chewie on the comlink and tells the Wookiee to get the kids out on the Falcon as he and Leia are trapped from the explosion.

Han has a frantic conversation with a scared Jacen on the comlink, Han saying this:

{"We'll meet up with you when we can. Right now you have to do what Chewie says, and take care of your sister and brother.

"But, Dad-"

"No time for that now," Han said. "Get in that ship and do what Chewie says. Tell your brother and sister that your mother and I love you very much. Now go. Go."

"Okay," said the tiny voice coming from the comlink.

"We'll do our best. Good-good-bye, Dad."

"Good-bye, son," Han said, wondering just how long a good-bye it might be. There were at least fair odds that it would be forever. He stuffed the comlink in his pocket and went over to where Leia was tending to the GovernorGeneral. It looked as if Micamberlecto was only shaken up, not seriously injured. Not even a broken bone, which was a bit of a miracle considering how long his arm and leg bones were.

"Chewie has the kids," Han said. "They've reached the Falcon and should be able to lift off any second now. They're all okay."

"Thank the stars for that," Leia said. "I reached out to them with the Force, and I could feel they were scared but all right, but they were so terrified I couldn't get anything more. Good. Good."

"Well, it's the only thing that is good around here," Han said.}

So, lots of stuff happens here. Chewie lifts off with the kids.  Han reaches out to Kalendi to start making possible plans and then everything is interrupted when something comes on the holo:

{"Humans of Corellia!" the man in the holovid said, and that was enough to evoke another gasp from everyone in the office. The man had Han's voice as well. "I am the Hidden Leader of the Human League of Corellia, and I do now hereby reveal myself to you. Many of you may well have known there was a Hidden Leader, even if you did not know who had the honor to hold the post. That person is myself. My name is Thrackan Sal-Solo.

Leia looked at the screen in astonishment. "Han-that man. He's-"

"He's my cousin,' Han said, his voice flat, bitter, angry. Suddenly the past that he thought he had escaped had caught up with him again. "My first cousin, my father's sister's son, he went on. He is not a nice man, to put it mildly.  I thought he died years ago, before I left Corellia, back when he dropped completely out of sight." Han looked at the screen, at the face that was so like his own. "Of course,' he said thoughtfully, "a few people have thought I was dead myself, now and then."

"At least it explains why that Human League mob grabbed you and then let you go," Leia said. "They must have thought you were someone doing a bad job of pretending to be him. And it was his voice on the recording."}

So, Sal-Solo goes on to say that he’s going to blow up the universe if his demands aren’t met and his demands are pretty ridiculous.  Surprise.  He wants the New Republic to remove all but humans from the Corellian system.

Han and Leia discuss options (which aren’t many) and Han says this:

{"But I'm not playing by his rules, anyway. I'm going to meet Kalenda in a little over an hour, and hand her a copy of the data chip we got last night, together with whatever other information we can get together. I'm going to create as big a diversion as I can and hope she can steal a ship and go for help."

"I can't help noticing that you're not asking permission about all this," Leia said. "But at least you're being straight and telling me about it," she said.

"Then I'll keep on being straight and say that I doubt I'll be coming back anytime soon," he said. "The guy creating the diversion is usually the one who gets caught, and this time I don't think they'll let me go because I look like the boss."

"Then we don't have much time," Leia said, putting her arms around him and laying her head on his shoulder.

"We never do, Princess," he said. "We never do."}

Oh, you guys notice that, too, huh?

Alright, so not much Han and Leia stuff after this.  Han helps Belendi escape but there is some kind of interdictor surrounding the entire system that won’t let any ship go into hyperspace and we hope that she got passed it somehow.  Oh, and Han gets captured.  Meanwhile, Luke and Lando are trying to head to Corellia to find out what is going on but they are also lame ducks without hyperspace travel. And Chewie, the kids and that tutor are flying around on the Falcon (also stuck).

Leia is at the Governor’s house, attempting her own escape as she thinks this:

{Early in the day these apartments had been the home to her family, and her family had all been there, safe and together. Now, now they were all gone, scattered to the four winds, and the apartment was a darkened, ruined shell of a place, with the cold wind coming in through the broken windows.

