“Last Shot: A Han and Lando Novel” by Daniel José Older, is an interesting look Han Solo’s past as well as a lovely bridge between the original trilogy and “The Force Awakens.” Why does he leave Leia and Ben? Why does he go off on his own? Why is he so unstable? Lando Calrissian gets examined as well. What happens when a ladies man and inveterate gambler starts growing up, or at least getting older? The book explores this against the back drop of an exciting story involving space battles and mysterious objects and gang cartels and a droid uprising, but that’s not the main focus of the book. The main focus of the book is on Solo and Calrissian being vulnerable and talking about their problems with each other. It’s not all conversations all the time, but their growth is very evident in the pages of the book, and they hash stuff out with each other a few times.
I know. I didn’t expect that from a Star Wars novel, either. Not even with all the fan cannon (fannon!) about Poe Dameron and Finn hanging out and sharing jackets and hugging all the time. THAT is a book I would read 100 times, even without a mysterious lost MacGuffin, homicidal droids, and an evil doctor… which this books has in spades. Did I mention the space battles? Or Lando Calrissian floating through an ice asteroid belt hunting someone down in nothing but a space suit?
“Last Shot” bounces around in time from just before the Solo movie, to just after, to a few years after the end of episode VI. Han and Leia are married and have a 2 year old (Ben “Kylo Ren” Solo), while Lando is running a big business while contemplating settling down with a long time on and off lover. They may josh each other about getting all respectable but the truth is… they are. Solo’s a family man. He considers himself an inept family man, but he’s a family man all the same… and possibly a stay at home dad. Lando doesn’t discuss having kids, but he’s clearly invested in a future with a twi’lek woman whom he’s known for a quite a while, even if he isn’t quite able to admit that to himself.
Chewie shows up, of course, as well as a “slicer” (computer hacker) Ewok, a Gungin that doesn’t like being stereotyped, a genderqueer pilot who initially advertises themself as Han Solo, and an Ughnaught who just wants to take a nap.
Han and Lando save the galaxy, which isn’t really a spoiler as there’s movies set after this book takes place, and they have droids in them.
This is over all a fun book, fast paced and exciting. I had some difficulty tracking the bouncing through time, but that might just be on me at the moment– I usually don’t have an issue with non linear narrative. I’m glad to see more of the Star Wars universe, especially the dirty parts (a run down motel, a jail, a busy space port, etc) and more non-humanoid “organics,” as the droids put it. Han’s difficulties transitioning to parenthood- and stable spousehood- are relatable, especially when a co-sleeping 2 year old is involved.