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Literature / The Bounty Hunter Wars

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The Bounty Hunter Wars is a relatively old Star Wars Legends trilogy by K.W. Jeter that details what happened to Boba Fett after his fall in the Sarlacc, his recovery, and his partnership with Dengar. It has some overlap with a few of the stories found in the Tales of the Bounty Hunters anthology collection. Along with stories like Enemy of the Empire, it takes place before Fett was revealed as a clone and before the Mandalorian Proud Warrior Race Guy backstory was set in stone.

There's also a parallel flashback storyline covering Fett's time in the Bounty Hunters' Guild, his one-sided rivalry with Bossk, a behind-the-scenes plot orchestrated by the Corrupt Corporate Executive Kuat of Kuat, and an ongoing subplot revolving around the rivalry between Darth Vader and Prince Xizor, leader of the Black Sun crime syndicate, which was also an important feature of the Shadows of the Empire multi-media Interquel.

The trilogy consists of:

  • The Mandalorian Armor (1998)
  • Slave Ship (1998)
  • Hard Merchandise (1999)

This trilogy provides examples of:

  • Ace Pilot: N'dru Suhlak is a hotshot pilot who washed out of the Rebel Alliance for insubordination and makes a living transporting wanted fugitives away from bounty hunters. Prior to the events of Slave Ship, he's eluded or destroyed the ship of very bounty hunter who pursued him.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The series picks up a number of plot threads from Tales of the Bounty Hunters. Dengar and Manaroo rescuing Boba Fett from the edge of the Pit of Carkoon after he blasted his way out of the Sarlacc was previously established in "Payback: The Tale of Dengar", but the story just ended with Fett agreeing to be Dengar's best man at his wedding to Manaroo. Here they have a significant partnership while Fett recovers from his ordeal and fights off a series of assassination attempts.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Despite his best efforts, Kuat ultimately loses his corporation anyway, driving him to Suicide Attack his soon-to-be-former place of business rather than leave it to someone with potentially far-less Even Evil Has Standards than him. Additionally, he retains his A Father to His Men status by waiting until all of his soon-to-be-former employees have evacuated, before detonating his bombs. But the cherry on top is when he's last seen waiting to die in the explosions — his alien pet is revealed to have invoked Undying Loyalty by his side instead of taking its chance to escape, leading to him musing about how it's his only real friend left.
  • Anti-Villain: Kuat is basically a Corrupt Corporate Executive version of Grand Admiral Thrawn.
  • Black-and-Grey Morality:
    • Within the Bounty Hunters' Guild, you've got people like Fett and Zuckuss, who are interested in money and adventure respectively, and people like Bossk, who's more or less a serial killer, cannibal and slaver. And from the X-Wing Series, a cop killer, too.
    • The Big Bad, Kuat, is willing to do some pretty-ruthless things... but only because he's Properly Paranoid about the future of his corporation, employeesnote  etc.
  • Broad Strokes: The trilogy draws heavily on the stories and characters of Tales of the Bounty Hunters but it discards some details. Notably, Boba Fett was stated to have had part of one leg eaten by the Sarlacc before he escaped, which is dropped completely. It also undoes most of 4-LOM's Character Development (justified by him having suffered memory damage) and portrays Zuckuss as significantly less spiritual. Boba Fett also had an amicable relationship with the Bounty Hunters' Guild, whereas in this story he's partly responsible for its collapse.
  • Covers Always Lie:
    • Darth Vader appears, but has little direct role in the story, which takes place mainly in the background of Return of the Jedi.
    • The blurb on the back of Slave Ship has next to nothing to do with the story itself.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Fett takes this to some amazing heights, such as arranging to have a column with a hidden compartment built into a new palace years ago, and storing within it a reactor core compatible with D'harhan's weapon systems - just in case a bounty would turn up in the palace one day and he would have to go in weaponless.
  • Crew of One: At the end of the third book, Fett somehow manages to pilot an Imperial Star Destroyer — a mile-long ship that normally has a crew of over thirty-seven thousand — by himself. (Albeit he only fires the engines to get it and himself away from Kuat Drive Yards before Kuat of Kuat self-destructs the place.)
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: Played straight with D'harhan, who thinks of himself as a weapon rather than a man. As he no longer has a head his view has some merit...
