James Luceno's Star Wars books have always been hit or miss for me. I've enjoyed the majority of them, though, and I'm a big Millenium Falcon/Han Solo fan, so when I heard about the latest hardcover coming out, I just knew I had to own it. Titled, fittingly enough, Millennium Falcon, it supposedly tells the history of this "fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy." It's too bad that Luceno forgot to make it, you know, interesting and all that.
Taking place a few years after the Legacy of the Force trilogy (which I haven't read yet), Han Solo and his wife Leia have a new ward named Allana (for those of you who haven't read that trilogy either, I won't reveal who that is). On a routine flight onboard the Falcon, Allana finds a weird contraption on the ship, something which Han surprisingly has no clue about what it is. Meanwhile, a pilot from the time of Emperor Palpatine's ascension, who was flying the Falcon (though it was called something else) on a last ditch mission until a collision in space, has awoken from his sixty year coma with a phrase in his mind and a determination to discover just what the Republic senators had hidden in his ship that was so important. For that, he'll need to find his old ship. Needless to say, these stories end up intersecting.
The concept behind Millennium Falcon is actually quite nice: a pleasant little treasure hunt for the Solos after the horrible events of Legacy. In fact, that's the tone that Luceno sets throughout the book. There is very little real sense of danger anywhere in this book, which makes the one or two places where there is a little danger seem completely out of place, not to mention tacked on. The Solos backtrack along the Falcon's previous owners; meanwhile, Jadak is moving from his time forward, and the inevitability of their meeting just hangs throughout the novel. The plot jumps back and forth between the two, and occasionally also covers a collector of "Republicana" (mementos of the days before the Emperor) who is also determined to find whatever treasure Jadak is seeking.
There are a few scenes here and there that look like they'll lead into the next series (as advertised in the back of this one, so that's not a guess), but these also feel out of place in what seems otherwise to be a standalone adventure. In fact, if this is supposed to be some kind of bridge between the two series, it makes the whole book seem even more inconsequential and pointless as nothing really happens except these couple of scenes. Maybe the new series will end up making this a crucial book, but that doesn't prevent the reader from asking "what was the point of this again?" at the end of this book.
This would all be fine if Luceno had written a book with interesting characters and situations. Unfortunately, he hasn't. Han and Leia are, as usual, great (they're hard to get wrong, though Luceno has succeeded with Han before). It's the rest of the characters who I really had trouble caring anything about. There were quite a few owners of the Falcon between Jadak and Han, and I only cared about a couple of their stories, thus making the others' stories truly boring. Chapter-ending cliffhangers are brought to uninteresting conclusions (one of them is actually resolved "off camera"!), the stories being told by the previous owners didn't grab me at all, and the stench of mediocrity just shone through this book like a beacon.
In fact, some of the stories just seemed like an attempt to showcase a "great idea" Luceno had but didn't want to build a full story around. Ohhhh! What if there was a planet that took our litigious society to an extreme, and judges and lawyers are the celebrities! Ohhhh! How about a planet with an intergalactic pet show, where some of the owners are even weirder-looking than the pets!!! Ohhhhh, please. And don't get me started on the coincidence that brings all three sets of characters together for the finale.
That's not to say that the book was all bad, of course. There are a couple of nice nods to the old Brian Daley Han Solo books (I caught two of them from memory, but he may have referenced all three). It was fun to see Leia and Han (and Allana, too, but I'm not familiar with her character) all enjoying themselves a bit after all of the horror they faced in the previous series. There are also a few good humorous spots in the book, especially those involving Jadak's co-opted companion, Poste.
Overall, though, Millennium Falcon doesn't live up to its namesake, and the ship may never forgive Luceno for it. It's filler material in the grand Star Wars saga, but even filler material is supposed to be *good* filler. This isn't, and it seems like such a waste.