A trilogy of novels written by A. C. Crispin part of the former Star Wars Expanded Universe
, now part of the Alternate Continuity Star Wars Legends
due to Disney and Lucasfilm establishing a brand new EU
to accommodate the Star Wars sequel trilogy.
As the title might suggest the story focuses on Han Solo
- The Paradise Snare (1997)
- The Hutt Gambit (1997)
- Rebel Dawn (1998)
, specifically on his adventures in the years leading up to A New Hope
as he goes from Street Urchin
and petty thief to Imperial pilot to the Loveable Rogue
we all know and love.
Confusingly this trilogy is the second
trilogy of books to focus on Han Solo's early life. Nearly twenty years earlier Brian Daley
had written The Han Solo Adventures
, three stand alone stories about Han's escapades as a smuggler. Crispin retroactively fitted Daley's books into her series so that they now canonically take place during Rebel Dawn
. So the chronology goes:The Paradise Snare
-> The Hutt Gambit
-> The beginning of Rebel Dawn
-> The Han Solo Adventures
-> The rest of Rebel Dawn
The Han Solo Trilogy provides examples of:
- Action Girl: Several, most notably Bria.
- Affably Evil: Crispin does the impossible and makes Jabba somewhat likable. Jabba seems to have a genuine soft spot for Han, he's better than most of his fellow Hutts at least, and they consider him deranged due to his fetish for humanoid females. Perhaps this is because Jabba is indeed ruthless, but also fair in his dealings with his underlings.
- Anti-Hero: Han is mostly a Type II, Bria starts as a Type I and ends up a Type IV.
- Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: How Garris Shrike meets his end. Han can't bring himself to shoot Shrike in cold blood, even though he knows that Shrike is a danger to him and he's trying to make himself pull the trigger. The problem is solved for him when another bounty hunter shoots and kills Shrike, so that he can collect the bounty on Han.
- Been There, Shaped History: Bria was part of the Rebel unit that stole the plans for the first Death Star, before transmitting them to Princess Leia's ship. The unit swallow poison pills to prevent imminent capture and interrogation by the Empire.
- Bizarre Alien Biology: Hutts, like slugs, (their closest real-world equivalent, which is also used as an insult for them) are hermaphrodites , with both male and female sex organs. After reproducing they identify as female, but apparently can go back to identifying as male later (as Durga and Jabba's parents do).
- Black and Gray Morality: The Rebels aren't nearly the paragons of virtue they are in the films, but several key members who canonically steer it in a more honorable direction haven't joined the movement yet, and they haven't even become the Rebel Alliance until the last book, with the unification of three major groups, so there's lots of different ones, and no one to give a What the Hell, Hero? speech if any of them go too far. In particular, the Corellian Resistance's Red Hand Squadron only gives no quarter to slavers, so it's more sympathetic than it might otherwise be.
- Bolivian Army Ending: Bria Tharen and her Red Hand Squadron. Boba Fett later confirms her death when he brings news of it to Han.
- Call Forward: Greedo is noted as being a terrible shot and an idiot who will most likely get himself killed.
- Cat Folk: The Togorians. As a nod to Real Life lions (although they actually come in all the colors and fur patterns of felines), the males are aggressive warriors while the females are intelligent, political plotters, and adept at mechanical and scientific endeavors. They also live separately most of the time, with males still hunting for food, and have different governments.
- The Chessmaster:
- Emperor Palpatine (as usual) who instigates the Imperial attack on the home system of the Hutts as well as its failure all in order to disgrace an Imperial Moff that was getting too big for his britches.
- Xizor, even more so: he exploits the ongoing war between the Desilijic and Besadii Hutt clans in order to basically perform a takeover of Besadii, granting him a priceless foothold in the Outer Rim.
- Code of Honour:
- Roa's Rules, which Han, Chewie, and their general crowd within the smuggling community try to live by. Some of the rules are just common sense (never play unless you're prepared to lose, always be prepared for a quick getaway, never pilot a ship under the influence), but others are moral imperatives (never ignore a call for help, never take from those who are poorer than yourself).
- Boba Fett has one as well. He considers himself a law-abiding being, but also tries to be honorable in his dealings with his clients, and at one point is shown trying to figure out how to respond to an offer from a Hutt not to honor a bounty to kill someone while still satisfying his code.
