The Hutt Gambit
by A.C. Crispin
Published by Bantam Publishing
Scott's Rating: 3.5 out of 4
This is book two in the Han Solo Trilogy.
A few years after the Paradise Snare, Han Solo has dropped out of the Imperial Academy and hooked up with Chewbacca. As he gets over losing his first love Bria, he and Chewy head to the world of Nar Shadda to find work as pilots for the Hutt criminal organization. As they dodge attempts at capture by bounty hunters, Han begins smuggling for Jabba the Hutt's uncle, Jiliac. The story takes place over a period of several years in which Han meets Boba Fett, Lando, and falls in love with a magician named Xaverri and a smuggler named Salla. There are also guest appearances by Vuffi Raa, Baron Fel, the Smugglers Run crew, and the Millennium Falcon. As Han and Chewy are in the middle of a Hutt clan rivalry, the Empire decides to crack down on the criminal organizations and smugglers. The story ends in a colossal battle between the smugglers and the Empire. Does Han Solo die? Of Course not! Oooops! Gave away the ending!
This book was fun and very well paced. I liked the action and the characters were very faithful to their movie portrayals. It was also neat to see elements from the comics, books, and films all integrated into one story. I liked the encounter between Boba Fett and Han Solo. In the story, Han gets the upper hand on Fett and thoroughly disgraces him, hence the hard feelings between the two. If you ask me, humiliation is a better motivation for wanting to kill someone than simply thinking they are a criminal (as in the Tales of the Bounty Hunters book). I enjoyed seeing the Hutt society in the novel and learning about the clan rivalries. Lando was also a fun character. And through the whole story, you're just itching to see Han and Chewie get their hands on the Falcon. Ann has also set up some wonderful situations that I expect to see played out in the final novel such as Bria joining the Rebels, Lando about to play in the Cloud City sabacc game, and Han making the Kessel run in 12 parsecs. Finally, Star Wars fans will love a brief cameo at the end of the story of a major character from the films.
Several things really bugged me in the story, but they are relatively minor. First, Lando saves Han from the most feared bounty hunter in the galaxy simply because he needs a good pilot. Why? Lando never seemed like the kind of guy that would intentionally tick off Fett to save a stranger when there are a zillion other good pilots around. Then, when the two become friends, they never shut up with the 'pals', 'buddies', and 'old chums'. Sure, that's how they talked in the films, but I was about to go insane. Also in the story, the Hutts are asexual. But in the comics, they marry, have families, etc. It just didn't seem to jive and confused me, but I'm sure Lucasfilm will come up with some way to explain it. Just before the big ending battle, they go into great detail about the smuggler battle plan. There's litearlly dozens of pages where they simply say exactly what they are going to do, ending with an 'Independence Day' type pep talk by Han and the smugglers. Very corny. Then, when the battle happens, everything goes exactly as they explained it would many pages earlier. Nothing unexpected happens. Very disappointing, but the battle was very well written. And last but not least, we do not read about how Han and Chewie meet up. This is not the fault of Crispin, but Lucasfilm. Lucasfilm would not allow her to do it, but the really dumb thing is they allowed her to outline that story and say exactly what happens! We read in the story flashbacks of how Han saved Chewie from the Empire, the names of the characters involved, and exactly what happened. Why not make it into a novel instead of briefly mentioning all the details!? Now that story is ruined! I feel cheated! What was Lucasfilm thinking? They just glanced over one of the most significant events in the Star Wars storyline!!
Do you buy a Hutt a card for father's day, mother's day, or both? Hmmm. Maybe you should just send froggies instead. Frogs always say 'I love you'.