10 Ways the Solo: A Star Wars Story Novelization Expanded on the Film
By: Heather Goldman
SPOILER ALERT: This article contains SPOILERS for the novelization of Solo: A Star Wars Story
Time to dig out your vests and white long sleeve tees, because Han Solo season is back!
The theatrical release of Solo: A Star Wars Story back in May delivered the action we were craving and left us with jaw-dropping surprises. Then September 4th came, and many enthusiastic readers (and nearly the entire Youtini team, of course) got their hands on the novelization of the film that quickly worked its way into our hearts.
You may have picked up this title already, or had it delivered in your Youtini subscription, but we picked out the ten most exciting, expanded parts of the book for those of you who would rather have the juicy bits served on a silver platter.
1. What We Missed on Corellia
After anxiously waiting in cushy seats at the theater on opening night, audiences were greeted with a quick synopsis of the inner workings of Corellia. The words slowly faded, and we were immediately placed into the action with Han hijacking a sleek-looking speeder. In the novelization, the prologue brings us a few steps back.
The book opens with Han discussing a trade deal with Kilmo, who is simply described as “the shady back-alley dealer” (shouldn’t be too hard to find one of those on Corellia). Lady Proxima has tasked the young pilot with delivering seven vials of coaxium, but negotiations become a bit aggressive when Han shows up with only five. Now we know where he gets the vial that he shows to Qi’ra within seconds of the film starting. It should also be noted that Qi’ra actually considered leaving Han behind after he gives her the vial back at the lair.
Talk about true love, am I right?
Readers are given another extra part to the attempted escape off of Corellia, and it stinks. No, it wasn’t poorly written or anything. After getting the hijacked speeder stuck in a tight alley, Han and Qi’ra continue the chase from Moloch and Rebolt on foot through a fish market. That’s when Qi’ra has the idea of her and Han hiding in a barrel full of water and eels. Han hesitates, but figured he’d make the most of the situation by trying to kiss Qi’ra during their “romantic” alone time.
She didn’t go for it.
2. Falthina, the Customs Lady
Do you remember the customs lady who took Han and Qi’ra’s coaxium bribe before opening the doors to the spaceport on Corellia? Well it turns out she has a name: Falthina Sharest, Lead Transport Security Officer.
For being lead of security, she seems to have a bit of trouble with ethics. She claims to take her job completely seriously and shows the utmost efficiency, but the Imperial takeover of the planet caused her to become a little bitter. She tends to break minor rules here and there and accepts bribes not as bribes, but as thoughtful “gifts”.
Whatever helps you sleep at night, Falthina!
Mur Lafferty put in the extra effort to give this customs lady, whom we’ve only seen on screen for a couple minutes, a full name and title with a glimpse into what creates her attitude. One can’t help but wonder what Falthina ended up doing with her newfound treasure, and if we’ll ever see her again.
3. Han in the Imperial Academy
Many things were anticipated about what we would see in Solo: A Star Wars Story the moment it was officially announced. One of the most popular theories assumed that we would see Han Solo flying in the Imperial Flight Academy.
Alas...we did not get that scene.
However, the novel gives us a small glimpse into Han’s time fulfilling his dream of flying in space and how his airtime was cut short for having a mind of his own.
Captain Nettie Whain and Sergeant Triosa Broog argue over why Han is still in the academy despite him not being able to follow direct orders. Triosa says herself, “It’s his flight record, sir. He is useless at everything, except that when we get him in a ship he’s, well, I’ve never seen anyone with his reaction time or innovative problem-solving skills.” The Empire has seen many great pilots, so this quote proves that Han was definitely born to fly. Oh, and the fact that other cadets had crashed while attempting to pull off his tricks certainly doesn’t hurt his stellar reputation in our eyes.
Han was given one more chance to keep his position as a pilot, and you won’t believe what happens next. Under the callsign of Onyx 9, Han takes formation with his squad as they deal with a pack of raiders. When his pal, Lyttan Dree, aka Onyx 2, experiences some trouble with the enemy, Han doesn’t hesitate to break formation and save him. He should receive praise for saving a teammate, right? Not with the Empire. Han is sentenced to infantry duty, where we see him in the movie immediately after being recruited on Corellia.
Although this part of the story did not make it in the theatrical version of Solo, fans who buy the Blu-ray will have the pleasure of watching the cut footage as a deleted scene. Lucky us!
