With Qi’ra back in the spotlight and about to headline her own comic book series in the new year, Crimson Reign, it seems only appropriate to revisit the story where she was introduced to us all!
I often forget just how much context the more recent novelizations provide for the movie. Obviously, what’s on screen takes precedence. But with everything now being overseen as part of the same large story, and any existing tidbit ripe for the plucking, reading Qi’ra’s backstory was the part of the book that drew my attention the most. Purely for the sheer potential. With that, let’s just get right to it. This is Solo: A Star Wars Story by Mur Lafferty.
Parts I Liked
Qi’ra. Alright on to the next part.
OK, I’m kidding. Kind of. Han’s parts of the book are written in a fairly straightforward way. Lafferty expands on his point of view, but there’s nothing she says about him that we haven’t already picked up through watching the movies, or through other media. It’s Han Solo, it’s not exactly like he’s new, you know? Though it is nice to see that his drive to do the right thing, and the good heart underneath the gruff was always there.
Now Qi’ra on the other hand. Her part in the book is greatly expanded from what we see in the movie. A lot of what is made explicit here is inferred from Emilia Clarke’s performance, where she manages to convey the horror of Qi’ra’s life in the last three years with little to no dialogue.
Now with the knowledge that we’re getting so much more Qi’ra in Star Wars, I’m keen to see how the details of her backstory shake out. The terrible things that Dryden Vos put her through, and her future partnership with Maul to eventually succeeding him as head of Crimson Dawn. Qi’ra has so much story ahead of her. Her sections are by far the strongest in this book, likely because it wasn’t a story we already knew, and also now because we know that well is just going to be pulled from and made all the richer.
Parts I Disliked
As a character, I loved L3-37. Se was funny, I liked that her ability to communicate in Basic came with a very sarcastic, passionate personality, and I was very upset when she died.
Solo is generally full of a lot of Easter egg justifications for why certain things in Han Solo’s life are the way that they are. His relationship with Lando for instance, or how he wound up working for Jabba. When L3 dies and is plugged into the Falcon, it feels like the story’s way of explaining how the ship got the peculiar dialect C-3PO mentions in Empire Strikes Back.
This didn’t bother me in the movie. In all honesty, I didn’t think about it much. But in giving everyone, including L3 their own point of view, the sequence of the droid becoming a part of the ship went from missable to horrifying.
All L3 wants is her independence. She doesn’t want to be a slave to anyone or anything. But in an effort to save their lives, Lando plugs her consciousness into the ship where it slowly melds and becomes one with the shipboard system. She resists. She hates it. And in the end she just accepts it. She has to. It’s impossible to separate her from the ship, and eventually she is lost to it forever. I don’t know if this was supposed to be some kind of beautiful “some version of L3 lives on forever” but to me it read like being stuck inside your own body and unable to scream.
A lot is made of the Cloud Riders being “marauders who take what they want, when they want it”. I’m not the first to say it, but if these aren’t the remnants of the Nihil, I will frankly be stunned.
I love a well-placed, subtle meta joke, and Han Solo hating eels the way Indiana Jones hates snakes is simply priceless.
On the note of subtle meta jokes, Han reflects on everything he has survived on his mission, and says he didn’t live through all that just to fall in line with a new master like Vos. The things he specifically lists, in order, are “firefights and tentacles and carbonite and fancy caped guys who apparently held grudges”, and if that doesn’t sound like what’s about to hit him the minute he picks up a farm kid and an old wizard to go rescue a princess then I don’t know what to tell you.
This website is a labour of love. If you’ve enjoyed this review, consider buying me a coffee to help keep it going?