Splinter of the Mind's Eye - Alan Dean Foster
...I was about to put a spoiler warning here, but given this is set in the Star Wars universe, you all know how it turns out anyway.
Being something of a squealy fangirl, seeing Revenge of the Sith pushed all the fangirl buttons and sent me on another little Star Wars tizzy. I say 'little' because I'm not exactly swimming in Star Wars paraphenalia. Have the videos of the first remake of the original three (Han shot first!), Knights of the Old Republic on Xbox, and two books. I couldn't read Sean William's book, because it's the first of three. That left me with this one.
The crapitude factor contained within this book is astronomically high, and what makes it all the more worse is that it's that special sort of crap that I just couldn't put down.
Set between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back (you know for years I thought it was The Emperor's Striped Back) it follows Luke and Leia as they crash on a supposedly uninhabited planet, only to find it crawling with Imperial guards (surprise). An absolutely cookie-cutter plot device character called Halla finds them out, and pulls them off to find the Kaiburr crystal, which has special Force properties.
This was before the entirety of the Skywalker family tree was revealed, and so Luke spends a ridiculous amount of time lusting after Leia. At the most ridiculous moments. For instance, they've just been chased by a 'wandrella' the size of a train, and have jumped down a bottomless well to escape it. They're standing on a narrow ledge and the beastie has its head stuck down the well, sniffing around.
Luke felt the warmth of the body next to him and lowered his gaze. Framed in the faint light from above, the Princess looked more radient, more beautiful than ever. "Leia," he began, "I..."
And then you have moments like this:
Now Luke rolled clear and came to a panting stopon her chest. For a long moment they lay like that, suspended in time. Then their eyes met with a gaze that could have penetrated light-years.
Like a missile launcher sighting on its prey, his eyes contacted hers. There was a brief, silent explosion before she looked hurriedly away.
I wasn't expecting the most wonderous prose in the world, but I laughed out loud a lot more than I should have, and at all the wrong moments.
The characterisation for Leia was entirely off. She went from a strong leader to a petulant, brattish, whining little, well, princess. Somewhere, she learned how to do fly kicks, and despite feeling so strongly about the Rebellion, about the evil of the Empire and how Vader needs to be STOPPED, she says "Oh, darn," when she fails to snipe the Dark Lord himself.
Ah yes, Darth Vader. I think this book might have been salvagable if he hadn't shown up. It isn't fair to judge this one story within the entire context of the Star Wars universe, but I am. Luke and Darth's first meeting should have been on Cloud City, and only Cloud City. Having them meet, dual, and Luke actually win, on Mimban, is not good story telling. I mean, hell, if Luke beat him once, he can do it again, right? He even chopped Vader's arm off! By doing so, Darth Vader loses all his credibility. He's no longer the unstoppable force of evil, the great villian that he needs to be.
Ludicrously amusing metaphors, jumping point of view, total lack of any depth to the one original character, a whole lot of random encounters with ugly beasties, and Darth Vader gets his buttocks kicked. It's horrible, and yet so very good.
Verdict: You should all go and read this book. Now. Go on, it'll make you laugh.