Star Wars: The Paradise SnarePosted: February 13, 2012
I first read Star Wars: The Paradise Snare a little while after it came out, back in 1997. I was just a kid and I thought it was a pretty rad book, all in all. On a whim I picked it up again and gave it another reading. I was sorely disappointed.
The Paradise Snare is the first of three books in the “Han Solo Trilogy” — three books that up who Han Solo is. The first book at least covers some of his background, his childhood (above) Corellia, his first piloting job, his first love, and his stint as an Imperial Pilot. Like all good young boys in the post-Clone Wars and pre-Rebel era, he wanted desperately to be an Imperial Pilot with all the privileges it comes with, and the whole first book is devoted to his first job, which he takes to save up and join the Imperial Academy. Along the way he gets into all sorts of hijinx, including several close calls, interactions with Hutts, and manages to gather the eternal friendship and loyalty of not one but two furry humanoids that don’t speak Basic well and value honour.
I have several problems with this book, and I’ll start at what is the most minor: the technical stuff. In the opening, author A. C. Crispin thanks a friend for “help” with the technical details, suggesting that she really didn’t know a lot about the Star Wars universe. Fair enough, it’s confusing stuff. But there are several errors involving shielding, hyperdrives, spice, and the timeline itself that stick out. One that sticks out in particular is when Solo finds himself in the tractor beam of a Corellian Corvette. The Corellian Corvette would be known as the “Rebel Blockade Runner”, the most famous of which is probably the Tantive IV — Princess Leia’s ship in the first scenes of A New Hope and, before a major overhaul, Bail Organa’s ship in Revenge of the Sith.
I may be going super-nerd here, but Corellian Corvettes are not equipped with tractor beams. They’re too small and lack the necessary power. While one could argue that a ship as small as a Corvette could conceivably capture a small freighter, it seems terribly unlikely. Larger corvettes and frigates could manage it, but it seems impossible for a CR-70 or CR-90. And while this is a very small, very nitpicky example, there are errors like this throughout the entire book.
Another thing that really bugged me was the constant references to the movies. Yes, obviously this is a prequel work and it’s hard not to pay homage to the films, but it reaches levels of absurdity. Near the beginning, we find that Han is best friends with a Wookie aboard the ship he makes his home. He understands her perfectly from his years of hanging around her. And when he leaves her and his home, he pledges to help Wookies whenever he can. At one point, too, he tries to recall the exact name of the “life-force” that Wookies believe they return to after they die, and he says “may the life-force be with you.” Really?
At one point, Han finds himself visiting Alderaan. He receives a comm going on, a pre-recorded message from Bail Organa, welcoming folks to his planet. Sitting on his knee is some princess or something. Han thinks about it for awhile, while A. C. Crispin watches on from the sidelines, winking knowingly.
The biggest thing that bugged me though was the sheer number of times the word “scruffy” appears in the work. It felt like every chapter. Everyone is either accusing him of being scruffy-looking or he is afraid of being scruffy-looking.
What ultimately bugged me about the book was how self-aware and how referential it was. The only value in reading this book is understanding where Han came from, so maybe that’s worth it. The book is (mostly) well written, and maybe worth your time, if you can handle that garbage.