About a year after A New Hope, a Rebel spy named Scarlet Hark who had been out of contact for months signals for extraction, and Han Solo is sent to retrieve her. But when he finds Scarlet, he's drawn into her mission. An Imperial astrocartographer has stumbled upon a secret that could change the course of the war, and Scarlet is determined to get the Rebellion there first. Evading Imperials and bounty hunters, Han, Scarlet, and Chewbacca chase down leads and race the Empire across the galaxy.
Honor Among Thieves is the second of the planned Empire and Rebellion trilogy of novels set during the Original Trilogy era, designed to evoke the feel of classic Star Wars, starring (in order) Leia, Han, and Luke. Heir to the Jedi was intended to be the third, but Disney's Continuity Reboot of the Expanded Universe interrupted this plan. Razor's Edge and Honor Among Thieves were deemed to be Legends works, and Heir to the Jedi was rewritten to be one of the first stories in the new Star Wars Expanded Universe. Honor Among Thieves therefore holds the distinction of being the last novel published in the Legends continuity.
Also included is "Silver and Scarlet," a short story narrated by Scarlet Hark on one of her other Rebel spy missions.
Honor Among Thieves contains examples of the following tropes:
- Ascended Meme: Leia is surprised when Han advocates against killing a large swamp-dwelling creature on Seymarti (he can tell it's herbivorous), because she "always took you as a shoot-first sort of fellow."Han: Oh, trust me. I am if you're waving a blaster in my face.
- Bilingual Backfire: Han pretends that Scarlet's breakfast delivery order is his own, so he can get her address off the label, and is pushy about it to the Twi'lek restauranteur. She tells the cook he's a "nerf's behind" in her own language, then apologizes for the delay. Han is of course much more familiar with Twi'lek than his disguise as an Imperial officer would suggest, and he repeats the phrase in Basic, but in a friendly manner to apologize for his ruse.Han: Just wrap it up when it's ready, and I'll take it. I mean, I don't want to be a nerf's behind about the whole thing.
- Bookends: The first and last chapters both open with poetic passages about the vastness and emptiness of the galaxy; for all that the stars teem with light and life, there is far more empty space between them.
- Bounty Hunter: Baasen Ray is a former smuggler and colleague of Han's, who has turned to bounty hunting after smuggling work dried up. Specifically, he is after the price placed on Han's head by Jabba the Hutt, and in fact convinced Jabba to pay a portion in advance by claiming he'd already captured Han and needed funds to get him back to Tatooine. He's desparate to get his hands on Han, lest Jabba come after him next. For all that, Han is able to convince him to join forces by promising greater rewards from the device everyone is after.
- Bright Is Not Good: In the swamps of Seymarti, a large, brightly colored butterfly-like insect lands on Sunnim's shoulder. Despite Han's warning, everyone else is captivated by the beautiful creature, and as soon as Sunnim touches it, it stings him in the neck before Han can blast it. Sunnim dies within minutes from the powerful venom. This is explicitly contrasted with a large, ugly, and dangerous-looking mud-dwelling creature encountered just before, which Han advocates against killing because he can tell it's an herbivore. In an alien swamp, muddy camouflage, many wide-set eyes, and flat teeth indicate a peaceful creature, while jewel-bright wings and graceful movements denote danger.Han: When something hangs out in an environment as dangerous at this in bright, eye-catching colors, it's because it's the meanest thing in the jungle. The brightness is a warning, not an invitation.
- Call-Back: Hunter Maas hides his important information, not in the high-tech safe in his room, but in the R3 astromech droid sitting unassumingly in the corner. Leia is one of the first characters to figure it out, and is the one to extract the information, because of her previous experience hiding info in astromechs.
- Plans for a Rebel base are scrapped due to the detection of Imperial probe droids in the system, and Hoth is among the candidates for a replacement. No one is especially excited about the prospect of building a base on that ice ball, but the other possibilities are at least as bad.
- The Millennium Falcon takes quite a beating over the course of the story, and Han grouses that eventually his and Chewie's patchwork repairs aren't going to be enough and the ship will just refuse to work right, which is the situation they find themselves in during The Empire Strikes Back.
- Climbing Climax: Han and Scarlet infiltrate an Imperial Intelligence data center to determine what happened to the files Scarlet had been trying to steal. When they get the data, the place is alerted, leaving them high in a skyscraper with a hundred floors full of troops below them and only twenty fairly empty floors above. So they go up. When they reach the roof, they keep climbing, onto a towering antenna, as stormtroopers fire upon them. Han calls Chewbacca, and they leap from the antenna into the Millennium Falcon as it does a flyby.
