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Star Wars: Canto Bight Book Review

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“Canto Bight” is a fun anthology “Star Wars” book.

Del Rey understands if you have “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” fever and have wisely released a new (sort of) tie-in book titled “Canto Bight.” The 4 story anthology book revolves entirely around the Las Vegas esque city Canto Bight on the planet Cantonica which is soon to be seen in the forthcoming TLJ. So, how do the stories fare? Read on to find out!

“Canto Bight” kicks off with the first and I believe best story “Rules of the Game” by Saladin Ahmed. The story follows a Wermal named Kedpin who wins a dream vacation to Canto Bight. Alas, his vacation turns into a vacation from hell when Anglang (a Caskadag alien hitman) plans to trick and use Kedpin to kill a target. The author does a fine job of making two brand new characters come to life while also making you care about them. That’s tough to do. On top of that, he creates a fun “fish out of water” story of sorts with plenty of twists and turns along the way.

The second tale here is “The Wine In Dreams” by Mira Grant. For me, this is the weakest of the lot although it is certainly not without merit. The ensemble story revolves around a wine merchant/sommelier named Derla, the Grammus sisters (wine owners), a former hotel clerk named Calla that the sisters “acquired,” a club owner named Ubialla and a coveted wine. I won’t say anymore than that. The problem with this story is that it feels a bit too Earthly and not very Star Warsy. It contains a very wordy and drawn out plot about reputations, wine, and business that goes out with a whimper in the end. The story does do a commendable job with characterization and conveying the Casino Bight atmosphere though.

“Hear Nothing, See Nothing, Say Nothing” by Rae Carson is the third of four stories. This one finds a masseur (Lexo) trying to rescue his daughter Lula from the clutches of a councilor/gangster named Big Sturg Gamma. The title of this one refers to Lexo’s motto, but, as you can guess, he has to put the motto aside to save his daughter. It’s basically like a “Taken” movie, but it’s still intense and manages to paint a picture of the seedy side of Casino Bight while also shedding light on other facets of the city (such as the fathier races).

Last up is “The Ride” by John Jackson Miller in which a proposition player for a casino (Kaljach) is tasked with paying a huge debt back to Big Sturg Ganna. With time and luck running out, Kaljach befriends 3 brothers known as the Lucky Three who just may change his life and save him from being killed. “The Ride” is an enjoyable story with danger, luck, quirky characters, and lots of gaming, but the story’s focus on sometimes convoluted fictional gambling games that no one knows anything about is a little odd. Still, it’s hard not to get swept up in Kaljach’s journey.

Anyone that appreciated “Star Wars” novels like “Tales From the Mos Eisley Cantina” are sure to be entertained by “Canto Bight.” None of these tales are earth shattering and none of these tales reveal anything huge from a canon perspective, but the book does its job in painting a picture of Casino Bight. Having now just seen “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” I can honestly say that the book’s stories and depiction of the planet are better than what we got in Episode 8. I was far more compelled by these 4 stories than the subplot from the film as we were able to spend more time on Canto in this book and didn’t have to witness a goofy chase scene (you’ll know it when you see it). That’s a real testament to the writer’s skills as storytellers I think.

Overall Thoughts: Whatever you may think of the Canto Bight sequence in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” don’t let that dissuade you from checking this book out. It’s worth a read.

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December 15, 2017 - Posted by | Book review | , ,

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