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A novel by Elizabeth Hand (2003, Scholastic Books)
Young Boba Fett, Book 4
22 years before Star Wars: A New Hope

Boba travels to Tatooine to find Jabba the Hutt, and his first assignment as a bounty hunter.



Read September 19th to 20th, 2007  
    I hope that I am not losing touch with my kid side, and what constitutes a good kid's adventure. I didn't think this was such an outing, as I was bored through most of it, and found the rest to be quite predictable, and the villains quite stupid.

The first half of the book has Boba searching for Jabba the Hutt, as he was instructed to do by his father's advice in the book he left his son. Of course, Boba doesn't know anything about Tatooine, or about how to find and enter the service of a crime lord. That means he has to be very lucky, and to be in the right place at the right time.

As is always necessary during a young reader novel, Boba has to meet up with a bunch of kids. One girl, Ygabba, steals his Mandalorian helmet. He chases her to a small building where her co-thieves are, and whom Boba easily bests. Ygabba tells him of their Master, a Nemoidian who gets them to steal from Jabba so he can sell weapons on the black market.

Boba wants no part of theft, even though he was willing to steal food from the cantina when he was so hungry. Instead, he wanders around the podracing stadium until he is found loitering outside Jabba's tent. Jabba takes him in for fun, but Boba is really good at flattery, which earns the Hutt's reprieve from death -though he talks of death at every turn.

At Jabba's palace we meet Durge -have we met this bounty hunter before? I don't recall. He is apparently the best bounty hunter in the galaxy, and has hunted down many Mandalorian warriors. Boba, who doesn't want to reveal his face to anybody for fear they won't take him seriously because he's just a boy, again uses flattery to win some extra time to live. Durge takes offence at everything Boba says, and eventually attacks him, but the boy easily dives out of the way and is said to have defeated the bounty hunter. It didn't seem like defeat to me, and if this is the best the bounty hunter's guild has at this point, then it's a pretty sad lot.

While Durge is forced to battle some arachnids because of his humiliation, Boba escapes on a jet-pack given to him by a friendly dessert baker. Although it took the sail barge all night to get from Mos Espa to Jabba's palace, Boba, after piggy-backing with a convoy for a little while, has enough fuel to get him back to the city. Even when he himself says he has just enough fuel to get there, he wastes some trying to throw Durge off his trail, and searches the entire city for Ygabba before he runs out.

Jabba had sent him on a mission to find and kill the Nemoidian who was stealing from him, as well as all of the thief's minions. It is actually Durge who kills Gilramos, after missing every single opportunity to kill Boba, which simply makes him look really foolish. Durge then stupidly fires his weapon at a bunch of ammunition, which explodes. Presumably, Durge was killed, but it's always possible that he survived. Boba has then freed the children who were forced to work for Gilramos, and returns with the Nemoidian's hat (which a Nemoidian will never part with while he is alive) and Ygabba. Jabba also takes the circumstantial evidence that Boba completed his mission, but never asks about the others Gilramos was using to steal from him. He never even asks who Ygabba is.

Of course, Ygabba happens to be the daughter of the pastry chef he met as the only friendly face in Jabba's palace, so there is a nice reunion, as well. Except that it was perfectly predictable after the man wistfully said he was saving some stuff for his firstborn...

The author uses a nice mix of species to populate Tatooine, however, some species shouldn't be there at all. The Noghri were discovered by Darth Vader some time after their planet was poisoned by a Clone Wars battle, as described in Dark Force Rising. Before being taken by Vader as secret protectors, they were a primitive species. Also, people should be really worried if there are witches from Dathomir strutting around on Tatooine. They are supposed to have no space-worthy craft, so they can't escape their planet, because they are so dangerous. There are other instances, as well, but nothing as glaring as that one.

So after being swindled out of his fortune in Maze of Deception, Boba has now made some money, and he has a benefactor in Jabba. I wonder how much knowledge the Hutt will give him, and how much he will learn on his own. Although he has collected his first bounty, he didn't actually do the job he was asked to do. He was lucky, in that he knew where to find Gilramos because he had spent time with Ygabba, and that Durge killed his target before he had to, and that Jabba only asked about half the job.

To me, that's clumsy writing. And if it takes such stupidity to destroy a book's main villain, such as Durge, it means the villain is too powerful for the hero, and should be reduced. Considering that three bounty hunters failed to get at Gilramos, it's extremely lucky that Boba managed to get him within a few hours.

Better luck next time, hopefully.


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