Canto Bight

Hot on the heels of From A Certain Point of View, Del Rey doubled down on the anthology market with Canto Bight. Unlike the previous anthology, this one takes place somewhere around the events of The Last Jedi and contains only four stories. By focusing on a smaller number of stories, it gives Canto Bight an edge over From A Certain Point of View. Each of the stories fits well together, helping to bring to life the casino world of Cantonica and its myriad array of citizens who dance the line between legal and illegal. While the characters in these stories don’t play any significant role whatsoever in The Last Jedi, they do provide for some entertaining tales.

Each of the four stories in this book focuses on a different set of characters each based in the glittering city of Canto Bight. It’s a city of wealth and excess which means there’s also a seedy underworld at play. The first tale in the book is called “Rules of the Game” and is written by Saladin Ahmed. The main character is an alien who won salesbeing of the year at his company which resulted in an all expenses paid trip to Canto Bight. Unfortunately for Kedpin Shoklop, things quickly go awry at every turn. He’s has problems at the spaceport, he loses his luggage, and eventually he gets tangled in a hitman’s plot to kill a local law enforcement officer. That leads to the second main character in the story, the hitman. Anglang Lehet is looking to retire from his profession, but he needs one last big score in order to retire in comfort. Using Kedpin as his agent of destruction doesn’t go as expected, which leads to some interesting twists and turns. I was apprehensive at first, but the characters grew on me and I loved the friendship that sparked between Kedpin and Anglang. It was a fun little story.

After that, things really take a turn with “The Wine In Dreams” by Mira Grant. This story stars a wine sommelier, which is a real thing. Essentially it’s a wine stewardess, someone who specializes in wines. Basing a story on a wine stewardess is a pretty bold move for someone’s first Star Wars story, and I have to admit, I was underwhelmed. Derla Pidys considers herself to be one of the best wine sommelier’s in the galaxy, and she tries to get a rare wine from a pair of sisters who claim to be from a different dimension. The deal gets complicated when the nightclub owner tries to steal the wine for herself. Blasters are drawn, tensions skyrocket, and people start spinning tricks to get the upper hand. It took a while to warm up to this one, but in the end, I actually did find it enjoyable. At times the prose can be a bit much, and the main villain could have been better, yet it managed to overcome those drawbacks enough to be likeable overall.

From there, it moves on to “Hear Nothing, See Nothing, Say Nothing” by Rae Carson. This story is about a famous masseur and his daughter who get in trouble with a powerful gangster. The masseur has to seek out friends and allies in order to get out of trouble, which leads to some desperate measures. I really liked this one. The characters were well done, and the plot was fun. Unlike the wine sommelier, the masseur had a backstory which revolved around a past life. Thus the masseur had some skills that proved useful when having to get his hands dirty. The relationship between him and his daughter was endearing, and it created a vested interest in the characters.

Capping things off was “The Ride” by John Jackson Miller. Of all the stories in the book, this one had me laughing. It revolves around a professional gambler named Kaljach Sonmi, aka Kal, and three rich amateur gamblers named Dodi, Thodi and Wodi. Dodi, Thodi and Wodi are pure chaos. They’ll bet on anything and they don’t care if they win or lose. They’re also extremely lucky. But as apt as they are to win big, they’re just as apt to lose it all and have to start over. For them, it’s all about the fun. Kal, on the other hand, is a career gambler. This is his profession. For him, it’s all about knowing the odds, the rules, and the tricks to winning. He tries to play smart. Unfortunately for him, he in over his head with debts and he needs a large sum of money or he’s dead. That’s where Dodi, Thodi and Wodi come in. Together, they have a wild night in Canto Bight betting on anything and everything as Kal tries to win big in order to save his neck. The question is, will fortune favor him? This was easily the best and most entertaining story in the book, and it ties in a little with some of the characters from the previous stories. It was a great way to end things.

Overall, Canto Bight is not essential reading for The Last Jedi, but it is a fun read. With four different stories by four different authors with an almost exclusively all alien cast, there’s a lot of variety. It’s not your typical Star Wars book, but it does give you a glimpse of what it’s like on Canto Bight. I give it a five out of five metal bikinis.

Reviewed By: Skuldren for Roqoo Depot.
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