  • Determinator: Boba Fett personified. Kuat even lampshades this a few times, always insisting that he'll find a way to come back.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Zuckuss complains that in spite of his long, successful career and considerable skills as a hunter, everyone else treats him like a novice who's "lucky" to be included in the Guild.
  • Great Offscreen War: The backdrop of the series is a bloody civil war amongst the Bounty Hunters Guild that the Empire and Xizor are benefitting from. Practically none of the actual conflict is shown. Aside from the bounty hunters from The Empire Strikes Back (several of whom don't take a side), only four guild members (Craddosk, Ob Fortuna, D'harhan, and Gleed Ontondon) appear in the trilogy, and two of them die before the conflict starts.
  • Groin Attack: Neelah does this to Dengar when they first meet.
  • Happy Ending Override: By the end of their story in Tales of the Bounty Hunters, 4-LOM had gone through a lot of Character Development. Most of that is undone in this trilogy's present day because 4-LOM was badly damaged in the interim and suffered memory loss, reverting to his mercenary old self.
  • Hero of Another Story: Dengar's Love Interest Manaroo disappears from the trilogy early on as he leaves to partner up with Boba Fett. She reappears in the epilogue after having had some interesting adventures of her own, in which she gambled on Dengar's survival and won enough money to clear all their debts.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Bossk kills and eats Cradossk, his own father. All first-born Trandoshans also eat their siblings after hatching, which Bossk is happy to mention when someone describes Fett as his "brother" bounty hunter.
  • Missing Mom: Bossk's antagonistic relationship with his father is a main theme of the first book. His mother, meanwhile, is never even mentioned.
  • Mistaken Death Confirmation: As part of his plan to capture Trhin Voss'on't, Boba Fett has the corpse of fellow bounty hunter Zuckuss on board his ship. Bossk checks the body and is chilled by Fett's ruthlessness — but he's far more upset when Zuckuss later gets up and pulls a gun on him. Turns out that Gand are able to slow down their vital functions so much that they appear dead.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: Bossk's Hair-Trigger Temper and Unwitting Pawn tendencies can make him seem like a meaner version of an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain. However, he still lives up to the ruthlessness of his Trandoshan heritage during his I'm a Humanitarian (see above) moments, and he gradually gets smarter with each encounter with Fett — culminating in Bossk stealing Kuat's fabricated evidence against Prince Xizor and leaving Fett with no choice but to buy it back for much more than it's really worth.
  • Patricide: Bossk kills his own father Craddock, taking over the Bounty Hunters' Guild by doing so.
  • Professional Gambler: One of the recurring characters is one. He's also a Knowledge Broker and uses his information to get rich by gambling on it. Manaroo ultimately bets with him that her beloved Dengar will survive his partnership with Boba Fett, winning enough money to finally clear all of their debts.
  • Punctuation Shaker: Kud'ar Mub'at, D'harhan, and the ex-Stormtrooper warlord Trhin Voss'on't.
  • Repetitive Name: Kuat of Kuat. For extra points, the second part refers to his family name, not his homeworld, so he's actually Kuat of Kuat of Kuat.
  • Reset Button: Most of 4-LOM's Character Development from Tales of the Bounty Hunters is undone by this book, by way of him having suffered damage to his memory hardware in a fight.
  • Shoot the Builder: In the Back Story, Gheeta the Hutt hired Emd Grahvess to design a spaceport to receive visitors to Gheeta's territory. Gheeta planned to murder Grahvess once the job was done so that the design would be unique. Grahvess anticipated this betrayal and hired Boba Fett to spirit him away once the job was done, humiliating Gheeta.
  • Shoulder Cannon: An extreme variation with the mercenary D'harhan, an old partner of Fett's who has replaced his entire head with a laser cannon powerful enough to penetrate the armor plating on small star ships.
  • The Starscream: Kud'ar Mub'at was this to his progenitor, and his own progeny Balancesheet is it to him. He does see it coming, but still gets outmaneuvered — Balancesheet simply makes his move far sooner than Mub'at anticipated.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Craddosk's treacherous majordomo Ob Fortuna has several POV scenes in the first book, but in the second book, he dies in his first chapter.
  • Tranquil Fury: When Crandossk gets like this, he can be The Dreaded to even Fett. But after trying and failing to invoke Offing the Offspring on Bossk, the latter ultimately turns this around on Daddy — to his dismay.
  • Villain Has a Point: Kuat is a Corrupt Corporate Executive willing to be The Unfettered if it means keeping control of Kuat Drive Yards, but he's ultimately Properly Paranoid in his belief that most — if not all — of the other candidates are too greedy and Stupid Evil to do anything but run it into the ground. It helps that he's A Father to His Men to all of the actual dock-workers, too.