The Paradise Snare
[Ann C. Crispin, Bantam Books, 1997]


The story starts with Han a junior member of a criminal gang, ruled by a sadistic thug called Garris Shrike. Han was found by Shrike while an infant, and raised by a Dickensian Droid called F8GN to be a pickpocket. He graduated to speeder-racing, all the time focused on his goal of becoming a pilot and Navy officer.

When Han escapes from Shrike he thinks his troubles are over, as he becomes shuttle pilot for a peaceful religious community. But as he finds out more about his employers, he realises the nature of the "Paradise Snare" he has become a part of.

He meets and falls in love with Bria, one of the religious "pilgrims", but as anyone who has seen the films can guess they are not destined to be together forever. Han eventually escapes the world and tries to build a new life for himself, but his chequered past has an unpleasant knack of catching up with him ...


Han is far too soft-hearted. Shaka Zulu said "Never leave an enemy behind you, so that he might rise up and strike you from behind." Han is begging to be shot in the back. Ann Crispin stated that her portrayal of him was not one where he would be stupid enough to let a bounty-hunter fire first - well, going by this book I beg to disagree. Heck, even the supposedly goody-goody Rebels of Rogue Squadron go out of their way to kill fleeing villains, while the supposedly ruthless Han will not kill someone who will chase him round Perdition's flame ...

Leia was more right than she knew when she told him "You're lucky to be alive!"

Another flaw is the misinterpretation of Han's comeback line in Empire Strikes Back, "Who's scruffy looking?" Ms Crispin attempts to give the line deeper meaning, and implies that Han prided himself on being well-groomed.

Also expanded from the films is the idea of giving a Hutt a gift when you send him a message - perhaps Ms Crispin is reading too much into the Jabba sequence from ROTJ, but this does little to damage the book overall.

These quibbles are all petty in the extreme, however, when one considers that this is one of the best Star Wars books written in recent years.

Han is not out to save the universe, merely to stay alive. The villains are not Dark Jedi with fleets of ISDs, merely the low-level scum with whom he associated before he joined the Alliance. Very reminiscent of the masterful tales of the late, great Brian Daley!

Rating: 85%

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