Archive for KW Jeter

Review: Hard Merchandise

Posted in Reviews, Spotlight with tags , , , , on 28 February 2016 by Megan

by K.W. Jeter, Book 3.

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Well, it’s the end of Fettuary, y’all, so what else can I do but give you my final review of my favorite trilogy? I told you I might’ve cried during Slave Ship. Now I’m telling you I definitely cried during Hard Merchandise. People accuse me of not wanting NJO/Legacy because I can’t handle sad books and death scenes, but the fact is I just can’t handle soft reboots.

No, the end of this book hurts so, so good that I had to put it down and get my breath before continuing.

Again, as I said, it’s the characters that makes this trilogy such a bright constellation in the EU’s galaxy. As Kuat of Kuat tries to navigate turbulent waters of galactic neutrality in a time of civil war, betrayed by friends and best upon by his own people, Boba Fett likewise tries to unscramble the secret codes of the past and solve the mystery of Neelah the slave girl who saved his life.

One thing about this trilogy, I keep saying it’s about how Fett survived the Sarlacc, but that isn’t really true. His escape and survival is more of a footnote to the first book than anything else. I love how it takes for granted his survival, and how Fett is no longer man but machine when he is in his armor. He’s no cyborg, but he’s not a human anymore, either.

Again it’s a matter of, how can I review the 3rd book without giving any spoilers or repeating myself? This trilogy is masterfully put together, bringing the flashback segments forward from the past to join up almost seamlessly with the sections from the present, making it clear why the flashbacks were even a necessary part of the story.

Each character has a voice, is a living, breathing creation, and at times one wonders if they can even survive at all — even when you know they must! At the risk of tearing down Joe Schreiber, one of my favorites, Jeter is able to write the silently mysterious film character without destroying any of his mystery — a sharp contrast to Lockdown where Maul ceases to be a figure of the Dark Side and becomes a sardonic enforcer. Maybe you like sardonic enforcers; okay, I just thought it spoiled him. But not Fett. Jeter’s Fett is cold yet not amoral, silent yet expressive.

The final scenes are full of tension and heartbreak, leaving the reader shaken and raw like an adrenaline-fueled ride on a new roller coaster. In every way, this trilogy pushes itself and excels in the pushing. A brilliant piece of realcanon that I love every bit as much now as when I first read it in 1998.

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Review: Slave Ship

Posted in Questions, Spotlight with tags , , , , on 27 February 2016 by Megan

by K.W. Jeter, book 2.

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The Mandalorian Armor ended on a total cliffhanger, so the first chapter of Slave Ship comes off like an old-timey movie, taking a step back to show you how the hero escaped. Telling you that Boba Fett escapes isn’t really telling you anything new, since this is an entire trilogy about him and he shows up years later.

But we don’t read this trilogy to find out that he survives. We read it to find out how. And as the flashback sequences increase in complexity, the central book of the trilogy picks up its pace with a sense of urgency.

It makes one wonder how Boba Fett and Thrawn would ever do matched against each other. Both of these warriors have a skill at predicting and controlling other creatures’ movements, manipulating them into an outcome that does the best for their own ends. But while Thrawn looks for big pictures, Boba Fett looks only for profit. That makes me think Thrawn would win.

At any rate, I digress. The Bounty Hunter Wars have begun, and Xizor, Kuat, and the Emperor continue to move beings around the galaxy as if they were pieces on a game board. What is the significance of the symbol Nil Possondum carved on the floor of Fett’s cargo hold? In fact, what is Possondum’s significance, anyway, and what’s he got to do with the dancer Neelah? Can Bossk get revenge? Is Boba Fett just waiting for a chance to sell out his partners? Can Dengar survive a partnership with Fett, or will he just be another casualty in the long line of deaths caused by the neo-Mandalorian?

It’s not a bounty hunter’s job to ask questions, but there’s a lot floating around here. K.W. Jeter continues to weave flashbacks with the present, only now he explains that this is Dengar telling the mind-wiped Neelah the story of the old Bounty Hunter’s Guild. Treachery and deception runs rampant, but they might just be closing in on the prize at last.

The thing with this trilogy that I absolutely love are the characters. I hear a lot of people saying they’re bored of books about the Big Three; they’re bored of Force users. They want something else. Yet so few sample this trilogy! Why? There’s nary a Force user in the entire book, and the closest you’ll ever get to the Big Three is the occasional bounty hunter mentioning how much they’d like to catch one for the credits.

They may be the fringes of the galactic population, but these are the plain ol’ mortals of the Star Wars universe. They have strong stories, and Slave Ship leaves one hanging on every bit as much as The Mandalorian Armor. I may have cried. It’s so, so worth it.

Review: The Mandalorian Armor

Posted in Reviews, Spotlight with tags , , , , on 19 February 2016 by Megan

by K.W. Jeter, book 1.

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I’ve mentioned this book a couple of times [1] [2] 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.

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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.

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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.