Han Solo is one of the most beloved characters in the Star Wars Universe, and he has been since the first film was released. With “The Paradise Snare”, author A.C. Crispin brings us the first part of the story of a young Han Solo and shows us what made him into the rogue that we have come to love. Han starts out working (indentured, it seems) to a criminal named Garris Shrike. He finally wants out and there is no way that Shrike will let him. But, with the help and sacrifice of his wookiee friend, Dewlanna, Han is able to escape and find a job as a pilot on the planet Ylesia.
On the planet, Han is assigned a bodyguard, Muuurgh, who is as much guarding Han as guarding Ylesia against Han. Ylesia has a secret that relates to the spice mining it produces. It is supposedly a religious community which the pilgrims voluntarily work, but Han soon feels that something isn’t quite right. He meets a pilgrim, #923 (we do later learn her name), and starts falling for her and wants to rescue her as well as rescue himself from the soon to be hopeless situation on Ylesia.
This book was much better than I expected. It succeeds at doing several things all at once. First, and most importantly, it is an entertaining story in its own right. Second, it starts giving hints and clues and examples of how Han Solo became the man he was in the movies. He distrusts religion and holds himself back from falling in love. He is friends with a wookiee. Why? The set up begins in “The Paradise Snare”. Third, this book sets up more Han Solo novels in the future (two more books of this trilogy) and makes us wonder how a boy dreaming of being a soldier in the Empire grow up to fight in the Rebellion? Within the context of Star Wars, this was a good story.