But from here, she could see the spaceport. With a good strong set of macrobinoculars, she could see the flares of the explosions, the flicker of blaster fire, the duller flame of burning ships. She could even see the X-TIE getting away into the sky.

But she could not see Han.

And she knew she might never see him again.}

I’d feel a lot worse if this didn’t happen every other chapter…  No really, I felt bad for Leia, but then it only got worse.  Some aid comes to tell her about the interdictor field and she basically realizes that no one is escaping and no one is coming to help.  Then we have this:

{Leia Organa Solo found a place to be alone in an empty, windowless conference room across from the Governor-General's office. It was a good place for her, just then, for from there she could not see the sky, or the spaceport, or the stars that were suddenly so much farther away.

Her family was lost to her, lost to the depths of space.

The Corellian System, in a single day, had somehow found a way to backslide into the worst sort of irrational species hatred, the sort of thing that should have been left in the slime a thousand generations before. Neighbor was turned against neighbor in a three-way fight that could only grow more vicious as the wounds cut deeper. And the Corellian Sector had seceded from the New Republic in a way that could only tempt others to do the same. She knew how fragile the fabric of the New Republic still was. She knew how easy it would be to tear it to shreds, how impossible it would be to put it back together.

But there were plenty of other worries besides mere politics. Where had Mara Jade gone? She had vanished. How were a bunch of thugs like the Human League capable of stealing the most secret New Republic data? How were they able to blow up stars on command? Were they truly capable of exterminating an entire living star system if they did not get their way? And who was producing this massive new interdiction field?

And they were all counting on her. If she made only the slightest effort, used the least of ability in the Force, she could quite literally feel their need, there in the Governor-General's office. They needed her, had faith in her, believed that she would find the way out of this for all of them.

And she did not have the least idea what to do next.

Leia reached down, deep into herself, into the power of the Force, and searched for the strength that would let her hang on.}

I LOVE Leia.  And consequently, I love to read about her being strong.  So I liked all of that.

That’s about it.  The book does end with a classic line, so I guess I should mention it.  We close with Luke and Lando ambling their way through space to come to Leia’s rescue and after having all sorts of trouble, Luke says:

{"I've got a bad feeling about this."}

Being the first of a trilogy set, the cliffhanger was not surprising.  And overall, I really enjoyed this book.  I thought it painted Leia well in lots or respects (but not all).  Really can’t ask for better odds than that in these books, though.  I also prefer dealing with the more believable fanatics that just want to take over their own systems, rather than the galaxy-wide threat that some storylines try to weave through. 

I guess on the Han and Leia factor I’ll give it a 3.5 unless you guys totally disagree.  There is lots of not only Han and Leia time, but Solo family time that makes it a pretty nice read from the Han/Leia shipper perspective.  I’ll say again that I like getting to know the kids as they grow up, even though we find out that it’s mostly a waste of our time.  I probably shouldn’t have said that.  Can you tell that I’m bitter?

Well, that’s it.  Hope you enjoyed.  Up next will be Book Two of the trilogy.  Stay tuned.


  1. We got a glimpse into the Solo kids' personalities with The Crystal Star but I think these books are where they really become characters. Not as much in this book, but we'll see it in the next two. Can we get some consistency as far as how much time Han and Leia spend with their kids? One book they have lots of family time and swim every evening, one book they hardly have anything to do with them, now this one they have dinner together every night. Make up your minds! I did enjoy though how it seemed that Leia had been taking care of discipline and wanted to make sure that her kids grew up to be great adults. In the last book there was talk of "indulgent parenting." Again, people, make up your minds.

    I love Solo family moments and this book has plenty. And I love the constant little additions of Han and Leia thinking or saying how much they love their kids, and the part where they talk about how beautiful they are. Aw. I really feel like Han wouldn't be that secretive about his past with Leia of all people. I don't think he would tell her tons of stories, but I'd think at some point he would've at least given her a general idea. It's his WIFE for crying out loud. But at least she seems ok with it.

