Star Wars: Canto Bight includes four short stories about the Star Wars version of Las Vegas. Each is written by a different author. It was released in December of 2017, and connects to the Star Wars: The Last Jedi movie.
Readers can enjoy the short stories in this book without having watched The Last Jedi movie. That said, those who have watched the movie will have the advantage of knowing what a Fathier looks like.
Canto Bight includes four short stories that connect to each other in subtle ways. I recommend you read the stories in the order that they are presented, so you can enjoy recognizing what carried over from one story to another. To me, it felt like I was finding little “Easter eggs” woven into the narratives.
“Rules of the Game” was written by Saladin Ahmed. This story features Kedpin Shoklop, who I found to be absolutely delightful! Kedpin is an overly optimistic squishy being with one big eye and a need for moisture. I imagine him to look something like a large worm, but with appendages.
Kedpin Shoklop is extremely excited to be in Canto Bight. He finally won the all-expense paid trip from his employer, and is ready to have a fantastic vacation. Unfortunately, his unabashed enthusiasm and positivity makes him an extremely easy mark. Everyone who seeks to separate a fool from his money hones in on Kedpin Shoklop.
Another wonderful thing about “Rules of the Game” is it allows the reader to experience Canto Bight through Kedpin Shoklop’s overly optimistic eyes. He admires the shiny details on the buildings, the aroma of the plants and trees, and goes all “fan boy” over seeing a glimpse of “the most famous card player in the galaxy”,
I wish I could view the world as exuberantly as how Kedpin Shoklop sees Canto Bight! His overall joyous mood is not dampened even after being ripped off by various scammers.
Anglang Lehet has a job to do. He needs to complete one more job in order to leave the Syndicate. This job involves an intricate plan that will cause the death of a violent and corrupt Cantonian police officer (that no one will mourn the death of).
All Anglang Lehet needs is an innocent looking mark that can help him with a specific, and dangerous, task. Kedpin Shoklop won’t have the slightest idea what he’s gotten himself into.
I spent part of this story working over what would happen to Kedpin Shoklop. Without giving away any spoilers, I’ll say this. By the end of the story, the reader learns unexpected things about these two characters.
“The Wine In Dreams” was written by Mira Grant. Derla Pidys is the best sommelier. She takes the time to ensure that every bottle of wine is safe for her clients to consume. What is safe for one species can be poison for another, after all. She is the sommelier that is called when people need everything to be perfect.
Derla Pidys arrives at Canto Bight to deliver an extraordinarily special bottle of wine. Those who have sampled this vintage say that it tasted like the wine they drank in dreams. As a person who enjoys wine, I find this description to be very intriguing!
This story includes a lot of deception, artfully done, and in aesthetically pleasing ways. One example of this is Ubialla’s night club, which is ever-changing. The decor, the color palette of the space, the textures of the walls, become completely different in order to create a mood for customers. A dreamy space for people to drink in.
I found myself wondering about two very mysterious sisters that are in this story. The Grammus sisters, (Parallela and Rhomby) are identical. They claim to have come from another universe, and people are convinced that they are telling the truth. No one has seen anything like them before.
The reader gathers bits and pieces of what the world the Grammus sisters come from is like. Everything is part of a pair, and it is sad when one of the pair is lost. The Grammus sisters refer to themselves in ways that make it seem like they are one entity.
The tone of “The Wine in Dreams” changes when Ubialla and the Grammus sisters both want the bottle of wine that Derla Pidys has brought with her. The situation becomes dangerous very quickly, and it seems like there is no way out that does not involve someone getting killed.
It isn’t until after the story ends that the reader discovers the little hints of a plan that was before their eyes the whole time. When the pieces fell together for me, I was very impressed with the intricacy of it all.
“Hear Nothing, See Nothing” was written by Rae Carson. It is the story of a family. Lexo Sooger works at Zord’s Spa and Bathhouse, giving massages to rich clients. They often talk to him while receiving a massage, and Lexo Sooger makes it a practice to forget every word he hears.
He is a Dor Namethian, and the story starts with his daughter giving his aching hands a massage with a bright blue herb called corwindyl. Lula is a thirteen-year-old human, with bright brown eyes, dark skin, and “hair like a cloud of charcoal”. Lexo Sooger found this tiny human when she was an abandoned baby, and took her home to raise as his own.
Lula knows that she is adopted. The father and daughter have an inside-joke about this between them. Lula, like many other children on Canto Bight, works in the Farthier stables, cleaning stalls and making sure these animals are ready to race. She asks her father to let her take some corwindyl to the stables to help an injured Farthier, and he allows this.
Lexo Sooger’s most important client is Counselor Sturg Ganna, a huge, amphibious creature whose body is especially difficult to massage. Ganna is corrupt, and attempts to entice Lexo Sooger to tell him secrets that other clients have shared with him. Instead, Lexo Sooger insists he hears nothing, sees nothing.
This results in a not-so-veiled threat agains Lexo Sooger’s daughter, Lula. The girl disappears, and it is up to her terrified father to save her from whatever it is that Counselor Sturg Ganna wants to do with her.
Unexpected help come from Countessa Alissyndrex Delga Cantonica, who knows some secrets about Lexo Sooger’s past. She wants a favor, in the form of a job that involves killing someone who has become inconvenient. In return, she makes it easier for Lexo Sooger to learn where Lula is being kept.
The potential danger to Lula made me concerned that her father might not be able to save her in time. At any moment, things could go terribly wrong. “Hear Nothing, See Nothing” is a story about secrets, strategic alliances, and the love a father has for his daughter.
“The Ride” was written by John Jackson Miller. The story takes the reader into the Canto Bight casino itself, directly to where people are gambling for huge amounts of currency. Kaljack Sonmi is a Zinbiddle player who was hired by the Canto Bight casino to play. Technically, his title is “Proposition Player”. He gets to wear a fancy jacket, and he likes the way it makes him look.
Kalijack Sonmi is charismatic, and wins due to his ability to count cards. But, he hasn’t been able to win enough to get himself out of debt. His goal is to get the Ion Barrage, a hand that wins the game, but is exceedingly rare.
Then, his luck takes a turn. The casino fires him, and takes back his fancy jacket. This leaves him in a dire situation. He has only a few hours to pay back the money he was loaned. It is literally a life-or-death situation. The story becomes very intense as Kalijack Sonmi attempts to win enough from the casino to save his life.
Three amphibious-looking brothers, with rhyming names, provide comic relief. The brothers are well-known gamblers, who seem to have amazing, unexplainable, luck. They befriend Kalijack Sonmi, who doesn’t necessarily want to be their friend.
Without giving away the ending, I can say there is a lot of character development happening as the story goes on. This one might be the most intense story of the book due to the high stakes.
Canto Bight is a series of short stories that take place in the same location. Readers who pay attention will notice where the pieces from one story are expertly woven into the others. I suspect this book required some well-thought out collaboration in order to achieve that effect.
There are four stories in the book. Each one can stand up quite well on its own. That said, I really enjoyed noticing the subtle places where the stories interconnected.
Star Wars: Canto Bight – by Saladin Ahmed, Rae Carson, Mira Grant, and John Jackson Miller is a post written by Jen Thorpe on Book of Jen and is not allowed to be copied to other sites.
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