UPDATE: Disney and Lucasfilm snuck in a quick follow-up to the book Pirate’s Price, adding one more (brief) chapter to Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run’s backstory, which we cover in a brand-new section below.
For a planet that was supposed to be brand-new to Star Wars fans around the world, Batuu sure has been seeing a lot of action as of late.
First, the world that serves as the setting of Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts’ Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge got name-dropped in last summer’s Solo: A Star Wars Story. Then it made a fleeting-but-still-major appearance in the novel Thrawn: Alliances, where readers got the rundown on the shady planet’s culture, geography, and illicit activities (which you can read all about in our in-depth write-up). And, finally, Batuu got even more quick references in both Lando’s Luck, a Lando Calrissian-centric young-adult book, and a recent episode of Resistance, the fourth TV series to be set in that galaxy far, far away.
But all of this was just prelude to today’s big development: the specific set-up to one of the theme-park land’s two new rides. Pirate’s Price, an additional young-adult novel – and, in fact, the direct follow-up to last October’s Lando’s Luck – hit store shelves on January 8, and part of its appeal lies in the spelling out of how the Millennium Falcon comes to be stationed on Batuu and how Hondo Ohnaka, that grizzled pirate who has become ingrained in so much of Star Wars’s multimedia mythology, comes to be its current (albeit temporary) owner. And if helping to tee off Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run, the flagship attraction of Galaxy’s Edge, still isn’t quite enough, Pirate’s Price also picks up right where last summer’s Thrawn: Alliances left off in terms of exploring Batuu, giving us even more set dressing of the world, generally, and where the upcoming theme-park land fits in the overarching timeline, specifically.
What new things did we learn about Batuu?
Before we jump right into Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run, let’s first pause on Black Spire Outpost, the capital city of Batuu and the exact setting of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge – guests will need to walk through the ancient trading port before they’ll be able to set foot on Han Solo’s legendary vessel, after all.
Whereas our first “visit” to the remote planet in the pages of Thrawn: Alliances served more as a general overview, our shorter-but-arguably-sweeter layover in Pirate’s Price functions more like a sightseeing tour, with a particular emphasis on Oga’s Cantina and the spaceport where the Falcon resides – the two areas which will undoubtedly become the focal point of many tourists’ visits. We’ve broken all of the highlights down into these easily-digestible pieces for your consuming pleasure:
Black Spire Outpost
The book opens with this beauty of a line, as the protagonist of Pirate’s Price’s framing narrative, the bounty hunter Bazine Netal, first lands on Batuu:
As far as wretched hives of scum and villainy went, Bazine Netal thought that Black Spire Outpost seemed friendlier than most.
(Who is Bazine? An extra from 2015’s Episode VII: The Force Awakens who has since gone on to star in her own short story and, now, guest-stars in this series of Millennium Falcon-focused comics and young-adult novels. She’s more a set piece than anything integral to the story, if truth be told, and seeing as how she will have absolutely nothing to do with Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at all, it’s probably best if we just move on right past her.)
This opening passage only further reinforces the delicate balancing act that Disney and its storytelling partners at Lucasfilm (the parent company of Star Wars) have attempted to pull off since first announcing the new theme-park addition three-and-a-half years ago: Batuu is a place brimming with action and adventure, since it’s crawling with the galaxy’s undesirable types, but it’s also a locale that is inviting enough to warrant exploration (in other words, to put it in the lingo of the diehard fan, it’s not Coruscant’s lower levels, but neither is it Naboo).
But just to underline the action-adventure part of that atmospheric equation, Pirate’s Price throws in this little description while still setting the scene:
The outpost was not an easy place to find unless you knew about it first. It was located where the Unknown Regions met Wild Space, a stopover for smugglers and those of less savory occupations – a place for rogues and opportunists, con artists, thieves… and, of course, pirates.
The place where Hondo Ohnaka seems to spend most of his time is the same exact spot where guests will want to do the same: Oga’s Cantina, the main dining establishment of Galaxy’s Edge. Only a few new details about the local watering hole are offered in the book, but they are nonetheless intriguing ones, starting with a feature that was only revealed last week, by the financial publication Barron’s – a series of intricate tubes that snake their way from the ceiling and behind the bar and out of which patrons’ specialty drinks will be served:
[Hondo] gestured to a bizarre array of taps that lined two opposite walls of the room. Bazine noticed that the tap handles were all handmade, each one unique. Obviously, they’d been scavenged from different objects over the years, from droid arms to what she thought might be an antique lightsaber handle.
That’s a beguiling description, one that underscores just how much effort Disney is putting into making its newest theme-park addition as detailed as humanly possible. But more than that, it may also point to a few extra embellishments that may be found in Oga’s – if that lightsaber handle, for instance, were truly an antique model, that means it would be in the same style as Kylo Ren’s distinctive three-pronged affair, which, in turn, might mean that we could see three different streams of liquid issue from the same tap.
And there’s more. In addition to the possible (or is that probable?) selection of drinks we got sketched out in last summer’s novel – those would include Batuu Brew, Black Spire Brew, Blurrgfire, Toniary White, Andoan White, and Morgan Tea – we get three more libations specifically namedropped: the Fuzzy Tauntaun, Carbon Freeze, and Gamorrean Grog. All of them sound positively delightful, not to mention appropriately referential.
