Review: Honor Among Thieves (Spoiler Free)

honor-among-theves-500x760Grab your hat and hold on to your swears because Star Wars: Empire and Rebellion: Honor Among Thieves is out today!  Written by the author duo James S. A. Corey, Honor Among Thieves turns the spotlight on Han Solo and Chewbacca as Princess Leia sends them on mission only a pair of scoundrels like them can successfully pull off.

Set before the previous Empire and Rebellion novel, Honor Among Thieves opens with Leia asking Han to go into the middle of Imperial space and retrieve one of their field agents.  Scarlet Hark is a professional though so this should be a relatively simple mission.  Too bad the bounty on Han’s head is about to catch up with him, adding in a slight complication.  Oh.  And not to mention that Scarlet doesn’t actually want to be retrieved quite yet.  An Imperial astrocartographer is rumored to have made a discovery that could put him towards the top of the Emperor’s list of favorites and Scarlet wants to get her hands on it first with Han’s help.  Nothing ever seems to stay simple for long when it comes to missions for the Republic.

Honor Among Thieves is another enjoyable addition to the Expanded Universe.  To put it another way, this is definitely a story fun enough to deserve being nicknamed something as fun as SWEARHAT.  It looks like the Empire and Rebellion series will be telling stories on a smaller scale and it absolutely works.  This is another self-contained story that can absolutely be read by someone new to the Expanded Universe but it also pulls from established Star Wars canon to enrich the tale.  The story itself is one that appears to start out on a very small scale and then organically grows to warrant the involvement of more members of the Rebel Alliance.  Over all, it’s a fast moving yet well paced story that doesn’t leave readers bored but instead rapidly turning the pages.

James S. A. Corey continue the quite excellent Empire and Rebellion pattern started by Martha Wells and get Han and Leia’s characterizations absolutely spot on.  It’s refreshing to get to continue to see them portrayed like this.  As Brian noted in his short Go/No-Go review yesterday, Han’s voice can be rather tricky for writers to truly nail but it’s absolutely spot on here.  Leia’s characterization has depth to it that not every writer gets and I particularly enjoyed watching Han’s slow realization that he’s not quite as different from the Rebels as he might have previously thought.  Even Luke and Wedge who admittedly don’t get tons of page time, give off the right character vibes especially given the time period.

It’s not just with established characters that the authors excel but also when it comes to their original creations.  Scarlet Hark is fabulous.  It could have been so easy for her to veer straight into tired femme fatale spy trope territory and yet she oh so thankfully never does.  She’s a professional who’s really quite good at her job but who maintains a fun sense of humor that plays well against Han’s, well, everything.  Mark Scarlet down as another Empire and Rebellion character who definitely needs to make another appearance or five in the Expanded Universe.

Another thing that Honor Among Thieves does well is how it handles Han’s backstory and current situation in life.  The bounty on his head usually gets at least name checked in other novels set between A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back but it’s mostly left at that.  In contrast, SWEARHAT turns it into a crucial party of the story without letting it completely dominate the book.  There’s not much more that can really be said without veering into spoiler territory but it’s just a really well used aspect of Han Solo.

Strong characterization and an enjoyable storyline put the latest Expanded Universe addition solidly in the ‘give it a read’ category for just about everyone interested.

I give Honor Among Thieves a 4/5 along with a recommendation that you give it a read.

Thank you to Del Rey for providing us with an advanced copy for review purposes.