Star Wars: Winner Lose All
Author: Timothy Zahn
Published By: LucasBooks
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
In Timothy Zahn's latest Star Wars novel, Scoundrels, Lando Calrissian alludes to the fact that he has worked with Zerba Cher'dak, a master at the sleight of hand. He says he has only worked with him once before, but never goes into details, leaving the reader wondering what they worked on together. Once the reader gets to the end of Scoundrels, however, there is a message telling the reader that if he/she wants to know the story of Lando and Zerba's collaborative effort, there is a new novella by Timothy Zahn called Winner Lose All that will tell you all about it. A clever marketing scheme, but is it worth the read?
Winner Lose All takes place some time before Scoundrels. Lando Calrissian has entered a sabacc tournament in the High Card Casino in Danteel City, his sights set on the prize, a Tchine statue - one of only seven identical statues in the universe valued between forty and fifty million credits. Unbeknownst to Lando, Bink and Tavia Kitik are also at the High Card Casino. Along with Zerba Cher'dak, they are planning a heist. While Zerba plays for a spot in the tournament, the Kitik sisters will break into the host's safe and pick out a few items for his art collection. When Bink discovers that the host is in possession of two statues, flags go up.
Bink, Tavia and Zerba decide to bring Lando in on the scheme (apparently Lando and the Kitik sisters have a prior history) if for no other reason than to discover whether the statue on the main floor of the casino is a fake and the one in the vault real. While Lando and Zerba work on getting wild card spots in the tournament, the Kitik sisters decide to take a look at another Tchine statue located in Danteel City at a rival's vault. But when Bink finds the rival dead and her statue missing, the group realizes that there is much more at stake in this tournament. And for a change, they decide to set things right rather than cashing in on someone else's loss.
While Lando Calrissian is prominently displayed on the cover, this is less a tale about Lando and more a tale of a heist gone wrong turning scoundrels into do-gooders. I enjoyed reading Winner Lose All, but expected a little more in-depth look at all of the players. The novella was longer than most I have read, but still would have been better served with a closer look at the characters' backgrounds. But along with Heist and Scoundrels, Winner Lose All presents an extra piece to the puzzle somewhat completing the Scoundrels tale. A nice marketing scheme and well-worth the $2.00US to download.