Still catching up on older Star Wars books that missed my radar- this one is from 2014. Ezra's Gamble by Ryder Windham is a story about Ezra shortly before we see him meeting the rest of the Ghost crew in Star Wars Rebels.
Spoiler-free review: this book was a really fun read! I of course love Ezra, so it was fun to see a little bit of what his life was before we got to know him in the show. Also, this book is a great look into the Imperial involvement with Lothal before the show. And of course, Bossk is in this book too, creating a pretty unlikely but entertaining team-up between him and Ezra. I'd highly recommend this book as a great, quick read through a fun Star Wars Rebels adventure.
Read on for a more involved review (with spoilers) for Ezra's Gamble!
First, a simple summary of the plot: Ezra is hired to sell tickets for a not-so-legal gladiator fight that's happening, and of courses uses the opportunity so snag re-sellable items from the rich people he sells them to in the spaceport. At the same time, Bossk is arriving to try and collect an official bounty on a gambler in for the fight. However, a certain Imperial officer secretly has a lot of money tied up in the gladiator fight and has connections to the gambler, so he sets Bossk up with a trap. Ezra gets unwittingly pulled in to help Bossk get his payment, who promises him plenty of credits in exchange for help. Throughout their adventure, together they untangle the complicated web of corruption being weaved by this officer. After a very long game of cat and mouse, Bossk and Ezra find the officer at the gladiator fight. Bossk proclaims himself to the audience and with Ezra's help stuns the officer and turns him in to the Empire in exchange for handsome pay. Which Ezra gets none of, unfortunately, because Bossk tricked him. Ezra is left to go home without much to show from his day, but the end of the story does lead in to the "Property of Ezra Bridger" short, re-telling that story for us, and ending with Ezra thinking about the "diamond-shaped freighter" (aka the Ghost) that he saw and wondering if he'd ever see it again.
Of course Ezra is the best part of this book. While the Ezra we know and love by the end of Star Wars Rebels is much more... we'll say virtuous, the loth-rat, "space Aladdin" Ezra is pretty fun too. It's pretty entertaining to read about him swindling and stealing from people, especially those who look down on him. Ezra also has a pretty sweet moment with a friend of his towards the beginning of the book, a girl the same age named Moreena. Moreena's family is moving from Lothal to live with her grandmother on Alderaan (yikes), and she and Ezra have to say goodbye. Moreena expresses worry for Ezra, since he lives all alone and doesn't really have anything, but Ezra dismisses her concern, saying he doesn't want to leave Lothal. However, we can tell that Ezra isn't really as happy with his life as he claims to be, as he's pretty hurt by Bossk making comments about his father later in the book. We also got to see Ezra's trademark craftiness through this adventure. He's pretty smart, and is able to come up with tricks to take down enemies bigger and more armed than him, making him turn out to be a pretty valuable ally for Bossk, especially when Ezra takes it upon himself to heal Bossk after he gets hurt and take him to his home to be safe.
Bossk is pretty fun to read too, but for me mostly because he provides some insight into the relationship that the Empire has with bounty hunters. According to the book, the Bounty Hunter's Guild makes legal contracts with the Empire to hunt down criminals the Empire sees to be worth spending the credits and resources on. So Bossk would be operating totally within Imperial law... if the corrupt Imperial officer didn't set him up for his own gain. It was just an interesting thing I liked. Of course, I was a little upset with Bossk for not paying Ezra what he owed... but I also think that if Ezra did get those thousands of credits, he may not have needed to be in a position to meet the Ghost Crew the way that he did (stealing from the Empire), so maybe it was for the best.
All in all, I really enjoyed Ezra's Gamble. It was a cute, fun little story featuring our favorite loth-rat Jedi forming an unlikely alliance with Bossk, and if you haven't already, I'd recommend picking it up if you get the chance.