Star Wars Highlight: Tales From Jabba’s Palace

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Genre: Science Fiction

Overall Rating: 3.5/5 (Individual Story Rating Average)

This novel is a compilation consisting of 19 short stories and a special epilogue all taking place in the dwelling of the crimelord, Jabba the Hutt.

“A Boy and His Monster: The Rancor Keeper’s Tale” by Kevin J. Anderson

Rating: 4/5

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This story started off a bit slow, but was rather interesting. In this story, we learn how Jabba got the rancor and how he enjoys using it for fun and entertainment. When Malakili is hired to take care of the rancor, an unexpected bond forms between man and best. It is a rather cute story, like a boy and his pet, but we all know how this story ends, unfortunately (thanks Episode IV!)

“Taster’s Choice: The Tale of Jabba’s Chef” by Barbara Hambly

Rating: 3/5

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This short story features Jabba’s cook, Porcellus. He is always cooking in fear of Jabba not liking what what he cooks for the Hutt, fear of perhaps being tossed into the rancor pit if the food isn’t good enough. Porcellus’s fears take a turn for the worst when the word fierfek comes up, something Porcellus interprets as meaning “poison” in Huttese. Little does the cook know he has made a slight misinterpretation of the word.

“That’s Entertainment: The Tale of Salacious Crumb” by Esther M. Friesner

Rating: 3/5

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This story is about a Kalkal university professor named Melvosh Bloor, who aims to trump out his superiors by getting an interview with Jabba the Hutt. His inside contact, Darian Gli, is nowhere to be found, but a Kowakian lizard-monkey approaches him. Melvosh Bloor makes the assumption that this creature is his hook-up, but it is actually Salacious Crumb. Salacious Crumb tries in vain to give new humor to Jabba, and this is the second scholar Salacious Crumb has brought before the Hutt. Will Jabba be satisfied?

“A Time to Mourn, a Time to Dance: Oola’s Tale” by Kathy Tyers

Rating: 4/5

This story features the Twi’lek, Oola, a slave and dancer in Jabba’s palace. She dreams of escape, even if that escape is falling to the rancor; anything is better than being chained to Jabba’s dais. When she meets See Threepio, she tells him about how she was stolen from her home planet with another Twi’lek girl and how she didn’t really care. The idea of a beautiful, cushioned palace with a handsome owner was a nice thought. When She encounters Luke Skywalker on Tatooine, he warns her of Jabba, but she does not listen. Now it is her hope that Luke will come save her.

“Let Us Prey: The Whiphid’s Tale” by Marina Fitch and Mark Budz

Rating: 2.5/5

This story is about the Whipid J’Quille, sent by Jabba’s rival Lady Valarian to slowly and subtly poison the Hutt. This  reflects on the previous story, “Taster’s Choice: The Tale of Jabba’s Chef,” with the death of the kitchen boy. It turns out that someone murdered him because he was spying on J’Quille. Who could have done so, and who else in Jabba’s palace is loyal to Lady Valarian?

“Sleight of Hand: The Tale of Mara Jade” by Timothy Zahn

Rating: 4/5

This story features Mara Jade, the Emperor’s hand. She has allowed herself to become a slave dancer in Jabba’s palace going by the name of Arica. She is under cover by order of Emperor Palpatine to wait for Luke Skywalker and kill him. When things don’t go as planned, Mara’s reach for a blaster is seen as an assassination attempt on Jabba’s life, not Luke’s. Failure has displeased the Emperor, and Mara must try again some other time to kill Luke Skywalker.

“And Then There Were Some: The Gamorrean Guard’s Tale” by William F. Wu

Rsting: 2.5/5

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This story was actually rather boring because it reflected on many of the previous stories and reused dialogue we have already seen in the other shorts, but it is from the perspective of Gartogg, the Gamorrean guard. Gartogg is kind of stupid compared to the other Gamorrean guards. He’s slow to pick up on things and he can’t quite get  a complete sentence out. He must do something to earn his place on the sail barge with Jabba and with the other guards. When he starts investigating a murder, he thinks that solving the murder will get him what he wants. Although he doesn’t quite get what he wants in the end, he still comes out positive.

