With the latest Star Wars movie, Solo, looking to cause a stir in the summer box office, it’s inevitable that there would be some sort of tie-in novel to add to the growing buzz. Daniel José Older‘s The Last Shot is a tale that wraps around the new movie, and also gives us a look at how Lando and Han’s lives pan out once they’ve stopped fighting the Empire.
The novel is set in three timelines. We have the ‘now’ timeline, which is set a few years after the events of Return of The Jedi, which will be familiar to anyone who’s read Star Wars Aftermath or Claudia Grey’s Leia novel, Bloodline). This forms the core story and the bulk of the adventure. The other timelines wrap around the movie Solo, with the narrative focusing on Lando just before the events of that movie and following Han and Chewie just after. This gives us a little glimpse into what the movie will be like, as well as a good idea what the sassy robot L4 is all about.
The books biggest flaw is also its greatest asset; it’s crammed with fannish glee. Older has filled the book with lovely ideas so much so that it can be a bit much. From the Gungan correcting Han on his language to an Ewok hacker who refuses to be talked down to and treated as ‘cute’, these are all excellent ideas and are very entertaining. However, lumped in with the shifting narrative it can sometimes be a bit tricky to track what’s going on. This is a book designed to be read in a small number of sittings, rather than diving in and out.
The pace is pretty frantic. We dash from scene to scene, character to character as the story gets increasingly more involved and more of a riot. Slow and steady scenes build up the tension until it seems, to the reader, that everything has gone wrong at once. The plot is a winding twisty thing, but essentially our heroes are up against someone who hates them. But being Han and Lando, that could be anyone in the galaxy. Both heroes are written with respect and humour. It’s a delight to see even Han’s ideas about how the galaxy works getting challenged and underlines the ‘they’re getting older’ narrative. It does this without becoming some sort of ‘Space Top Gear’, as Lando and Han are still incredibly likeable.Much in the same way that no one was expecting a Han Solo prequel, The Last Shot is a book filled with unexpected delights. We get more examination of how Han is coping as a father and a look into Lando’s sex life. He is, after all, one of the galaxy’s greatest lotharios, but even irresponsible lovers have to grow up sometime and Older can’t resist teasing the reader in this regard. Both characters get equal billing (indeed, the cover is reversible to reflect this), and the whole thing is just oodles of fun.
STAR WARS: LAST SHOT / AUTHOR: DANIEL JOSÉ OLDER / PUBLISHER: CENTURY / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW