Jesse from Star Wars Book Report is back with number 9 of his top ten favorite Star Wars Expanded Universe moments of all time. This time he takes us to the pages of THE PARADISE SNARE and a quite emotional moment from the life of everyone’s favorite smuggler-rebel Han Solo.
I grew up in Florida, and I have a great deal of family in Tennessee, and there was nothing in this world I hated more than the drive to Tennessee to visit relatives. It was not because I had to hear about how much I have grown even though I was the same height and weight of my last visit. It was not that I had to share a bed with who knows how many cousins. It wasn’t because my cheeks could only take so much pinching. It was not even because of my crazy Aunt Jo Blair, nor the long drive itself. I hated going to Tennessee because of my dad’s music collection that we had to listen to for nine hours…there is only so much Porter Wagner, Hank Snow, and others who all sing through their noses, that one man can take. These old country and western stars of yesteryear drove me crazy. I begged and begged my dad to listen something current like Def Leppard, Bon Jovi; heck, I would even have listened to New Kids on the Block if it got us off of country oldies for a few minutes. But of course, I had to hear about the time my dad met this star or that star when he worked at the Grand Ole’ Opry in 1968, and he just cranked the oldies even louder.
I made a vow on one of those long journeys with myself that I would never listen to just oldies. I vowed that I would always keep my musical taste current. There was just one problem with that vow. No one told me that music was going to become horrible at the turn of the millennium. That whole Y2K business we were worried about missiles, banks, electricity, water and the like, but we totally ignored the music business, and that is where the Y2K bug attacked. and music has never been the same. Now, in my car, my kids are cultured on good music like Def Leppard, Pearl Jam, Bon Jovi, The Bangles, and even the New Kids on the Block. Please Don’t Go Girl, I must admit is a great song. One day as I was teaching my eldest daughter the lyrics to Allison’s Starting to Happen by the Lemonheads…I realized something…I have turned into my father, and you know, as horrible as I thought that was twenty years ago, now, I am kind of proud to be him because music today is just terrible. We are all products of our upbringing, and since I work with teenagers, I am fascinated about how our upbringings shape us either by imitation or by revulsion. I find the events that shape people to be fascinating, and that it why the number nine scene made the list of my favorite scenes of all time.
My 9th favorite scene is when Dewlanna helps a young Han Solo escape his basic slavery aboard the Trader’s Luck. This scene is the scene that took me from Star Wars book enthusiast to pure addict because it shows the beauty of how the books can meld perfectly with the movies by showing us how Han Solo’s upbringing shaped the man he was in the movies and the novels for that matter. This scene is from chapter one in THE PARADISE SNARE by Ann C. Crispin, which is still my favorite novel I have ever read.
You hear so much of the famed Solo luck throughout so many novels, but I have always took that comment with a heavy dose of sarcasm because Han does not begin his life very luckily. He was a street kid for nine years until he was basically enslaved by the evil Garris Shrike. He did not even know his last name until Dewlanna discovered it for him. 19 years of a hard life, and Han had finally had enough. He hatches this grand scheme to escape to Yleasia and become a pilot, and this scene opens with Han saying good bye to his only and closest friend. Han enters the kitchen and sees the Wookie Dewlanna there kneading dough. He tells her that he is going to escape, and you immediately see the mothering nature of sweet Dewlanna. She forces him to take some credits from her. She did not take no for an answer. She then messes up Han’s hair telling him that he looks better “scruffy.” Han shows his love for Dewlanna by wishing she would join him later. She is genuinely happy that Han is making a run for a better life and encourages him, and just when Han and Dewlanna are sharing a goodbye hug, the famed Solo luck kicks in and Shrike enters the room with a couple of goons because they have learned of Han’s plan.
This is where you see Dewlanna go from a sweet mother figure who forces Han to take a few credits to a mother Wookie with threatened cubs. She fights Shrike and his goons, and Dewlanna brings paws to a blaster fight, which is not good for her. Dewlanna injures the goons enough to protect Han, but she is critically wounded in the fight. Han and Dewlanna share a heart wrenching last talk where she shares her love for him, encourages him to get on with his life or her sacrifice will mean nothing, and wanted him to know that she loved him as one of her own. Han shares with her his love for her, he will make her sacrifice meaningful, and that he will always remember her, and remember Dewlanna Han Solo does.
This simple seven page scene lays the foundation for Han Solo in the rest of the Expanded Universe and explains Han Solo’s character in the movies. This scene is so great because it explains so much. It gives us a glimpse into Han Solo’s upbringing that shaped Han Solo.
This is the first time I read about Han Solo’s lopsided grin, which lopsided has become the default adjective for Solo’s smile in the books. I cannot think of any of Solo’s grins being described any other way.
It explains why Han Solo throws away his career and puts his life on the line to save a slave Wookie named Chewbacca because a Wookie saved him. He was fighting for Dewlanna’s people.
It explains why, of all the things, Leia calls Han out of anger that “scruffy” is the one that stood out to Han and hit him the hardest because Dewlanna liked him scruffy.
It explains why Han could not leave a teenage pilot to face the Death Star, because he understood what it was like to be a teenage pilot facing evil and had someone put her life on the line for him.
It explains his hatred for slavery because he was raised a slave, and he was so disgusted by the practice, he made and kept a vow against it.
It explains why Han, even though his head tells him otherwise, always fights for and does what is right no matter the odds…because his adoptive mother Dewlanna did what was right even forfeiting her life to do so. Han Solo is good to his core because of Dewlanna heart for him.
I see all of Han Solo being influenced by the love Dewlanna showed this young slave boy aboard the Trader’s Luck. This scene beautifully shows how impactful prequels can by giving a foundation for actions taking in later chronologically stories that have already been told. This back story scene gives so much in so few pages that it is truly a powerful text that helps us to understand the true enigma in the movies of a good hearted smuggler who ran spice for crime lords. In the movies, there is no reason for Han Solo to have a good heart. That is a mystery, and Ann C. Crispin explains this mystery in seven simple pages in chapter 1 of THE PARADISE SNARE.
If this was a list of what scenes do I think about the most, this scene would be number one by a mile. Every time I read about Han’s lopsided grin, I think of Dewlanna. Everytime Han faces down the odds to do what it right, I think of Dewlanna. Everytime Han stands against a wrong like slavery in the Han Solo Trilogy and Jedi Academy Trilogy and freedom in The Legacy of the Force to just name a few, I think of Dewlanna. Everytime Han Solo takes a young boy under his wing like in the movies and in the Jedi Academy Trilogy, I think of Dewlanna. This scene is the watershed moment that gives us the thinking and foundation for Han Solo, which makes this my 9th favorite scene of all time, and that is your Star Wars Book Report.
Thanks for reading and a big thanks to Steve for allowing me to share my Star Wars thoughts.
Exploring the galaxy one page at a time,