Thursday, May 03, 2018

Book Review: 'Star Wars: Last Shot' by Daniel José Older

'Last Shot' by Daniel José Older is an entertaining read that focuses on the Star Wars universe's two favourite scoundrels, Han Solo and Lando Calrissian.

An assassination attempt on Lando leads him to find Han, and recruit a ragtag ensemble, including a young hotshot pilot, an ewok hacker and a Twi'lek strategist, to find the Phylanx Redux transmitter before evil Frankenstein-like scientist Fyzen Gor does, and exacts his nefarious plan on the universe.

The story spans over three different eras; the present, set a couple of years after 'Return Of The Jedi', with Han, Lando and the ragtag band; then flashbacks to about 15 years previously, before the events of the 'Solo: A Star Wars Story' film, with Lando and his droid L3-37; and then about 10 years previously, in between 'Solo' and 'A New Hope', with Han, Chewbacca and Sana Starros. The search for the Phylanx Redux Transmitter is the constant thread that loops through all three eras, although with all the flipping back and forwards, it can get confusing at times, keeping track of what is happening in each era.

Reading the novel, we see the differences over the years between the younger, more carefree attitudes of our scoundrels, compared to the more older and mature former heroes we see in the present. In his youth, Lando exudes his charm and confidence and flashes his winning smile on more than one occasion, but fast forward 15 years and he thinks he's finally found the one love of his life and is actually thinking about setting down with her! Younger Han on the other hand, is the typical rush gun ho into things without thinking Solo we know and love, but in the present of a decade or so later, he is struggling to come to terms with being a new father (to Ben Solo, who also makes a fleeting appearance) and a husband too. Middle age has indeed caught up with Han and Lando.

Aside from the change in character of our heroes over time, the story is pretty fast paced and has some thrilling action too. I liked the banter between the different groups of people that Han and Lando hang with. It was quite funny at times, and I loved the exchange between Han and a Gungan, but on the flip side there are also some pretty dark moments in the story, especially when we read chapters from the point of view of Fyzen Gor. That character is just not very nice at all!

Overall, it's a fun read that is packed with thrills, chills and a good dose of humour too. I wouldn't class it as the best in the Star Wars Canon series (that is still split between 'Lost Stars', 'Leia, Princess of Alderaan' and 'Phasma' for me), but it is by no means the worst. It'll also be interesting to see how much of what is in the book crosses over with or is hinted at in 'Solo: A Star Wars Story'.