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Star Wars: Millennium Falcon by James Luceno
Cover Artist: John Van Fleet
Review by Drew Bittner
Del Rey Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780345507006
Date: 21 October 2008 List Price $26.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

"What a piece of junk!"

With those immortal words, sputtered from an incredulous Luke Skywalker, moviegoers were introduced to the Millennium Falcon, pride and joy of smuggler Han Solo and "the fastest ship in the galaxy."

It's become one of the best-known ships in science fiction... but Han Solo was not its first owner. Star Wars fans know he won the ship from Lando Calrissian--but who owned it before that? What adventures did the Falcon have before Solo took the pilot's seat?

In Star Wars: Millennium Falcon, James Luceno takes readers on a trip through time and space, exploring the history of this fabled tramp freighter. Han Solo and Leia, heartsick over a recent loss and hoping to spend quality time with their newest relative Allana, set out to track the Falcon's history. At the same time, a pilot named Jadak, revived from an impossible 40-year coma, moves to complete his final mission for the pre-Rebellion Republic Group: one that involves the Falcon and a great treasure.

Han, Leia and Allana backtrack from the present, getting clues from Lando Calrissian that send them on to previous owners--including a circus, an itinerant doctor and a ship-thief--while Jadak follows the trail from his days piloting the Falcon to an improbable partnership.

But where does a famous lawyer and his stunning associate fit into this? And what secret is carried by the Millennium Falcon--a secret that pre-dates the Rebellion?

Luceno makes clever use of cut-scenes here and there, including the Falcon's pyrokinetic debut on the assembly line, as well as taking the reader to new worlds and societies. One such is a world that idolizes legal proceedings; another is a rural backwater world passed over when trade never materialized. All of these are portrayed with a richness that shows Luceno's great skill in world building.

By now, portrayals of Han Solo and Leia would seem to be cookie-cutter easy, but Luceno pulls more out of these characters through ingenious moments in and around the ship itself. There are resonant moments where Chewbacca is remembered, bits and pieces from many past stories (including some very early Star Wars fiction by L. Neil Smith and Brian Daley) are incorporated seamlessly--and the heroes are allowed to mourn some fairly significant losses from the recent past. While the action hurtles forward, Luceno does a great job of never losing the human thread that ties the characters together.

Beyond that, he enriches the character of the Falcon itself, building a meta-narrative about the ship and its quirky, contrary, even heroic personality. The ship truly takes on a life of its own, distinct from being the property of a scruffy smuggler and his Wookiee comrade. In the Star Wars universe, as we've seen so often, even the inanimate can become more than it seems.

Offering plenty of Easter eggs for longtime fans, as well as a great history of the fastest "piece of junk" in the galaxy, Star Wars: Millennium Falcon is a must-have for Star Wars fans of all ages.

Recommended.

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