Razor’s Edge is the first in a loose trilogy of books commissioned in the Star Wars Expanded Universe* designed to let bigger name sci-fi authors play around with the characters in this world, and also to spotlight each of the ‘Big Three’ in their own novels. Each novel can stand on its own, but they all take place in the time between Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back, after the destruction of the first Death Star. Razor’s Edge is Leia’s novel, and while I thought it did a nice job with highlighting Leia herself, I think it could have been better overall.
*The first two books in the trilogy (the second written by sci-fi superstar James S.A. Corey) were released before Disney killed the EU, so technically the first two are no longer canon, and are relegated to ‘Legends’ status, while Kevin Hearne’s book Heir to the Jedi is official in the new EU. I get the feeling it won’t matter, though. Hearne’s respect for Star Wars probably means it can be read with either canon in mind, although I have no idea what, if anything, was changed in his book after the EU was, ahem, forcibly retired.
It’s been about a year since the Death Star was destroyed at Yavin 4, and the Rebellion is trying to leverage as much as they can out of their victory, even as the Empire increases its efforts to put them down. What they really need in order to push the rebellion to the next stage is a base, where necessary maintenance and training can occur safely and secretly. But to build a base they need supplies, and funding. This where Leia’s most recent mission comes in. She and select rebels (including Han Solo, mmmmmm, not ashamed) have headed off for a clandestine meeting with potential financiers, but they are waylaid, first by an Imperial ship that has obviously been tipped off to the location they were to exit hyperspace, and second by a band of rogue Alderaanian pirates. Leia, Han and a couple of others board their ship to talk, and end up at a giant haven full of dastardly space pirates, with the Alderaanian crew that is waaaaay over their heads.
This is where Leia takes over for the Alderaanian captain, trying to negotiate and navigate the complicated terrain of pirate politics, and free the Alderaanians from a contract they never should have taken in the first place. There is also a subplot about Han and some of the other crewmembers trying to rescue captured merchants about to be sold into slavery, and a second subplot involving the spy that sold them out to the Empire.
I enjoyed this book. Leia was wonderfully competent and take charge. She knows when to hit and when to run, and navigates the tricky terrain of the pirate base with impressive ease. Even Han (who is busy fighting his attraction to her, and vice versa) admits often that her strength and feisty attitude are two of the reasons he is so drawn to her. Wells does a nice job with their dynamic, and with the dynamics of the other characters as well. The heart of this book is Leia’s inner conflict over her loyalty to the Alderaanians as survivors from that doomed planet, and her duty to the rebellion. I actually wish there had been more of that, and maybe a little less with Han and the other rebels, although I get why they’re in there. Wells’s style is also very simple and straightforward, maybe too much so, as I think she missed several emotional hotspots in her narrative that would have made the book pop. There was too much focus on the machinations of her plot, and not enough on the thing that makes the plot important in the first place: the characters.
Overall, glad I read this, but it’s not the best, especially now that I’m halfway through Corey’s Han Solo adventure, and his style is so vivid and unique and is written with such obvious pleasure that this book pales in comparison, sadly.