The rebooted series of novels released as part of the new canon of Star Wars has to say the least been underwhelming. As I may have alluded to in the past the Expanded Universe had a richness depth and excitement the new books have yet to capture. I am unsure whether this is due to restrictions placed on authors by Disney or fault of the authors themselves. The authors are not the same ones from the Expanded Universe except perhaps Claudia Grey and of course Timothy Zahn, both of whom have suspiciously penned what I have considered the more successful of the new novels.
Star Wars Last Shot by Daniel Jose Older falls into the former category of lacklustre novels. The premise is good, a Han and Lando novel tying in some of what we learned in the Han Solo movie with elements that occurred following Return of the Jedi and family life with Han, Leia and Ben. What was delivered however was a disjointed affair. The books biggest flaw is the narrative style, one that is increasingly common in books these days, that of the parallel narrative.
In Last Shot, the novel is split between events 10-18 years ago and Now (Post-Return of the Jedi) what results is half the novel being slow and inconsequential and the other well-paced and engaging. In older storytelling, the fact we need to know would have been told in flashback but here like in others it runs along aside the main narrative leaching moment as it goes. We know the big bad escapes in the past or else he isn’t present in the future to be dealt with and this detracts from the plot. With linear storytelling the plot carries the narrative in a logical manner, perhaps my tired old brain is to blame and I can’t keep up the kids and their crazy jump around storytelling, although a similar technique is used by Zahn in Thrawn: Alliances, and whilst annoying it isn’t as jarring.
The characters Older creates are good and he gets Han and Lando’s voice. Taka the New Republic Agent and Peepka the Ewok slicer was a delight. I’ve always had a soft spot for the Stormtrooper bashing Teddy Bears that gains me much enmity from many Star Wars fans. The story, once straightened out, is an epic one involving a droid apocalypse but the impact of this is diluted by the writing style.
A good marker of a book is its ‘not putta-down-ability’ sadly I was able to leave this book unread for two weeks whilst I worked on another and even started Thrawn: Alliances, a book which much more ‘not put-downable’.
In conclusion, then I would say that this is a dependable and run of the mill novel firmly in the ilk of the current range of Star Wars novels. It is enjoyable and the story does fit into the overall ethos of the established canon. It is not a favourite read of mine and I would not have been missing much if I had given it a miss but lodged within it are little nuggets of information about the state of the New Republic and what happened post-ROTJ and as someone always wanting more these morsels did manage to feed that insatiable need.
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