Crucible Review & Continuity

Crucible Book Cover Crucible
Star Wars
Troy Denning
Sci Fi
Ballantine Del Rey
January 1, 2013
Hardcover & Paperback

Han Solo, Leia Organa Solo, and Luke Skywalker return in an all-new Star Wars adventure, which will challenge them in ways they never expected—and forever alter their understanding of life and the Force.

When Han and Leia Solo arrive at Lando Calrissian’s Outer Rim mining operation to help him thwart a hostile takeover, their aim is just to even up the odds and lay down the law. Then monstrous aliens arrive with a message, and mere threats escalate into violent sabotage with mass fatalities. When the dust settles, what began as corporate warfare becomes a battle with much higher stakes—and far deadlier consequences.

Now Han, Leia, and Luke team up once again in a quest to defeat a dangerous adversary bent on galaxy-wide domination. Only this time, the Empire is not the enemy. It is a pair of ruthless geniuses with a lethal ally and a lifelong vendetta against Han Solo. They will stop at nothing to control the lucrative Outer Rim mining trade—and ultimately the entire galactic economy. And when the murderous duo gets the drop on Han, he finds himself outgunned in the fight of his life. To save him, and the galaxy, Luke and Leia must brave a gauntlet of treachery, terrorism, and the untold power of an enigmatic artifact capable of bending space, time, and even the Force itself into an apocalyptic nightmare.

The Last Adventure Of Han, Luke, Leia and Lando – the Original Trilogy Heroes

This is the culmination of a lifetime of service that began with the Original Trilogy, as well as a chance to unexpectedly reflect on the past and decide on the future.  Youth has been replaced with age, but also with wisdom and confidence in each other.Han, Luke and Leia are off on a last adventure to help old friend Lando Calrissian.

Luke and Leia had devoted their lives to one thing, fighting the power of the dark side. It was that simple. Wherever the dark side rose, wherever the the Sith had dared show themselves – there Luke and Leia had rushed, never hesitating, never flinching. It had been their destiny to shepherd the galaxy into a new era of hope, and not once had they shrunk from that calling.
~Crucible, by Troy Denning.

From the release of the first Star Wars novelization of the original trilogy, to this, the last book published with Han, Luke, Leia and Lando Calrissian, this quote sums up these characters perfectly. And it’s a story..a story of shepherding in hope, that you can ONLY get in the true Expanded Universe. For there to be hope, their must be more victory than failure, more triumph than tragedy, and love and friendship that overcomes all failings.

The Story itself and what I thought of it:

Our original trilogy heroes have stayed true to themselves through long years in spite of the violent changes. And that means that even though the galaxy has problems, they never forget to make time for an old friend. While the path has been long and winding, while it took terms I didn’t expect (and would prefer not to have been done) this story restores something I’d missed. A sheer adventure, clearly meant to be a last hurrah for the original trilogy heroes, not due to failure of their mission to restore democracy and the Jedi,  but because they had succeeded and it was time to let a new generation lead.

“A Jedi can’t get so caught up in matters of galactic importance that it interferes with his concern for individual people.”  ~ Luke Skywalker, Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn.

Decades later, this is still true. Leia Organa Solo, fully a Jedi Knight is off with husband Han Solo to a meeting with old friend Lando Calrissian, who is having pirate troubles at one of his mining operations. To make matters worse, they may be involved with someone threading Lando’s family. As usual, this leads to some shocking discoveries, an old enemy who Han did not even realize he’d made, and some true villains who are plotting a galactic takeover. Their advantage: vast wealth, vaster intelligence, hired Mandaloreans, and an ally who is of the lost tribe of the Sith. Their weakness: a hatred of Han Solo for a crime he did not commit.

Han and Lando though have an advantage too: allies who are Jedi, including the Grand Master Luke Skywalker who is ready for a little time away from being the Grand Master. He’s also ready to check in with his son, Ben Skywalker and Tahiri Veila, who happen to be in the area investigating a Jedi who is missing. She was off searching for the mysterious Force rich and legendary ‘Mortis’.

There are some surprising new twists in the story, not least of which is the mystery of what the villainous Qrephs have found and are protecting. The battle to stop them from unleashing…something…is a view of not only the sheer toughness of Luke and Leia (no matter their age), but also how Han Solo has come to view them and what he has learned from them, life and the Force.

