Daniel José Older's novel includes insights into Lando and L3-37's partnership, daring new scoundrels, and wisdom from Maz Kanata.
With Lando Calrissian claiming to be responsible “these days” in The Empire Strikes Back, what was he like when he wasn’t a responsible leader, but just a charming swindler and gambler? And what was Han Solo like when it was just him and Chewbacca gallivanting around, trying to make a score? Daniel José Older’s novel, Last Shot, covers that ground and more -- also moving into their lives five years after the Battle of Endor, as Han is itching for adventure to take him away from being a politician’s spouse and stay at home dad, and Lando is yearning to settle down. If you’re intrigued by these romantic and rebellious rogues, and by what you saw Solo: A Star Wars Story, then here are some tidbits about them and their world from Last Shot.
1. Who can keep Lando from the ladies?
In an early chapter, a young Lando encounters an old acquaintance, Prita Sven, now a Vice Grand Administrator in the Empire. He starts sweet talking her, inviting her back to his ship, when a tug on his arm and a request for help cut him short. Who is it that can cause Lando Calrissian to drop everything he’s doing and join an unknown adventure? L3-37, the one-eyed piloting droid. Elthree, his partner aboard the Falcon, has a life-or-death mission, and in a galaxy where droids customarily matter less than organic sentients, Lando loses a staring match to her and cuts his seduction of the relentless and lovely Prita short. As Prita puts it, “You have a strange relationship with this droid.”
“She has a strange relationship with herself. I’m just along for the ride.”
2. Han Solo, meet Han Solo.
Years after the Empire has been defeated, Han and Lando need to take a discreet trip, and that means leaving the Millennium Falcon at home and hiring an unobtrusive ship with a capable pilot. “Imagine two of the greatest pilots in the galaxy looking to hire a pilot. It just feels wrong,” Han ponders. But when they reach Frander’s Bay, a place to connect with unaffiliated pilots, Lando spots Han’s name on the listing. Who is this other Han Solo? And how does he have the exact perfect ship for Lando and the genuine Han’s needs? “My name doesn’t get people to sit at the table,” says the mysterious young pilot listening to their headphones. “With a name like Han Solo, folks come by outta sheer curiosity.” Who is the one brazen enough to advertise themselves as Han Solo? Taka Jamoreesa dares to out-scoundrel our scoundrels and even has a surprise in store to disarm the real Solo when he draws his blaster.
3. Who is more foolish, the fool or the fool in love?
The charming Twi’lek strategist, Kaasha Bateen, has re-entered Lando’s life, and Lando is not sure how he feels about her. After their first night back together gets interrupted by murderous droids, Lando brings her along on the mission to retrieve something once stolen by the owner of the Millennium Falcon -- who, at the time, wasn’t Lando. But Lando has other reasons than her sharp mind and quick blaster skills to keep Kaasha around -- when musing over how he feels about her, Lando recognizes that “[i]t was joy, and it had overthrown him entirely without even asking permission.” But is Lando in love a good thing to have on a mission? Leia tells Han to keep an eye on Lando, saying, “We thought Forever-Player Lando was bad. Head-Over-Heels Lando might be ten times worse.”
4. Cult classics.
“And to think I used to say the Force was wacky,” says Han when he and Lando come face to face with members of a grotesque cult. The Brotherhood of Wire and Bone is made up of both droids and organics, with their followers creepily bridging the divide between organic and machine. “Through service and sacrifice, we have attained a level beyond simply organic,” says 9-7 Saquanz, a Quarren member of the Brotherhood, “although of course we will always have been born from a sinful womb of mortal and flawed flesh, aheh.” The cultists divine the future with a form of reading the arrangements of tossed bones -- but here, their fichas are holy relics of their Original Dozen. When Han and Lando seek information from a cultist who used to be an Imperial admiral, the two have to wager using the Brotherhood’s divination, and bet isn’t credits but their limbs. Lando may be an expert gambler, but can he risk leaving Han Solo with a solo hand?
5. Follow the directions!
One of the important lessons to be learned from Last Shot is appropriately what to do after that last shot at Maz Kanata’s castle. More specifically, the morning after that last shot, when you need something to cure that hangover. Maz thoughtfully provides Sana Starros with some hemchar root for her and Han Solo. After downing the contents of the pouches, the two end up experiencing some side effects. “Technichrome hallucinations and sometimes olfactory ones, too,” Sana admits. Unfortunately, just as the color show kicks in, a gang of rodentine Hassks show up with stun clubs, upset that Sana “borrowed” their landspeeder. As Han enters a kaleidoscope to infinity, Sana realizes, “Maz might’ve said to only take a teaspoonful for hangovers. Maybe not the whole packet.” Not the best advantage to have in a fight, but luckily Chewbacca is nearby. Without following the proper directions, sometimes the cure can be worse than the ailment.
Last Shot is on sale now from Del Rey.
James Floyd is a writer, photographer, and organizer of puzzle adventures. He’s a bit tall for a Jawa. You can follow him on Twitter at @jamesjawa or check out his articles on Club Jade and Big Shiny Robot.