- Collapsing Lair: After Han sabotages the No Warping Zone device, the controls for which are hanging from the underside of the Hollow World Seymarti's crust, the force fields holding the crust up from the core begin fluctuating and failing. Han, Leia, and Scarlet have to escape back up through the crust to the surface, then climb up the pyramid housing the entrance to the lair to where there's enough room for the Falcon to pick them up, before the entire world breaks apart and falls into the core. Chewie doesn't get the Falcon there in time, and Luke has to carry them on the outside of his X-wing as the ground crumbles away under them, until Chewie can reach them.
- Establishing Character Moment: Hunter Maas is introduced being chased and fired upon by an Imperial scout ship. As the Millennium Falcon approaches to intervene, Han calls Maas and tells him he's here to help him get safely to dock. Hunter Maas's reply? "You are doing a terrible job."Han's mouth shut with a click. "Be there in a second," he said, then shut off the headset microphone. "Chewie, get us over there before this guy makes me want to watch him die."
- Hidden Depths: Leia and Scarlet are surprised when Han, who has been having trouble articulating why he's supporting the Rebel cause even after he got his payday in A New Hope, prevents Scarlet from shooting a large swamp monster because he can tell it's not dangerous. Leia is surprised that Han would care, and he explains that partnering with a Wookiee has given him an appreciation for the rights of scary-looking creatures to live. Later, after he implodes the entire planet they're on to keep the No Warping Zone device out of the Empire's hands, he expresses regret at having to kill all the innocent creatures on the planet.Leia: You keep doing that. Surprising me.
Han: I'm a complicated man. Many layers to me.
- Holding the Floor: When Han and Chewie have been captured by Baasen Ray and his crew, Chewie works out a trick to weaken his binders so he can force them open. While he strains, Han stands up, engages Baasen in conversation and reminiscences, attempts to turn Baasen's men against him, and generally keeps all the attention on himself until Chewie is free and able to start tossing foes about.
- Hollow World: The planet Seymarti has had its mantle completely emptied out; the crust is held up away from the core by incredibly powerful force fields left by the K'kybak. This is implied to have been necessary to generate the anti-hyperspace field. To keep said field out of the Empire's hands, Han disrupts the force fields and implodes the planet.
- Linked List Clue Methodology: Han spends an entire night (and all of Chapter 6) searching for Scarlet Hark after her message drop was compromised before he could reach it. He knows which local criminal betrayed her, but not where he is, so he gets the address of a known associate, who says he's with his girlfriend. But she's already broken up with him, so Han steals her datapad with his contact info. The criminal doesn't know where Scarlet is, but knows a Rebel sympathizer who does. But, Scarlet has already abandoned her apartment, so Han breaks in. The trash indicates she orders the same meal delivered every morning, so he goes to the restaurant and gets her hotel room off that morning's order.
- Literal Disarming: Baasen Ray is about to shoot Chewbacca when Han gets to a dropped blaster first and shoots the other's gun hand clean off. When Baasen reappears later, he's placed a metal cap over the stump.
- Mauve Shirt: Sunnim, Baasen Ray's rather cowardly and dimwitted Bothan pilot and thug, stays with Baasen as he joins Han's party and they travel to Seymarti, only to die when a venomous but very pretty insect stings him, demonstrating Han's point about big ugly creatures often being less dangerous than small, colorful ones.
- Mugged for Disguise: A junior Imperial officer attempts to detain Han and Chewie, but is really no match for them, and swiftly finds himself dazed and naked in an alley. Han uses the man's uniform and gear to throw his weight around on Cioran as he searches for Scarlet Hark. The poor-fitting uniform and Han's nonregulation haircut make the disguise less than perfect.
- No Man Should Have This Power: Han argues against the Rebellion taking control of the No Warping Zone device. Even though, as Leia says, it would end the war completely, Han points out that eventually, someone who couldn't be trusted with such power would rise to the top of the New Republic, and set up another evil empire which could never afterward be stopped. Leia eventually sees the sense of this, which is handy for Han, since he'd already sabotaged the device before she agreed to it.
- No Warping Zone: The Empire may have Interdictor cruisers that can generate artificial mass shadows, preventing ships from jumping to hyperspace in the vicinity, but such things are local and can be evaded. After fighting off a planetary invasion millions of years ago, the K'kybak of Seymarti found a way to completely cut off access to hyperspace in their entire solar system; hyperdrives just refuse to work and give unspecified error messages anywhere in the area. The K'kybak civilization lived out its existence without ever being troubled by an outside aggressor again.
Nowadays, the Seymarti system has a Bermuda Triangleesque reputation of causing ships to disappear, which is due to the K'ybak device still activating intermittently. The Empire finds out about this and, believing the field could be moved and expanded to cover the galaxy, moves to take control of it. It is this that Scarlet is after on behalf of the Rebel Alliance, for anyone who could control which ships have access to Faster-Than-Light Travel could rule the galaxy utterly and completely. The power of the Seymarti device proves to be oversold when it's discovered that it's built into the planet itself and can't be moved. There is still the possibility that the anti-hyperspace field could be expanded outside of the Seymarti system, and Han, believing that No Man Should Have This Power, destroys the planet to keep it out of Imperial and Rebel hands alike.
