Still catching up on old Star Wars books. This one was another part of the Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens line. It's Moving Target: A Princess Leia Adventure by Cecil Castellucci and Jason Fry.
Some quick thoughts without spoiling too much for you: this book was really fun. I love Leia, obviously, everyone does, and one of my other favorite Star Wars books is Leia: Princess of Alderaan by Claudia Gray (if you'd like to see my other favorite Star Wars books, you could take this quiz) so I was really looking forward to getting to read another Leia adventure- and this book definitely didn't disappoint. This was a great look into Leia as a character and the feelings she had following the events of The Empire Strikes Back and going into Return of the Jedi. In addition, I just so happened to have scheduled my reading of this book right after my Star Wars Club at school watched Return of the Jedi, so I was able to catch a lot of small references to that movie that might have missed otherwise (for example, there's one line in the movie where an officer mentions troops gathering at Sullust, and that's talked about in the book), and that definitely enhanced my enjoyment of it. So generally, I'd recommend this book as a good and fairly quick read to any Leia fans out there, and especially following a watch of Return of the Jedi.
Read on for spoilers of Moving Target: A Princess Leia Adventure.
The book's prologue and epilogue actually take place not long before the events of The Force Awakens, as a droid urges General Organa to record memoirs of her life, in order to inspire fighters across the galaxy to rise up. Though she's a little reluctant, she does agree to go ahead with it, and decides to tell the story that we then go on to read in the book.
The book has us following the Rebellion as they're fleeing the Empire after the defeat that they suffer in The Empire Strikes Back. Chewie and Lando are currently searching for information on what Jabba has done with Han, while Luke is making plans to return to Dagobah to complete his Jedi training with Yoda. Leia, meanwhile, is being protected as a priority by the Rebellion because of her valuable skills and her position as an important symbol in the galaxy, as the surviving princess of Alderaan.
What was most interesting for me in the first part of the book, and really through the whole story, was Leia's internal conflict over what her role in the Rebellion is. She feels so guilty that so many people are willing to (and often do) lay down their lives for her, and she struggles with the fact that she's not allowed to be the one that's fighting on the front lines and risking her own life in return. Leia also struggles with a lot in this book to- she has a hard time handling her feelings for Han in the wake of him being missing, and struggling to balance her hope that he could be saved with knowing that there's a chance Jabba has executed him already. And of course, there's her ever-persistent missing of Alderaan and her parents.
In the book, Leia comes up with a plan to create fake beacons in order to lure the Empire into believing that the rebels are gathering in places that they really aren't, in order to give the actual Rebellion an opportunity to prepare themselves for the attack on Endor and the second Death Star. Leia really pushes to go herself with a team, so that she can put herself out there just as people do for her. She eventually gets her team, including Nien Nunb as the pilot, as well as three new characters. Their tinkerer is Antrot, their scanner is Kidi and the commando assigned to protect Leia (and who often ends up butting heads with Kidi over the appropriate levels of violence) is Lokmarcha.
Before Leia and her team leave for that mission, though, there's another scene from the book that I really loved. Mon Mothma stops by Leia's quarters, and the two women have a really sweet talk. We know that Mothma was close to the Organa family, so they have a pretty strong connection, and Leia really looks up to her. Mothma talks to Leia about her fears and insecurities around Alderaan, relating them to her own planet of Chandrila, as well as comforting Leia and talking to her about her parents. It's in this scene that Mothma ultimately approves the mission, but warns Leia that she must be careful.
The middle of the story primarily shows the team going to three different planets to place their beacons (using old codes hoping to draw the Empire, but only Leia and Lokmarcha are privy to that part of the plan, the others think they're actually trying to send safe messages to allies). The first planet is a world where the people there live primarily underground, and there's also disgusting bitey creatures- one flies into Leia's mouth, and it's so so gross. The next planet they went to was my favorite of the three- the team finds themselves in a beach town. This was probably among my favorite scenes- the whole team has to blend in as tourists, wearing floral shirts and shorts. It's pretty funny how much they all complain, and even funnier is Nien Nunb's reaction, asking to take a picture and absolutely loving it.
I can't go much further without talking about how much I love Nien Nunb in this book. He's just amazing. Super chill, always just running to the cantina while the others are doing the mission. While Nien Nunb doesn't talk very much in the movies, this book makes me wish he did, because he's hilarious and I totally just want to hang out with him. Personally, I'd like to see him hang out with Shriv from Battlefront II, I think that would be a great duo.
Moving forward, though. Each planet that the team goes to finds itself subjugated by the Empire after their arrival, which Leia feels guilty about, but they press on with the mission. The final planet they visit is an interesting, very flat and empty one with a farming community who, when told of their plan insists on telling the Empire that they no longer can support them, because they want to be honest. Following "honesty is the best policy" a bit too strictly, in my opinion. After the beacon is placed, though, Leia and her team stay to help them fight the Imperials off before leaving. However, after their departure Leia decides to make an adjustment to the plan. Though originally they were just going to let any unfortunate would-be rebels go to the trap rendezvous point and hope for the best, Leia decides she can't have that on her conscience. So instead, they go to the rendezvous point and warn them. Leia feels bad and is very apologetic of the fact that they put them in danger for a ruse, and the other ships flee after she warns them.
In the process, though, their ship is captured by the fearsome, cruel Captain Khione. Khione is appropriately named after the Greek goddess of snow, because she is extremely cold. She promises to torture each and every one of the team in front of Leia until she breaks- but she doesn't get the chance. Lokmarcha goes first, and detonates a hidden pulse bomb in his jacket. Unfortunately this kills him, but it does knock out the power and destabilize the ship enough for Leia to free her friends, disguise herself in Khione's uniform and steal a shuttle (the same shuttle the rebels later use to sneak onto Endor in Return of the Jedi). They lose another member of the team in the process- Antrot, who sacrifices himself in order to blow up Nien Nunb's ship that they came in.
They're able to escape the Star Destroyer- with the help of those ships earlier that Leia tricked, coming back to rescue them. The book ends with Leia reporting their successful mission to the Rebellion, and then getting a call from Luke- they're going to prepare to go rescue Han from Jabba's palace. In the epilogue, the droid finishes recording Leia's story, and Leia has a conversation with one of her lieutenants, where she relates young Poe Dameron to her younger self- she says that she worries for his willingness to throw himself at battle over commitment to the less exciting parts of his duty to the cause. She says that he's "old enough to hear, but too young to listen," which I thought was an interesting quote.
Before I wrap this up, I need to talk about Antrot. I definitely have not done him justice in this review so far. If I would relate Antrot to any character, it would be Neeku Vozo from Star Wars Resistance (which you should watch). Really good at what he does, but a little clueless socially in the most adorable way. He's kind, and sometimes says a little bit more than he's supposed to in a pretty blunt way. He's so sweet, and says he has claustrophobia when they're stuck in the caves and tunnels on the first planet, but then that he also has agoraphobia when they're out in the open in the beach town. His sacrifice really hit hard, especially because he struggled to detonate the bomb as originally planned because of binders on his wrists. See, when Leia disguised herself as Captain Khione, she pretended the others were prisoners she was transporting, and they put binders on them without clicking them all the way. However, poor Antrot thought it was a mistake, and closed his all the way so that they wouldn't get caught, leaving them without a way to get them off of him. Antrot was just adorable and I loved him so much, so it was really sad to lose him so close to the end of the story.
So, that's my review of Moving Target! I hope you decide to pick up the book yourself and give it a read, because it's definitely worth it in my view.