Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Splinter of the Mind's Eye

Splinter of the Mind's Eye (Star Wars)

Luke Skywalker expected trouble when he volunteered to follow Princess Leia on her mission to Cicarpous to enlist their Rebel underground in the battle against the Empire. But the farm boy from Tatooine hadn’t counted on an unscheduled landing in the swamplands of Mimban… hadn’t counted on any of the things they would find on that strange planet.

Hidden on this planet was the Kalibur crystal, a mysterious gem that would give the one who possessed it such powers over the Force that he would be all but invincible. In the wrong hands, the crystal could be deadly. So Luke had to find this treasure and find it fast.

Accompanied by Artoo-Detoo and See-Threepio – his two faithful droids – Luke and Leia set out for the Temple of Pomojema… and a confrontation deep beneath the surface of an alien world with the most fearsome villain in the galaxy!

When I picked this book up off the discard shelf at the library and paid the whopping fifty cents for it, I didn’t know exactly what I was buying. It said Star Wars on the cover and it was going to cost me pocket change. Of course I was going to buy it.

What I didn’t know when I bought this was that Splinter of the Mind’s Eye by Alan Dean Foster was the first ever extended universe book for Star Wars. The only Star Wars book published before this one was the novelization of the first Star Wars movie. This is a big deal. There are hundreds of works in the extended universe, including books, comics, video games, and whatever else you can tell a story through. In addition to that, this book is apparently based on an early script that would be dropped in favour of the finalized Empire Strikes Back.

And, to be honest, with good reason, I think. While the plot was straightforward and moved along nicely, it’s clear that the backgrounds and relationships between these characters hadn’t really been decided. Star Wars would have been a very different story if any of these suppositions had been used.

For example, if you are uncomfortable with Luke and Leia’s incestuous kiss in Empire, you may want to shy away from this book. It was written before the reveal that they are, in fact, brother and sister and Luke’s infatuation with Leia is quite prevalent throughout the novel. At the time of publication, this probably would have been alright, but I’m 22 – I’ve lived my whole life knowing that they are related and some of the descriptions of Luke’s feelings in this book were a bit much. Hindsight colors this book into a whole new realm of awkward because Leia reciprocates that awkward crush, which isn’t something that I picked up on the movie.

Also, Vader seemed unnecessarily cruel in this book. Granted, he is a Sith Lord and quite a terrible force in the universe once Grand Moff Tarkin is out of the way, but it never seemed to me that he was cruel for the sake of being cruel. There was always some purpose to his actions beyond his own enjoyment, even if it wasn’t immediately evident to the viewer. Perhaps I’m being nitpicky and fanboyish, but it was something that irked me in this book.

And any other inconsistencies (like Luke’s skill as a Jedi) were pretty much brushed under the carpet because the extended universe is so varied and written over so many years. Inconsistencies are pretty abundant. You kind of get used to them.

That being said, I actually enjoyed most of it. Halla amused me and I thought Hin and Kee were excellent characters. The world of Mimban was well populated with interesting indigenous folk and interesting history. All of that was amazing.

I recommend this book to Star Wars fans, but with slight reservation. If anything I said above sounds like something you would rather not read, don’t try to find this one. There were times when I didn’t want to read parts of this book because I didn’t want to deal with Luke and Leia’s awkward relationship and the complete lack of Han and Chewie was keenly felt in the character dynamics.


Erica said...

I was quite interested in your post from the minute I saw the little thumbnail of the book cover. I am a fairly serious Vader fangirl, and have read some of the EU novels, though never this one. Very interesting, the vantage point of this having been written before anyone really knew the relationships. However, Luke's infatuation with Leia would make sense in that light, since obviously he had no idea. I don't understand why people do get worked up about his interest in the first two movies - nothing more than a kiss "for luck" took place.

I definitely never thought Leia was interested in Luke "that way," either. How could she, when Han was right there, his despicably self-interested exterior hiding that heart of gold? :-)

And lastly (sorry to go on), I agree with you that Vader never seemed likely to be cruel for no reason. I say that, even discounting the whole Anakin backstory that was revealed in the original trilogy. I have to say, I did like him better when we didn't know all that - I liked the mystery of who he was, and it was left to our interpretation, WHY he became this short-tempered dark conqueror. (I'm 39, btw, and sadly still into Star Wars - though not as much as I once was.)

Thanks for sharing!

Freakish Lemon said...


Normally I don't mind the awkward crush, but I think the medium of storytelling influenced that part of my brain. An awkward sibling crush moment on screen is only a few minutes, whereas reading prose takes longer. So those scenes seemed to stretch on, even though they probably would have been quite brief in a movie.