Han Solo's only method of escaping life as a Scrumrat on the mean streets of Corellia was becoming a pilot for the Galactic Empire. We see him do just that at the start of Solo: A Star Wars Story before jumping forward in time to when he's a lowly foot soldier in the mud trenches of Mimban. But how did he go from ace pilot to scared little grunt in the first place?
The film's novelization by Murr Lafferty, aptly named "Expanded Edition," offers some backstory on Han's time with the Empire. In an exclusive excerpt of the book released by StarWars.com, we enter the story in medias res, as Cadet Solo disobeys a direct order during an aeiral dogfight and breaks formation with his fellow Empire ships. Despite his quick-thinking heroics, Han is court-martialed before a military tribunal and reassigned to fight for the infantry on Mimban.
There's also a little nod to Han's future relationship with C-3PO, when he disobeys the suggestions made by the Imperial droid that makes up his ship's intelligence system.
"Imperial droids were the worst," writes Lafferty. "The White Worms hadn’t had much use for droids, so Han hadn’t grown up with them behind doors, underfoot, and always politely, infuriatingly, telling him how wrong he was ... These machines were distracting, irritating, and useless. How did anyone fly with this nagging going on?"
You can almost hear the words "Never tell me the odds!" echoing across the years that separate Solo and Empire Strikes Back.