The Solo hype train has come and gone but in spite of the movie’s under-performance at the box office, I loved it! It was a fun, action-packed heist and while I eagerly await it on DVD so I can watch it on repeat, having a new movie means we also get more tie-ins! Yay!
Today I’m going to be reviewing Last Shot by Daniel Jose Older, which is the first of several new canon books featuring Han, and more specifically in this case, Han and Lando together. This book hit shelves on April 27th as part of the lead-up to Solo. Unless I miss my guess, this is the first time we get Han and Lando together in the new canon materials (both make appearances in Wendig’s Aftermath trilogy but don’t actually get “screen time” together). When I started reading, I was pleasantly surprised to see this book was basically split between Han and Lando’s respective stories, as I had assumed the focus would mostly be on Han. The story focuses on Han and Lando trying to stop a madman bent on reprogramming all the droids in the galaxy into murderbots and weaves in earlier adventures that Han and Lando had (separately) to drop hints about exactly what happened in the past to lead to current events and how they can fix it now. Older introduces a host of new characters: Kaasha, Twi’lek freedom fighter and Lando’s lover; Taka, hot-shot pilot; Peekpa, Ewok slicer; just to name a few. The action takes us all over the galaxy and there’s a lot of action to be had; from space battles to creepy space creatures to gambling with life and limb.
I think one of the things I loved the most about this book is the emotional depth it gives to both Han and Lando, something we missed entirely in the Original Trilogy. We see Han struggling to find his place in a post-Empire galaxy, figuring out what it means to be a father, and get insight into his love for Leia. Lando is enjoying his success in business but feels like he is still missing something. We also get to see Han and Lando’s relationship explored, especially in one particularly poignant moment reflecting on the events in The Empire Strikes Back, something also never explored in the films. I also enjoyed seeing Han and Lando play the odd couple while trying to recruit members of their team and gather information.
Overall, I really enjoyed reading Last Shot. Not only was the story intriguing, but there were some nice moments that helped add a lot of emotional depth to the characters that we know and love. While some of the new character choices may prove divisive among fans, I was pleased at the diversity in the cast of characters and each character is distinct and adds increasing depth to a galaxy that we are still fleshing out. I am also grateful that Last Shot is able to fully flesh out L3 as character and give more insight into her motivations; I wanted more of her in Solo and was let down in that regard so I’m glad we have this tie-in material to get more L3. Reading this book before Solo definitely isn’t required (unless you want to get some more background on L3) but it makes a nice companion piece, as it should, to keep fleshing out characters we know and love.