The Han Solo Trilogy, Vol II: The Hutt Gambit
© 1997 A.C. Crispin
At the end of The Paradise Snare, Han Solo was a heartbroken man moving on with his life, doing his best to forget about the woman who left him with a "Dear John" letter as he entered the pilot academy and the service of the Empire. As The Hutt Gambit opens, readers realize how short-lived both Solo's tenure in the Imperial Navy and his determination to avoid romantic entanglements were: not only has he been cashiered from the service and blacklisted from commercial piloting, but he can't move to a planet without falling in love again. Turning again to that faithful standby, a life of crime, Solo begins working for the Hutts and acquiring the money and reputation he needs to make it as as first-rate smuggler. Too bad the Empire has decided to slag his and other smugglers' favorite retreat, Nar Shadaa. The Hutt Gambit serves a steady course of light action-adventure that builds Solo's character, introducing him to Jabba, Lando, the Falcon, and even Boba Fett, and ends with a desperate attempt by the smugglers to stave off an Imperial attack fleet. Fortunately it's one of older ships, left by a man who is both hesitant to commit genocide and very susceptible to bribes. I thought the ending was contrived, to say the least, but enjoyed the characterization given to both the Hutts and Boba Fett, who -- in a nod to Return to the Jedi -- does a low pass over the Sarlaac pit while visiting Tatooine, unwittingly walking over his own grave.