By Christian Blauvelt
March 22, 2012 at 09:19 PM EDT

In the Expanded Universe of Star Wars publishing, one name stands out above the rest: Timothy Zahn. The author revolutionized that galaxy far, far away with his 1991 best-seller Heir to the Empire. In addition to creating now-indispensable characters like Mara Jade, Talon Karrde, and Grand Admiral Thrawn, he’s the one responsible for conjuring (and naming) that glittering galactic capital, Coruscant, which George Lucas decided to adopt for his Prequel Trilogy.

But while Zahn paved the way for Star Wars authors to explore the time line after Return of the Jedi, he’s been in an Original Trilogy mood of late. 2007’s Allegiance and 2011’s Choices of One both took place in the three-year period between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, and focused on the early adventures of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Chewbacca in the Rebel Alliance. Unlike most of the EU these days, Zahn’s tales haven’t been sprawling, multi-book arcs about yet another battle to save the galaxy. He’s remained committed to telling intimate, personal stories that tap into what made Star Wars resonate the world over: its characters.

Now Zahn’s ready to debut a book that fans have been dying to read: a heist novel starring Han, Chewie, and Lando Calrissian. EW can exclusively announce that Zahn’s latest yarn will be called Star Wars: Scoundrels and will hit bookstores on December 26, 2012, just in time for Boxing Day. Check out the cover and official description from Del Rey Books below:

Here’s the official description from Del Rey:

The Death Star has been destroyed. The Rebellion has had its first big victory. And Han Solo, newly conscripted to the Rebel cause, is on the run from the Empire and the bounty hunters eager to turn him in for the huge reward being offered by Jabba the Hutt. Now a mysterious stranger offers Han the resources to execute a daring robbery from a major crime lord.  The mission is impossible, but the prize will make Han a free man. With no choice but to accept, Han Solo and his Wookiee partner, Chewbacca, set out to assemble a cast of rogues, knaves, and cons with the right combination of wits, skills, and derring-do to pull off an operation of this complexity and scale — the best scoundrels the galaxy has to offer. And then the game is on: a rip-roaring, intergalactic, Ocean’s Eleven-style heist adventure starring Han Solo, Chewie, and Lando Calrissian, written by #1 New York Times bestselling Star Wars author Timothy Zahn!

I don’t know about you, but I’d pull the ears off a gundark to get a copy of this.

Read more:

‘Star Wars: Darth Plagueis’: How young Palpatine recruited Darth Maul — EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT

‘Star Wars: The Old Republic — Revan’: Exclusive excerpt from the long-awaited ‘KOTOR’ follow-up

‘Star Wars: Heir to the Empire’ at 20: An EW tribute, plus author Timothy Zahn on Mara Jade and whether Thrawn could’ve won at Endor