A little history for the story and it’s continuity:

This book stands alone, but it also ties into both The Clone Wars TV series Mortis story arc and Fate of the Jedi series. While The Clone Wars had continuity clashes that Fantasy Flight Games (RPG) retconned as ‘COMPNOR altering the records’ the Mortis arc stands pretty well on its own, with no specific reference to continuity to really alter.  It is a mysterious place where the Chosen One is challenged by beings known as the Ones who are ancient and those who for eternity have, until the clone wars era, kept the Force in balance.

According to Fate of the Jedi, Yoda did mention this odd adventure of Anakin and Obi-Wan’s to Luke. In Fate of the Jedi an entity known as ‘Abeloth’ who was associated with these ‘Ones’ caused chaos in the galaxy. Mortis seems like the kind of place the New Jedi Order might just be interested in finding. At the same time an ancient tribe of Sith, who had long ago been lost and marooned for generations on a forgotten world return to cause chaos.  Among them: a young Sith named Vestara Khai, whose deception caused deep pain for young Ben Skywalker.

Recent events of the battle with Abeloth, the Sith, the fall of one of their own to the Dark Side (Legacy of the Force), the wars with the Yuuzhan Vong (New Jedi Order series) are mentioned, highlights and tragedies of Luke, Han and Leia. Lando’s wife and son are also mentioned, his wife, Tendra, first appeared in the Corellian Trilogy by Roger Macbride Allen. Chance AKA Lando Jr.  first shows up in Fate of the Jedi series.

A little planned (and canceled) future for the story:

Crucible is the ending of an era, that of the original trilogy heroes taking lead, and the intended setup of another, one curtailed by the Disney purchase. This is where our heroes decide to step aside and retire and why they make that decision. The stories after were meant to be about the next generation, Jaina Solo, Jagged Fel, Ben Skywalker, Tahiri, Allana Solo and their friends. There was just enough mystery left at the end of this to lead to interesting stories for the future. One can but hope those now in charge of the franchise come to realize that these stories deserve to be told.

Crucible-HC - Troy Denning, with the original trilogy trio

There were 2 promotional covers and 3 actual of Han, Luke and Leia for the Crucible novel. The hardcover shows a grayer, older looking Han. The paperback (seen at top) shows a grayer but not quite as gray Han. The third one, the last release, features different art for all 3 characters. But the oddest choice is giving Luke a beard as in the ‘other’ galaxy. Luke in the expanded universe never wore a beard except when needing a disguise.

Han Solo Expanded Movie Character

Han Solo started out as just a smuggler with a fast mouth and fast blaster. But he had something different from the start. He had the intense loyalty of the wookiee copilot and an incredible ship, the Millenium Falcon. Far from the piece of junk she appeared to be, the Falcon was in fact a smuggling vessel. That meant looking like junk was an advantage when nosey authorities were around. He had some heavy debts and was pretty desperate to pay. So desperate he’d take a job as long as it paid enough, even if he knew nothing of his passengers.

His mercenary nature hid the fact that people grew on him. He couldn’t just leave Luke and his naive idealism to get blown up. Nor could he leave him to freeze on Hoth. Han Solo was nothing if not courageous, he could easily have frozen to death too. It’s easily overlooked but his mercenary need for money was just a desire to pay back his debts. Maintaining his ship and his freedom did not come cheap.

The cost of refusing to abandon his friends while in danger came high. He was taken by Boba Fett simply as a means to get to Luke Skywalker.  Once rescued, he went on to lead the ground assault as an official General in the Alliance. Following orders was something he was not so good at. But leading others and giving them were something else again. It was his clever trick that enabled the rebels back into the shield generator station to destroy it.

Known Aliases:
Vykk Drago
Jenos Idanian

Family

Han Solo was an orphan. He grew up on the streets, taken in by Garris Shrike,  a criminal, with a bunch of other street kids. He learned pickpocketing, con artistry, stealing. But he couldn’t remember his family and he wanted to. This led him on a quest that revealed no parents names at the time, but did reveal cousin Thracken Sal-Solo. Unfortunately Thracken was an evil little bully. So his closest family at the time was the wookiee Dewlanna, who encouraged his dreams of one day being respectable.
His next family member – by wookiee life debt – was Chewbacca. Han sacrificed his post as an Imperial Officer to save him, fed up with the less than respectable behavior of the Imperial authority figures he’d fought so hard to join.

