© 2003 Troy Denning
Tatooine Ghost is set early in the expanded universe, focusing on Leia and Han in their first year of marriage. Mon Montha of the New Republic has sent the newlyweds to Tatooine, where a unique painting – the lone survivor of an Alderaanean art form known as ‘moss painting’ – has surfaced in an auction. While Leia – who saw the painting every day in her childhood home – places great sentimental value in the artifact, buried within it is the key to the New Republic’s communications protocol concerning military and intelligence operations. Leia must prevent the painting from falling into the hands of the Empire while simultaneously confronting her father’s presence on Tatooine.
Tying into events of The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith*, Tatooine Ghost sees Leia and Han infiltrate the auction under heavy disguise. The book would be short indeed if Leia was able to obtain the painting merely by bidding for it, and in no time at all grenades are thrown and our happy couple – along with Chewbacca, Threepio, Artoo, and a few minor characters from the original trilogy who knew Leia’s father as a little boy on Tatooine – are forced to chase the painting across the sands of Tatooine in a manner reminiscent of the Empire’s attempt to recover its Death Star plans in A New Hope. As Leia begins to experience her father’s past – to talk with his friends, to visit his home and familiar haunts – she is forced to come to terms with the legacy of her father, particularly in light of the fact that she is beginning to experience the Force which he served and which corrupted him.
I lost interest in the main plot early on, being more interested in Leia’s reckoning. Portends of the extended universe’s history abound: the imperial officer heading the Imperial search for the painting just ‘happens’ to have red eyes set against blue skin. Although I thought the search for the painting was a bit derivative of A New Hope, I enjoyed the book overall given the emphasis on Leia’s character growth.
*The book was published in 2003, yet references events (Shmi’s abduction and torture at the hands of Sand People, Anakin’s retaliation and graveside confession) that only took place in a movie not released until 2005. I’m not sure how that happened.