Way back when I first started my other blog, Star Wars: My Point of View, I did a few book reviews before I began this more formal book review site. I thought I’d repost some of those here, starting with Solo: A Star Wars Story. I had tied it in with my weekly Women of Star Wars feature I was doing at the time, so this “review” is mostly about Q’ira and L3-37, but it does point out some extras in the book that weren’t in the movie.
Here’s the original blog post:
I loved Solo: A Star Wars Story, and was eager to read the novelization in hopes of getting some more insight into the characters, and I wasn’t disappointed.
What I especially loved about the book was that it gave us more insight into the two female characters, Q’ira and L-3. There’s a scene in the movie where Q’ira engages L-3 in conversation while on the Millenium Falcon, and it’s expanded in the book to give us some more backstory to both characters.
After L-3 quips that’s “It works,” referring to a possible relationship between herself and Lando, she goes on to ask Q’ira what her story is. A flashback scene takes us into Q’ira’s memories after Han escaped Corellia while she didn’t. She’s brought back to Lady Proxima, and as she realizes she’ll have to stand in for Han’s crimes as well as her own, “Resentment, a seed planted in dry ground at the spaceport, got a little bit of water and began to squirm very slightly in her chest.” She’s glad he got out, but…she didn’t.
Lady Proxima sells her to a slave dealer, who eventually sells her to Dryden Voss. The first year was “hell” filled with escape attempts and beatings. But on her last attempt, he’s impressed enough to offer her a chance to use her potential and work for him. He teaches her Teras Kasi, a fighting style meant for nonforce users to use against Jedi. She’s not free, but she does gain some power, as in becoming his right hand. She has luxuries, she lives unshackled, and can take part in Crimson Dawn business. Nevertheless, “the chain that attached them wasn’t one of physical links, but something she knew could never break.”
L-3 intuits this, and asks her “What’s your restraining bolt?” The answer, of course, is Dryden Voss himself, and at the end of the book, Q’ira removes her restraining bolt by killing him.
Q’ira asks L-3 about her story, and L-3 tells her that her first owner, after cleaning her sensors, forgot to put her restraining bolt back. She used the parts in his workshop to modify herself and download data, and left to look for work. Alas, no one wanted to hire her as an independent contractor rather than use as a droid slave. Until Lando. He took a chance on her, and they’d been flying together ever since, all the while L-3 never giving up on her quest to liberate any droid she could find.
I loved these two females having a “girl talk”, discussing the limited choices they could make within their constricted lives, and the nature of freedom and oppression. L-3 is actually freer than Q’ira: she’s there by her own choice, while Q’ira is beholden to Voss.
We get much more from L-3 when she’s plugged into the Millenium Falcon after her “death.” At first she resists, not wanting to become a slave to humans again, as a ship doing what they want her to do. But the Falcon talks to her and convinces her that it’s either meld with the ship and become one with it, or die. She can live on, and become part of something bigger.
I love, love, love that we get to hear the Falcon actually speak to L-3 (well, through its circuitry). It’s what we knew all along: the Millenium Falcon is a character in its own right. Once L-3 does merge with the ship, its character becomes a combination of concern, and even love, for its owner(s), a vast navigational knowledge, and a bit of sass. Sounds about right.
We even get a scene of Lando talking to L-3 one last time once she’s plugged into the ship’s computer, which is touching. They trade jokes and insults before saying goodbye, and then her individual consciousness fades away into the Falcon. One last flicker thinks This is tolerable.
In the Epilogue, we get another scene that was not in the movie, but that was satisfying in that it connected to another Star Wars stand-alone: Rogue One.
The young woman who is Enfys Nest has travelled to meet with Saw Gerrera, to deliver all that coaxium she stole from the Crimson Dawn for her cause. She’s surprised that he brought along a girl, about eleven years old, with him: Jyn Erso.
He brought her along because he wants Jyn “to learn.” Seeing how young she is, Enfys, who is young herself at sixteen, removes her helmet so Jyn can see her. “They’re going to underestimate you,” she says to Jyn. “Make them regret it.”
As they all walk onto her shuttle to discuss the coaxium, Jyn whispers to Enfys, “He’s going to underestimate you,” referring to Saw. The last few lines of the book is:
Enfys smiled to herself. The girl learned fast. They might be in good hands after all.
This was a wonderful little bridge to Rogue One, and a great ending to a excellent novelization.
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