Han Solo Hutt gambit

Han’s smuggling years start here.

As he was becoming set in his smuggling career, Han more or less ‘adopted’ a young man named Jarik Solo. Han knew the boy lied about the name but figured he earned it by being loyal and helping out. Jarik died in a battle for Ylesia with a group of smugglers.

Han appears to have discovered his Mother’s name was Jaina, and named his daughter for her. It’s also hinted that New Republic Intelligence may have known more of his family history than he knew himself.

Then he met Luke and Leia and had a new family. Han married Leia after nearly losing her to a marriage for political convenience for the New Republic. A year later and he was the father of twins, Jacen and Jaina Solo. Only a year or so after that, Anakin Solo came along.  Han has to awaken to reality he’d long denied: the Force is real. When toys float off shelves by themselves, there aren’t too many ways to explain it!

Han was in an awkward position in this family by marriage, the lone non Force Sensitive. Since he and Leia were both influential heroes of the New Republic, he constantly faced the danger of kidnappings. Once the children were old enough to undergo Jedi training, new issues arose.

Now Han had to deal with his children going into danger as Jedi. Danger was in their blood, both sides of the family tended to attract it!

Major Storyline Plot Developments Ahead this Section! SPOILERS. Click here

Han Solo has one granddaughter we know of, during his lifetime. Her name is Allana Djo Solo, daughter of Tenel Kan, Queen of Hapes and Jacen. At one point he and Leia were raising her as an adopted child, to hide her lineage from those who wanted to claim the Hapan throne.

One of the last big events for Han with his family was to give away his daughter Jaina in marriage to Jagged Fel, of the Empire. Jag bore the interesting lineage of nephew of old friend Wedge Antillies, and son of rival Baron Soontir Fel.  It’s unknown when they had children. But generations later Force sensitive Fel descendents are Emperor’s of a new (non Sith) Empire that remained allied for generations with the Galactic Alliance. At this time it is known of Roan Fel, daughter Marasiah Fel, and a descendent of unknown lineage named Ania Solo.

Friends
Han Solo in Scoundrels

Han, Chewie and Lando about to get up into trouble.

Han had a varied list of friends through his life. His mentor in the smuggling world was Roa, who lived to retire. He wasn’t fond of droids, but did have a few like Bollux and Blue Max grow on him. His friends knew he’d come through for him, even when they manipulated him into it. Badure convinced him to go treasure hunting. Friends like Salla Xend (who wanted to marry him),  Shug Ninx and Xaverrii came through for him even after he went ‘respectable’.

Some did turn on him, Mako Spince of his academy days turned ugly after being crippled in a battle. He sold him out to bounty hunters for the Hutt price on his head for helping kill Jabba. Bria (a girlfriend he wanted to marry) betrayed him for the Rebellion itself.

Lando Calrissian had an off on argument with him because of his taste in hiring out for jobs where the employer leaves them high and dry. However selling him out to Vader was merely a lack of choice: a whole city of people he was responsible for who could be killed if he refuses. As soon as he realized Vader would never hold to a bargain, he corrected this. Lando is still there helping years later even when it’s against his best interest.

Han also had a good friendship with Wedge Antillies of Rogue Squadron.

Aside from Luke he also remained friends with the Jedi Kyp Durron.

Accomplishments and Challenges – Character Growth

Han Solo’s biggest challenge is being a hero. He simply could not go back to being ‘just Han’ and doing what he wanted after this. His actions were no longer affecting himself and Chewie alone. They affected the entire New Republic and soon his family. Even during the Alliance days, the danger worked both ways: to get to Luke, go through Han. But to get to Han, go through Luke and Leia. They were threatened by bounty hunters seeking him.

He had the difficult challenge of wanting to help the Rebels, yet not wanting to give up his independence and a resentment of being taken for granted as being a member (which he’d not officially become, not as of Yavin.)

