3.5 / 4
3.1 / 4
Two years have passed since Jacen Solo, seduced by the dark side and reanointed as the brutal Sith Lord Darth Caedus, died at the hands of his twin sister, Jaina, Sword of the Jedi. For a grieving Han and Leia, the shadow of their son’s tragic downfall still looms large. But Jacen’s own bright and loving daughter, Allana, offers a ray of hope for the future as she thrives in her grandparents’ care. And when the eager, inquisitive girl, in whom the Force grows ever stronger, makes a curious discovery aboard her grandfather’s beloved spacecraft—the much overhauled but ever-dependable Millennium Falcon—the Solo family finds itself at a new turning point, about to set out on an odyssey into uncertain territory, untold adventure, and unexpected rewards.
To Han, who knows every bolt, weld, and sensor of the Falcon as if they were parts of himself, the strange device Allana shows him is utterly alien. But it’s confounding presence—and Allana’s infectious desire to unravel its mystery—are impossible to dismiss. The only answer lies in backtracking into the past on a fact-finding expedition to retrace the people, places, and events in the checkered history of the vessel that’s done everything from making the Kessel Run “in less than twelve parsecs” to helping topple an evil empire.
From the moment the Falcon broke loose from a Corellian assembly line like an untamed creature with a will of its own, it seemed destined to seek out trouble. It wasn’t lone before the feisty YT-1300 freighter went from shuttling cargo to smuggling contraband. But it’s a fateful rendezvous on Coruscant, at the explosive height of the Republic/Separatist uprising, that launches a galaxywide cat-and-mouse game whose newest players are Han, Leia, Allana, and C-3PO. And they’re not alone: Crime lords, galactic pirates, rogue politicians, and fortune hunters alike loom at every turn of the quest—each with his or her own desperate stake in the Millennium Falcon’s most momentous mission. Through the years and across the stars, from the Rim worlds to unknown points beyond, the race will lead them all to a final standoff for a prize some will risk everything to find—and pay any cost to possess.
After over thirty years, the history of one of Star Wars most iconic characters—since surely the Millennium Falcon is more than just a ship—is finally revealed. Early in the franchise’s history The Empire Strikes Back revealed that Han Solo had obtained the Falcon from Lando Calrissian, but Lando’s line “the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy” hinted that there was more to the ship’s history that had yet to be revealed. An early, obscure story pegging the Falcon as a prototype ship from the Millennium Corporation never stuck, and so fans were left to ponder the vessel's pre-Lando history for decades.
It’s certainly not every day that a major Star Wars mystery is revealed—now that the prequels have been released, most of the major unknowns in Star Wars such as Yoda’s species and how the Death Star plans were stolen (whoops, just kidding!) are likely to remain unknown. But James Luceno is the perfect person to tackle this story. Luceno was a close friend and collaborator of Brian Daley, the author who gave us a trilogy of Han Solo adventures, is a long time Star Wars author himself as well as an AKC certified continuity hound. Luceno blends the pulpy intrigue of the early Star Wars novels with the complex continuity built up by decades of integrated spin-offs, and does it well.
We see the Falcon’s birth, and follow its history to the events of Revenge of the Sith, where we learn that during her cameo in that film, the Falcon was a key part of a mysterious conspiracy involving a fantastic treasure. In the Legacy era, we see the Falcon’s pilot from the Clone Wars attempt to trace the vessel’s history forward, while Han and Allana work backward. Luceno does a very good job of inventing new and interesting stories about the Falcon, and has managed to incorporate most of the preexisting lore surrounding the ship into the story. (Though a few small tidbits are overlooked, such as the aforementioned comic story and the Falcon’s stint running Rafa life crystals in the Centrality.)
There are plenty of intriguing planets and characters introduced along the way, such as a Rebel-turned-beautician, a society that venerates lawyers, and a planet of would-be comedians. (Signage on this planet reads “Natasi Daala is Chief of State, so why give a poodoo?” Indeed.)
