Author: James S. A. Corey
Publisher: Del Rey
Release date: March 4, 2014
This review contains minor spoilers.
The Empire and Rebellion trilogy, a series of novels focusing on each of the Big Three OT characters and written by newcomers to the Star Wars Expanded Universe, got off to somewhat of a rough start with last year’s Razor’s Edge by Martha Wells. While the book was by no means terrible, it was decidedly bland and dashed many fans’ hopes for a fun Leia-centric novel. The second book, however, kicks things up more than a few notches with an entertaining, exciting Han Solo tale in the vein of the classic Brian Daley novels.
Under the pen name James S. A. Corey, authors Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck manage to return fans to the classic Han Solo novels of old, complete with bounty hunters and an ancient superweapon that could crush the Rebellion with one swift stroke. The duo delve deep into the mind of everyone’s favorite smuggler, forcing him to deal with a number of issues, including his feelings for Leia, his former life, his continued work with the Rebellion and the difference between it and the Empire, and much more.
As in Razor’s Edge, Luke Skywalker and Chewbacca are sidelined in favor of Han, Leia, and a handful of new characters. However, this time around it feels much more natural. Luke’s absence during the middle stretch of the book is barely noticed, while Chewbacca, a constant presence, is generally stuck waiting aboard the Millennium Falcon, ready to help Han at a moment’s notice.
As one would hope given nature of the book, the character of Han is very well-written. It’s easy to picture Harrison Ford in your mind’s eye, particularly in one scene early on which perfectly captures the character’s portrayal in A New Hope. Many of the other characters are fun to read as well. Scarlett Hark, a beautiful and smart Rebel spy, is a great newcomer who adds an interesting dynamic – especially when Leia is around – while Han’s former friend Baasen Ray provides a fascinating counterpoint to Han, showing what could have been. Strangely, two of the characters – Lieutenant Sololo and Essio Galassian – have last names which are oddly similar to classic smugglers.
The ancient technology that the Empire and the Rebels are after harkens back to the superweapons of old; impossibly powerful and ultimately a one-shot in the EU. The device is never formally named and the specifics of how it works are obscured behind the excuse that it’s an ancient alien technology, however it does share some similarities with other smaller-scale technologies. To their credit, Abraham and Franck actually attempt to explain how the Bantam-era one-and-done superweapons could be so powerful yet so easily forgotten.
Empire and Rebellion: Honor Among Thieves is, as of this writing, the penultimate novel on Del Rey’s publishing timeline. With the as-yet-unnamed final installment of the trilogy – focused on Luke and penned by Kevin Hearne – set for January 2015 and the Sword of the Jedi series indefinitely on hold, Honor Among Thieves and the recently-released Maul: Lockdown might very well be the only Star Wars novels we get this year. Thankfully, Honor Among Thieves is a great one, second only to Kenobi in the 2013-2014 Expanded Universe.
James S. A. Corey manages to tell a delightful tale filled with a fun plot, entertaining characters, and great descriptions that draw you in and bring the world to life. Fans of all sorts are sure to enjoy Empire and Rebellion: Honor Among Thieves.
Advanced Review Copy (ARC) courtesy of Del Rey. All staff members can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.