The countdown to The Last Jedi is almost in single digits. Soon, we'll see how Luke Skywalker responds to Rey's arrival on Ahch-To. We'll also stroll into the casino city Canto Bight. If you simply can't wait to learn more about the exotic, glittering locale created from nothing on the desert world of Cantonica, Del Rey's latest entry to the Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi publishing program will give you a sneak peek. Canto Bight collects four novellas that in no way spoil the upcoming film, but offer an on-the-ground look at the glitz and corruption of the city.
From a bird's-eye view, Canto Bight is indeed the Las Vegas of the Star Wars galaxy. But once you get closer through the perspective of the characters in stories written by Saladin Ahmed, Mira Grant, Rae Carson, and John Jackson Miller, you see it's rich and layered with thick coats of luxury, greed, riches, and trickery. The scum rubs elbows with the elite, though the elite may not realize it. Seemingly no one who comes to Canto Bight is truly noble, and if they are, they'll have to work hard to remain that way while in the city.
While Star Wars is no stranger to opulent settings (please see the fancy apartments and offices on Coruscant and the Theed palace in the prequel trilogy), Canto Bight is unique. It's kind of like the Mos Eisley cantina or Maz Kanata's castle on Takodana in that it's a place where multitudes of aliens gather, a place where viewers can experience wonder and discovery. But instead of being run-down and full of scruffy criminals, Canto Bight is polished and full of criminals in exquisite attire. Unpleasant situations are diffused out of sight so as not to upset visitors. Canto Bight culture is all about a pristine facade.
The novellas bring these features of Canto Bight to light. They put readers into the shoes of new and naive visitors, experienced business people, servants, and gamblers. By putting spotlights on characters of various species and profession, you get a wide picture of what Canto Bight is like on different levels. Some thrive in the culture, while others find themselves being fleeced the moment they arrive. Even after reading about underhanded deals and the ugly grit of the city, I still see the allure of Canto Bight.
One story in particular in the book commanded my full attention: “The Wine in Dreams” by Mira Grant. Focused on skilled sommelier and businesswoman Derla Pidys (shown in the featured photo above on the left), this novella is the kind of slice of life vignette I long to see more of in the Star Wars universe. Grant's prose detailing Derla's masterful knowledge of her craft and her clients is riveting in a way you might not expect from a story about wine. Derla's dealings to sell a rare bottle of alcohol has a thrill of the hunt feel to it, and that velocity is paired with Derla's intimate knowledge with Canto Bight and its wiles—it's the kind of story I want to revisit and luxuriate in to ensure I've appreciated every turn of phrase.
After seeing some of what Canto Bight has to offer in this book, I can't wait to see the decadence on screen in The Last Jedi. I'm also one thousand percent here for viewing fathiers, a.k.a. racing space horses, in action.
Will you be picking up Canto Bight? Let us know in the comments! And once you've read the book, come talk to me on Twitter about the stories you like best.
Images: Del Rey, Lucasfilm, Disney
Amy Ratcliffe is an Associate Editor for Nerdist. She likes Star Wars a little. Follow her on Twitter.
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