4. Tag and Bink
Have you heard of the misadventures of Tag and Bink? These two characters had their own comic series which was published in late 2001 that showed them behind the scenes affecting major events in the Star Wars films, whether it be deliberately or by accident.
For instance, the first comic titled Tag and Bink Are Dead involves the opening scene of A New Hope on board the Tantive IV. Tag and Bink are on the ship as Rebel soldiers, and after witnessing some particularly rough carnage, they decide to don the armor of a couple fallen stormtroopers in an attempt to escape the scene alive. As if their day couldn’t get any worse, Darth Vader finds them and assigns the two as his trusty TIE escorts.
So you see, rather than Han swooping in during the trench run to save the day, it was actually Tag and Bink’s poor piloting skills that knock Darth Vader away from the fight.
To the delight of quite a few fans, Ron Howard actually had plans to include Tag and Bink in Solo: A Star Wars Story. A photo even leaked of Jon Kasdan and Toby Hefferman filling their roles in Imperial uniform! But since Han’s time in the Flight Academy was cut, so were Tag and Bink. Thankfully, they were still able to join the Canon timeline through the novelization as Imperial guards. It’s clear that their clumsy personalities stay true to the lore since Han introduces them as colossal screwups and even made it a point to “avoid them before they got him or themselves killed.”
5. Crispin Imperial Depository
Fast-forward to Han joining Beckett’s crew for a heist on Vandor. Right before the heist begins, Beckett points out a section carved out of one of the mountains. Han realizes that he’s looking at a fortress where the train’s payload is coming from. Beckett states that the place in the mountain is known as the “Crispin Imperial Depository.”
If you understood this Easter egg, then give yourself a pat on the back! A.C. Crispin is the name of the author who wrote the famed Han Solo trilogy from 1997-1998. The trilogy consists of The Paradise Snare, The Hutt Gambit, and Rebel Dawn (in that order). Many readers who started their Star Wars Expanded Universe journey during the Legends era grew up on this series and give it plenty of praise to this day.
We dare you to ask Charles from our team about The Paradise Snare! Just make sure you have a few minutes to hear his response.
6. Val's Memories
Whether it be her spunky attitude or her realistic skepticism about trusting strangers, Val quickly became a very likeable character after the debut of Solo. Sadly, we didn’t get to see much of her before she sacrificed herself in the ultimate blaze of glory to ensure the survival of those she cared for most. However, the novel gives us a brief background of her right before she blows the bridge on Vandor to bits.
Readers learn that Val grew up on a planet called Solarine, where the weather is tropical and where she, Rio, and Beckett would swim in the ocean and happen across inevitable encounters with dangerous sea creatures. But her most dominant memories revolve around the time she had to rescue Beckett from being kidnapped.
Apparently Beckett caught the attention of a queen from a planet on the outskirts of the galaxy. To her coincidence, she had been searching for the perfect specimen whom she could call her king, so she did what any woman in her position would do. You guessed correctly! She signaled her guards to knock out Beckett, kidnap him, and take him back to their home planet. Val bribed and bargained her way to the queen’s arena where she defeated their champion (through unethical ways, of course) and stole back Beckett.
Soon after recovering from the incident, her and Beckett laugh over the situation over a bottle of Toniray wine, vowing to never leave each other alone ever again.
The couple ends up breaking the vow for their final heist on Vandor, with Val split from the crew up ahead to set charges before regrouping with the gang and blowing up the bridge to escape with the payload. When things don’t go as planned, Val is left with a tough decision. She makes a choice that helps her friends, with whom she had shared bizarre adventures with, escape with the prize even when she won’t be around to enjoy it with them.
This selfless act is what brings many fans to admire Val, and her final moment means much, much more with her precious memories now deep in our hearts.
7. Qi'ra After Corellia
As our heroes make their way to Kessel, Elthree asks Qi’ra what her story is, and she simply replies, “He got out. I didn’t.” In the film, Qi’ra didn’t really elaborate what she meant by that statement. But we have ol’ faithful (you know, old-fashioned text) to give us some backstory on exactly what happened to Qi’ra after she was caught by Moloch and Rebolt on that fateful day on Corellia.
