The Paradise Snare is volume one of the Han Solo Trilogy by A. C. Crispin. It details Han Solo's life from his escape from Trader's Luck until his entrance into the Imperial Academy, with some flashbacks to his childhood.
- ISBN 0553574159; May 5, 1997, Bantam Spectra, 306-page paperback
- ISBN 0553477447; May 5, 1997, Bantam Doubleday Dell Audio Publishing, Abridged cassette
- ISBN 0613709322 and ISBN 0606118969; May 5, 1997, Sagebrush Corporation, 306-page Turtleback
- ISBN 0553505467; June 5, 1997, Bantam Spectra, 419-page paperback
- ISBN 8372453780; 2000, Amber, 319-page Polish paperback
- ISBN 2265074993; French paperback
- ISBN 3453152514; August 1999, 397-page German paperback
- ISBN 842702293X; 1998, Spanish paperback
- ISBN 8025201511; 2005, EGMONT ČR, 234-page Czech paperback
- ISBN 9785699184217; 2006, Eksmo Publishing, 384-page Russian hardcover
Han Solo was a child without a past, a Corellian street urchin, abandoned, foraging for scraps of food, when the cruel Garris Shrike whisked him away to a nomadic band of spacefaring criminals. Now, years later, Han fights his way free. His goal: to become an Imperial Navy pilot. But first he needs hand-on experience flying spacecraft, and for that he takes a job on the planet Ylesia—a steaming world of religious fanaticism, illicit drugs, and alluring sensuality…where dreams are destroyed and escape is impossible.
Han Solo has spent nearly all of his nineteen years aboard the Trader's Luck, a pirate vessel commanded by the barbaric Garris Shrike. While on Corellia, Shrike discovered Han as a street urchin and took him in to use as an actor in scams. By sending Solo and other children into the streets on various worlds to beg for money, Shrike made a fortune. Life aboard Trader's Luck was hard and cruel, but a young Solo found solace and care from the Wookiee cook Dewlanna. From her, he learned to understand Shyriiwook and learned that not everyone in the galaxy was as vile as Shrike. At the age of nineteen, the youth decided he had enough with Shrike and made plans to escape the Luck. Solo carefully planned to stowaway aboard a droid freighter bound for Ylesia, where he had heard about a need for skilled pilots. However, his plan was discovered by Shrike during his farewell to Dewlanna. Shrike was furious and violence ensued; Dewlanna defended they boy and injured Shrike, but not before she suffered a mortal injury. Stricken with grief, Solo was reluctant to leave a dying Dewlanna. She told him to leave, to live so that her death would not be in vain. With Dewlanna dead and Shrike unconscious, Han Solo boarded the freighter and began his journey to Ylesia.
Working on Ylesia
Han Solo survived his arrival on Ylesia only by his natural skill as a pilot. The atmosphere on the planet was particularly turbulent and he managed to land the freighter with minimal damage. The t'landa Til priests were impressed already with his ability as a pilot and interviewed Solo, who had assumed the alias Vykk Draygo. Ylesia was a tropical world with a few large islands amidst a vast ocean home to massive predators. As part of an elaborate scheme orchestrated by the Besadii Hutt clan, t'landa Til "priests" had set up a religious sanctuary that attracted thousands of Pilgrims to experiences the "Exultation." Solo would later discover the truth behind what appeared to be a paradise. Soon enough, "Vykk Draygo" was hired as a pilot for transporting spice to and from Ylesia because many of the droid freighters had been easily attacked and pillaged by spacegoing pirates. Not only was Ylesia a religious sanctuary, it served as the heart of the Besadii clan's spice refinement operations. Massive factories refined raw spice shipped from Ryloth and Kessel into a consumable form bound for Nar Shaddaa and other worlds.
To supposedly "protect" the new pilot, Teroenza, the High Priest, assigned him a Togorian bodyguard named Muuurgh. Like all Togorians, Muuurgh was very tall and exhibited many sharp teeth and extraordinary hunting abilities. Solo was quite aware that his obedience was more of a priority to Teroenza than his protection. Before he could begin flying, Solo became well-practiced in the simulator and began to learn the lay of the land of Colony One. With Muuurgh, he toured the spice refineries, which is where he met Pilgrim 921. He discovered that so-called religious pilgrims were, in fact, being forced into slavery within the spice refineries. 921, who eventually revealed her name to be Bria, was a Corellian woman who met Solo's fancy but declined his advances. Solo would stop wondering how the slaves were kept on Ylesia when he witnessed his first Exultation.
Each evening, the slaves would enthusiastically attend the t'landa Til Exultation, which they believed to be a spiritual experience that brought them together with "The One and the All." After reciting a scripted sermon, Teroenza, Veratil, and other Ylesian priests would perform the Exultation. The new pilot had to actively resist the intense waves of pleasure and ecstasy being produced by the t'landa Til. Around him, the slaves writhed in pleasure on the ground and were barely able to return to their dormitories. This jolt of pleasure, a natural t'landa Til ability used to attract females, became an addiction the slaves could not refuse. In this manner, the slaves were kept on Ylesia not by security guards—of which there were few—but rather by choice.