“Old Friends: Ephant Mon’s Tale” by Kenneth C. Flint

Rating: 3/5

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Ephant Mon is loyal to Jabba the Hutt, but Lady Valarian continues to try and bring him over to her side of the crime world. Being long-time friends with Jabba, Ephant Mon seeks his friend Tessek to find out what is going on with this rumored Jedi Knight in the Palace. Hearing that Jabba’s life may be t stake, Mon seeks Luke to find out the Jedi’s intentions for himself. Luke does not want to harm Jabba, but will if he has to. Will Ephant Mon’s old friendship be enough to make the Hutt listen to reason?

“Goatgrass: The Tale of Ree-Yees” by Deborah Wheeler

Rating: 3/5

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This story features the goat-eyed Gran, Ree-Yees. Expecting some special shipments of goatgrass to be delivered to the palace, Ree-Yees has something more being smuggled in the shipment. The detonator for a bomb to kill Jabba, a job given to Ree-Yees by the imperials, will grant him the freedom to go to his home planet. When the detonator is not in his shipment, Ree-Yees must find some other way to gain his freedom. When Leia chokes Jabba on the barge, Ree-Yees watches, happy to be of no assistance. Will he find his way back to his home planet, Malastare?

“And the Band Played On: The Band’s Tale” by John Gregory Betancourt

Rating: 4/5

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Jabba’s band had to come from somewhere. When Orbus, Max, Sy, and Snit arrive on Tatooine, they expect to have their contracted gig at a cantina in Mos Eisley, but the cantina already has a band. In a scuffle, one band member is already lost, and now they are stuck on the hot, dry planet. And offer comes up to play music at Jabba’s. Sy just wants money to get off the planet, Max wants food, food, food, and Snit wants to find his home. When options are slim, three band members must make a quick decision, before they lose more members!

“Of the Day’s Annoyances: Bib Fortuna’s Tale” by M. Shayne Bell

Rating: 4/5

Bib Fortuna, a Twi’lek, is Jabba’s majordomo and makes many decisions in regards to those who get to visit and speak with Jabba. Although seemingly loyal, Fortuna is among many planning to kill Jabba and take his place. One of the reasons is because Fortuna wished to take his fellow Twi’lek prince, Nat, back to their home-world to appeal to the citizens. When Nat is in danger of being thrown to the rancor, Fortuna has the monks of the palace remove his brain so that when the body is eaten by the rancor, the mind shall live on. Nat is furious as only a brain, but with the promise to be replaced into Han Solo’s body, the brain settles. Upon Jabba’s demise, Fortuna returns to the palace to claim it as his own, but he is met with an unfortunate surprise.

“The Great God Quay: The Tale of Barada and the Weequays” by George Alec Effinger

Rating: 3.5/5

This short story falls into the realm of comedy. Barada and two Weequays are shuffling through the garbage of Jabba’s palace in hopes to find useful things like ship parts. When the Weequays find the body of Jabba’s sail barge captain, they seek out the murderer. With the aid of the god Quay, essenced within what is actually something like a cheap 8-ball, the Weequays ask questions about the killer and the weapon, gaining responses like “Don’t count on it.” Eventually the Quay leads the Weequay guards to search for a bomb on Jabba’s sail barge.

“A Bad Feeling: The Tale of EV-9D9” by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens

Rating: 4/5

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EV-9D9, or Ninedenine, identifies as a female droid once belonging to Lando. With her destruction and dismemberment of some Wuntoo droids, she leaves Cloud City in hopes that she will never see Lando again. When she works at Jabba’s palace, two new droids enter to fill in the place of two old droids that mysteriously went out. When Ninedenine finds out Lando was behind the droid switch, she thinks he is after him. The masochistic droid love pain and torture, and loves the last beep or reception when another droids mechanics go out for the last time. When someone comes to take revenge on her, it is not Lando…

“A Free Quarren in the Palace: Tessek’s Tale” by Dave Wolverton

Rating: 3.5/5

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This story features the Quarren, Tessek, yet another plotter aiming to remove Jabba from his place. A deeply mindful interaction with on of the B’omarr monks has Tessek rethinking his plans, but he isn’t too worried. He just doesn’t want to be on Jabba’s sail barge when it explodes! Shooting one of the spider droids that carries the monk brains will have consequences later. When Jabba suspects Tessek of being disloyal, Tessek has trouble with his escape. Tessek’s return to the palace brings revenge…or is it redemption?

