Friday, October 3, 2014

Star Wars: The Lando Calrissian Adventures review



This week I decided to review the Lando Calrissian Adventures by L. Neil Smith. They were originally published as three separate books but the recent re-release contains all three books in one volume, so I am reviewing the trilogy as a whole. The first book of the trilogy opens with Lando gambling on Oseon 2795, an asteroid mining colony that is part of the Centrality, a small Imperial allied semi-independent collection of star systems on the fringes of the known galaxy in Star Wars. While the card game is ongoing, another gambler tells Lando of the Mindharp, a legendary artifact supposedly left behind by a highly advanced civilization native to the nearby Rafa system. The gambler then bets the droid Vuffi Raa in the card game, only revealing that the droid is in storage on Rafa IV after Lando wins the hand. Hoping to sell the droid quickly, Lando sets out for Rafa IV, but soon after picking up Vuffi he is arrested on trumped-up charges and brought before the planet’s governor, Duttes Mer and the Sorcerer of Tund Rokur Gepta, the latter being the main antagonist of the trilogy. They offer Lando a deal, namely that if he agrees to find and bring them the Mindharp they will drop the charges, and they have the Millennium Falcon’s hyperdrive sabotaged to make sure that Lando doesn’t flee the system  Lando’s quest for the harp leads him to Rafa V, where he meets the Toka, a primitive species native to the system, who believe that Lando and Vuffi are figures spoken of in prophecy. In time the hunt leads Lando, Vuffi, and Mohs, the High Singer of the Toka to a pyramid like structure with the apparent ability to warp time and space…
The second book opens with an unspecified amount of time having passed since the previous book and begins shortly after a small bomb has exploded on the Millennium Falcon during a fight, and then cuts to a flashback showing a recent battle as the freighter was attacked by a pirate carrier equipped with a swarm of drone fighters while taking a shortcut through a small nebula. Soon after the ambush Land was invited to gamble by the administrator of the Oseon system. But soon after a highly profitable first night gambling Lando is ambushed by a man he doesn’t know and is forced to kill the man in self defense. Unfortunately for Lando possessing a weapon is a capital offense within the Oseon system. But Lando is offered a deal. A known drug addict receives a shipment of a highly illegal drug every season during the Flamewind, a regular phenomenon within the system which is considered very beautiful which also produces dangerous radiation leading to travel within the system being banned during flareups. Lando will take the drugs to the buyer along with two police officers, then be free to leave with his winnings once the buyer is arrested. But the Falcon is ambushed by a large and rag tag force of starfighters en route, and the force behind Lando’s other recent difficulties is still at large…
The third book begins about a year after the second book ends, with the Millennium Falcon meeting Lehesuan, an adventurous member of the Oswaft, an intelligent species that lives in space and are somewhat like large Mantas in form. The story then jumps forward a few months. The ThonBoka Nebula that the Oswaft call home is being besieged by a Joint Imperial/Centrality fleet that is poisoning the food supply of the Oswaft and blocking their escape. Lando comes in answer to a distress call from the Oswaft but finds that the blockading fleet consists of hundreds of warships  As Lando tries to find some way to defeat the immense enemy fleet a final confrontation with Rokur Gepta looms as does the true nature of Vuffi Raa. But the remains of the Renatasian Confederation, the ragtag band of starfighter pilots who blame Vuffi Raa for the invasion which devastated their homeworld, is also nearby as the final battle for the fate of the Oswaft comes to a head..
I give the trilogy 3.5 out of 10. The first book feels more like an Indiana Jones adventure in space than a Star Wars story, with a few elements from the old Maverick western show thrown in. I also personally dislike the whole mystical temple and artifact part of the story and feel that like many of the worst parts of more recent Star Wars stories it focuses too much on the mystic side of the setting. The second book is my favorite of the three, and has the fewest mystic elements. The third has fewer mystic elements than the first, but I don’t feel that the Oswaft or the true nature of  Vuffi Raa really fit in with Star Wars very well. There are good reasons you only hear of Vuffi Ra or the Oswaft in passing outside these books, and never hear about another sentient space-dwelling lifeform in Star Wars that I can recall. And I think Rokur Gepta is a horrible idea for a villain and that his mystic abilities could have been removed with little or no significant changes to the story. Also, the author has a habit of inventing new items when the setting already has something that serves the same function, or using little-known terms for objects seemingly for no real reason then to possibly make people wonder what the difference between the term used and a more common term is. Like Lando using a Stingbeam weapon rather than a holdout blaster despite the two weapons filling similar roles and having similar traits, with the form the beam emitter takes apparently being the major difference. Or using the Latin term nebulosity for a small nebula in the second book rather than just calling it a nebula 


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