|Original cover art by William Schmidt.|
Having fought and escaped the tyranny of the evil Corporate Alliance in two previous adventures, daring and charismatic space smuggler and dedicated believer of free enterprise, Han Solo, with his trusty furry friend and co-pilot Chewbacca, are now just about carving out a living for themselves, and getting in and out of a few scrapes, within the far Outer Rim areas belonging to the ominous Tion Hegemony, a sector long ignored by the grasp of the Empire. But when another yet deal goes pear-shaped, it isn’t long before the duo join forces with an old friend and his small band to locate and acquire the thousand years lost ancient treasure of space pirate Xim the Despot, believed to be located on a now legendary missing ship in the depths of space. But getting to all that fortune and glory surely isn’t going to be easy, especially when they’re pursued by a fearsome trio of mining colony rogues- a lethal brother and sister combo, encounter a race of primitives worshipping alien technology and are forced to battle a generations deactivated army of robots now given a new purpose in destruction!
The third and final adventure in the late, great Brian Daley’s Han Solo Trilogy may be the weakest overall, but it still satisfies as a conclusion, especially with its lead-in to the pair’s fateful meeting with the rebellion. And there’s still more great material to be found and enjoyed here than in many of today’s STAR WARS novels. It certainly doesn’t outstay its welcome at a briskly moving 180-page count. The characterizations of our often luckless but resilient heroes, whom the author clearly has such a genuinely soft spot for, continue to be on the money, once more accompanied by the Daley created, story driven necessity characters of droid Bollux (now name changed and known as “Zollux” in the UK edition) with his super computer with attitude symbiote, Blue Max, for a story whose elements celebrate genres like the heist-thriller and the kind of chases and action hearkening back to the classic films of Steve McQueen, sprinkled with more than a little bit of the 1930’s cliffhanger serials that would inspire RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK- right down to a scene not too dissimilar to the opening scenes of TEMPLE OF DOOM- where our heroes travel down a snow-capped mountain!
Links to the aforementioned EPISODE IV appear in other parts of the book, too: the zippy seeker weapon used by Luke for lightsaber training, plus a kind of foreshadowing of Threepio and the Ewoks as Zollux becomes an almost God-savoured figure by a group of primitives worshipping wreckage belonging to Xim the Despot.
There are also some intriguing new planetary environments, whilst the villains, including a wily and fast-on-the-trigger-finger bounty hunter- Gallandro- hired to find Solo by the Corporate Alliance, are many and varied. The emergent robot army, sinister and bulky in firepower to anything seen with the Battle Droids of the Prequels, provide a memorable and action-packed finale. And let’s not forget the obligatory plucky heroine that scoundrel Solo gets to flirt with in his pre-Leia days. Oh, and there’s a unique alien historian resembling a centipede. What’s not to like!
AFICIONADO RATING: Tightly constructed, crisply written and a great read. 3.5 out of 5.