This is my first tie-in novel since I was in high school. All it took was the genius of combining Star Wars with a heist movie.--Seriously though. Is there a more easily watchable movie than Ocean's Eleven (Clooney edition)? I can't imagine coming across that movie on cable and not stopping to watch however much is left (I have to imagine it though, since I don't have cable... though I do have the DVD, which has gone unwatched for a decade, but if someone said "hey, let's watch this one!" I so would).Anyway. An Ocean's Eleven-style caper in the Star Wars universe? Even better, in the Star Wars universe but set in-between Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back, so it is free of the stink of the prequels and doesn't require me to keep track of ancient Sith lore (3,360 years BBY!) or the tumultuous history of Han and Leia's assorted offspring.Mostly, it scratches that itch, but I was a little disappointed. Parts of it really work -- it has Han and Chewie and Lando and a madcap smuggling adventure -- but a lot of it really doesn't. Zahn creates the other eight of Solo's Eleven (some of them pulled from his previous Star Wars books, a few of which I have even read, but it was 20 years ago so I didn't remember until I looked them up on Wookiepedia (yes, of course that exists)), and they don't exactly pop off the page. It took me a few hundred pages to even keep them straight, never mind their rather contrived backstories (survivor of Alderaan, former Imperial, etc.).The heist itself was disappointing too, if only because the setup is so confusing, relying as it does on extensive exposition about politics in the Empire as well as the activities of Black Sun, which is kind of like Star Wars' version of The Family and which I only remembered because I played a lot of [b:Shadows of the Empire|9549|Shadows of the Empire (Star Wars)|Steve Perry|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1320513836s/9549.jpg|858558] on N64. So not only was I generally confused about who was who on Han's team, I also had only a tenuous grasp on who they were stealing 163 million credits from and why I cared.And speaking of confusing, you know how you have no idea what is really going on for most of Ocean's Eleven, and then you see the final heist play out and everything is suddenly, satisfyingly clear? That doesn't really work out here. I'm not sure if it's because the genre works better on film or Zahn just isn't very good at this kind of stuff, but I slogged through all the slow parts waiting for the big score at the end, only to find it halfway over before I was really sure if it had started or not. Still, I was mostly entertained. The book is too long and didn't live up to the premise, but it was nice to be transported (RED ALERT! NERD PROPERTIES COLLIDING!) back to a time when Star Wars books counted as "real novels" in my mind and I had read ALL OF THEM.