Chapter by Chapter features me reading one chapter of the selected book at the time and reviewing it as if I were reviewing an episode of a TV show or an issue of a comic. There will be spoilers if you haven’t read to the point I have, and if you’ve read further I ask that you don’t spoil anything further into the book. Think of it as read-along book club.
For those who came in late: Prince Xizor, leader of the criminal organization Black Sun, has a vendetta against Darth Vader for killing his family years ago, as well as wanting the prestige of being the Emperor’s right hand man. So he has put a bounty on the head of Luke Skywalker, the self-trained Jedi the Emperor wants to turn, trying to frame Vader to make him look bad, as well as sending Vader against Black Sun’s rivals. Meanwhile, Leia learns of the price on her friend’s head and after failing to rescue Han from Boba Fett, sends Dash Rendar to protect Luke while going to Black Sun hoping they can find the real culprit (not knowing Black Sun is behind Luke’s predicament). As for Luke, he, Artoo, and Dash are about to meet with Bothan spies on Leia’s behalf in order to find out what important information they have. (Fans should already know this answer.)
And with that let’s see what are heroes are up to now.
We start with Leia being stonewalled by their alleged contact with Black Sun, threatening to leave after one more week if nothing happens. And that’s all that happens.
We switch to Xizor having Guri make a quick stop to sneak some more information to the Bothans before finally going to Rodia to meet with Leia. I don’t like this paragraph. We were always told it was Bothan spies risking (and possibly losing) their lives to get the information. It was a noble sacrifice to stop Death Star II. Now? Load of rubbish. Xizor just hands them the information, turning their noble act into part of his playing both sides in case the Rebels won. It’s and unnecessary retcon.
Meanwhile, Dash and Luke arrive on Bothawui, the homeworld of the Bothans. An interesting moment happens when the guard refuses to let them into the building where they’re supposed to meet their contact. Luke considers pulling a Jedi mind trick on the guard, but Dash just bribes him. When Luke protests Dash puts a good spin on that makes me agree with him. As Luke himself notes, there isn’t much of a moral difference between the mind trick and the bribe, except the mind trick is forcing the guard to do something against his will while Dash’s method, as he notes, gets them in just the same and allows the guard to buy something nice for his mate or something. It’s weird that bribery is the more honest method. Seeing the mind trick performed on Stormtroopers is fun and all but remember when Qui-Gon wanted to trick the parts owner out of his parts? Sure, the owner’s a jerk and owns slaves (Anakin and his mom) but it still feels like a jerk move. Jedi’s were really put into a bad light in the prequels, weren’t they?
Our heroes make up to the spy’s office, and there’s a cute moment where the droid receptionist (a similar model to Threepio) refuses to let them in but they can make an appointment. When she asks for Dash’s name, he pulls out his blaster and says his name is “Man Who Is About To Cook You”, which she then calls him by a few moments later. The Bothan has a score to settle with the Empire and indicates that Dash and his family has some bad history, a mystery for later. Right now the problem is that a computer carrying secret plans dangerous to the Alliance will be arriving on Bothawui. Why? They failed to get a droid to the plans on Coruscant. Unless this is some planned stop on the way to Endor, it still seems rather risky to take top-secret plans to a planet that is a known haven for spies and information dealers, whether they work with the Rebels or not. (The planet is considered neutral as both sides have people there.) It seems like a dumb move to me. At the Bothan’s urging, Luke will lead a team to steal the computer containing the plans (maybe this is where the life-risking happened?) and Dash is going along hoping for a bonus on top of his Jedi-sitting job.
I think we were better off NOT knowing how the Bothans got the Death Star plans. In this case it just feels like an unneeded retcon to get Luke and Dash involved, and pull your homemade organization into the mix. I’m not too happy with this chapter. We are about half-way through the book and the disappointments have been rare. Let’s hope that continues or gets better in the second half.