This heist/caper story is highly reminiscent of the movie ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ with Han Solo & Lando Calrissian in roles similar to those played by George Clooney & Brad Pitt. (And it’s funny because both the positive and negative reviews on Goodreads claim the similarity to that particular movie as the main reason for why readers did or did not like it.) But, this novel is also just a great Star Wars story in its own right, taking place just after the events of Episode IV: A New Hope, when Han Solo helped defeat the Empire and blow up the Death Star to save the Galaxy. Scoundrels mixes familiar and unfamiliar characters in a job involving stealing a hefty sum from one of the richest and most powerful crime lords on the planet Wukkar.
There is plenty of the action that Star Wars fans are used to with droids, aliens, landspeeders and blasters and more that make it easy to visualize the story as if it were a movie. Scoundrels is also sprinkled with some very humorous moments throughout the story. We get some background on Han & Lando’s rocky friendship and even learn what is very likely the reason that Lando ends up betraying his friends in Cloud City in Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. There are a few other references that true geeks will appreciate, incuding one to the Han vs. Greedo showdown in the Mos Eisley cantina.
If you’ll pardon a small *spoiler* I just can’t help myself from mentioning one of my favorite scenes in the novel (which I also couldn’t help gushing about to my wife, who is not exactly a Star Wars geek). While the heist is going down, Zahn throws in a reference to ‘Indiana Jones’ – also created by George Lucas – when Han Solo (played by Harrison Ford, of course) is fleeing in front of a runaway giant ball that is crushing everything in its path.
The book contains a twist ending with another familiar Star Wars character making an appearance at the very end, but I won’t spoil that surprise. This is only the third Star Wars novel I’ve read, and my first by Timothy Zahn, who is a wonderful storyteller that has been writing in the Star Wars universe for a very long time. I’m definitely planning on reading more; in fact, I recently forked over two bucks to get his e-book novella about Lando and a few of the other crew from this novel in an earlier adventure: Star Wars: Winner Lose All.