Finally, it’s revealed that our lovable pirate, Hondo Ohnaka, has a “wonderful” relationship with the bar’s owner, Oga Garra: “She puts all of my drinks on my tab. And then I tear up my tab. It’s such a good arrangement. At least for me. I am not sure how she feels about it.” This is more than likely just a nice little bit of character-building on the part of the author, but it could also end up translating into a bit of theme-park business – perhaps paving the way for the occasional Hondo meet-‘n-greet at Oga’s or, at the least, providing for a throwaway line in Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run.
Speaking of the ride…
The theme-park land’s flagship attraction will be located in Black Spire’s spaceport, a facility “partially carved out of the surrounding cliff wall. Towers and cupolas blended with rocklike spires, and a prominent flight tower sat above a large entrance at the base.” For the purposes of the book, the Millennium Falcon is hidden away here, behind “an enormous collection of cargo crates of various sizes and colors, lumped together alongside scattered tools and other maintenance equipment” – being set after the events of 2017’s Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, Supreme Leader Kylo Ren is busy looking for the legendary vessel, eager to finish stamping the Resistance out. As grand a visual as it might be, however, we sincerely doubt that Disney will have all of these crates fold up or deflate or “walk away on broad metal feet” like they do in Pirate’s Price when it actually comes time for guests to enter the spaceport and then board the Falcon.
The backstory of Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run
Just a few weeks after The Last Jedi, with the Second Civil War now raging across the galaxy and General Leia Organa’s Resistance almost completely wiped out by the suddenly-dominant First Order, Chewbacca contacts Hondo Ohnaka, who he’s had run-ins with in the past, and asks for his help to repair an-almost-on-its-last-legs Millennium Falcon: “Ah, but the Falcon is a very old ship,” Hondo explains, “and, as you know, it has been heavily customized. So replacement parts that will actually fit and that will talk to her persnickety computer systems were getting harder and harder for Chewbacca to find.”
Hondo agrees to help – for a price, of course. The old pirate was in the process of setting up a new “business venture,” Ohnaka Transport Solutions, which would function as a very thin front for a smuggling operation on the distant and somewhat-lawless world of Batuu; having the Falcon be the flagship of his new smuggling fleet would be just the element he needed to give himself an edge against all of the myriad competition. Chewie agrees to lend him the vessel “for a while” – but, in return, Hondo needs to scrounge together some ship parts and tools to help the Resistance lick its wounds.
There is a complication, however, in the form of the neo-Imperials attempting to track down the Falcon to end the Second Galactic Civil War so quickly after it started. They hire mercenary extraordinaire Bazine Natel (who’s acted as a First Order informant before, as seen in The Force Awakens), who’s relentless in her task, finally successfully locating it on Batuu. Hondo figures the easiest way to stop the endless pursuit is to perform a little sleight of hand, the likes of which we’ve seen the character perform countless times since his very first appearance all the way back in the early episodes of The Clone Wars: first he sells the ship to Bazine for an outrageous sum of money, then he has an ally hack into her personal communications so that the friend can replace the bounty hunter’s First Order intelligence contact. Natel hands off the ship to the imposter, gets paid for her services, and rides off into the sunset – and Ohnaka’s assistant flies the Falcon right back to Batuu, where the old pirate goes right on with his enterprise (but not before contacting Chewbacca to reassure him: “The ship is safe, my friend, and we are even”). Walking back into Oga’s Cantina, he puts up a flier on the pub’s bulletin board:
Flight crews wanted
No training necessary.
Fair pay, great experience. Discretion a must.
Inquire at Ohnaka Transport Solutions in the Spaceport.
Smiling, Hondo admires his handiwork. “I wonder who will apply for the job first.”
That’s where you come in.
A brief epilogue: Flight of the Falcon
Er, not so fast – it looks like old Hondo managed to put one over on us readers, as well.
Four months after the book Pirate’s Price was released, Disney and Lucasfilm followed it up with a one-shot comic book entitled Flight of the Falcon. Think of this as a quick epilogue to the previous story and the final step in Ohnaka’s (temporary) procurement of the Millennium Falcon – and, therefore, the last chapter guests should read before hopping on Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run (maybe even while waiting in line!).
Taking place immediately after Pirate’s Price, the Weequay smuggler first has to contend with yet another attempt to swipe Han Solo’s former vessel away from him (this time by the Guavian Death Gang that was first spotted in Episode VII: The Force Awakens) and then, once that threat has been resolved, to confront an obviously-angry Chewbacca, who has arrived on Batuu to reclaim his ship (it would seem that the already-settled nature of Hondo’s bargain with the Wookiee wasn’t quite as settled as he would’ve liked us to believe). After making promises to further lend a helping hand to the Resistance in the form of running even more equipment and supplies to the ragtag militia – and to also cut Chewie in 8% of Ohnaka Transport Solutions’s overall profits – Hondo Ohanka is allowed to keep the Falcon for a bit longer and to pull off a few of those criminal enterprises he’s been so obviously dreaming about doing.
Now the time has come for you to enlist in the nascent “company’s” ranks and to help Chewie and the others out (and – oh, yeah – to make some scratch on the side, too).
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge debuts at Disneyland Resort on May 31 and at Walt Disney World Resort on August 29.
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