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.
When last we saw our heroes Luke was held prisoner by bounty hunters who united just to rescue him but planned to sell him to the highest bidder, because it’s “just business”. Meanwhile, Leia is headed into the serpent’s lair, possibly in more ways than one. Let’s see what befalls our heroes this chapter.
Luke is planning his escape. Short scene. Leia and Chewie push their way past customs thanks to it being a busy day, and she wants to make a quick stop to “hedge her bets” before meeting with Guri. Short scene. Vader contemplates what it will be like once he turns Luke to the Dark Side and how easy he thinks it will be. Short scene. The difference here compared to other chapters is that these are establishing moments in a proper time scale. There’s not much to see here, but what we’re seeing is important. Vader is on his way to collect Luke. Luke is planning to escape. Leia is planning some back-up in case there’s trouble with Black Sun after showing how they get past customs. They don’t need to be long to set up important information to the story.
The next scene is Luke’s escape from his cell. Perry gives us a possible idea of how the Force mind trick works and what a Jedi must do to maintain it. Since he’s still relatively new at this stuff we get a good idea as Luke learns to maintain the required focus to have the guard release him. It does feel like how the technique would work. Then he goes after his lightsaber because he spent so much time creating it. Could he create a new one? Probably, but as we saw it’s a lot of effort and time, plus from other Expanded Universe stories we know that Jedi have a connection to their lightsabers. But this still could be a mistake. Luke’s kind of cocky about how easy this is going so far, and it could come back to bite him.
Leia and Chewbacca head to the underground where we see a major downside to the Empire. The place is home to the homeless, the black market, and if I understand the hidden context correctly, prostitution. Plus the place stinks, and the one with the air filter mask isn’t the one with a heightened sense of smell. Poor Wookie. To be fair, the narrator does note that such things always existed, but it’s worse with the Empire in charge. Then again, these are Leia’s thoughts, so it could be passed off as the perspective of a princess and ex-senator who usually never saw such things. The reader can judge for themselves.
Two more short scenes. Vader is almost near. This could be seen as unnecessary or tension building, reminding us that Luke is on borrowed time. Speaking of Luke, he finds his lightsaber but as he puts the swiped blaster down to grab his comlink he’s discovered. Just pushed it a bit, did you Luke?
Back with Leia and Chewie, they find an area of the Underground that is still a thriving mall, with various shops ranging from bakeries to clothing stores to even a weapons shop and electronics store. She’s here to meet a Ho’Din names Spero, a gardener who happens to owe her family a rather large debt. We don’t get what kind, unless Perry used him in a different story, but he gives Leia the lowdown on Black Sun and Xizor (minus the snobbish misogynistic sex fiend parts of course, because most of that may not be public knowledge, even down here where the “dirty laundry” tends to pile up.). Again, it shows Leia is smart. Perhaps smarter than her brother given what we just saw.
As to Luke’s fate and Leia’s meeting with the Dark Prince, I’m afraid that will have to wait for the next chapter. This was a good chapter. The pacing was better, the shorter scenes establishing info or tension. We’ll see if this continues next time.