Audiobook Review: Star Wars YA Title Asks Millennium Falcon Smugglers to Pay a “Pirate’s Price”

Audiobook Review: Star Wars YA Title Asks Millennium Falcon Smugglers to Pay a “Pirate’s Price”

In the Disney era at Lucasfilm, the Millennium Falcon has become like the family car of the Star Wars franchise. Han gets it when he needs it for work, but sometimes Lando has it and sometimes Rey gets to take it out for a spin. It has signature knick-knacks and cluttered drawers. You know way more than you want to about who’s hooked up in it.

Now, young readers — and adult Falcon lore completists — have a new series of books to escape in(to). The Flight of the Falcon illustrated books, set sometime after The Last Jedi, follow freelance spy Bazine Netal as she searches for the Falcon in the employ of an unknown party.

The first book, Lando’s Luck (2018), was largely a flashback to the pre-Solo era, when the Falcon belonged to Lando. It took Calrissian and his copilot L3-37 on an adventure with a stowaway ice-planet princess, and it was passably entertaining.

Now, we have the second book in the series. Pirate’s Price, written by Lou Anders (author of the Thrones & Bones series) and also illustrated by Annie Wu, centers on an amiable scoundrel named Hondo Ohnaka, a familiar character from various Clone Wars stories. The eponymous pirate is a Weequay, a species OG trilogy fans will recognize from Jabba’s skiff.

When Netal tracks him down at Black Spire Outpost, Ohnaka claims to have the Falcon — but before he’ll negotiate a price, Ohnaka wants to share a few stories so the spy will understand just how much the ship means to him.

Ohnaka’s stories take us back to three adventures. One, set between Solo and Star Wars, has Ohnaka joining a surprised Han and Chewie for a jewel heist that ends with them all more or less saving the galaxy. Then, Ohnaka remembers a time (after Return of the Jedi, before The Force Awakens) when he and Maz Kanata had to rescue Solo and Chewbacca from a starship chop shop.

Finally, Ohnaka relates a time he borrowed the Falcon from Chewbacca — after The Last Jedi, when a pack of porgs came along for the ride. That’s one of two stories in which alien poop provides a plot point.

Audiobook narrator Jim Cummings (the voice of Darkwing Duck) actually pulls off the feat of reading nearly the entire book in Ohnaka’s unplaceable accent without becoming unlistenable. The Random House producers are getting better and better at audio editing on these titles, deftly plucking sound effects and music (dig what the robot DJ is spinning at Black Spire) to complement the story.

Anders, too, goes above and beyond in crafting an intricate (by middle-grade standards) plot that ties all three stories together, and in imagining environments including an elaborately shielded safety-deposit planet. There’s also a world where cities are built on the shells of gargantuan grazing creatures that move in herds, so buildings constantly rearrange themselves.

You don’t want to get caught underneath a city like that. Needless to say, Hondo does. That’s what you get for trying to steal the most famous hunk of junk in the galaxy.

– Jay Gabler