NOTE: Many spoilers follow.
There were a lot of things I really liked about this book, so my rating it lower may be a direct result of the ending.
First, let me discuss what I liked. I liked the characters; Han, Lando, Chewbacca, and Boba Fett were all true to form, and I enjoyed the other characters, as well. I liked the interweaving of the other “Han Solo” trilogy. I liked how events in the first and second novels were tied into events in the third. I liked how the book led up to the events in the films (although that section seemed a bit rushed, and Lando seemed to overreact a smidgen). Overall, I liked the book.
But let me address what I did not like. As with the last two books, I don’t care for pulling quotes out of the films as if we weren’t sure this was Han Solo or Lando Calrissian talking. And, as before, I don’t like how often Han uses terms of endearment or nicknames; I just don’t think it’s natural (or necessary) to address your conversation partner every time you open your mouth, so that comes off as a little odd.
Most importantly, though, I don’t like the ending of this book. This is for two reasons. First, I don’t like how everything gets tied up in a neat little bow. The problem of Ylesia is solved forever; the problem of Bria is solved forever; the problem of Boba Fett does not affect later encounters with Boba Fett. Everything’s perfect. It would have made a lot more sense, to me, if things had ended a little more messily. Sure, the trilogy wouldn’t have been as compact and concise, but it would have fit in better with, and lent itself to, the broader Star Wars experience.
Yet this first was the minor complaint. The major complaint I have is how Han reacts to Bria’s death. Here is a woman who, claiming to love him, got his adopted brother killed, stole from him and his friends, got him ostracized by the entire smuggling community on Nar Shaddaa, and worst of all, lied to his face right up until she betrayed him. She stopped loving him the moment she put the rebellion ahead of him – and she started doing that back in the second book. And what’s more is that she kept doing it, for the rest of the trilogy! Nevermind that she never really knew him (she thought he’d forgive her for taking the money and join her in the rebellion, which was plainly ridiculous), and nevermind that it was her abandoning him that made him that way – the worst part of all is that she stopped feeling bad about it when she fell to her lowest point. Throughout the previous book and this one, she felt bad every time she neglected to talk to Han – right up until she stabbed him in the back. Then, she only felt bad because he called her out on it.
Now, I don’t dislike the book because I dislike Bria’s character. She’s excellently written, and the relationship as it unfolds is fabulous, especially because we (the audience) know it can’t last. What upsets me about the ending is that, about two weeks after the woman he loves betrays him for her rebellion – which he is still sure will fail, so she betrayed him for nothing, from his point of view – he learns she’s dead and says, “Well, gee, I regret how things ended. Guess I better tell her dad, and feel bad for myself.” It just doesn’t line up with his character at this point.
Anyway. That ending kind of puts a damper on the whole book (and, in a small way, the whole trilogy), but overall, the book is still a good read.