After bumping into Roa, an old friend, Han Solo leaves his friends and family on a quest to track down and wipe out a group of Yuuzhan Vong allies called ‘The Peace Brigade’ and ends up in the middle of a New Republic Special Ops mission with a new ally, a Ryn called Droma.
Meanwhile, the Yuuzhan Vong has formed a plan to rid themselves of the Jedi menace by sending Elan, a Priestess to the New Republic under the guise of a defector with Vergere, her familiar. The Vong make it seem like they are high value targets but they are really on a mission to use a bio-weapon within Elan to kill all the Jedi at a meeting where Luke and the majority of the New Jedi Order will be present.
The Vong plot is thwarted when Han realised that the whole thing is a trap and manages to kill Elan with the bio-weapon she is carrying and lets Vergere escape, after the alien creature gives Han a vial of her tears. On her instructions, Han gives them to Luke to help cure Mara Jade of her life threatening illness.
I was in two minds about this book at first. Whilst I have enjoyed James Luceno’s work in both the Legends and Canon timelines, I have often struggled with his books. I can’t put a finger on why that is, I have thoroughly enjoyed the three other books of his I have read but I end up having to push myself through them.
The same was the case with this book, I ended up taking a few days at a time away from reading which isn’t normal for me, I always seem to find time to read, even if it’s only a chapter or two but once again I really enjoyed his work and am looking forward to the second part.
What I really enjoyed was that this book focused more on Han, who took a bit of a back seat in the ‘Dark Tide Duology’, left to wallow in his grief over losing Chewbacca in ‘Vector Prime’. However, we get to see Han and the rest of his family as well as Luke attending a memorial service for our favourite Wookiee before heading home. Han is just pushing everyone away in his grief and it’s so well written that anyone who has lost anyone will understand what Han is feeling and going through. His ire is especially directed at Anakin, his youngest son, who was with him when Chewie died on Sernpedial and was the one who flew the Falcon away from the planet as Chewie took his last stand.
With his friend Roa, a former Smuggling associate and teacher, who also lost someone, his wife, during the war, the two form an alliance on common ground and their sights are set on ‘The Peace Brigade’. Following leads they end up in the wrong place at the wrong time, on a space station above Ord Mantell when the Vong attack the station, using a snake like creature to suck people from the station, Han is able to rescue refugees with Droma. Their initial bickering leads to an unlikely friendship that really drives their scenes in the second half of the book, luckily he doesn’t become a replacement for Chewie but he does fill a hole for Han as a companion on adventures. After Droma saves Han’s life, Han vows to help his new friend find other members of his species who have been scattered around the Galaxy.
The Yuuzhan Vong plot of fake defectors being used to kill enemies isn’t a new one, but the way they play the New Republic into believing Elan has truly had a change of heart is interesting, by mounting two attacks to try to reclaim her and Vergere but feinting a defeat, something that goes against the Vong beliefs. It just goes to show how much they have begun to fear Luke Skywalker and the rest of the Jedi. It’s fortunate that Han catches on to the plot which would have led to the majority of the Order killed and the Galaxy without the hope that they inspire.
I am pleased that Han is able to patch things up with Anakin by the end of this book, reading about how the two of them were at odds was pretty rough for both characters, especially when Anakin could have died numerous times in the ‘Dark Tide Trilogy’ with their relationship strained as it was surely would have been a nail in the coffin for Han as well. It’s also great to get back to a more recognisable Han Solo.
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