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Wednesday, 17 July 2013

AFICIONADO CLASSIC REVIEW: 'MILLENNIUM FALCON' - A NOVEL





STAR WARS: MILLENNIUM FALCON




A novel by James Luceno



Published in the UK by CENTURY PUBLISHING





Reviewed by Scott Weller


Please note: this review contains mild plot spoilers.


“You came in that thing?? Your braver than I thought!”

She may have been described as a “piece of junk” by Luke on his first view of it, or a “buckets of bolts” by Leia, who also congratulated it’s Captain, Han Solo for being so brave as fly in it. She may also have a computer system that even a protocol droid would find difficult to relate to, and have asteroid potholes and blaster scorching all around her hull, but everyone’s favourite flying pizza deserves it’s place as one of the grand iconic sci-fi spaceships of all time, and probably the single most important character in the STAR WARS saga, whose appearances even stretch back over the series past, in film terms, to the Prequel Trilogy, so I was intrigued and delighted to read the news that there was going to be a novel exclusively about the vessel, delving into it’s long history, and past owners… the storytelling scope, presumably weaved into to a adventure with my favourite heroes, seemed grand and looked set to be a winner. Even better, one of my favourite modern STAR WARS authors, James Luceno, who I had previously trusted reading books such as CLOAK OF DECEPTION, made the prospect of a good read, his eighth for the series, even better.

Set two years after the Legacy of the Force series, the book opens in an origin point, with the initial construction of the YT-1300 ship causing trouble in the production line, with it suffering long term damage which will continue to trouble the ship and its future occupants.  We then follow the Falcon from owner to owner until we learn the vessel was both owned and used secretly by members of the Senate and Jedi, as part of an organisation known as the Republic Group, who reveal they had agents working for the Jedi shortly before the Emperor’s initiated Order 66 eliminates so many of the Jedi as witnessed in EPISODE III. 

In the segment set in the modern day, after Allana Solo, the granddaughter of Han Solo, discovers a strange device aboard the ship, Han and Leia are convinced to begin an investigation into the space ship's past owners (something that, though initially reluctant, Han has always intended to look into, though often sidetracked by the many incidents of war and smuggling that he has become embroiled in) and battles to find out the significance of the artifact.


Having originally won the ship from him in a Sabaac game, the ever resourceful Lando Calrissian is the starting point for Han, and then the intrepid threesome work backwards, eventually crossing paths with an agent who was working for the Jedi and was in stasis for almost 60 years while he healed from severe injuries sustained on his final mission.  Once they all agree to team up we discover just what the mission was that was supposed to restore the Republic’s honor and how everyone knows only a portion of the story. 

Additionally, as the story unfolds, we learn more of the different names the Falcon had been called over the many years, including Corell's Pride, Fickle Flyer, Gone to Pieces,Hardwired, High Hopes, Meetyl's Misery, Second Chance,Stellar Envoy, and Wayward Son, as well as the history of it’s many modifications, like who put in the hologame table and how the various owners came to own and lose the Falcon, over the course of time and roles that the vessel would adopt and serve in the STAR WARS timeline, from dodgy smuggling runs to diplomatic missions, to even being part of a travelling circus at one point!! Finally, we even discover the origin of the name Millennium Falcon.

Sadly, despite it’s promise to be one of the best books of the series, on such a beloved vehicle with such a fascinating history to be explored, amidst what should have been some very interesting scenarios described by the Falcon’s previous owners, the books main plot is simply not that exciting or involving, with no real interesting support characters and often failing to maintain my interest (which is pretty criminal for a STAR WARS novel), really acting more as just as filler piece - a bridge to the Legacy of the Force series and setting up events to come in the Fate of the Jedi series. 

Though I’m a fan of Luceno’s work, I only really enjoyed the parts of the book pertaining to what was established by the Classic Trilogy-those things that were official Lucas cannon or at least approved by Lucas. If the “Great Maker” had been involved in certain aspects of the story and in outlining the ships creation, then I would have been more enthused and satisfied. As usual, Luceno’s writing style is fine and he’s better than most at story structure, but this is probably not a book I’ll re-read with zeal like I have his previous Prequel era novels. MILLENNNIUM FALCON is sadly not the tribute novel that I personally was hoping it would be, and as mentioned, is merely a filler introduction to the FATE OF THE JEDI series instead (with everything you need to know about what’s coming up being located in this books last two pages!), which was not what this important book should have been about. Despite Luceno’s and LUCAS BOOKS’s best intentions for fans/readers, it’s the not the must buy read or anniversary-type tribute it should have been. A wasted opportunity.

AFICIONADO RATING: Despite Luceno's previous excellent STAR WARS writing pedigree, this is his first real disappointment for me. 6 out of 10.

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