    They also seem to work well together here. Their relationship seems really solid and they really are in tune with each other which always makes me happy. I read this book back in April and I had forgotten or maybe skimmed too much during that Mon Mothma speech to Luke, but it's about time! And wow, the Lando and Luke sub plot is insane. For any of you who read it, it goes on and on very descriptively about crap that has nothing to do with the rest of the book. It's like a sitcom plot. Yes, mighty Jedi Master, your efforts could best be used to find Lando a rich wife to finance his projects. WHAT??!? Yes, seriously.

    And man, does Han always have to get knocked unconscious and captured? I agree that I make myself believe Leia thinks that he's goofing off to make herself not worry, not because she actually thinks it's true... because it never is.

    Also, Mara was with Lando in Children of the Jedi, I believe. Yes, Luke, you get Lando's leftovers.

  2. Ok so it's like 1am for me, but I can't go to bed without commenting.

    Thanks for a very thorough review , Push. It was fun to be reminded of this one that I haven't read properly in many years.

    Yes, some consistency would be nice with these books. In one book Han and Leia come across as bad parents, then the next one they are very hands on with the kids, then it's all bad again, etc etc. Personally I choose to believe they ARE good parents and have lots of time with the children, so I love books like this that portray them as a regular family. Can't get enough of cute family moments, it kind of makes the EU bad stuff all worth it.

    Yet another ridiculous Lando subplot. This one has to be the worst, doesn't it? Has Lando actually done anything even half way interesting since ROTJ? It's like no one has a clue what to do with him.

    Zyra has made a great point about Han being secretive about his past with Leia. And I agree, would he really be THAT secretive with his own wife? I like to believe that Han and Leia have a rock solid marriage where they have no secrets from each other whatsoever, and even though Han does have a shadowy past, I like the idea that Leia is the one person he can truly open up to. In Tatooine Ghost we find out she knows all about Br*a, so why would he keep anything else from her?

    1. Lando did have an important role in the Thrawn Trilogy and the Hand of Thrawn Duology, both by Timothy Zahn. The battle at the end of Heir of the Empire couldn't have been won without Lando. In Dark Force Rising, it was Han and Lando who brought Garm Bel Iblis back into the New Republic. Lando played a major role in The Last Command, when he, Han, Luke, Mara, Leia, and Karrde infiltrated Palpatine's hidden base at Wayland. Then in Vision of the Future, Han, Lando, and Lobot infiltrated the Imperial base at Bastion. I would say those parts were important. And his role in this book does tie in with the rest of the trilogy, remember? This was how Tendra got involved in the fight.

  3. Another great synopsis. I do love all of the Solo family time we get in this. It's nice to know there is some happiness because the horizon doesn't seem so great.
    Finally, someone defends Leia's lack of Jedi training. Good for Mon. Does she have to be berated for not training while also giving birth to and raising the next in the 'Skywalker' Jedi line, protecting the galaxy and probably some member of her family from the latest threat, and being the lead person of the galactic government? I mean, you'd think she was lazy or a procrastinator. And the duel, great!
    I might actually d/l this book later to read through all of that! Thanks

  4. Excellent review, thank you for your time in writing the review. This trilogy series was the first set of books I had read when I got back into the EU after a twenty year hiatus. I reread them again this past summer. I rather enjoyed the series. I thought they were well written and kept my interest. I enjoyed learning about the Correllian system and it's inhabitants. Loved the part about Jaina being a smart mouth. In a strange way I felt vindicated or relived. The only part that didn't seem to make sense to me is why would the New Republic put a non Correllian in position of Governor of Corellia? I would think the New Republic would let worlds make their own leadership decisions. This series actually becomes important in the later series of NJO and the Legacy series.
    My favorite part of this book was when they were all on the Falcon spending quiet time reading and then Jaina asks Han to tell them a story of his home planet. That was a sweet moment and fun insight. If you haven't read this series, I would highly recommend it. It's a fun read. Well done Push.

