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[ Star Wars Books & Comics ]
Staff Review.

[Empire and Rebellion: Honor Among Thieves]

Empire and Rebellion: Honor Among Thieves
Author: James S. A. Corey
Published: 2014

Reviewer: Ewan, Star Wars Books & Comics
Reviewed: 2014
Review rating: 4.5 / 5

Spoilers are kept to minimum however cannot guarantee spoiler-free.

Although publisher supplied copy for review purposes, all opinions are those of reviewer.

Publisher's Summary:
When the Empire threatens the galaxy’s new hope, will Han, Luke, and Leia become its last chance?
When the mission is to extract a high-level rebel spy from the very heart of the Empire, Leia Organa knows the best man for the job is Han Solo—something the princess and the smuggler can finally agree on. After all, for a guy who broke into an Imperial cell block and helped destroy the Death Star, the assignment sounds simple enough.
But when Han locates the brash rebel agent, Scarlet Hark, she’s determined to stay behind enemy lines. A pirate plans to sell a cache of stolen secrets that the Empire would destroy entire worlds to protect—including the planet where Leia is currently meeting with rebel sympathizers. Scarlet wants to track down the thief and steal the bounty herself, and Han has no choice but to go along if he’s to keep everyone involved from getting themselves killed. From teeming city streets to a lethal jungle to a trap-filled alien temple, Han, Chewbacca, Leia, and their daring new comrade confront one ambush, double cross, and firestorm after another as they try to keep crucial intel out of Imperial hands.
But even with the crack support of Luke Skywalker’s x-wing squadron, the Alliance heroes may be hopelessly outgunned in their final battle for the highest of stakes: the power to liberate the galaxy from tyranny or ensure the Empire’s reign of darkness forever.

"Honor Among Thieves, the second novel in the Empire and Rebellion series, penned by Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck (writing under the pen-name James S.A. Corey) stars Han Solo in the central role - it even sidelines Chewbacca to primarily guarding/repairing the Falcon while Han runs about. However, even with Chewie pushed aside this is a fine example of the characterization of Han Solo during the Classic period between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. This is not Han Solo post-Return of the Jedi who married Leia, fathered three Jedi children and became an upstanding citizen of the New Republic. This is a story of Han Solo the smuggler, Han Solo the rogue, Han Solo the scoundrel that we all remembered, loved and admired from the Original Trilogy.
"Right from the story's beginning Corey's characterization of Han is on the mark when it starts with Leia, on behalf of the Rebel Alliance leadership, hiring Han to locate one of the Alliance's missing spies. This is a Han unsure of his role in the Rebel Alliance and whether he should be helping them or not. This is also a Han still worried about the bounty Jabba has placed on him for dumping the Hutt's spice shipment prior to A New Hope and by accepting this commission he believes he could earn enough to at least pay Jabba in part. However when the intelligence he was given to locate the spy proves to be a lure by a former smuggler friend, Baasen Ray, now turned bounty hunter looking to capitalise on Han's bounty, it triggers Han to begin asking himself the moral what if? questions: what if he hadn't met Obi-Wan and Luke on Tatooine, would his life now be the same as Baasen's? Would he now also be a bounty hunter - taking whatever commission was offered? What would have become of Luke if Han hadn't intervened at the Battle of Yavin? What would happen to Leia if Han leaves? This is the characterization of Han Solo that Corey captures so brilliantly throughout this story.
"Baasen Ray is the first of several new Star Wars characters that are introduced to the Star Wars mythos in this book. So successfully does Corey incorporate them into this story that none of them require complicated or convoluted introductions: Baasen Ray is a former smuggler friend of Han; Scarlet Hark is an Alliance spy; Hunter Maas is a thief with delusions of grandeur; and Essio Galassian, an Imperial scientist, is the story's villain. Of these characters Essio is probably the weakest - being as he is introduced to the reader in the final part of the story. But it is Scarlet, the female spy, who captures the most interest as Corey creates an interesting dynamic between the Leia-Han and Scarlet-Han relationships. This story is set around two years before Leia and Han's "I love you", "I know" scene in The Empire Strikes Back and so whenever Leia, Scarlet and Han meet in the same scene there is a noticeable tension between all three that Corey plays to the full.
"At just shy of two-hundred and fifty pages this is a relatively short story but Corey maintains not only a fast-pace in the story telling but also a logical progression from act to act without the intrigue that requires back page-turning in other books. It may seem formulaic: find the spy, steal the plans, destroy the super-weapon; but the reader is left in no doubt throughout that this is Han's story as he decides his future at every turn. Not since Brian Daley's radio drama has the Han Solo of A New Hope been captured so well in print."

Empire and Rebellion: Honor Among Thieves by James S.A. Corey is available in hardback from Century Books in the UK and Del Rey in the US.




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