Hard Merchandise
[K.W. Jeter, Bantam Books, 1999]

Synopsis

There are 2 stories in this novel, "Now" [just after Jabba's death in ROTJ] and "Then" [just after ANH].

The "Now" tale is a follow-up to the stories in "Tales of Jabba's Palace" and Dengar's tale in "Tales of the Bounty Hunters" [TOTBH] - Dengar and a mysterious former dancing girl called Neelah look after Fett, escaped from the Sarlacc's maw, and attempt to protect him from the enemies who want to finish what Han Solo and the Sarlacc started.

The "Then" story [the main bulk of the previous books], is only a brief flashback in this one. Fett takes his captive ["hard merchandise"] to the go-between and is confronted by Xizor.

In the final section of the previous book we learnt Kuat's motive in wanting Fett dead, and identity of the mysterious Neelah. However, rather frustratingly, the characters the story mostly revolves around [Fett, Dengar and Neelah] do not - so they run around attempting to discover things the reader has known since before the book started!

However, there is a final mystery - who had Neelah brain-wiped, and why? Who is behind the plot that started it all?


Review

This book certainly tries to get closer to the portrayal of the bounty hunter characters in the "Tales of ..." book, even if it is of the "I had to steal my ship back from Tinian" throwaway line type of reference.

The final confrontation with Bossk had this reviewer laughing out loud! Still, the end of the book is anti-climactic, perhaps because of the structure; More likely because by that stage Fett had run out of enemies.

However, all-in-all this is a rip-roaring adventure with neither the "big 7" or the goody-fascist Rogue Squadron in sight, and thus is extremely enjoyable!

Rating: 80%

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