Han Solo in love
When Han solo discovered the scam, he alerted Bria Tharen - who refused to believe him. However, Solo had secretly recorded a discussion he had had with Teroenza about the secret of the Exultation. This revelation was an epiphany for Tharen, who lost all faith in her religious journey and was infuriated at her own folly. Nevertheless, she was unable to skip Exultations. Prior to this revelation, young Solo had rescued Tharen from the spice refineries by securing for her a job as caretaker and documentarian for Teroenza's extensive and prized collection of antiquities. Had he not, Tharen would most likely have ended up as another sort of slave - in an Imperial pleasure house. By now, Han Solo had gained much experience as a pilot for the T'landa Til, delivering spice to many worlds. With the trust of the priests gained and Tharen at his side, Solo decided the time had come to leave Ylesia. Of course, there was Muuurgh to worry about.
Muuurgh first began to trust Solo after they were attacked by pirates and forced to land on Alderaan for repairs. Muuurgh was injured but Han Solo did not abandon his "bodyguard." Young Solo soon got to know Togorian better and discovered that Muuurgh had also been deceived into working for the T'landa Til. While searching for his lost mate, Mrrov, Muuurgh had come to Ylesia. Teroenza had told him that Mrrov had indeed been there, but her current whereabouts were unknown. Unable to buy passage off of the planet, the feline signed on as an enforcer. His tale of love and loss made Solo realize that he, too, was in love: with Bria Tharen. On Ylesia, Solo and Tharen made their plan to escape. Muuurgh was furious and threatened to kill the pilot upon learning of their intent. However, he agreed to take part in the plan when Tharen told him about a female Togorian that had been at the colony. To Muuurgh's horror, her description matched that of his mate's. According to Tharen, Mrrov had been relocated to another colony. After an Exultation, the three made their move.
Escape from Ylesia
Solo, Tharen, and Muuurgh first created a diversion by blowing up the largest of the spice refineries. Panic ensued as billions of credits' worth of spice went up in flames. Solo and Tharen also raided Teroenza's collection, stealing the most valuable items to sell once they left Ylesia. It was during their raid when Teroenza discovered their treachery. As fire spread around the Colony, secondary explosions caused damage to nearly all of the buildings, and the ceiling of Teroenza's collection room collapse - onto the Besadii Hutt overlord, Zavval, crushing him. Their work done, the trio hijacked the Talisman, Teroenza's personal yacht, and rescued Mrrov. They then blasted their way from Ylesia, suffering major damage from an orbiting CR90 corvette, but were able to reach Togoria safely. At last, they were free from Ylesia.
While on Togoria, Muuurgh and Mrrov were married in the usual Togorian fashion - meaning it involved much combat. After the ceremony, Han Solo and Bria Tharen went on a romantic interlude and both admitted their love. They decided to return to Corellia to meet Tharen's family and to sell the stolen goods from Ylesia. Wishing farewell to Muuurgh and Mrrov, the two lovers returned to their homeworld.
Unlike Solo, Tharen had grown up wealthy and privileged. This was very evident upon visiting her family's massive estate. Much to her sadness, her mother and brother found her new love despicable and unworthy of being in their home. However, Tharen's father, Renn Tharen, found a kindred spirit in Solo and rather liked him. Later, one of the men Tharen's mother had wanted her too marry shows up and recognizes Solo as a pod racer under a different name causing Tharen's mother to become even more angry. Even so, Solo and Tharen left Corellia after selling Teroenza's antiques. Han Solo would withdraw the funds from the Imperial Bank on Coruscant once he applied to the Imperial Academy. Thus, the two made their way to Coruscant, officially referred to as Imperial Center.
Things did not go well on Coruscant. Solo was refused his funds from the Imperial Bank and was nearly arrested by stormtroopers. He fled from the authorities into the darkest, deepest levels of the city to return to his love, where she awaited him in a cheap motel room they had rented. Still fighting her addiction to the Exultation, Tharen left Solo with a note explaining that she felt she would only prevent him from achieving his dream at the Academy. Emotionally devastated—both distraught and furious—Solo persevered and applied to the Academy with a loan Tharen had secured from her father.
Solo passed the entrance exams and was accepted into the Academy. During his training, he became an exceptional pilot and exemplary cadet. On the night of his graduation, while standing high on a roof top and reflecting on his life thus far, he was ambushed by none other than Garris Shrike, who had taken up bounty hunting in search of Solo. Shrike sought vengeance for his former subordinate's betrayal and audacity at leaving Trader's Luck nearly five months earlier. Solo fought for his life against Shrike. However, it was another bounty hunter that killed Shrike with the hope that he would catch Solo. Han Solo killed the other bounty hunter and learned that his life would never be truly safe or secure.
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Behind the scenes
In the Russian hardcover, Chapter 12 is absent due to an editor's mistake.
In a flashback, a very young Han is taught to beg by a droid named F8-GN, an obvious reference to Fagin in Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist.
The conversation between Solo and Okanor in his shop is a subtle reference to Indiana Jones. This can be seen in the line (paraphrased) "are these going to a museum...good, they belong in a museum."
Since the creation of the prequels, parts of the novel have been retconned. The novel states Garris Shrike's ship, Trader's Luck, is an "ancient troopship, a relic of the Clone Wars". While it is unknown exactly when Shrike acquired the ship, he was in possession of it since Han Solo's early years. With current canon, the Clone Wars began when Solo was seven years old; thus making it impossible to be a "relic" from the war.
Another retcon is the timeline. At five years old, Solo was mocked by Shrike and other inhabitants of Trader's Luck for wanting to join the Imperial Navy. However, the Empire didn't exist until 19 BBY, when Solo was ten years old.
This is a gallery of the different cover variations of The Paradise Snare.