Han was responsible for the mission to take down Warlord Zsinj, an Imperial carving out territories for himself. He even dared an unofficial truce with an Imperial counterpart who was assigned to deal with the upstart as well. Returning from this he was so desperate to win back Leia he gambled everything, won a planet, but found it was still in Zsinj territory. He resigned his commission when politicians tried to reassign him to get him out of the way of a political marriage. He dealt with Leia planning to go off with the Hapan Prince by kidnapping her to Dathomir. Leia lectured him on his responsibilities but it didn’t hit home until Zsinj made a deal with the local nightsisters, an evil group of force users who threatened hostages to get him. His response to that was so self sacrificial it won Leia back.

While not commissioned, Han still was the go to guy for when they needed a mission pulled off without red tape and bureaucrats interfering. It was his idea to hire smugglers for honest work when the New Republic was short on legitimate shipping companies due to Imperial raids. It was his mission as ambassador to the prisoners of Kessel that went wrong which revealed the Maw and the Imperial threat inside. It was Han who dared go into the Imperial Remnant to seek out Intel.

During his painful years during the Yuuzhan Vong invasion, he still was charging into battle, leading and inspiring even when his heart felt ripped out.

Stories Starring Han Solo:

The Early Years:

Han Solo Adventures by Brian Daley:
Han Solo at Star’s End
Han Solo’s Revenge
Han Solo and the Lost Legacy
(note: these are among the earliest of the Expanded Universe, before it had a name. They were published in 1979 – even before The Empire Strikes Back!)

Han Solo Trilogy by Ann Crispin:
The Paradise Snare
The Hutt Gambit
Rebel Dream
(note: this does not contradict the Brian Daley trilogy. It incorporates it, as well as many other details of Han’s friendships and adventures from the Expanded Universe.)

Agent of the Empire: Iron Eclipse Dark Horse comics

Underworld: The Yavin Vassilika – Dark Horse comics

Movie Years:

Star Wars Radio Drama by Brian Daley
The Empire Strikes Back Radio Drama by Brian Daley
Return of the Jedi Radio Drama by Brian Daley
(Note these radio dramatization of the movies includes extra and extended scenes not available elsewhere.)

Star Wars Adventures: Han Solo and the Hollow Moon of Khorya – Dark Horse comics

Death Troopers by Joe Scheibert

Scoundrels by Timothy Zahn (Check out an Audio Excerpt!)

Allegiance by Timothy Zahn
Choices of One by Timothy Zahn
Rebellion Series – Dark Horse Comics
Galaxy of Fear Series – – by Whitman  – Cameos only
Rebel Force series – by John Wheeler

Honor among Thieves by James S.A. Corey

Rebel Mission to Ord Mantell  (Listen on Youtube!)

Star Wars Adventures: Princess Leia and the Royal Ransom – Dark Horse Comics

Post Movie Years

Truce at Bakura by Kathy Tyers
Shadows of Mindor by Matthew Stover
X-Wing: Wraith Squadron by Aaron Allston
X-Wing: Iron Fist by Aaron Allston
X-Wing: Solo Command by Aaron Allston
Courtship of Princess Leia by Dave Wolverton
A Forest Apart (short story)
Tatooine Ghost – by Troy Denning

Thrawn Trilogy by Timothy Zahn
Heir to the Empire
Dark Force Rising
The Last Command

Dark Empire – Dark Horse Comics
Dark Empire2- Dark Horse Comics
Empire’s End – Dark Horse Comics

Jedi Academy Trilogy by Kevin J. Anderson
Jedi Search
Dark Apprentice
Champions of the Force

Children of the Jedi by Barbara Hambly
Darksaber by  Kevin J. Anderson
Planet of Twilight by Barbara Hambly
The Crystal Star by Vonda McIntyre

Black Fleet Crisis by McDowell

The New Rebellion by Kristin Kathryn Rusch

The Corellian Trilogy by Roger Allen McBride
Ambush at Corellia
Assault at Selonia
Showdown at Centerpoint

Thrawn Duology by Timothy Zahn
Specter of the Past
Vision of the Future

New Jedi Order Era by Multiple authors

Chewbacca (tribute) – Dark Horse Comics
Invasion – – Dark Horse Comics

Dark Nest trilogy by Troy Denning
Joiner King
The Unseen Queen
Swarm War

Legacy of the Force Series by multiple authors
Millenium Falcon by James Luceno
Fate of the Jedi series by multiple authors
Crucible by Troy Denning