Star Wars: Empire And Rebellion – Honor Among Thieves by James SA Corey – Book Review [Bane of Kings]

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Milo, aka “Bane of Kings”, shares his thoughts on Honor Among Thieves, the latest entry in the Empire And Rebellion multi-authored Star Wars series, published by Lucas Books. This book is written by James SA Corey (the penname of Daniel Abraham & Ty Frank), author of the Expanse series.

“James SA Corey produces an excellent Star Wars book that is one of the best that the franchise has ever given us. As well as being a treat for fans of both Corey and Star Wars, it’s also something that readers who are only familiar with the films can jump on board as well with little difficulty. Highly Recommended.” ~Bane of Kings, The Founding Fields

A LONG TIME AGO  IN A GALAXY FAR, FAR AWAY…

When the Empire threatens the galaxy’s new hope, will Han, Luke, and Leia become its last chance?
 
When the mission is to extract a high-level rebel spy from the very heart of the Empire, Leia Organa knows the best man for the job is Han Solo—something the princess and the smuggler can finally agree on. After all, for a guy who broke into an Imperial cell block and helped destroy the Death Star, the assignment sounds simple enough.
 
But when Han locates the brash rebel agent, Scarlet Hark, she’s determined to stay behind enemy lines. A pirate plans to sell a cache of stolen secrets that the Empire would destroy entire worlds to protect—including the planet where Leia is currently meeting with rebel sympathizers. Scarlet wants to track down the thief and steal the bounty herself, and Han has no choice but to go along if he’s to keep everyone involved from getting themselves killed. From teeming city streets to a lethal jungle to a trap-filled alien temple, Han, Chewbacca, Leia, and their daring new comrade confront one ambush, double cross, and firestorm after another as they try to keep crucial intel out of Imperial hands.
 
But even with the crack support of Luke Skywalker’s x-wing squadron, the Alliance heroes may be hopelessly outgunned in their final battle for the highest of stakes: the power to liberate the galaxy from tyranny or ensure the Empire’s reign of darkness forever.

I’m a massive fan of Daniel Abraham’s work, whether he’s working on his own, as MLN Hanover or with Ty Frank as  James SA Corey. His The Expanse series has been one of my favourites of recent years and there was no way I was going to miss out on this book – especially as it was a Star Wars title, which is one of my favourite fictional universes. And what’s more is that this series has already given us some high quality authors in the form of Martha Wells with her Razor’s Edge title, which was focused mainly around Princess Leia. However, this time with Corey at the helm, the attention shifts to the smuggling duo of Han Solo and the Wookie Chewbacca, and whilst Leia and Luke get plenty to do, the main bulk of the narrative is focused on these two characters.

core__jkt_all_r1.inddJames SA Corey is an incredibly gifted writer (or pair of writers), and Honor Among Thieves is another stellar hit. Set after the destruction of the Death Star in A New Hope, Honor Among Thieves tasks Han and Chewie with an order to extract a high-level Rebel prisoner from the very heart of the Empire. It should be a refreshingly simple task, from someone who has broken into the Death Star in the past. However, there’s a catch. The rebel Scarlet Hark doesn’t want to leave, for she’s dealing with an important mission of her own – the prevention of a pirate from selling a cache of stolen secrets that the Empire would do anything to try and get back. So naturally, it’s clear that it would benefit the Rebellion, and Han finds himself with no choice but to stick with Scarlet and help her complete the mission.

Honor Among Thieves is quite possibly one of the best Star Wars novels that I’ve read. It’s no surprise given the creative team behind it but the combined action plus good characteristics allow for one hell of a read, making this title an unputdownable novel that ranks among my favourites. What’s best about this book is that unlike later Star Wars novels it doesn’t rely on years of continuity that fans have to be familiar with before jumping on, all you have to do is be familiar with at least A New Hope and then you’re all set. But most likely, you’ll have seen the original trilogy – so that shouldn’t matter. Aside from Scarlet Hark and a few other original characters created by Corey, Honor Among Thieves casts the principal heroes in the spotlight and drafts a compelling, enthralling and addictive read that hopefully will not be the last novel in this universe by the writing team.

Han and Chewbacca, as one would hope, are pretty much nailed spot on in terms of character. Corey captures the voice of both, crafting an incredible narrative that illustrates just how much Han in particular changed as a character during the course of A New Hope, and there isn’t a better way to do that then have him reconnect with one of his old smuggling buddies, Bassen Ray. However, both newcomers, Ray and Hark, don’t really stand out in terms of characters at this point – mainly because they’re competing against figures a heck of a lot more developed and recognizable than them and it shows, with both characters come across as feeling weaker versions of Han and Leia respectively. But that’s really the only problem that I had with Honor Among Thieves – the rest of the book is Star Wars fiction at its best.

Corey writes some incredible action scenes and there are a lot of fun moments to be had. It’s not just the combat scenes that are excellent, but there’s a great layer of fun that comes thrown in there as well. Star Wars novels that are dull and boring aren’t really Star Wars books – because in order for these books to be good, they have to be enjoyable – and Honor Among Thieves certainly succeeds in that department, even if there’s no tension because we know that these respective characters are too big to make it out alive.

Whilst certain biases may be there, with the Star Wars characters being among my favourite in the Science Fiction genre ever, and James SA Corey being among my Top 5 favourite writers in that genre as well, I inevitably knew that before I even started reading I was going to enjoy this book. However, I can safely say that it was not a disappointment, and can certainly come highly recommended, whether you’re a hardcore Star Wars fan or someone who has only seen the original trilogy and is looking to try out the tie-in universe for the first time. This is the place to start.

VERDICT: 9/10

SEE MY BOOK REVIEWS PAGE FOR DETAILS BEHIND THE NEW GRADING SYSTEM. 

PREVIOUS STAR WARS NOVEL: Choices of One by Timothy Zahn | NEXT STAR WARS NOVEL: Razor’s Edge by Martha Wells

Note: Despite being released after the first novel in the series, Razor’s Edge, the Star Wars Wiki lists Honor Among Thieves as taking place before the events in that novel, so if you are reading the Star Wars novels in chronological order rather than series order, you would read Honor Among Thieves first. But as they are both focused on different events, you can read one novel without knowledge of the other.

 

Milo, aka Bane of Kings, is a SFF/Comic reader, and watches a lot of TV. His favourite authors are Neil Gaiman, China Mieville, Jim Butcher, Brandon Sanderson & Iain M. Banks, whilst his favourite TV shows are Battlestar Galactica (2003), Person Of Interest, Firefly, Game of Thrones, & Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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