Luke Skywalker expected trouble when he volunteered to follow Princess Leia on her mission to the planet Circarpous. But he discovered that hidden on the planet was the Kaiburr 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....
Features a bonus section following the novel that includes a primer on the Star Wars expanded universe, and over half a dozen excerpts from some of the most popular Star Wars books of the last thirty years!
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I'm of the mind there is a splinter in my eye
With this novel originally being a potential low budget sequel to Star Wars, many fans were aware that it did not take into account the lineage of Luke and Leia, among many other elements that were not developed until the actual sequel, The Empire Strikes Back. I assumed this would be an interesting look at what could have been. In reality it was not very interesting and even though it only had the original Star Wars as a guideline, all the main characters seem way off the mark.
The book starts out with Luke in a very cynical state of mind, as if he has seen things, and has been from one side of the galaxy to the other. Based on the original film alone, Luke is new to the rebellion, yet the author decides to depict him as the leader, and more knowledgeable than leia on just about everything.
Leia's portrayal as a strong female character in the original Star Wars does not carry over into this novel. In one scenario Leia is unable to get dirty and play the part of a miner without Luke's assistance. Leia, who was a member of the Imperial Senate, ran secret missions for the Rebellion, stood toe to toe with Darth Vader and Tarkin, but was not able to adapt to her surroundings. Around the same time, Luke was farming water and complaining about picking up power converters with his friends. One element regarding Leia I did appreciate was her coming to terms with the destruction of Alderaan, and her torture at the hands of Darth Vader. The only problem was that this experience was used to make her appear even weaker.
The true relationship between Luke and Leia was not known at this time, which makes their romantic feelings easier to swallow, but occasionally it was very uncomfortable and awkward. They give Anakin and Padme in Attack of the Clones a run for their money.
Darth Vader seems as ruthless as ever, but his dialog seems a little off. To be fair, the pace and delivery of some of his dialog in A New Hope is quite a bit different from what we see in the last two movies in the trilogy (bring me the passengers, I want them alive!).
There were quite a few aspects from the novel I enjoyed due to the fact that they were how Star Wars was understood at the time, and provide a different outlook into what we actually see in the future five films. The use of the Kaiburr crystal was interesting, because for awhile we considered this to be a borrowed concept from an earlier draft of Star Wars, that no longer played a significant role in the saga. Now with the Kyber crystal becoming part of the new canon in The Clone Wars and Rebels we can look at this plot element from a another perspective.
Other interesting elements include the way in which Luke detects non force sensitives, Luke's knowledge of many foreign languages from his studies on his farm on Tatooine (hahaha), Leia's pirouette, Luke's unconscious use of the force, Luke encouraging Leia's anger, the use of a blaster power pack to charge a lightsaber, and Luke recommending Leia kill him and herself as a last resort.
A couple elements in the book make you wonder if Lucas passed on information to the author in order to drop hints about things we don't learn until much later in the saga. At one point Leia confesses to Luke that she can't understand how Luke feels, because she is not force sensitive. Yet at the end of the book Leia is able to hold off Darth Vader for a short period of time. Was this a hint that George had already decided Leia had force sensitivity, but hadn't discovered it yet? During the showdown with Vader it is suggested that Ben Kenobi is working through Luke to fight Vader. In Empire it is clear that Ben Kenobi has learned this ability, but for whatever reason cannot interfere when Luke goes after Vader. Darth Vader knew the proper commands to shut down Threepio and R2. Could Lucas have already decided that Anakin was the was the creator of Threepio and previous owner of R2?
I didn't have high expectations for this book, and unfortunately my expectations were still not met. There are some very strange things in this book, from Luke and Leia's mud fight, the writing, and descriptions that reference real world events (St. Elmos). If you are a fan that is interested in how the saga has evolved over time, than this is a must read. At the very least it will make you appreciate sequel we did get even more.
I read this book years ago when it first came out. I would love to see a movie based in this book.
A Star Wars Staple
Splinter of the Mind's Eye is the first "Legends" Star Wars novel I have read since the creation of the "Legends" books. Alan Dean Foster did a great job with the material with which he had to work. I enjoyed the story and surprised myself by reading the whole thing in two days. It was really an easy read and, although I was a bit surprised to find that Han Solo doesn't star in the book, I was intrigued by the whole idea of the Kaiburr Crystal. Having read newer material from the expanded universe, I found some of the content here to feel a bit 1970's comic bookie-especially the finale between Luke and Vader (that Force Orb is a biggie). Nevertheless, I recommend this one to the Star Wars enthusiast for two reasons: (1) The fact that it is the very first novel in the original Star Wars Expanded Universe, and (2) before it became a novel, it served as George Lucas' bale out plan for a sequel to the original Star Wars movie in the event that the movie didn't go over. I think these reasons make Splinter of the Mind's Eye a staple for every fan.