Review: The Mandalorian Armor
by K.W. Jeter, book 1.
I’ve mentioned this book a couple of times   but never properly reviewed it! How’s that? This is a very fetting fitting time to review this trilogy, too, because as you know, I’ve begun renaming months after Star Wars characters and this is FETTUARY.
Something about black knights entrances humanity. Those armor-hidden features, the silence rather than speech, the suspicion that even if he looks like a renegade, he might be an honorable man. Boba Fett fascinated audiences from the get-go, and while it’s probable Lucas had him fall into the Sarlacc in a fit of pique, it didn’t take long for the EU to bring him back.
Because he’s just that cool.
The point of all that is, fans have been longing to know the details behind Fett’s improbable survival probably since 1983 but at least since 1992 (when he appeared in Dark Empire, confirming his escape). A short story appeared in Tales of the Bounty Hunters which touched on the matter, but without any real detail. And then there was K.W. Jeter.
I love this trilogy and there’s no mistaking that. From its start, with a desperate Dengar seeking any potential cash venue in the wreckage of Jabba’s sail barge, through harrowing encounters with bounty hunters and the elements, all the way to its cliffhanger ending, the post-ROTJ events of The Mandalorian Armor are a thrill ride that doesn’t let up. The mysteries come thick and fast, from a sabotaged droid hidden on board the Slave I to a memory wiped slave girl Boba Fett isn’t willing to let escape him. Not that she’s willing to go anywhere, either, because Boba Fett is the only person she remembers and she’s sticking close until she knows more.
As if all that weren’t exciting enough, Jeter skillfully weaves in “flashbacks” set before the events of A New Hope: the story of the eponymous Bounty Hunter War, the machinations of Xizor, and Boba Fett’s penchant for survival at all odds.
This book also introduces one of my favorite characters of all time, Kuat of Kuat, whom I would cast to be played by the inimitable Yul Brynner.
Calm, cunning, honorable and moral only according to his own system, Kuat is a prime counterpoint for Boba Fett. The hunter and the engineer both see the galaxy in binary: success and failure, profit and loss. Only for Boba Fett, success and survival are one and the same, and for Kuat, success means the survival of something bigger than himself.
Even though this first chapter introduces the character and events of the rest of the trilogy, it never really feels like a prologue. So many trilogies have expendable first books, because there’s so much set up in the one and so much recap in the next two. This is not one of those trilogies. These three books are equally weighted, telling an equal portion of the story, and in many respects, even though all three are awesome, The Mandalorian Armor remains pretty much my favorite.