While I'm still absolutely beat from Star Wars Celebration (which is what made this post a day late), my on-flight entertainment was a re-read of Last Shot, a Star Wars book that I loved the first time around and even more on a second go. This fun book takes us on a journey through four different storylines, all of which weave through each other to create a single story. It's compelling, is a great read for Han and Lando fans, and introduces us to a host of new, very exciting characters. It also provides some good in-universe worldbuilding, especially for fans of droids and people who's interest was piqued by L3's passion for droid liberation in Solo. Plus, those who like Daniel José Older's other Star Wars work, he brings that same personality to this book that makes its story so fun, even though this book gets very, very dark.
Spoilers ahead for Last Shot by Daniel José Older!
Han and Lando of course are the main focus of the novel, both their characters on an individual level as well as the dynamic between them. I liked seeing them at this transitory period for both. Han is settling into the domestic life as a husband and father, while Lando has come back to run Cloud City again during peacetime. I loved the scenes of little Ben Solo and reading about Han, who is usually so confident, being nervous about his abilities in parenthood. And of course, how they get sucked back into the action again. Reading about their adventure and the snarkiness (which Older captures very well) is so much fun.
There are a good number of new characters introduced, but my favorites are Kaasha and Peekpa. Kaasha was a member of the Free Ryloth Movement that Cham Syndulla led, and she and Lando had a brief fling. However, when she gets involved into the story, we can tell that Lando and Kaasha's feelings for each other are much more than that, despite their denial and reservations about it all. However, the care for each other is very much there and they have a very sweet romance in the book. I also wanted to spotlight Peekpa, and adorable Ewok tech expert. She is so cute, and sassy (though most can't understand her), and her knowledge gets them out of trouble quite a bit. She's also a big fan of Chewie since he saved her sister in the Battle of Endor, and it's just the sweetest thing ever.
The main plot of the book follows a madman leading a droid supremacy cult (though this leader himself is organic), who is building up to this huge transmitter that will reprogram droids across the galaxy to turn on organics and kill them all, believing droids to be the superior beings who should be ruling the galaxy. It's scary, and creepy, especially since he takes organic body parts to fix droids (only fair since organics use mechanical prosthetics... right?). He actually kidnaps some poor Wookiee kids and uses their arms. The visuals of this book are pretty revolting if you can imagine the mishmashed creations of his. Our heroic crew of course shuts down the whole operation, but... still pretty spooky. The droid cult is weird, but very cool. The one guy cut off his arms to donate to droids. It's like a whole thing.
This book follows 4 storylines, the main one being after Return of the Jedi when Han and Lando have to go stop this guy from taking over every droid in the galaxy (to give them their freedom, he says, he isn't exactly thinking too clearly). We also, however, get a storyline of Han a little after Solo when he had a run-in with the special transmitter device the guy is using, how he and Sana Starros stole it but Han jettisoned it into space when he misunderstood that Sana was bluffing to the groups fighting over it. We also get to see the backstory of the droid cult leader himself, Fyzen Gorr.
He actually has a really interesting backstory that is equally sad and just creepy. He was a medical student kidnapped by a gang, they got stuck in the desert with a medical droid and his friend who'd been mortally shot. When working with the medical droid and seeing its surgical precision, he begins to realize that droids are so superior, and why is it fair to use droid parts to fix humans when it should be the other way around? It's honestly pretty scary to see his descent into madness, but also just such a cool take on a character.
The other storyline follows Lando and L3 before Solo, where L3 is investigating the device and she pieces together Fyzen Gorr's plan (who they have a brief run-in with in space). Unbeknownst to Lando, L3 has her own special mission that she works on privately while with him, building a team to be ready to take down Gorr and stop him from using droids to kill organics. It's actually kind of nice to know that L3 had this mission all along, and though she didn't get to see it to fruition, Lando completed it for her by destroying the transmitter. He himself was actually rescued by L3's team, who she had given special orders to protect him specifically. It all comes full circle in a really sweet way.