Star Wars: Hard Merchandise by K.W. Jeter – Review [Lord of the Night]
Lord of the Night reviews the epic conclusion to the Star Wars: The Bounty Hunter Wars trilogy, Hard Merchandise by K.W. Jeter.
“A thrilling conclusion that ties together both trilogy-running stories together in ways that will shock you, and give you a whole new appreciation of the infamous bounty hunter Boba Fett.” – The Founding Fields
It’s been many years since I first read The Bounty Hunter Wars trilogy, roughly six or seven if I remember correctly, and they are as good as I remember them being. And Hard Merchandise is definitely still the best of the trilogy as I remembered, the ending to this trilogy did not disappoint me and surpasses both The Mandalorian Armor and Slave Ship.
Boba Fett is on the hunt. Having returned from the dead after his defeat at Tatooine he has found himself embroiled in a conspiracy that traces itself back to the days of the infamous Bounty Hunter Wars, of which Fett was the victor. With an aged bounty hunter desperate to get out of the game while he still can, an amnesiac former slave girl who desires only to discover who she really is and why she is elbow-deep in this conspiracy, and a stolen and sub-par ship, Fett must use all his genius and cunning and firepower to make sure that his return from the dead is a permanent one, and not just a temporary stay of execution. Has Boba Fett finally met the challenge he can’t conquer? Or will he stop at nothing to discover the truth, and get paid?
The story that Hard Merchandise finishes is a very nicely told story that stretches across three novels and is best read back to back. Hard Merchandise does a very very good job of elaborating on past events, but the majority of this novel is focused on the main story rather than flashbacks which are gotten out of the way early. Jeter brings together and connects the plot that has been building up over the entire trilogy and reveals a master conspiracy of events that were set in motion long before the events of the book, but are now finally coming to a head as the coming Battle of Endor heralds the beginning of a brave new galaxy. I found the full scale of the trilogy events to be staggering, and very impressive to say the very least.
The characters are as strong as they were in the last two books. Boba Fett is still a cunning genius, motivated solely by credits and his own survival, and he does not change at all in the book which I applaud since any change to his character in the book would have been untrue to the character himself and that would have ruined the entire trilogy. Neelah is the character that grows the most as she finally learns her identity and her past, and how that identity meshes with her current self and the lessons she’s learned is an amusing moment. Kuat of Kuat I found to be a very grey character, one who is the “antagonist” as far as book classifications go but this series isn’t about good vs evil, it’s all about survival and doing what you have to do to look out for number 1, and I think that brings a very unique style to these characters none of whom can really be described as good or evil.
The action is much better than in the second book, and on par with the first. This isn’t a series that’s all about action but when it does get into a fight, it’s a good one. The fight scenes were very nicely coreographed so that the reader can picture them very clearly, and in a step by step process that makes physical confrontations so much better to imagine because you aren’t confused about how exactly something happened, and the tension in the final battle was very well done. You could really feel Fett’s unshakeable will as he refused to give up, and the idea of lots of explosions in space is just classic Star Wars.
The pacing is nicely done. I applaud Jeter’s ability to keep a good pace through the book, despite it dealing with many long conversations and explanation of events rather than quick-paced action scenes or shock value moments. Hard Merchandise is a book that I found very easy to read, only a few parts had me going slowly and admittedly there I felt the narration was a bit too dry and long-winded, but after that it went back to smooth sailing and into the finale that was worth the wait.
Now for my favourite quote, i’d say it has to be this one that gives a real look into the mind of Boba Fett,
“It’s not a matter of luck. Not for me.”
The ending is very well done and meshes with other Star Wars lore perfectly. The conspiracy has ended and each of the characters receives their own personal resolution, and I personally found the last two or three pages to be very heartwarming and a nice way to end such a grey trilogy with just one person coming out with what he deserves. Jeter brings his story to a fine close, one that answers every question and in a satisfying way, and manages to stay true to the theme of the entire series, the grey areas of Star Wars and the simple men and women just trying to make their way in the universe.
For a well-crafted and written story that finishes the entire trilogy in a very satisfying way I give Hard Merchandise a score of 8.8/10. This is my favourite Star Wars trilogy and one that I would recommend to all fans of the classic Star Wars, before The Clone Wars and the Legacy era ruined a lot of it, and especially to any fans of that memorably imposing and menacing character Boba Fett. He may not have gotten a large role in the movies but he has definitely become one of the most popular Star Wars characters through his presence alone, and here exists an entire trilogy devoted to him. On a side note I give Jeter’s portrayal of Boba Fett a 10/10, he definitely comes across as the kind of person for whom anything not directly related to his profit margin or his survival is inconsequential, and yet manages to retain that presence that made him so much more than just a bit character in the movies.
That’s it for this review. I’m not sure what will come next, I just really really hope it’s something from Black Library. Until next time,
AVE DOMINUS NOX!