Qi’ra reluctanly returns to Lady Proxima just moments after betraying the crime boss in the worst way possible. But Proxima finds it a waste to just kill her, so she decides to sell her to a slave dealer instead to fully capitalize on her investment in the young girl. Per typical Qi’ra, she gives the slave dealer one hell of a time.
After dealing with her antics for a while, the dealer sells her to the notorious leader of Crimson Dawn, Dryden Vos.
Our heroine makes many attempts to escape the hands of Dryden and fails every time, until one day, her life takes a huge 180. She manages to kill her guard during her last escape attempt and encounters a very unhappy Dryden waiting for her in the escape pod on his yacht. Rather than ridding himself of her for good, he speaks highly of her potential and how she can make the most of her situation with him. He teaches her the fighting art of Teräs Käsi, lets her experience luxuries, and attend important business exchanges, so that she may feel ultimately loyal to him and his “mercifulness.” Qi’ra even snaps the neck of one of Dryden’s prisoners without hesitation upon his request - an initiation of her position as his right hand.
His tactic to keep her around under the illusion of the decision being her choice worked...for a while.
8. L3's Merging with the Falcon
Attempting to make the Kessel run in less than 20 parsecs required some extra help, and that added boost the Falcon needed to pull off the stunt was found within the mind of an incapacitated L3-37. In the novel, we actually get to hear her thoughts on the whole ordeal.
Elthree wakes up with the ship’s cams as her new eyes and ends up talking to the Falcon, itself, and the Falcon convinces her that the crew needs her now more than ever and that it’s actually not so bad being the mind of a ship.
The ship has to use binary and images to speak to Elthree since it has no need of learning Basic. The droid liberator reluctantly agrees to her fate and merges with the existing computer to become a brand new being and thus, the Millenium Falcon, itself.
As Lando says, “She’s part of the ship now.”
9. L3 and Lando's Final Moment
Reading about Elthree merging with the Falcon is heartbreaking enough, but the novel gave us the pleasure of showing her last talk with Lando as well. Shortly after landing on Savareen, Lando notices that the ship is carrying a homing beacon and does not want to be around for whatever troubles lie ahead for the crew. And thus comes the hilarious scene of Han bluffing to Enfys Nest about his “30 hired guns” on the Falcon only to see Lando take off as if on cue.
Shortly after leaving Savareen, Lando sees Elthree’s final words projected on the Falcon’s navigational computer, albeit in broken Aurebesh. She expresses her reluctance in becoming one with the ship, and Lando comforts her in saying that being the Falcon isn’t all bad, and that they will be together forever (until he loses her to Han in a card game).
Her last words to Lando were, “HARDER...TALK. WAS FUN...YOU.”
Her last words to herself were, “This is tolerable.”
10. Epilogue: Saw & Jyn
So what does Enfys Nest do with the payload of coaxium Han gives her at the end of Solo? Luckily, we have the novel to give us that bit of info.
Enfys sets up a meeting with Saw Gerrera, the character who made his debut in Star Wars: The Clone Wars and made another significant appearance in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. He helped Lyra, Jyn, and Galen Erso escape Coruscant with Orson Krennic hot on their tail, and when Jyn’s parents were no longer able to guide her, Saw accepted the responsibility of raising her under his care.
Before we see her again in Rogue One, Jyn makes an appearance in this novel as a cute and tiny 11-year-old girl. Saw brings her, his “ward”, to the meeting because she needs to learn how to fend for herself in grownup situations. Enfys believes Jyn is far too young to be learning about such dangerous acts, but throughout the meeting, Enfys realizes that she had been put in such a dilemma at a young age, herself.
Before leaving with the rest of her companions, Enfys leaves Jyn with some very good advice: "They are going to underestimate you. Make them regret it.”
This novel, among many others that have been released in the new Canon era, is a testament to how Star Wars stories from various parts of the timeline are all coming together.
Darth Maul creates the Crimson Dawn syndicate which affects Han and Qi’ra’s lives, Han’s decision to give the coaxium to Enfys Nest indirectly affects Saw and Jyn, and Jyn’s heroic sacrifice in Rogue One ultimately plays a role in A New Hope, where it all began for so many fans of the saga.
Even if you’ve seen Solo a dozen times over, the novelization is a gloriously fun ride with a few tricks up its sleeve. Physical copies of Solo: A Star Wars Story hit store shelves on September 25th, which means we will soon find out if any of these expanded parts occupy the deleted scenes reel.
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