Most know of Scoundrels as the “Ocean’s 11 meets Star Wars” novel. Any why not? That is exactly what it is. Maybe it’s not a scene for scene rehash, and there are many similarities. But in a general sense, you have 11 people (led by Han Solo) planning a heist to break into a seemingly impenetrable safe.
First things first, the cast of characters here are not the regulars. Outside of Han Solo, Lando Calrissian, and Chewie, there are no other characters that are recognizable from the movies. Zahn, notorious for bringing all of his character creations along for the ride in his many past Star Wars novels--sometimes even overshadowing the main players--are also not present here. There are no Mara Jade cameos, no mention of Thrawn, and in the one Star Destroyer in this novel that is briefly seen, Commander Pealleon is not on board.
Of course, as part of the ‘11’, there is one Zahn creation included, but barely. The female aid to Leia back in the Thrawn Trilogy, Winter, is back. She had a small part there, but most definitely grows as a character here.
But she is just one. In the early stages of Scoundrels, after several of the new team members are introduced, as well as the antagonists (or victims?), it may be a bit difficult to place all of these new names. But a third of the way into the novel, there will be no problem recognizing these characters and some of their personalities.
Scoundrels wasn’t just about 11 people, planning a heist to walk away with a fortune. They had to plan a series of cons, tricks and other conniving plays on the unsuspecting. The target here is not an Imperial but a city governor who is funded by Black Sun, the smuggling Organization led by Prince Xizor seen in many other novels (not by Zahn). Disappointingly, Xizor himself does not make an appearance but many others from his species does.
Sure, there are no Skywalkers, very little Imperial interaction, no X-Wings, and all of the other cliched Star Wars imagery here (sans Han, Chewie and the Falcon of course), but this novel was written extremely well and the story very intricately created. By no means an epic tale in its scope that affects anything else in the Star Wars universe in any way, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a very, very entertaining story that keeps you turning those pages!