“Tongue-tied: Bubo’s Tale” by Daryl F. Mallett

Rating: 3.5/5

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Bubo is a sneaky little guy. Most perceive him as a dumb animal, but he is quite intelligent. He finds great enjoyment conversing with the B’omarr monks. Yet another being out to kill Jabba, but rather than wanting Jabba’s position, Bubo wants the money. He is a unique being in that he uses his tongue to “taste” his surroundings, and also eat things that may not be favorable to his plans, such as the detonator that Ree-Yees was previously missing. All Bubo really wants is enlightenment, to join the intellectual B’omarr monks.

“Out of the Closet: The Assassin’s Tale” by Jennifer Robertson

Rating: 4.5/5

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Remember all those murders from the previous stories? Well this tale reveals that mystery. An Anzat, assassin of assassins and eater of brain soup, is humbly sent to get the juicy Hutt brain soup. With his proboscii-two tentacle feelers from the cheeks-Dannik Jerriko sucks the brains out of his victims. He prefers brains of those who are afraid, but have courage, and he is very interested in the brain soup of Han and Luke. This story had a bit of horror element to it, and strayed from the regular set up of the text, making it a very interesting read.

“Shaara and the Sarlacc: The Skiff Guard’s Tale” by Dan’l Danehy-Oakes

Rating: 3.5/5

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This story is told as a young Skiff Guard speaking to Boba Fett, telling him the story of how his older sister escaped the Sarlacc when she was fifteen. Shaara was being chased by Imperial Stormtroopers. When their speeder bikes make it out to the desert, they land in the Great Pit of Carkoon, where the Sarlacc lives. Two of the troopers don’t seem to realize where they are, but Shaara sure does. But for some reason, the Sarlacc finishes off the troopers, but spits Shaara back out.

“A Brave Like That: The Tale of Boba Fett” by J. D. Montgomery

Rating: 4/5

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This story features Boba Fett’s experience inside the Sarlacc and his escape from the Sarlacc. The reader gets some new insight to the Sarlacc as a species, which is very interesting how it roots on various planets and moons. The reader also learns about previous Sarlacc victims whose entity’s remain, speaking to Boba Fett about his fate. While many think Fett escaped the Sarlacc with his jet pack, hat is not quite the case. He tried to escape using the jet pack, but his escape comes from other explosive means.

“Skin Deep: The Fat Dancer’s Tale” by A. C Crispin

Rating: 4/5

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This story takes place in the aftermath of Jabba’s death. The palace is in chaos, and Yarna needs to escape with her pillaged goods to go to Mos Eisley to buy the freedom of her three remaining cubs before they, as Jabba’s assets, are sold as slaves to a higher bidder. With the aid of Doallyn the hunter, the two escape the palace and make their way across the Tatooine desert and to freedom. One of the longer stories, and rather interesting to get out of Jabba’s palace, yet to  have characters still be affected by the Hutt even after death.

“Epilogue: Whatever Became Of…?”

The epilogue is a brief 5 page bit on the characters who made it out of Jabba’s palace, and ideally, offworld. We get to see the fates of Yarna and Doallyn, Sy Snoodles, Max Rebo, Porcellus and Malakili, Gartogg (whose new friends are mummified in the desert, but he carries them around with him still), Ephant Mon, J’Quille, Bib Fortuna and Nat (among others whose brains were removed for enlightenment), and Dannik Jerriko.

“And of course, both Boba Fett and Mara Jade kept themselves very, very busy…but those are other stories entirely,” (420).

One of the enjoyable things about Tales From Jabba’s Palace was all the different perspectives the reader gets through various races in the Star Wars universe. Reading all these stories expanded my own knowledge and just has me itching for more. The set up of the stories is presented well, too. As the reader moves through each story, more information is obtained about the various characters, and the reader can keep good track of everyone and their connections. Many of the stories are interlaced, but some don’t really deal with others as much. Overall it was an enjoyable rad and I would recommend reading the whole thing in order. If you don’t have all that much time, but this book features stories with some of you favorite characters, like Mara Jade or Boba Fett, just read those stories!

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