I do have to question this story’s place in the timeline. At this point, the novels are at a greater remove chronologically from the original trilogy than the original trilogy was from the prequels. To have a human character as the link between the prequel and Legacy era Falcon adventure and this new one strains credulity a bit for me. Of course, it’s nothing compared to Vector, but still…
It’s a pretty solid adventure story with a good bit of mystery attached, and Luceno adds plenty of subtle connections between the Falcon’s various owners and the main treasure hunt storyline. I was a little disappointed that this plot point lacked a conclusion, and I thought the christening of the Falcon was a little anticlimactic, but this novel is certainly a must-read for those wanting to know every detail about the Falcon’s history.
Wes: "You've never heard of the Millennium Falcon?"
Han Solo's indignation at Luke Skywalker's inquiry way back in the original Star Wars film is all the more understandable after reading James Luceno's new novel, Millennium Falcon.
As is probably obvious from the title and summary, the book is all about "The fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy." It tells the story of the Falcon, from its chaotic birth on a Corellian assembly facility, to the book's "present" when the vessel is still carting Han and Leia around, and everything in between.
Much of Millennium Falcon is told through flashbacks by the freighter's former owners. The actual plot of Han, Leia, and Allana deciding to investigate the Falcon's history after finding a mysterious device on board serves as little more than an excuse to tell these stories.
Each tale of the ship's exploits is usually entertaining and original, and we learn that the Falcon has been involved in almost every field imaginable, from providing relief to war-torn worlds as a medical vessel to a stint hauling cargo for a traveling circus. Rather than telling the story of the ship's history chronologically, or even in reverse chronology, Luceno does both so that the tale is finished somewhere in the middle of the Millennium Falcon's saga.
The plot for this novel seems more like something from the Bantam era published over a decade ago rather than the dark, more serious epics we've become accustomed to from Del Rey. The galaxy doesn't hang in the balance— the lives of the main characters involved in this book rarely do any balance-hanging.
For the most part, this seems like a welcome change, but the fact that there are no real risks in the story means there's also no payoff. The ultimate resolution to the forward-moving plot is both predictable and disappointing.
This probably sounds like more of a problem than it is, as Luceno doesn't really put any emphasis on the importance of this part of the story even if some of the characters involved are fixated on unraveling the mystery. The degree to which the plot hinges on coincidence makes it clear that we're not supposed to take it completely seriously and that this is just a nice, light adventure.
This is the story of the Millennium Falcon, and Luceno writes it very well. He effectively writes the ship with enough personality and appreciation for her from the viewpoints of the principle characters to carry it through.
Interspersed amongst the time-shifting storyline is a series of vignettes detailing Han Solo's love for the old freighter at various stages of their relationship. Though normally no longer than a page or two, I found these to be some of the most enjoyable sections of the book and actually wish there had been a few more.
What makes Millennium Falcon so much fun to read is the creativity James Luceno pours into each section, visiting new worlds like Holess where the population worships law and follows cases as a pseudo-religion, to Hijado with its fascinating society of long-lived humans whose outlook on life and time is similar to Vonnegut's Tralfamadorians.
While I enjoyed these little stories, however, I can also see how others would find them, and the book as a whole, boring.
The other point of interest in Millennium Falcon is its place in chronology as the first novel to take place after the events of Legacy of the Force, giving us our first glimpse of the galaxy after the Civil War and the death of Darth Caedus.
As he was able to do for the end of the eighteen-novel-series The New Jedi Order with his epic The Unifying Force, Luceno does as good a job as can be expected to mend a story that has become seriously deflated. Instead of brushing over the absurdity of choosing Daala as the Galactic Alliance's new Chief of State and pretending it makes sense, Luceno confronts the problem head-on, making it clear that nearly everyone in the Star Wars galaxy finds the idea of making one of the worst war criminals in history the Alliance's new leader as crazy as readers of the last series do.
There are also a few emotionally poignant moments in the novel in which Han, Leia, and Allana reflect on Jacen Solo's death and actually give some semblance of closure on Legacy of the Force, while other scenes provide some promising teasers that that series may actually have a point to it once we get into its sequel, Fate of the Jedi.
Overall, Millennium Falcon is a fun ride, but it would be hard to recommend this book to anyone but the most die-hard of Star Wars enthusiasts interested in the history of the famous ship (like me...). On the inverse, however, this is a book almost anyone familiar with the films could pick up and understand without having to read the dozens of novels that have taken place since the end of Return of the Jedi. What's transpired since is little more than the backdrop the story's main characters find themselves in when they make their journey through the Falcon's past.