Friday, November 14, 2008

Andrew's Review of Lando Calrissian and the Flamewind of Oseon


2/5 Rancors - Lando Calrissian and the Flamewind of Oseon is the second book in L. Neil Smith's Lando Calrissian Adventures series. It picks up fairly closely on where the first volume left off, with Lando finding that prosperity is not all he dreamed it would be. Seems he and Vuffi Raa made have made some enemies on their way to the top, including a certain nefarious Sorcerer of Tund.

Much like the first book, Lando is forced into a mission by mysterious conspirators. This time he and Vuffi must transport two officers of the law through the beautiful but deadly Flamewind of Oseon (a gigantic stellar storm impacting the Oseon system annually) to arrest the richest man in the universe, Bohhuah Mutdah. Of course, all is not as it seems, especially with the mysterious assailants who are stalking our dynamic duo and the fate that awaits them on Mutdah's personal asteroid.

Like the first book, Flamewind of Oseon is a short and easy read. There really isn't too much to the plot, as most of the pages are either concerned with setting up the story or simply getting Lando and Vuffi to the asteroid for the final confrontation. Also like the first book, there is virtually nothing to tie this to Star Wars beyond Lando and the Falcon. Smith does attempt a casual link between Rokur Gepta and the Empire, but there's not much to substantiate it.

Speaking of Gepta, he must be one of the most stereotypical, virtual-mustache-twirling villains in the Star Wars universe. He is purely EVIL and delights in the destruction he causes. Like a classic Bond villain, he also delights in spelling out his EVIL plots to his victims to showcase his incredible cleverness. In a completely ridiculous sequence, he uses his new method of "torture-by-chagrin" on Lando, which forces the recipient to relive bad memories (but they are enhanced to be much worse). This is just silly.

This book and the first one have a large amount of Earth-based terminology sprinkled through them, such as cigarettes, rabbits, and Doppler radar. Of course, Marvel gave us a six-foot tall rabbit in Jaxxon as a main character for a few issues and The Phantom Menace even gave us ducks, but it seems a little too frequent in this book to keep that "galaxy far, far away" feel.

Lando Calrissian and the Flamewind of Oseon is very much like the first book Lando Calrissian and the Mindharp of Sharu in style and feel. Since the novelty value is gone for this volume, I'm giving it the two stars I considered giving to book one.

2 comments:

Mike from Canada said...

Couldn't agree more with both of your reviews on this one Andrew and David. I found the constant references to truly earth-based items and turns of phrase really jarring in this book too.

I do think the plot was a little more developed in this story. It does read a lot like the first tale - but L. Neil Smith does add some little flourishes to this tale to try to link it to Star Wars - that were completely lacking from the first entry.

For instance, references to the Empire and the Emperor giving control of the Centrality to Rokur Gepta were a welcome addition. I get the sense that the Centrality Navy consists of old clunkers from the days of the Old Republic that the Imperial Navy has deemed surplus. For instance, Gepta's main warship, the Wennis, is supposedly 80 years old, slow to maneuver and full of retrofits.

I think the one interesting thing that L. Neil Smith covers in this book is the narcotics trade. The life-extending drug lesai seems really insidious given that the user eventually loses their emotions and becomes an unfeeling psychopath. Bohhuah Mutdah reminded me a lot of Jabba the Hutt in terms of his wealth, corpulence and debauchery. I found the murders of the drug enforcement officers to be a nice plot twist. I would also agree that Rokur Gepta is the "Snidely Whiplash" [another earth-based reference ;)] of the Star Wars world. His fixation on Lando verges on the irrational. Doesn't this guy have anything else to do -you know, like running the Sector! Surely Lando is not the first person to defeat him. The whole torture by chagrin scene was silly. Making Lando re-live the most embarrassing and scary moments of his life - including getting lost in a mall when he was three years old - was laughable.

I actually think this book was an improvement over the first entry. It reads better - but that's not saying much.

Andrew said...

It's funny when reading your thoughts how swiftly I relived reading the "torture by chagrin" sequence: so bad! The earth-based references were way off-target as you say, and I have yet to encounter anything like them in the rest of the EU. Parts of the Lando books were quite fun, and they were a brisk read, but my oh my, they got silly in places.

Thanks for all the posts you've done so far: these really take me back to reading these books a few years ago and provide a welcome contrast to where I am now in the New Jedi Order. :-)