- The Hutts have a rudimentary one, though how much they live up to it fluctuates throughout the series. One of the rules, alluded to in the Hutt Council from Rebel Dawn, is that it's okay to exploit other species, but that better behavior is expected between Hutts.
- Continuity Nod: Dozens of them. Durga the Hutt (from Darksaber) is an important character as are several characters and locations from Dark Empire. There are even a few shout outs to the Marvel Star Wars comics.
- Cyanide Pill: Bria and Red Hand Squadron took fatal "lullaby" pills off page to avoid being tortured into giving up information by the Imperials if they had been captured.
- Deface of the Moon: Mako, a friend of Han's from the Academy, tried to deface the Imperial insignia on the nearby artificial moon but underestimated the power of the antimatter used and ended up destroying said moon.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Not a supernatural example, but the fact that Han kills a Hutt lord in The Paradise Snare raises some impressed eyebrows among those who've heard of it. Jiliac and Jabba respect him for having done it, since the Hutt in question was one of their competitors, but warn him not to let it become widely known that a human killed a Hutt and got away with it.
- Doomed by Canon: It is pretty obvious that Han and Bria are not going to end up together...
- The Dreaded: Black Sun and its leader Prince Xizor. Even the Hutts, among the most powerful criminal elements in the galaxy, are wary of it. Aruk repeatedly warns Durga against involving himself with them or being in their debt, and when speculating on whether or not he will, Jiliac says that she hopes not, as this would put her and Desilijic in direct confrontation with them.
- Driven to Suicide: Moff Sarn Shild kills himself after his fleet is defeated at Nar Shaddaa and he's been summoned for an inquiry on Coruscant, knowing that he's just delaying the inevitable otherwise.
- Duel to the Death: Durga challenges Jiliac after he learns she poisoned his parent. He manages to win despite her far larger girth.
- Early-Bird Cameo: In a sense. This trilogy marks the first appearance of Baron Soontir Fel-Crispin asked Michael Stackpole whether there were any good Imperial pilots available, and Stackpole came up with Fel, later featuring him in the X-Wing Series.
- Earth-Shattering Kaboom/Orbital Bombardment: The Imperial Moff running the sector orders a Base Delta Zero (total destruction operation) against Nar Shaddaa in The Hutt Gambit. The Hutts buy off the admiral in charge, who is separately ordered by Coruscant to withdraw at his earliest convenience to make the Moff look bad. Vader Force-chokes the admiral to death, ostensibly for accepting the bribe, to cover up the shady goings-on.
- The Fagin: Garris Shrike.
- Feuding Families: Desilijic and Besadii, the two most powerful Hutt crime families.
- From Camouflage To Criminal: The trilogy shows how Han was an officer in the Imperial Navy, and what happened to cause him to leave and begin a life of crime.
- Has a Type: Han with anti-Imperial revolutionaries. His first love Bria becomes one by the end of the trilogy, while another lover,Xaverri, is already one when he meets her, and, of course, Leia in the movies and later expanded universe.
- Heartbroken Badass: Han, after Bria leaves him at the end of the first book, oh so very much. Plays a big part in forming the cynical personality he's developed by the time we meet him in the movies.
- Heel–Face Turn: Muuurgh.
- Heroic Suicide: Bria and Red Hand Squadron take suicide pills to prevent the vital information they have being tortured out of them by the Imperials if they're captured.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Han and Chewbacca from the beginning of book 2 onwards. In lesser measure, Han and Lando.
- Historical Villain Upgrade: Durga. Much like Aaron Allston did for Warlord Zsinj in the X-Wing Series, Crispin took a one-dimensional villain created by another author and turns him into a more complex character.
- Insignia Rip-Off Ritual: Han went through this after he was court-martialed and cashiered for preventing a superior officer from killing Chewbacca when he was a rebellious slave (which also lets Chewie escape). When he dreams about it later, it ends with him attacking the officer who did it.
- It's Personal: All over the place.
- Being embarrassed by Lando (who injects him with his own hypnotic drug and then forces him to disarm himself and fly away) provokes this reaction from Boba Fett. He keeps this personal grudge separate from his work, however.
