Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Shepherd492 reviews: Star Wars: The Mandalorian Armor

Star Wars: The Bounty Hunter Wars Book I: The Mandalorian Armor (K.W. Jeter)

Plot Synopsis-The Mandalorian Armor takes place immediately after the events of Return of the Jedi, Dengar is searching for salvage among the remains of Jabba's sail barge. Though unsuccessful, he comes across the dying Boba Fett. Assisted by his soon to be wife Manaroo, Dengar moves Fett to a hideout in the Dune Sea. Neelah, an amnesiac slave from Jabba's palace, sneaks into the hideout while Dengar is away, hoping to find out what connection he has in her past. Most of the book, however, takes place in the past, Boba Fett is given a job to break up the Bounty Hunter's Guild by an arachnid named Kud'ar Mub'at (Mub'at is acting as a middleman for Prince Xizor, who desires the Guild broken up for reasons of his own). Fett makes his way to the Guild's homeworld, evading Bossk and Zuckuss to reach the planet safely. Once there, much scheming occurs. Everyone realizes something big is about to happen and everyone is working to ensure they will be around to see the aftermath. Fett cuts a deal with Bossk to partner up on a bounty involving the Shell Hutts (another interesting invention by the author-essentially floating Hutts encased in armor). Zuckuss, Dhar'han, and IG-88 also partner up with them. After four of the five return from the mission, A civil war ensues at the Guild headquarters. Cradossk, the Guild leader and Bossk's dad, is killed by his son. Meanwhile in the present day, Dengar has gone to an information broker to tell Kuat that Boba Fett is still alive, seemingly betraying him. Two bounty hunters are eavesdropping on Dengar, and trail him out to the Dune Sea. Boba Fett turns the tables on them however and calls the Slave I down from orbit, crushing one of them. Bossk has been inside the Slave I just minutes prior, and, in addition to finding some information in a decrepit droid, arms the ship with explosives. The book ends with Bossk setting those explosives off as Slave I escapes the atmosphere of Tatooine.

Characterization-The characters in this book are a mixed bag, Boba Fett's fellow bounty hunters during the flashback scenes are pretty much just foils with no directive other than being far less cool and/or dangerous than Boba Fett. Boba Fett gets a pretty accurate portrayal based on other works involving him, but the other bounty hunters being portrayed largely as idiots didn't sit right with me. It seemed that the author decided to build up Fett's legend at the expense of good characterization. Dengar also falls victim to this, it is never really revealed as to why he decided to save Fett, and that lack of motive makes his story very flimsy. Even Boba Fett is not immune to inexplicable or story driven actions. Dhar'han seems to be recruited just to die, Fett claims to know that the bounty on Circumtore is a bust, yet continues anyway, why? He is also unfazed when a comrade from his past is gunned down due to this same seemingly pointless mission. Despite these flaws concerning the bounty hunters, many of the other characters fare better, Xizor was written very well and the scenes with him and Vader going at it are some of the best in the novel. Kud'ar Mub'at is also a fairly likable character, if only for his uniqueness. The foreshadowing of his ultimate fate however, is a questionable move. Neelah is alright, her mystery, while not compelling, is one of the few things you won't be able to guess on in this otherwise predictable novel.

Prose-The descriptions offered by the author are always clear enough to where you are never struggling to grasp what is what (especially concerning his creations, I think part of the reason his new characters work so well is because they are well described and easily related). The same goes for plot points, but in this case it acts as more of a detriment to the story. The same plot point or scheme is repeated over and over multiple times during a conversation, in fact most conversations consist of a line or two of dialogue followed by a paragraph of text explaining what an idiot the other person in the conversation is and what the character we are experiencing the story through is plotting. Though this works to keep everyone on board with the story, overall I think it detracted from the story as it made certain events far too predictable. There is also a highly annoying tendency to repeat metaphors (describing the armored Hutt's hands as being claw like no fewer than ten times is just one example), and adjectives (barve is a made up Star Wars word and yet nearly every single character in the book is described as a barve at some point, there are certainly real world alternatives to this word and its frequent use is highly irritating). Kuat of Kuat of Kuat Drive Yards is also a mistake that should've never happened. Although the character seems like he is poised to play a part in the next two installments, reading Kuat of Kuat every time he is in a scene (the author never shortens it to simply Kuat), is distracting and, before long, a hindrance to the novel.

Conclusion-A worthy read for devout fans of Boba Fett, there is not much else here for others, the book serves as essentially hero worship of Boba Fett, he is always right and everyone else is always wrong. Others might enjoy the interesting characters Jeter comes up with but the story itself is nothing special, the characters are inconsistent and generally annoying, and the writer's insistence on using the same handful of words over and over greatly detracts from the enjoyment of the novel, definitely a Star Wars book you can live without.

Final Score

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