Star Wars: The Mandalorian Armor by K.W. Jeter – Review [Lord of the Night]
Lord of the Night reviews the thrilling start to the Star Wars: The Bounty Hunter Wars trilogy, The Mandalorian Armor by K.W. Jeter.
“This is Star Wars at it’s best. No lightsabres, no force and no Death Stars. Just the simple men trying to make their way in the universe, the Bounty Hunters.” – The Founding Fields
Now I have not been satisfied with Star Wars in some time. The last few years have seen the Legacy of the Force, Fate of the Jedi, The Clone Wars and other such things that just make me sad and nostalgic for the days when Star Wars was about more than the freaking Skywalkers and could deal with grown-up themes and in a mature manner. Now it’s cartoony and childish, and that just depresses me. Star Wars was my gateway into science-fiction, and it’s reading, or in tis case re-reading after seven years, books like The Mandalorian Armor that make me remember why I loved it then and why I still like it now, even if I haven’t liked any of it’s recent additions.
Boba Fett is dead. Swallowed by the Sarlacc during the battle at the Great Pit of Carkoon that saw Jabba the Hutt perish. Or at least the galaxy believes that the most infamous bounty hunter in history is no more. But when a charred but still alive body is found by the bounty hunter Dengar, the aged warrior finds himself protecting Boba Fett if only to ensure his dreams of retirement can come to pass. But Fett has never been underestimated in life, and in death that will not change as many factions seek to ensure that the legendary hunter is really dead. Boba Fett is not dead, but he is next to defenceless as he dreams of older days and of a past that he does not give any weight to, of the days when the Bounty Hunter’s Guild still existed and about a conspiracy to create a new class of warriors in the galaxy, and of his own role in the Guild’s demise.
The story that The Mandalorian Armor starts is a brilliant one. Containing an overarcing story that is told over the entire trilogy and a story set in the past that is used as both the adventure lure of the book and as a character device to explore Boba Fett and discover what makes this living weapon tick. Both stories are great, the overarcing story is not as action-packed but is more about Boba surviving the events of Episode VI and clawing his way back to a less terrible position. It’s the latter story that gets the most attention, and the most action. The story of Boba Fett and the Bounty Hunter’s Guild is a great one and is rife with the grey areas, deep characters and interesting themes that Star Wars used to be filled with, and has the advantage of having being written before the prequel movies so that bad things that came with them are are not mentioned or referenced.
The characters are, as I said, deep and interesting. Boba Fett is a character like no other, he is a weapon and one who has ruthlessly crushed all weakness within himself through willpower. Yet he isn’t boring, because Fett is intelligent, cunning and even has a bit of wit in him, and despite his low emotional range he does not become a one-note character but rather becomes more fascinating because of it, his motives and codes are understandable, at least for me, and he becomes a character that who despite not being a hero in any way, you find yourself rooting for because he’s the coolest character around. And the supporting cast is just as strong, the aged Dengar shows what happens to those who don’t make it big in the bounty hunting world and who want out, Zuckuss was very interesting as the naive new guy who has yet to grasp what it truly takes to be as good as Fett, and Bossk’s sheer brutality and thuggish attitude was a good counterpoint to Fett’s cold logic. And of course the immensely badass D’harhan makes one of his three appearances in Star Wars, and he’s definitely a character you’ll never forget.
The action is very well written and is classic Star Wars, without the lightsabres. Short brutal firefights and well-planned out attacks are the showcase of The Mandalorian Armor and they are done in a way that you can actually picture them in the same vein as the movies. Sadly Boba doesn’t utilize his immense array of weaponry, sticking to his blaster for most of the novel, but that is excusable since he doesn’t have any real chances to use anything else for reasons you’ll see in the novel. But the action scenes are fun and exciting despite the lack of variety in weapons used, I think owing to the strong characters and the scale of the main battle of the book. That particular scene is fantastic, the atmosphere of the fight is chaotic and each character shows how they fight best.
The pacing of the story is good but I admit sometimes feels a little slow, though that might just be me finding the few chapters that aren’t about bounty hunters to be harder to get through. But the two stories are very nicely interspersed with each other, the flashback story taking up most of the book but the overarcing story not being any less important, just with less detail to fill in. I really enjoyed the connections between the two, few though they are, and the deeper look into Boba Fett that the flashbacks provided. At 400 pages the book is a good solid read that you can take your time with or read through quickly, depending on how much you really enjoy Star Wars and in particular, the non force-using aspects of it.
Now for my favourite quote, this quote stuck with me for the context that makes it cool and the grim truth behind it,
“No. That’s Boba Fett.”
The ending is abrupt, very abrupt. In fact it feels like the book just suddenly cuts out, it reminded me of a cliffhangar episode of a TV show in that it’s definitely not an ending of any kind and you HAVE to go onto the next part for any closure or continuance at all. I did enjoy the final few pages through, for being exciting and tense, and the actual end was shocking and would definitely be enough to get you onto the next book, titled Slave Ship, just for the last paragraph alone. The flashback story is wrapped up nicely, but the trilogy story really kicks in in the final few pages and gives the readers hints towards the scale of what is coming, very tantalizing hints that make you want to read Slave Ship even more.
For a great story, an in-depth and fascinating and very satisfying look at my favourite Star Wars character Boba Fett, and for being just as good as I remember it I give The Mandalorian Armor a score of 8.2/10. This is Star Wars at it’s best in my opinion, when it’s not relying on a Skywalker, a Solo or Jedi or Sith to make Star Wars an awesome science-fiction. That is in my opinion the great tragedy about Star Wars, it has so many cool aspects to it beyond the Force and the Jedi and Sith and yet they are marginalized for more of the force-users. And I don’t see that changing any time soon. I would recommend this book, and it’s two sequels, to any Star Wars fan who wants to read about something other than Jedi and Sith killing each other and arguing philosophy, and especially to fans of the grittier side of Star Wars.
That’s it for this review. Next will be Slave Ship, the second book in The Bounty Hunter Wars trilogy. Until next time,
AVE DOMINUS NOX!