- Offscreen Moment of Awesome: In what must be one of the actions that creates Rogue Squadron's legendary reputation, Leia sends Luke and his understrength group of X-wings (not yet known as the Rogues) against an Imperial Star Destroyer and its wing of TIE fighters, intending only to have them distract the Imperials while the Falcon sneaks past. The X-wings shoot the Star Destroyer down, somehow. Luke doesn't check back in with Leia until afterward.
- Orbital Bombardment: To prevent Hunter Maas from selling the location of the No Warping Zone device at a conference of anti-Imperial elements, the Empire sends ten Star Destroyers to the planet Kiamurr. They already have the location, so rather than land troops to capture Maas, the Destroyers begin blasting Talestin City with their turbolasers. The scale of destruction is incredible, especially when the Destroyers fire into the nearby mountainside and send enormous boulders raining down on the city. Han, Leia, and Scarlet barely escape with the data and their lives. Han, well aware that this is coming, makes several references to the stupidity of even being on the same continent as Maas, and can't believe Leia isn't sounding a general alarm as soon as she learns of it. Leia doesn't want Maas to disappear before she can acquire his data, though the deaths that result weigh on her.
- Parrot Pet Position: Capping off Hunter Maas's ridiculous outfit is a rat-bird perched on his shoulder that mutters nonsense phrases in several languages. After he is killed, it starts eating him.
- Shadow Archetype: Baasen Ray, for Han, made explicit after his death. Baasen was once a fellow smuggler and a friend of Han, though they had a falling out, and a run of poor luck turned Baasen into a cynical bounty hunter willing to turn his former friend in to Jabba. After he is shot in the process of killing the Big Bad Galassian, Han muses that he could have easily turned out like Baasen, if he hadn't taken a certain charter to ferry an old man and a kid to Alderaan.
- Single-Biome Planet: Seymarti is a swampy jungle world. There are vast brown oceans and forests with trees that support leaves the size of starships.
- Small Name, Big Ego: Hunter Maas is a small-time thief and gunrunner who carries himself as a man of great importance. He dresses outrageously, hits on beautiful women ineptly, and speaks of himself only in the third person. But he lucked into a score big enough—Galassian's notes about the No Warping Zone device, and the map to find it—that everyone he deals with has to treat him with the respect he doesn't deserve, so that he might sell it to them. Eventually it gets him killed when he runs into Baasen Ray, who has no patience for his posturing.Hunter Maas: Hunter Maas has no enemies. He has only admirers and the jealous.
- Sue Donym: Needing a quick-and-dirty alias to call the Imperial data center for information, Han goes with, "Lieutenant Hannu Sololo." When Scarlet fabricates a fake ID for their infiltration, they keep the name for some reason.
- Switching P.O.V.: The entire story is in third-person limited narration from Han's point of view, except for Chapter 6. As Han searches for Scarlet Hark in the guise of an Imperial officer on Cioran, every interaction he has with one of the locals is shown from the other's point of view, as they are intimidated, charmed, and/or exasperated by this oddly scruffy lieutenant. Scarlet's own POV is shown when he finally finds her.
- Tempting Fate:
- Faced with a mission to Cioran, a heavily Imperial core world, Han remarks to Chewie that at least there won't be any of Jabba the Hutt's thugs after them there. He is, of course, incorrect.
- Han's learned his lesson by the time he meets Scarlet and she expresses optimism after the first part of their infiltration goes well. Han promptly tells her off.Scarlet: See? No problem.
Han: Saying "no problem" is a sure sign that everything is about to go terribly wrong.
Scarlet: I'm so glad I brought you along to tell me these things.
- Third-Person Person: Hunter Maas has such a serious case of Small Name, Big Ego that he never refers to himself except by his full name.
- Walking Shirtless Scene: Hunter Maas swaggers around wearing tight black leather pants and a red cape over a bare chest, acting as if he has the physique to pull off the look, instead of scrawny arms and a potbelly.
- We Need a Distraction:
- Chewbacca is already attracting stares just by being a Wookiee on an Imperial world, so just to ensure that all eyes are on him, Han suggests he sing while Han retrieves Scarlet's instructions on how to contact her from a nearby fountain. Chewie very grudgingly complies.
- In order for the Millennium Falcon to land on Seymarti without the Star Destroyer in orbit shooting it down, Luke and his Red Wave squadron of X-wings engage the Star Destroyer in battle while the Falcon sneaks past on minimal power. Afterward, the X-wings conduct an airstrike on the Imperial ground troops so Han's party can get past them, again.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Han convinces Chewie to stay with the Falcon on Seymarti by pointing out that his fur would get muddy in the swamp, and also there will be snakes. Surprisingly, it's that last point that seals the deal.