Timothy Zahn’s newest Star Wars book, Scoundrels, is available now. Last month, Unbound Worlds looked at The Paradise Snare, the first book in A.C. Crispin’s Han Solo Trilogy. The idea was to inform you, the reader, about a character who features prominently in Scoundrels, so that you’ll be better prepared to understand the journey he takes in Zahn’s latest novel. Having provided a concentrated dose of Han Solo back-story, Unbound Worlds is now recommending The Lando Calrissian Adventures by L. Neil Smith for an excellent look inside the mind of everyone’s favorite Cloud City Baron Administrator.
Of course, when the Expanded Universe first encounters Lando Calrissian, he’s many years away from the job of leading Cloud City and keeping its mining operation out of trouble. Just how does Lando Calrissian change as a person and grow from a cocky young man to…well, an even cockier and slightly older man? The Lando Calrissian Adventures gives you over four hundred pages of pure, concentrated Lando. Whether you swooned at the man in the purple cape in The Empire Strikes Back or envied him, you’ll want to pick up this book. It’s the perfect prequel to Scoundrels, in which Lando has to make some tough choices regarding his on-again, off-again friend Han Solo.
The Adventures of Lando Calrissian by L. Neil Smith
Released in paperback on June 1, 1994
Set in the Rise of the Empire era, 4 years BBY (Before the Battle of Yavin, the destruction of the Death Star as seen in the original film)
This omnibus collects these three novels first published in 1983:
- Star Wars: Lando Calrissian and the Mindharp of Sharu
- Star Wars: Lando Calrissian and the Flamewind of Oseon
- Star Wars: Lando Calrissian and the Starcave of ThonBoka
Characters (all three stories)
- Lando Calrissian
- Del Cycer
- Lob Doluff
- Stec Eddis
- Mors Eth
- Arun Feb
- Vett Fori
- Waywa Fybot
- Rokur Gepta
- Den Sait Glass
- Glee Jun
- Myle Jandler
- Duttes Mer
- Bohhuah Mutdah
- Bern Nuladeg
- T. Lund Phuna
- Vuffi Raa
- Klyn Shanga
- The One
- The Other
- Bassi Vobah
- Osuno Whett
Lando Calrissian and the Mindharp of Sharu
Gambler, rogue, and con-artiste, Lando Calrissian was born with a well-developed taste for the good life. More comfortable at the dealer’s end of a fast shuffle than at the rear end of a blaster, Lando always had his sensors scanning for the chance to pick up easy credits.
So when he heard that the planets of the Rafa System were practically buried in ancient alien treasure, he hopped aboard the Millennium Falcon and brushed up on his rusty astrogation. He never stopped to think that someone might be conning the con man…
Lando Calrissian and the Flamewind of Oseon
A solar system with little more than luxury hotels catering to the underemployed filthy-rich, the Oseon was every gambler’s dream come true. And so it was for Lando Calrissian, gambler, rogue, and con-artiste. Until he broke the gambler’s cardinal rule: never beat a cop at high-stake games of chance.
Soon Lando and his feckless five-armed robot companion were being stalked by two enemies—one they knew but could not see, and one they saw but did not recognize…until it was too late.
Lando Calrissian and the Starcave of ThonBoka
For a year Lando Calrissian and Vuffi Raa, his five-armed robot astrogator, had roamed space in the Millennium Falcon, seeking or creating opportunities to turn an easy, but not too dishonest, credit.
But now their partnership seemed doomed—for Lando’s uncharacteristic impulse to help a race of persecuted aliens had suddenly made him and Vuffi vulnerable to several sets of their own enemies…not least of whom was the evil Rokur Gepta, the Sorcerer of Tund!
Why is this a good gateway book? Why does it “matter” to Star Wars?
The Lando Calrissian Adventures are great stories for a multitude of reasons, some of them related to Lando himself and others related to the era in which the book was written. First published in 1983 as individual novels and collected into an omnibus edition eleven years later, these tales are classic Star Wars adventures featuring one of the saga’s most classic characters. L. Neil Smith captures Lando Calrissian exactly as he appeared in The Empire Strikes Back. He’s suave, he’s smooth, he’s sarcastic, and he’s savvy. If you enjoyed Lando’s scenes on Cloud City, you will find that this trilogy of stories feels like a natural extension of that milieu.
These stories show us Lando when he was still in command of the Millennium Falcon, during the time in his life when gambling was still his best bet, so to speak, for success. The interesting thing about The Lando Calrissian Adventures, though, is that it blends Lando’s past with hints of his future. While this Lando is mostly a loner and he makes his living by moving from place to place, it is also in this book that he meets someone who will become his partner for several years, someone who will give him his first hint of the benefits of teamwork: the bizarre droid Vuffi Raa.
As much fun as it is to read the banter between Han Solo and Chewbacca, there’s something about Vuffi Raa that makes him just as enjoyable a sidekick to Lando as the Wookiee is to his best friend. Vuffi Raa is enigmatic and compelling, his past inscrutable and his present still full of surprises. For a droid, he certainly has an interesting personal history, even if Lando doesn’t learn the truth until the end of the book, when the two part ways. Despite, or perhaps because of, his mysterious nature, Vuffi Raa becomes a loyal companion to Lando, and there are times when the gambler’s fidelity to that friendship overwhelms his instinct for self-preservation.
Just as the early Han Solo adventures showed us Han learning to put aside his reservations about helping others, The Lando Calrissian Adventures drops us into a time in Lando’s life when he’s seeing for the first time what it would be like to reach out to others for more than just temporary assistance. While he has no doubt worked with fellow shady characters for the duration of a particular job, he has resisted any move toward “settling down,” and that includes forming lasting relationships of any kind. In a sense, Vuffi Raa softens up the ground for Lando’s eventual commitment to the Rebel Alliance.
In addition to shootouts at spaceports and space battles with more vessel acrobatics than any sane pilot should attempt, The Lando Calrissian Adventures explore problems of interstellar proportions and ancient mysteries with dangerous solutions. It’s far and away more epic of a tale than Han Solo’s early adventures. There are bizarre creatures, from Vuffi Raa to living spaceships called the Oswaft, whose involvement in the book’s various conflicts only deepens the mystery. The first story focuses on the mystery of a long-lost civilization, and while some readers might balk at the mention of archeology in an EU novel, the storytelling is layered with the kind of technological and mystical complexity and danger that only Star Wars can provide.
If you’re looking forward to seeing Han and Lando reunited in Scoundrels, I strongly recommend reading The Lando Calrissian Adventures. There’s no shortage of strange and wondrous characters and situations in this book. From the sabacc table to the Falcon’s cockpit and every seedy bar in between, the adventure is specifically built around Lando Calrissian. Within its pages, it employs every quality that makes him stand out on screen, from his flair for the dramatic to his con-man’s poker face. If there’s one thing that can be said with some confidence about Star Wars fans, especially those who grew up with the Original Trilogy movies, it’s this: who doesn’t want more Lando in their Star Wars?
Eric Geller is a college student majoring in political science whose interests include technology, journalism, and of course Star Wars. He reviews The Clone Wars TV series and manages social media for Star Wars fan site TheForce.Net. He is originally from the Washington, D.C. area.