Obviously, Scoundrels was Timothy Zahn's attempt at combining an Ocean's 11 caper with the Star Wars saga. What I hadn't appreciated before reading the book was just how serious Zahn was about this. There have been several Star Wars books this year that try to break into the espionage/thriller genre, such as Annihilation: Star Wars (The Old Republic) and Mercy Kill: Star Wars (X-Wing), but at the end of the day they feel like rehashed Star Wars. By contrast, Scoundrels is something new. It takes the best of Star Wars with the best of the espionage/thriller genre to create something that really feels fresh.
Here are some of my initial thoughts. Note, I try to keep this review as spoiler free as possible, meaning that I try not to reveal anything critical beyond the first three chapters.
Perhaps the aspect of the book that I appreciated most is the plot. Basically, Han is hired by a Black Sun victim to break into the Black Sun sector chief's house in order to recover his stolen credits. As we all know, Han is a smuggler, not a burglar, so he recruits 9 conspirators and comes up with a plan to get the credits back (9 plus Han plus the person that hires him = 11. That's not a coincidence). Of course, Han, Chewie, and Lando are part of the team, and we also get Winter and Kell Tainer, but the rest of the gang is new to the Star Wars universe.
Zahn obviously put a lot of thought into structuring the plot. It's a multi-layered story in which several characters are scheming simultaneously and each has to respond to the plans of the other groups. I appreciated that the characters are generally intelligent and seem able to think several steps ahead. The real battle in this book is whether Han and company can try to OUTSMART, not OUTFIGHT, their opponents.
Zahn actually respects his readers' intelligence by creating an intricate plot and allowing readers to try to piece everything together for him or herself. He is careful about not revealing too much for the reader. We see several of the characters in Han's group go out on missions, but often don't know the full purpose or goal behind the mission. In fact, Han (and Zahn) is careful not to tell anybody in the group all of the details, which is obviously smart in case one of the characters is captured. This allows the reader to make educated guesses about the outcome, but Zahn keeps quite a few surprises tucked away. Overall, I found this to be much more fun than the utterly predictable "let's-destroy-the-superweapon" Star Wars novels that seem par for the course these days.
There are a few battle scenes in this book, but even here Zahn gives the battle scenes purpose. Each engagement is carefully thought out. Han and company have to think about how they're going to win, not just go in with blasters blazing. Unfortunately, if the only reason you read Star Wars books is because you like mindless lightsaber fights, blaster shootouts, and space dogfighting, this book is NOT for you.
Despite the nature of the plot, I never felt bored. The book never felt "slow-paced". There was always something going on, always tension in the air. Even if the characters were simply observing something, that observation was important. Zahn skillfully weaves key conversations or character moments when characters are on lookout duty. This isn't a book you can - or would want to breeze through - because then you'll miss key details.
Detalles del producto
Libro de bolsillo: 512 páginas
Editor: Random House (17 de noviembre de 2013)
Colección: Star Wars