Old Friends: Bib Fortuna, Jabba the Hutt, Lady Valarian, C3P0, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia Organa, Lando Calrissian, R2D2, Chewbacca, Max Rebo, Salacious Crumb, Oola, Sy Snootles, Dannik Jerriko
Synopsis: If you thought the characters in the Cantina and Darth Vader's Bounty Hunters were interesting, just wait till you read about this bunch of oddballs that hang around with Jabba out in the Tatooine desert. Kevin J. Anderson has edited another excellent collection of short stories that takes the reader on another journey into the Star Wars universe and it's a great ride.
Review: The Rancor Keeper: In the movie, all we see is this really fat, ugly, dirty guy crying after the Rancor dies. This is the first in a series of 19 stories that drags the reader willingly through lies, deceit, treachery and drunkeness, to name just a few of the bad habits that appear before, during and after Jabba's pet meets it fate at the hands of a Jedi Knight.
The Chef: Cooking for Jabba the Hutt is a very trying experience and Porcellus is no exception to the rule. In constant fear for his life, the Chef lives on the edge of a nervous breakdown. But he does have a friend or two and he manages, somehow, to get through the days before Luke arrives at the palace. What happens next is for the reader to enjoy.
The Comedian: Believe it or not, the Kowokian lizard-monkey really does have a job - he has to keep Jabba laughing, or die trying. Lucky for Crumb, an inept academic arrives to interview our favorite crime lord and is taken in by Salacious, much to his dismay and Jabba's entertainment. Crumb isn't really that bad a sort, just looking out for Number 1.
The Dancer: Oola was a beautiful girl and a fabulous dancer. Too bad she caught the eye of Bib Fortuna and was sold as an entertainer to Jabba. On her travels through Mos Eisley she and her companion cross paths with a young Jedi, but Oola cannot make the leap of faith required to save herself. Although we know her fate, this is a compelling story, well written and with good character development.
The Whiphid: He works for Lady Valarian, Jabba's only competition on Tatooine. He is supposed to eliminate Jabba but with all the spying and back-stabbing and secrets and dead bodies appearing and disappearing, he really has a tough time making things happen. This entry into the anthology is a little confusing but if the reader presses on, all will become clear, I think.
The Emperor's Hand: This is the first time we are introduced to Mara Jade. Although we never see her in the movie, she is there and her back-story is launched. As we all know, Mara will become an integral part of the Star Wars universe, but she has to start somewhere. Too bad it was Jabba's Palace.
The Guard: Gammoreans are notoriously stupid and Gartogg is no exception. He is definitely a character that just doesn't "get it" but is determined to try. Dead bodies appearing all over the Palace gives him something to do. He gets through the day luckier than most. This one is funny.
The Old Friend: Saving a Hutt's life can cause problems for the one who saves the Hutt. Ephant Mon has the misfortune of being Jabba's one true friend and that causes complications when a Kedi Knight appears at the Palace. Debts and obligations are questioned when he visits Luke in the dungeons after the battle with the Rancor. And things change for him forever.
The Drunk: Sullustan Gin has a way of making things bearable for Ree-Yees. All he wants to do is finish his "job" and go home to Kinyen. Unfortunately, everyone keeps getting in his way, messing up his plans, and he has no idea who is on who's payroll. Makes for an interesting tangle and he does figure it out in the end.
The Band: This one is told in 3 parts. How the Band got to Tatooine; How the Band got to Jabba's Palace; How the Band became a Duo. Sy Snootles, Max Rebo and Droopy McCool arrive in Mos Eisley under trying circumstances and it just get worse. Somehow they all get what they think they want/need. A relatively happy ending, for Tatooine.
The Major Domo: Bib Fortuna may work for Jabba, but he sure doesn't like him. This guy is a real sleazo, and Jabba made a big mistake ever trusting him. One of the ringleaders and paymasters of all the spying and assassinating going on, he trusts no one and is not liked at all by everybody. He gets exactly what he deserves.
The Skiff Guard and the Boys: Barada was a good fellow; hard working, did good, kept a low profile and took care of all the vehicles in Jabba's garage. He was an honest guy, but worked with a bunch of loosers. The Weequays, on the otherhand, were not very bright and had some very unique religious views. The combination is interesting and all I'll tell you is that the right man lucks out in the end.
The Droid: There is something very seriously wrong with EV-9D9 and every droid in the Palace knows it. She also has an interesting history with one of our "old friends" which tends to liven up things for everyone. Although C3P0 and R2D2 do run into her, it's a very short meeting. Lucky for them! Watch out for her - she's a wacko!
The Business Partner: Tessek had Jabba's confidence when it came to running his legitimate business dealings on Tatooine, kinda. And he did a fine job for him too, if that includes making a healthy profit skimming and setting up the boss for an Imperial sting. The untimely arrival of the Jedi makes a real fiasco of his plans, and tho he thought he had friends in the right places, he finds out the hard way that he does not.
The Guard Dog: Bubo is a spy and an assassin - go figure. He's rather ugly, but very smart. Making friends with the B'omarr Monks was a good idea and serves him well as the story unfolds. The fact that he doesn't like Bib Fortuna either makes him one of the good guys.
The Assassin, again: I just can't seem to get into this guy at all. He seems to have a reason for being in the Palace; after all, Han Solo is there. Other than that, he doesn't seem to have much to do with anything. I've read this one about 9 times and I still don't get it.
The Sarlacc: It has no idea how long it's been there, or what it's supposed to do, except eat. We get a glimpse into what's in store for our heroes with this one and it sits very nicely placed in front of the next one. Just keep reading.
Boba Fett: Need we say more? No hints or previews. Read it!
The Other Dancer: Yarna and Doallyn. They meet, help each other, go on a road trip and eventually have a happy ending. This is one of the best Star Wars stories and is well placed as the last.You will thoroughly enjoy this one, as I have, more than once.
Title: Tales from Jabba's Palace