Old Friends: Han Solo, Chewbacca, Mako Spince, Jilliac the Hutt, Jabba the Hutt, Lando Calrissian, Boba Fett, Teroenza, Veratil, Bria Tharen, Darth Vader
Synopsis: 7 years following Han Solo's departure from the slave/spice running world of Ylesia, we find him stripped of his rank and achievements as a graduate of the Imperial Academy. Now a full-time smuggler with a Wookiee partner, he accepts work from Jiliac and Jabba, leaders of the Hutt clan opposing the operators of the Ylesian venture. Unfortunately for our two smugglers, The Emperor declares war on all the Hutts, and they are caught in the middle, with Boba Fett not far behind.
Review: Stranded, almost broke and followed constantly by a Wookiee, the reader finally learns exactly how Han and Chewbacca met, the reason he is no longer an officer in the Imperial Navy, and that he is blacklisted as a pilot throughout the Empire. Using old contacts, Han enlists the help of a used spaceship dealer to get smuggling contracts. The Empire is tightening its grip and the beginnings of the Rebellion are being felt from one end of the galaxy to the other. On Devaron, Han joins a Sabaac game, gets into a fight and takes off to Nar Hekka on a run for Tagta the Hutt.
Realizing that Tagta is Jiliac's #1, and Jiliac is the leader of the opposition to the Ylesia operation, Han accepts the mission. But on his way off Devaron, is seen by one of the survivors from his escape from Ylesia, and almost runs into Bria Tharen. It gets even more difficult for Han as the t'landa Til puts a bounty on Han's head. Of course, they have the financial resources of the Hutts behind then and that means Boba Fett.
Making the delivery on time and without incident, Han and Chewie meet with Tagta and talk their way into a future recommendation to Jiliac and eventually into the employ of our old friend Jabba. In the meantime, connecting with a group of old and new friends out of Nar Shadda, the "Smugglers Moon", our heros take on more work, including a "run" to Kessel where he learns the fine points of flying past the Maw (this has significant impact on future events).
The internal machinations of the Hutts and the t'landa Til, slaving and spice running, the Rebellion and the introduction of Lando Calrissian at just the right moment fill the middle of this book with a lot of information. At times, it can be tedious and time consuming to sort out. However, I recommend that the reader make the effort because it fills in many more of the blank spots in Han and Lando's relationship, and finally introduces the Millenium Falcon.
Along the way, of course, there are some beautiful ladies, devious Imperials, a smattering of Rebel leaders, scoundrels, gamblers and other assorted denizens of the galaxy. The climactic space battle between the smugglers and the Empire, and the appearanceof Cpatain Soontir Fel and Darth Vader make this a great read - almost as much fun as watching the movies!
NOTE: for the reader who wants to enjoy the "early years" in sequence, the Lando Calrissian Adventures are set between Volume 1 and 2 of the Han Solo Trilogy, and the Han Solo Adventures take place about 2/3 of the way through Volume 3.
Title: The Hutt Gambit