- Having Han Solo steal part of his collection, destroy part of his house, kill his boss, and run away with two of his slaves and one of his employees similarly provokes this reaction from Teroenza. He vows revenge and spends the rest of the trilogy trying to get it. Unlike Boba Fett, this very much interferes with his work.
- Durga's determination to find the murderer of his parent Aruk. When he finds the proof that Jiliac is behind it, he challenges her to a duel to the death.
- Bria Tharen's enslavement leaves her with this outlook towards slavers. Her unit develops a reputation for giving no quarter to slavers, and she leaps at the opportunity to destroy the Ylesia operation.
- Also Xaverri's attitude towards the Empire, for having killed her loved ones in the past. When Han offers her an opportunity to help defeat an Imperial fleet, she leaps at the chance.
- Lovable Rogue: Han of course, but also Lando and Mako.
- Love at First Sight: Han's reaction to seeing the Millennium Falcon for the first time. Being already a seasoned pilot and starship expert, he can tell immediately that it's been heavily modified and isn't the ordinary freighter it looks like. He never loses sight of the ship again, and acquires it the first chance he gets.
- Mad Oracle: Han, Chewie, and Mako encounter one during The Hutt Gambit, who claims that Han will face betrayal from those he trusts (Bria in Rebel Dawn, Lando in The Empire Strikes Back, Mako in Dark Empire, Zeen, Kid DXo'ln, Wynni and Ana Blue in The New Rebellion, and finally his own son in Legacy of the Force. She doesn't mention anybody by name, but stares at Mako, who's with him), will be rich but only after he no longer cares about it, will be a great warrior, and will do much for love. Han, of course, is skeptical (not to mention drunk), and has forgotten about it by the next day.
- Mama Bear: Dewlanna's response to Shrike attempting to beat Han to a bloody pulp is a good example of why you should never piss off a Wookiee.
- Master of Illusion: Xaverri, who makes a good living as a stage magician. Becomes a Chekhov's Skill when she is brought back towards the end of The Hutt Gambit, and creates the image of a heavily armed battle fleet around Nar Shaddaa in order to frighten and distract the approaching Imperial warships, helping the smugglers in their battle.
- Noodle Incident:
- During Han's painful memory of his Insignia Rip-Off Ritual he makes mention of his Corellian Bloodstripe (the red and yellow stripes that he wears down the seam of his pants). It's an honor given out by the government of Corellia so it's the only one he gets to keep, but we're never told just what he did to earn it. Even in later novels we're never told what happened except that it was a very harrowing and painful experience that happened over several days. Furthermore there are two classes (Red for First Class and Yellow for Second Class) of Bloodstripes and he's earned them both.
- Notably the Noodle Incident mentioned in The Empire Strikes Back happens in Rebel Dawn (where Lando appears furious at Han when they meet again over "that stunt you pulled"). The Corellian Resistance screws Han and his smuggler pals out of their share of the treasure owed to them in the raid on Ylesia, even turning their guns on them, because they need it to fund their search for the Death Star plans, along with the rebellion in general. To Lando and the others, it looks like Han was complicit in the betrayal rather than also being a victim of it himself, because Han was the one who brought them the Corellian Rebels' proposal in the first place.
- Not Staying for Breakfast:
- In a gender-flipped version of the usual trope, Bria does this to Han at the end of The Paradise Snare. Doubles as an I Want My Beloved to Be Happy moment, since she's doing it because she's afraid of being a drag on Han's life and preventing him from fulfilling his dreams and joining the Imperial Starfleet. That doesn't make Han feel one bit better about it, though.
- Han himself pulls this on his girlfriend Salla during Rebel Dawn, mostly to avoid marrying her. In his defense, he'd tried multiple times to explain that he wasn't ready for marriage, only for her to dismiss his concerns as pre-wedding jitters and going ahead with the wedding plans.
- Parental Substitute: Dewlanna, who watched over Han on the Trader's Luck, and sacrificed her life to help him escape.
- Path of Inspiration: The Cult of The One and The All, created by the Besadii Hutt clan and run by the T'landa Til, who use their mating call to ensnare "pilgrims" for slave labor.
- Prequel: Leading up to when Han first meets Luke and Obi Wan in A New Hope.
