Review: Star Wars – Empire and Rebellion – Honour Among Thieves / Author: James S.A. Corey / Publisher: Century / Release Date: March 27th
Star Wars: Empire and Rebellion: Honour Among Thieves focuses on everyone’s favourite “scruffy looking nerf-herder" Han Solo. Shortly after the events of A New Hope, Han and Chewie are sent on a mission into the heart of the Empire to extract a high-level rebel spy. But when Han locates the brash agent, Scarlet Hark, she’s determined to stay behind enemy lines to pursue a pirate who plans on selling stolen secrets, which the Empire would destroy entire worlds to protect. Han finds he has no choice but to go along if he’s to keep everyone involved from getting themselves killed.
Authors Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, writing as James S. A. Corey, have created a fun, adrenaline-fuelled adventure and they cleverly reveal a side to the cocky smuggler that we’ve not really seen before – Han’s insecurity about his place in the universe. As a man who despises authority, he is constantly at odds with himself about his involvement with the Rebel Alliance. He believes that should the Rebels triumph over the Empire then the universe would just be trading one authoritarian regime for another. We see a jaded view of civilised order through Han’s eyes and this is captured perfectly in his description of the glimmering, pristine Imperial city on Cioran, with its automated parks, streets that are too clean, and bars where the customers speak in hushed tones, huddled over their drinks. This type of orderly world is the “small bowel” of the Empire. This is a more contemplative Han Solo, raising interesting moral questions in which the very nature of freedom and the choice of how one wants to live their life are at stake. This approach works spectacularly well and is in no way detrimental to the character as it reveals just what a complex man Han actually is and we witness the subtle beginnings of a shift from selfish smuggler to selfless hero.
The pacing of the novel is masterful and the authors have managed to combine action, drama and humour wonderfully. The style of writing is so descriptive, so vivid and so alive that you forget that you’re reading printed words on paper thanks to the images that are conjured in your mind. Han’s dialogue is particularly witty, and the writing mimics his tone perfectly. Adding a complexity of thought and action to a classic character like Han Solo makes what could be just a fun but ultimately throwaway novel so much more rewarding.