On Kindle: Star Wars Empire and Rebellion: Honor Among Thieves
Written by: James S. A. Corey
Published by: Del Rey
The Expanded Universe, as the novels and other media of the Star Wars universe are collectively known, has good novels and bad novels. The bad novels can be forgiven. What can’t be forgiven are the number of supposedly “Star Wars” novels that just didn’t feel all that Star Wars-ish. Last year brought us Scoundrels, which was very Star Wars-ish, with a big portion of Ocean’s Eleven thrown in. And now we have Honor Among Thieves, which is even more Star Wars-ish.
Honor Among Thieves is set between Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back. The first Deathstar is destroyed and the Rebel Alliance is in search for a new base. While Luke Skywalker is out with Rouge Squadron scouting possible new homes for the Alliance Han, Chewie and Leia are hanging out in the deep dark at the temporary rendezvous point for the Rebel Fleet. Even if the Alliance is still in need of some permanent digs the business of the Rebellion must go on. In furtherance of this business Leia talks Han into taking a little side contract to retrieve a Rebel intelligence operative from deep within Empire territory. The operative Scarlet Hark has come across something important enough to break cover and make a run back to the Alliance.
Han and Chewie end up on Cioran a world in the heart of the Empire’s bureaucracy, a planet where the trains always run on time if you catch my drift. Never mind the ever-present Empire officers just the orderliness is enough to keep Han on high alert as he and Chewie try to turn up Hark. What seemed like a straightforward pickup get complicated when an old friend of Han’s shows up and well you know Han’s old friends, they nearly all have a price and Jabba has meet Baasen Ray’s. Baasen is an older smuggler perhaps not quite as good or as lucky as Solo and throughout the novel we get interesting insights into Han’s true character as he worries whether Baasen just wasn’t as good as himself or whether given enough time all smugglers will end up betraying anyone just to make ends meet.
Of course the whole novel can’t be about simply picking up one intelligence operative even if you do throw in some backstabbing old friends. So eventually Han and Chewie retrieve Hark and find out what she discovered that was important enough for her to sacrifice her cover. It seems the Emperor’s private astrocartographer has stumbled upon an ancient weapon from a dead and gone civilization that has the potential to disable all hyperspace travel. With a threat this big you can guess the gang all gets together for the climax of the story. Luke and Rouge Squadron are providing air cover while Han, Leia, and Hark along with the frenemy Baasen work to disable the device. The plot is tight and it hangs together well. At no point does the story drag and best of all it really feels like a Star Wars story.
While Luke and Leia are in the story it really is about Han this time around. As I mentioned earlier when Baasen, an old acquaintance, shows up this really causes Han to examine just what path he has been walking down and just where that path might take him. The nature of the device they are working at stopping gives Han a bit of a pause as well. He knows he wouldn’t trust the Empire with a device that would halt all hyperspace travel, but would he trust the Rebel Alliance with such a device? Would he even trust Leia with such a device? Corey does a magnificent job of letting us in on what Han is thinking without bogging the story down. Scarlet Hark is a wonderful character and worked as a great foil for Solo. I would love to read more about Harks adventures. Baasen Ray was a little thin but his character really allowed Corey to reveal some fantastic insights into Han’s view of himself and the world. Essio Galassian as the head bad guy in the novel was pretty flat. I was a bit disappointed in Essio’s development mainly because I was just so curious about how evil could an astro-cartographer be.
Honor Among Thieves is a great addition to the Expanded Universe. And a really fun read period. It’s a novel you could recommend to even casual fans of the movies. And if you are more than a casual fan but haven’t jumped into the Expanded Universe yet this makes a great place to dive in.