Star Wars: The Bounty Hunter Wars Book II: Slave Ship (K.W. Jeter)
Plot-After we are treated to how Fett managed to fool Bossk into thinking Slave I is destroyed, and his retribution on Bossk, we are treated to various past sequences of varying degrees of interest. Fett deals with a loose end from the previous book in an encounter with a hunt saboteur (someone who helps bounties escape detection instead of turning them in). Boba Fett and Bossk team up on a mission to capture a rogue stormtrooper, a sequence that could have been much better than it was in actuality. Xizor plans a trap for Fett once he returns the bounty to the lair of Kud'ar Mub'at. Mub'at is dealing with problems of his own, however, as the subnode Balancesheet has finally established independence. Kuat of Kuat has what is one of the better scenes in the book during a meeting with the other head families on Kuat. We also learn of Neelah's previous identity as a noble on Kuat.The book ends with the present crew en route to an unnamed planet.
The plot, however, is hampered by two things. Firstly, it reveals its hand far too much for a book with this much intrigue. If you want to write about the bounty hunters, but don't want to write a straight up action novel (which would've worked FAR better in my opinion), then suspense and deception are a must. This book doesn't have that, the characters may be kept in the dark more often that not, but you rarely ever are. Constant POV shifts reveal everything that everyone is thinking, with only one substantial mystery retained for the conclusion of the book. These shifts are further hampered by the author's annoying habit of repeating every plot point numerous times to make sure we understood, readers are generally not dense people and restating the same fact over and over again quickly becomes obnoxious.
Characterization-Once again, characterization is a serious flaw in this book. Dengar turned into a whimpering idiot in what little time he was present during the book, absolutely terrified of Boba Fett. Bossk has become a parody of himself, almost like the stereotypical cartoon bad guy who tries his best to fool the all knowing hero, but always gets outsmarted in the most outlandish of ways. I have no quarrel with Boba Fett's portrayal, yeah, he talks more than usual, but he needed to in order to keep the story moving, pointing more to a bad plot than poor characterization. The minor characters are far worse off than in book I, Kud'ar is terribly dense, the novelty of his character has long since worn off and we are left with a very shallow character whom just gets manipulated by everyone. Suhlak (the hunt saboteur) gets a very strong persona, but i didnt like him, it seemed forced and unrealistic that some kid would stand up to Boba Fett like that when even the most hardened of fellow bounty hunters wouldn't. Kuat gets the best treatment of all the secondary characters, you get a clearer sense of his motives and problems even though he only has a handful of scenes in the book (although the scene with the ruling families was easily the best in the book). Neelah was pretty much devolved into a one note amnesiac in this book, she was tolerable in book one but in book two i found her to be a bit on the annoying side.
Prose-Jeter once again does a good job describing places and action sequences, I can't really complain about any of the descriptions although many of his decisions involving said action sequences were somewhat poor. (The only ground combat Boba Fett performs in the entire book is written in Bossk's POV and Fett is in a ridiculous sounding disguise). The Kuat problem remains from book I, although I think I've gotten a bit used to it by now. So too does his problems involving using the exact same adjective over and over/applying the same adjective to everyone. There is also an annoying tendency in this book to refer to "typical" Trandoshan bloodlust or "typical" Falleen (Xizor's species) characteristics, it seems rather pointless to do this as the characteristics in question could simply be shown to us with much greater effect and much less repetition. There was also no fewer than five references to Bossk's killing of his father, an event that occured in the last book. I don't know why the author felt the need to constantly reference the last book so much, but it greatly hinders the flow of the reading. Finally, the dialogue just seems awkward, not only do the bounty hunters often talk like well learned people, the paragraph of thoughts and miscellany in between every line of dialogue makes it very hard to follow the conversation without needing to constantly return to the last line.
Conclusion-More so than book 1, you can safely skip this book and miss out on nearly nothing, the few things that gave book 1 positive qualities (some decent supporting characters, action sequences) are not as visible here (if at all), and very little as far as plot is revealed. You could easily skip book 2, read book 3, and have missed nothing.