Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Bounty Hunter Wars (Part 1)

The Bounty Hunter Wars

The Mandalorian Armor
Slave Ship
by K. W. Jeter

The Mandalorian Armor

He’s the most feared and successful bounty hunter in the galaxy. He is Boba Fett, and even the most hardened criminals tremble at his name. Now he faces the deadliest challenge of his infamous career – an all-out war against his most dangerous enemies.

As the Rebellion gathers force, Prince Xizor proposes a cunning plan to the Emperor and Darth Vader: smash the power of the Bounty Hunters Guild by turning its members against each other. Only the strongest and most ruthless will survive, and they can be used against the Rebellion. It’s a job for the fiercely independent Boba Fett, who jumps at the chance to destroy his rivals. But Fett soon realizes the game is rigged, as he finds himself the target of murderous factions, criminal conspiracies, and the evil at the Empire’s dark heart. Boba Fett has always finished first. And in this game, anything less is death.

Slave Ship

He’s both feared and admired, respected and despised. Boba Fett is the galaxy’s most successful bounty hunter. Now he finds himself the hunted in the oldest game of all: survival of the fittest.

The once powerful Bounty Hunter’s Guild has been shattered into warring factions. Now the posting of an enormous bounty on a renegade Imperial stormtrooper is about to start a frenzy of murderous greed. Hoping to fuel rumors of his death, Boba Fett abandons his ship, Slave I, and sets out to claim the prize. Yet his every move leads him closer to a trap set by the cunning Prince Xizor, Fett will die before becoming Xizor’s pawn in the Emperor’s war against the Rebels. And he may have to. For in order to gain his freedom, he must outwit a sentient weapon that feeds on human spirits. Then he must escape a galaxy of deadly enemies who want to make the rumors of his death a reality.

Are we sensing a theme with these reviews lately? I will review something other than Star Wars soon. I promise I will. I usually try to break up a run of similar themed books with other things when I’m reviewing them, but I don’t want to wait to review these books. So much so that I haven’t finished the trilogy of books before reviewing these.

I am finding these books to be absolutely thrilling. The back of the book blurbs above really don’t so them justice. This is a Star Wars version of Lost or a stranger, twistier version of Series 5 of Doctor Who. There is an overall story being told with dozens of individual players to focus on, but everything is divided up among them – with the bonus of having the bounty hunter characters having chapters in the present and in the past.

Just seeing that I would be getting some information about Boba Fett’s past was enough to draw me in, but there are some fantastic main players wrapped up in what may end up being a giant conspiracy. I mean, I won’t know for sure until I grab the last book, but it’s all bits and pieces that are somehow connected to Boba Fett and I do not yet know how.

We’ve got the Emperor and Darth Vader doing their Imperial thing, There’s Prince Xizor pretending to be going along with the Imperial agenda while secretly running the crime organization Black Sun. The Kuat of Kuat Drive Yards is trying to clear up a mistake that may prove deadly and remain a neutral ship manufacturer despite the Empire’s pressure to become exclusive. The bounty hunter Bossk, jealous of Boba Fett’s standing in the bounty hunter trade, is trying to get his revenge on Fett for breaking up the Bounty Hunter’s Guild and take his place as number one. Kud’ar Mab;at, a spider-like bounty broker, watches from his web and tries to pull the strings of the galaxy and make a profit while his subnode Balance Sheet slowly gains dangerous independence. Dengar is trying to leave the bounty hunter life to get married, but is drawn back into it for one more payoff when he rescues Boba Fett after the death of the Sarlacc.

And then there’s Neelah – who was a dancing girl in Jabba’s palace with no memory of her past except for the sight of Boba Fett’s helmet and the feeling in her gut that Boba Fett is the key to everything.

I can tell you right now that I have no idea what this story will look like when it is finished and I am really excited to find out. I am really enjoying the process of trying to tie all these characters and events together. The flash back chapters are doing a great job of revealing small clues without giving everything away and every clue is something interesting to fit into the puzzle.

But I think the most interesting thing I’m finding with this series is that it doesn’t really matter that it’s a Star Wars book. Yes, I am a huge fan of Star Wars and yes, I find many Star Wars books compelling because I like building that universe in my head, but I think a non-Star Wars fanboy could just as easily get into this book because its focus is on the mystery. It just happens to be in the Star Wars universe with recognizable Star Wars characters. From what I’ve seen so far, it could take place just as easily in a different setting with different people of similar character and be a compelling mystery series. It just has the bonus of being focused on a bunch of characters that I’m already interested in.

There is no doubt in my mind that fans of the original Star Wars trilogy should pick these up. The story winds in and around those three movies without ever really touching them, but it is proving to be a fascinating ride through other parts of the galaxy during that time. Plus, you really can’t go wrong with a story featuring Boba Fett like this.

Starting Place in Extended Universe Factor: High. There is very little outside of the original trilogy moves that you would want to be familiar with to get into these books. The only character you might want to Wookieepedia before humping into these is Prince Xizor who plays a major role with the Emperor and Darth Vader but only exists in the EU. There are some brief mentions and slight references to things he does in other books, but they are not major plot points at all. It just might help to be familiar. Everything else seems to be sufficiently explained in within these two books so far.

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