For a minute there, movie novelizations seemed to have fallen out of favor and, when they did exist, were tightly tied to the finished film. That’s fine, but part of the fun of reading the novelizations of yesteryear was to explore all the extra details and bonus scenes they didn’t have time for in the movie. The original Star Wars novelization is a prime example of this—think those famous deleted scenes of Luke wasting time with his friends on Tatooine),and we’re happy to say that the most recent page-to-screen versions have followed suit.
Following the release of The Last Jedi: Extended Edition early this year, now arrives the novel version of the latest spinoff in the franchise, Solo: A Star Wars Story, penned by recent Hugo and Nebula award nominee Mur Lafferty (Six Wakes). The book expands upon the movie we saw in theaters (or didn’t see—and we don’t think we are being SW apologists when we say that there’s a very good chance you’ll dig it if you didn’t) in a few big ways, adding in deleted and expanded scenes and diving deeper into the backstories and motivations of the main characters.
(Oh, and before we go on, we should mention that the Barnes and Noble exclusive edition includes a removable double-sided poster with Solo’s crew on one side and Enfys Nest’s gang on the other.)
Here are seven ways the book goes beyond the film:
1. Corellian Escape
Several of the expanded moments represent deleted scenes from the film, and the first extra bit is one of them: as originally conceived, the escape from Lady Proxima and friends through the streets on Corellia was longer. And smellier. Before Han and Qi’ra reach the Coronet Spaceport to (almost) claim freedom, the two wind up hiding in a vat of eels. (Why did it have to be eels?) Han’s not thrilled, but it doesn’t stop him from flirting, which is totally on-brand.
2. Imperial Training
The first significantly extended bit is pulled from another deleted scene, and it’s a big one. In the finished film, we cut straight from Han signing up for the Imperial Academy to the mud of Mimban, where he almost immediately goes AWOL. We know that there were years in-between, and the book fleshes out that portion of Solo’s story. We see him in a later stage of flight training, by which point he has already established himself as a talented rogue floundering in an organization that values obedience over competence. When he disobeys orders to save the life of a member of his squad, he’s promptly court-martialed and reassigned to the not-at-all-cushy post on Mimban.
3. Tag & Bink
There’s a pretty big Star Wars easter egg in that Academy scene, especially for fans of the Legends-era comics. Tag and Bink were two Rosencrantz-and-Guildenstern-esque characters who, across a series of darkly humorous one-shot comics, haplessly wended their ways through the SW galaxy, stumbling into meetings with important figures and impacting the films’ plots from offscreen. Their filmed cameos in the Solo movie were cut, marking this book as their first canonical appearance.
4. Qi’ra in Focus
The team has a bit of downtime after they first board the Millennium Falcon and head off to Kessel. The ensuing onscreen character moments get expanded on the page in ways that vastly build upon our understanding of Qi’ra, L3, and Lando. In conversation with L3, Qi’ra recalls her fate after she was abandoned on Corellia: deciding the scrumrat had value, Lady Proxima sold her to slaver who eventually passed her off to Dryden Vos. Qi’ra refused to yield, going so far as to kill a guard sent to watch her. She fully expected to be killed for her willfulness, but Vos, impressed by her resourcefulness, ultimately convincined her that living a life of luxury at his side would be far superior to constantly fighting for freedom that she’ll never have.
5. L3’s Choice
L3 also benefits from the book’s expanded characterization. During the same conversation in the Falcon‘s cockpit, L3 recalls the more fortunate turn of events that left her without a restraining bolt and surrounded by spare parts with which she was able to craft herself into exactly the droid she wished to be. Later, we get her perspective on being downloaded into the Falcon’s computer: she’s not thrilled, but gets at least some say in the matter, in contrast to what we see onscreen, and shares a goodbye to Lando. Lando, likewise, gets more shaded during the sequences onboard the Falcon: while L3 and Qi’ra recall their troubled pasts, Lando ruminates on his near-indescribable love of capes.
6. Wet Wookiee
Not a necessary scene, but there are some genuinely funny bits surrounding Chewbacca and the mud of Mimban. Coated in muck, the wookiee all but destroys Lando’s personal shower on the Falcon. He leaves the place covered in fur, with every drain clogged, and Lando’s priceless hair care products carelessly strewn about. On a more poignant note, Chewie makes mention of his desire to get back to his home world of Kashyyyk in order to liberate his people from the Empire. It’s a thread that will be resolved in Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath: Life Debt, some 15 years later in-universe.
7. Partisan Squabbles
The extra scenes don’t stop landing until the book’s epilogue, which provides a major link to the broader Star Wars galaxy. Post- the Falcon‘s jump to hyperspace that ends the movie, Enfys Nest delivers the gathered coaxium to its intended recipient [SPOILER ALERT]: it’s Partisan leader Saw Gerrera, first introduced in the Clone Wars TV show and later carried into Rogue One. Gerrera is by this time is raising a 12-year-old Jyn Erso, and the two share a fateful moment in which each acknowledges being frequently underestimated, and vows that anyone who does so will come to regret it.