  5. Thank you very much, Push, for this! :) I want to read this book!!!! I liked THAT Leia, not that president who hates her life without knowing it in the few other EU-books I've read... And the kids seemed very much tolerable to read! :) I haven't read many but they are very annoing in those I've read. Mocking 3PO and stuff... I know, 3PO is just a droid, but I wouldn't think Leia wanted her kids behave like that. Well, what can she do about it, if she's never around? ;)

    "I felt a little uneasy with the fact that Leia let Han’s mysteriousness slide and then the kids’ right on top of that."

    Yes, remember Leia giving Luke a hug and then asking "What's wrong?" in the middle of Mon Motha's brief about attacking Death Star II!!!! Well, that was like 15 years ago...

    "She had had far more meals with the droids and servants than with Bail Organa."

    Well, that was surprising! But a very interesting official piece about her childhood. And as it was mentioned again that she got into senate in her teens... I'm just thinking that the old Database told us Leia studied in University. When did that happen?!?!?!? I mean, if she was 19 in ANH, that's the age kids graduate from "High School" in my country. How is it in yours? What do you think about that?

    And thankyou for the many and long quotes! :)

    I love it that Luke understands he has sold Leia short and that MON from all the people is the one telling him! :D At first, reading the quoted conversation between Luke and Mon, I thought she's really saying "You should be training your lazy sister to be a Jedi" and I was already cursing because Mon Mothma is the one that has prevented Leia's development by keeping her too busy! :D And there the super-mommy surprises us again! :D We all have "forgiven" her the lack of jedi training, because it's impossible for her among all the other work... And still, she did it! :D It's sad that EU keeps with the nagging Luke...

    I think so, too, that Mara slept with Lando in Children of the Jedi!

    And as Claire mentioned Br*a, I had to go to Wookieepedia and check her. She's 1,57m "tall", Leia is 1,50m... Han likes shorties? :) I hope Br*a at least has a bigger boobs so that the women are not too similar in looks... Br*a appears long haired brunette, too, in the pics... I kinda liked that one fanfic where Leia "googled" Han's ex and she was tall, big boobs etc. :D Was she even a blond? Hope so! xD It makes me think that Han didn't fall in love with Leia's first impression because she fits the mold he already has in his mind how his girl friend should look like.

  6. Hey, check this out! :) It's the alternative Han&Leia-fight in Hoth as a comic. :D

  7. Hey guys, glad you enjoyed the book review. Thanks for your continued commenting. We'll be working on the next review, hopefully it won't be a long wait.

  8. loved the family time in this one. and I had the same thought about Leia - where'd THIS Leia go in the rest of the EU? - and about Mon ripping on Luke and standing up for Leia. and the kids are fun in this series. thanks for the review and the long quotes, now I have to go back and reread while I wait for Scoundrels to come from the library.

  9. I liked this book completely. I really like that he brought Mara Jade back. She hadn't been featured in a main role since the Jedi Academy trilogy. The only thing that annoyed me was the way Han and Leia mistrusted Mara as being an Imperial spy. They both defended her in the Thrawn Trilogy. It just annoyed me that they seemed to think Mara was working for Thrackan Sal-Solo. Mara had long been an ally of the New Republic, didn't she? The only Star Wars books in this era that absolutely did not like were the Black Fleet Crisis books and any book written by Barbara Hambly. The Black Fleet Crisis was boring -- filled with military terms that went over my head and random characters who never appeared again. Hambly's writing style was so weird that I could barely understand what she was trying to say. Alan Dean Foster was the same way. But besides the Black Fleet Crisis and Hambly's books (Children of the Jedi and Planet of Twilight) are the only books I was not a fan of. Every other book I absolutely adored. The Expanded Universe only serves to make the Star Wars sage better. I feel the same way about the prequel trilogy with the only books in that era I disliked being the MedStar books, Imperial Commando: 501st, and those weird zombie books, Red Harvest and Death Troopers. I often hear people criticizing the prequels and the Expanded Universe, and I can't understand why. That's it.