Han Solo: The Paradise Snare

August 16, 2017 at 6:00 pm (Reads) (, , )

snareHan Solo: The Paradise Snare by A.C. Crispin

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Reading the Star Wars Legends books in chronological order has been an interesting approach. Since the original writers of the Expanded Universe were asked not to write anything preceding Episode IV, most of what I’ve read in the EU so far has been the books that were written near the end of the Legends project. It’s only now that I’m getting back to the books that were written in the ’90s, when the EU became a lucrative license again. The Paradise Snare was written in 1997, several years after the Thrawn trilogy, but still a couple of years before Episode I. Reading a book written before the events that preceded it presents its own challenges, reminding me that it’s usually better to read a series in written chronological order. At the very least, it’s strange to shift from a series of books about the Empire slowly taking over every planet in the galaxy to one planet that has no concern over the Empire.

The Paradise Snare takes us back to when Han Solo is about nineteen, making a break from being part of a thieves’ gang, and starting on his own adventures as a pilot. During the time this story occurs, Han entertains notions of being a pilot for the Imperial Navy, but he first has to learn more about piloting in general. He applies for a job on the planet Ylesia. It pays well, but it requires not asking too many questions about the jobs.

The story is more romance than adventure, as Han meets a young Corellian woman on Ylesia. It doesn’t take much for him to fall for her (or her for him), but Bria is involved with a religious cult that pervades the workers on Ylesia. In order for their relationship to progress, they have to get off of the planet, but that means (a) breaking Bria out of the cult, (b) stealing enough valuables to give them money for a new life together, (c) getting Han’s ever-present guard, Muuurgh, a giant cat, to agree to the plan, and (d) stealing a ship and getting past the guards around the planet. It’s a hefty plan, and one that’s set up rather well.

My main problems with the story were that I couldn’t understand what drove Han and Bria’s relationship, and that events coincided a little too easily for the plan to work out the way it did. I’ve mentioned before that there’s a lot of coincidence in the EU, which can usually be explained away by the Force, but here it didn’t quite work since the Force wasn’t a part of this novel at all. Anyone familiar with the EU knows about it, and may write off the coincidences as the Force at work, but by itself, the novel doesn’t give much to explain how everything comes together so neatly at the end of the main plot. I can accept it and move on with the story, but I have to acknowledge it as a sticking point.

Han and Bria make a nice couple, but beyond each of them finding the other attractive, there isn’t much there to explain why they get together. We get enough backstory on each of them to understand they feel a connection, but it’s not defined well enough to build their relationship. It feels superficial, and since the story is primarily about the two of them as a couple, it feels incomplete.

Crispin works hard to give us hints at the character Han will become — he’s jaded, works on his own, is fiercely loyal to his friends, and calls Bria “Honey” or “Sweetheart” almost exclusively — but I never felt like I was watching Han Solo. I get that he’s younger, and still growing into who he will become, but it was enough of a disconnect that I sometimes felt I was reading a novel set outside the world of Star Wars.

For all that being said, I was caught up in the story, and read the last half of the book over one sitting. Even if the events were too much of a coincidence, and even if the relationship felt shallow, Crispin still kept me engaged enough to feel the tension of the story. The main action ended about 100 pages from the end of the book, so there was more to tell outside of the planetbreak, but even then, I was hooked enough to want to see it through to the end.

The Paradise Snare reminds me more of Beverly Hills 90210 than Star Wars, but it’s still a decent enough read. Crispin’s style is natural and engrossing, and her action sequences are easy to follow, it just isn’t the kind of book I would expect for Star Wars. That point aside, though, this is a solid read and a nice segueway from the new EU to the classic EU.

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