Lando Calrissian and the Starcave of ThonBoka (1983) – L. Neil Smith

L. Neil Smith ends his adventures with Lando Calrissian this week in the third book in the series that followed the young gambler, rogue and scoundrel. It would be a long eight years before any of us realised that the world could tell more, then, official stories.

Smith’s novel wraps up all the story and character threads that he laid down, starting with the first novel, and it ends up being a pretty enjoyable ride, with the one of the exceptions being the title. The Starcave of ThonBoka sounds cool, but we learn in an early chapter that starcave and ThonBoka mean pretty much the same thing, so the starcave of the starcave?

Lando and his loyal droid Vuffi Raa encounter an intelligent space-faring creature that needs their help, and a final fight for survival draws all of their old enemies out of the woodwork, and we learn how everything connects, and ties in to the other adventures Smith has guided Calrissian through.

But Calrissian isn’t the only one in trouble, Vuffi has his own enemies with a worthy cause of revenge, but the truth will be outed, and discoveries will be made even as the space-faring creatures engage the Imperial Navy in a fight for their very existence.

Like the other novels in the trilogy, it is a short, fast-paced tale that gives us an interesting look at Calrissian as a younger man, even as he begins to think about settling down somewhere and making a name for himself.

It’s a fun story, I wish Smith had made the villains interactions with the possibly Imperial (?) fleet a little more plain. Are they working with the Empire, are they part of the Empire? Are the Imperials flying TIEs? None of that is really made clear, but the rest of the story is pretty damned enjoyable, and all comes down to our characters playing numerous rounds of that ever popular game, sabacc.

As much as I enjoy Star Wars, especially as a kid, I don’t think I would have liked these stories as much when they first came out. Smith’s style of storytelling wouldn’t have appealed to me at the time, and as mentioned before, if it was Han Solo at the centre of the story, then I wasn’t really interested in reading them.

I’m glad times have changed.

The story set in a galaxy far, far away continues in 1991, when the Expanded Universe got a solid kick with the first volume in Timothy Zahn’s new trilogy, beginning with Heir to the Empire. I cannot wait to revisit that one, but until that time, may the Force be with you…

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