Lando Calrissian and the Flamewind of Oseon

August 31, 2017 at 6:00 pm (Reads) (, , )

lando2Lando Calrissian and the Flamewind of Oseon by L. Neil Smith

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When I started my Star Wars reading project, I was determined to read all the books, good or bad. Well, I’ve certainly stumbled right into the “bad” spectrum with these Lando Calrissian books. It’s no surprise that the Exanded Universe books took until the early ’90s to get going, because if these books represented the non-movie stories of the Star Wars universe, it deserved a quick death.

Aside from the titles of these books, which seem to have been created with combining random words from the dictionary and a box of Alpha-Bits, the stories are as dull as a fake sword. There are hints that Smith understands the character of Lando as he’s presented in the movies, but then he has him be mostly passive about the events and let outside influences move him forward. Vuffi Raa, his sidekick, is the one who keeps Lando moving forward (and alive), since Lando is mostly interested in playing Sabacc and smoking cigars.

The Flamewind of the title is (I think) a solar-system-wide aurora that can have detrimental effects on beings who travel through it, so the main plot is that Lando has to fly through it to accomplish a mission he’s been forced into. The antagonist from the previous novel appears again, suggesting that the entire trilogy will have him as a recurring plot, and he’s a central part of this book’s plot. It doesn’t help that he’s a Snidely Whiplash sort of character, all but twisting his mustache as he laughs maniacally. It’s a bit heavy handed; give me a character with nuance and substance, not cliched traits.

As before, there’s almost no characterization to the book, and there’s far too much telling going on. Smith continues to reference too many real-world things, though that may be due to it being written so early in the Expanded Universe, before terms like “transparisteel” replaced “glass” and “death sticks” replaced “cigarettes”. Still, it’s odd, and breaks the illusion of the story, when he has a spacecraft complete what he calls, “in another time and place”, the Immelman turn. I feel like the author is either showing off how much he knows about aerial maneuvers, or bring lazy and telling us what happens instead of describing the move.

The books don’t even feel much like Star Wars, since there’s no mention of much to connect us to the movies. Lando’s name, as well as a few references to the Empire and the Emperor, are it. There’s no Force, no rebel alliance, nothing to remind us that this is the Star Wars universe. On the one hand, it’s refreshing, since we rarely see non-Jedi characters as the focus of the EU; on the other hand, these books are so boring and tedious that it’s not worth reading them.

About the only think I like about these stories is Vuffi Raa, who feels more like a human character than Lando does. There’s a part of me that’s hoping Vuffi will become Lobot in the third book, tying the two trusted sidekicks together, but I get the feeling Smith isn’t concerned with that kind of thing. Instead, we’ll get paragraphs of pointless description and plots as thin as an after-dinner mint.

Seriously, these books aren’t worth reading. They might have been more interesting had I read them during their time, but in retrospect, they represent the worst of science fiction. Even people who feel the need to read all of the EU books should skip these.

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