The Paradise Snare
by A.C. Crispin
Published by Bantam Publishing
Scott's Rating: 4 out of 4
This story is the first in Ann C. Crispin's Han Solo Trilogy.
The story begins when Han Solo is 19. He's an orphan living with a band of con artists and theives, led by Garris Shrike. Han must fend for himself, but is cared for by Dewlanna, an elderly Wookiee who acts as Han's guardian. Flashbacks tell us how Han grew up and got involved with the theives.
Han escapes from Shrike and takes on a job as a pilot for a strange cult. However, the cult is only a front for a spice smuggling operation for the Hutts. His bosses give him a Tiger-like bodyguard named Muuurgh who watches over him and keeps him out of trouble. Soon, though, Han falls in love with a Corellian cult member who is to be used and sold into slavery. Of course, Han rescues her, destroys the cult, and makes the Hutts very irritable.
Han the returns to Corellia with his love, Bria, and meets her wealthy parents. Will they accept him? Then, eventually, Han heads to Coruscant to apply to join the Imperial Academy.
First off, I have to mention Drew Struzan's cover for this book. I definitely think it is one of the best book covers he has done to date. I really like his interpretations of Muurgh and Bria. Also, he did a great job in making Han Solo look a lot younger. Moving on to the story, I think Ann Crispin has an excellent feel for Han Solos character. You can actually imagine Harrison Ford acting on screen as you read the story. Now this story is not a grand epic tale with a huge cast of characters like the Zahn stories. It is a nice character driven story that really explains how Han Solo became the character we met in A New Hope. We find out how he became a great pilot, how he learned to smuggle, how he is able to speak so many languages, and why he was so incredibly selfish and unwilling to love in the trilogy. Crispin also gives interesting insight into the Tiger-like alien race, the Hutts criminal organization, and Coruscant. Overall, it was very enjoyable.
The story was somewhat predictable. There werent many surprises in it, but it did not make it a bad story. Also, the story of Han growing up as a beggar and thief was a lot like Oliver Twist. Garris Shrike was exactly like Fagin and Hans cousin Thrackan Sal Solo was a lot like Monks. I cant decide if I minded the similarities or not, but they were obvious. Finally, the story brought up the issue of Hans parents disappearing and their mysterious identities. The mystery was not answered in this story, so hopefully it will come up in the final book in the trilogy. But if they leave you hanging like in the Black Fleet Crisis with Mrs. Skywalker, then Ill be upset. For now, though, I can wait!
Han giving a guy a face lift with a blaster at point blank range. Ack!