- Private Military Contractors: Black Sun has at least one such company under its control, which it makes available to Durga in Rebel Dawn to protect Besadii's operation on Ylesia. (The Hutts normally rely on Gamorrean mercenaries, who are much less effective).
- Psychic Strangle: Darth Vader executes Admiral Winstel Greelanx this way for accepting the Hutts' bribe.
- Releasing from the Promise: Defied.
- Han tries to do this, saying he won't hold Chewie to his life debt, but Chewie tells him he doesn't have the right to. Later Han relents after Chewie saves his life in a bar fight.
- Notably, this comes up again later, after Chewbacca's marriage - Han doesn't try to release him so much as just assume that this means he's been released, as his new duties would obviously take precedence over a life debt. This nearly causes a minor meltdown from Chewie's new wife, who takes it as an insult to her husband that Han would think he'd abandon his life debt.
- Running Gag: Anytime Kibbick the Hutt is mentioned it is pointed out that he is an idiot.
- Slavery Is a Special Kind of Evil: A view shared by the protagonists throughout the series. Han runs away from his first job as a pilot for the Besadii Hutts when he discovers that their main business is slavery (freeing a slave he'd fallen in love with in the process); later he's cashiered from the Imperial Navy after freeing another slave from his brutal Imperial taskmaster (Chewbacca, who escapes to pledge Han a life debt for it); and specifically only accepts a job smuggling for Jabba after he's made it clear that he will never transport slaves for him. Bria and Chewbacca, being former slaves themselves, naturally share this outlook which is a big part of the reason Bria joins the Rebellion, but contempt for slavery is widespread even beyond that-Lando's way of expressing contempt for bounty hunters, for instance, is that they're "on a level with slavers." Given that the protagonists and their friends are all drug smugglers, con artists, and other "scoundrels," arguably a case of Even Evil Has Standards.
- The So-Called Coward: Lando, being primarily a gambler, con man, and ladies' man, occasionally gets this treatment from those who don't know better. Boba Fett is genuinely shocked when Lando, offered a chance to escape him, refuses to take it unless his other prisoner (Bria Tharen) is also released.
- Sound-Only Death: Vader Force-choking Greelanx for taking a bribe and throwing the battle of Nar Shaddaa.
- Space Pirates: Recurring throughout the trilogy. In The Paradise Snare, some of them are hired by Desilijic to attack Besadii spice shipments, with Han barely escaping one of the raids. In The Hutt Gambit, a pirate fleet commanded by Drea Renthal is hired by the smugglers to help them defend Nar Shaddaa from Imperial attack. In Rebel Dawn, the same fleet attacks a star liner carrying Boba Fett and his captives, Lando and Bria: because of her past relationship with Lando, she pressures Fett into releasing them.
- The Starscream:
- Teroenza, towards the Besadii clan. Not at first, but being unappreciated by his superiors, having an idiot as his immediate boss, being frustrated in his desire for revenge against Han Solo, and realizing that he can run the Ylesia operation perfectly well without oversight leads him to become this: when Desilijic offers him a chance to turn on Aruk, he jumps at the offer.
- Sarn Shild, the Imperial governor of the sector including Hutt space, is this towards Emperor Palpatine, dreaming of breaking the Outer Rim off from the Empire to become an independent nation, and possibly even then conquering the rest of the galaxy. Unfortunately, Palpatine is aware of his ambition and sets him up for a fall.
- Start of Darkness: Mako Spince is a pretty likable character here. In fact, he's one of the heroes of the story. In the third book, however, he gets captured by Space Pirates, tortured, and crippled for life. When Han and Lando visit him, he refuses to speak to them and makes it clear by his body language that he wants them to leave. When he next encounters Han years later, he sells his old friend out to The Empire. Not because he's under any pressure to do so as Lando was in Empire, but just for credits.
- The End of the Beginning: Naturally enough Rebel Dawn ends with Han sitting in a seedy bar in some backwater agonizing over how he's going to find the money to get Jabba off his back, only for Chewie to come over and tell him there's this old man and a kid who want to book passage someplace...
- Wave Motion Gun: According to these novels, blasters have an Overload setting, which allows them to destroy vehicles, but carries the risk of the weapon exploding. The same setting also allows them to be used as grenades in a pinch.
- Would Hurt a Child: Jabba, and not just any child, but his infant cousin.