An Exclusive First Look at Timothy Zahn's New Star Wars Novel, Scoundrels

Yes, you read that right. Timothy Zahn is returning to the Star Wars universe — and this time, he's telling a story about just the scoundrels. The rogues. The ne'er-do-wells. This tale of a heist gone wrong stars Han Solo, Chewbacca, Lando Calrissian, and some newer characters. And we've got an exclusive excerpt right here!

Star Wars: Scoundrels by Timothy Zahn hits bookstores January 1, but here's an action-packed section you can read early:

A figure had appeared from the doorway where Tavia had been handling her groundliner sentry duty and was striding toward them. He was human and male, and even with the streetlight throwing his face into shadow he seemed familiar. He continued his approach, his swinging hand brush- ing past a holstered blaster with each step. Bink tightened her grip on her own weapon . . .

And then, as the man passed through the light of a home security lamp, she got a clear look at his face. She exhaled in a puff, feeling the tension drain into limp relief. No wonder Tavia had been startled. And no wonder she'd said crankapacky. "Hey, Solo," she greeted the new- comer. "What are you doing on Kailor?"

"Looking for you, Bink," Solo said calmly. "Nice to see you're keeping busy."

"We are," Bink said. "Only I'm Tavia, not Bink. We decided I finally needed to learn the dirty part of the job."

For a long second he looked like he was going to buy it. His eyes flicked between the women's faces, searching for a clue as to which face belonged to which twin.

He wouldn't find one, of course. Not even if they'd been standing in a brightly lit room instead of a nighttime city street. Bink and Tavia had pulled this same trick countless times over the years, and their past was strewn with the red faces of those who'd fallen for it.

But Solo was smarter than most. And if he couldn't find any visible proof that Bink was lying, he knew her well enough to make an educated guess. "Good idea," he said, looking her straight in the eye. "I need you and Tavia for a job on Wukkar. Interested?"

"Could be," Bink said. "Decent payoff?"

"Very decent," Solo confirmed. "Come on back to the Falcon and we'll talk about it."

"Let's meet at our ship instead," Bink suggested. "Docking bay twenty-two. Go on in and make yourselves comfortable. We'll be there soon-got a stop to make first."

"Make it quick," Solo warned. "We're on a tight schedule."

An Exclusive First Look at Timothy Zahn's New Star Wars Novel, Scoundrels

He turned and strode off into the night. As he approached the end of the block, another figure, this one taller and shaggier, stepped into view. Chewbacca, playing his usual backup.

Smuggling partnerships didn't always last, Bink knew, and when they ended they usually ended violently. It was nice to see that this one was still holding together.

"We should go," Tavia said, her voice even more disapproving than usual.

"Right." Bink used her fingersnips to cut the syntherope free from her harness, and they headed for the spot where they'd parked their land- speeder.

"You going to take the job?" Tavia asked as they walked.

"Probably," Bink said. "We'll hear him out first, of course. But prob- ably."

"You realize that the payoff's probably not nearly as big as he im- plied," Tavia warned. "Things like this practically beg to be exaggerated." "I know," Bink said. "But we've got nothing else planned, and pickup jobs can be fun." She shrugged. "Besides, it's Solo. What could go wrong?"

Tavia snorted. "You want me to give you a list?" "No need," Bink said ruefully. "I've got my own."

From the book, Star Wars: Scoundrels by Timothy Zahn. Copyright © 2013 by Timothy Zahn. Reprinted by arrangement with Ballantine Books, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.

And here's a special Christmas-themed promotion for the book:

An Exclusive First Look at Timothy Zahn's New Star Wars Novel, Scoundrels