Hello everyone! Welcome to our review of the first book in our Legends read through. We want this to be a weekly thing so be on the lookout for me. So, without further ado, here is Splinter of the Mind’s Eye.
Splinter of the Mind’s Eye begins with Luke and Leia flying through the Circarpous system to a Rebel Alliance meeting on Circarpous IV when an energy storm causes them to crash on Mimban. They infiltrate a mining town where an old woman named Halla tells them of a kaiburr crystal nearby and says if they find it, she will get them off the planet. Soon after, Luke and Leia are arrested for brawling and locked up in jail. Two Yuzzem, Hin and Kee, and Halla free Luke and Leia and they all steal a speeder and head to the Temple of Pomojema. While heading to the temple, they are attacked by Mimban’s jungle creatures and Luke and Leia split from the others, taking a route over water. On the other side of the pond is a town of Coway. Luke and Leia find Halla’s group as the Coway challenge Luke to a duel. Luke wins the duel just as the Empire arrives and the group speeds off to the temple with Darth Vader on their tail. When they arrive, Hin and Kee are killed and Leia duels Vader until she is injured. Luke continues to duel Vader until Vader falls into a nearby pit. Luke retrieves the kaiburr crystal and it heals the two of them as Halla arrives with a speeder they can leave on.
Review by Confed
Splinter of the Mind’s Eye is a somewhat passable first entry into the EU, yet not a worthy addition to what we have now. It has a few memorable moments but is mostly ripe with continuity errors and odd moments. The relationship between Leia and Luke, which should have been the main focus of the novel, was severely hurt reading it today as we know they are siblings. Luke’s playful flirting and lusting for his sister don’t really sit well and make it an awkward read. As for Leia herself, it seems the author trumped up her sassy, bossy, and asshole qualities from the movie and downplayed her charismatic, leader qualities which were really underwhelming for such a huge fan of the character in myself. Luke wasn’t really memorable at all, he displayed adeptness in saber combat (a fact I will get into later) as well as his trademark charisma. Luke seems to have progressed the most from his ANH state as he seems to be much more mature and smart which is why I think, out of all the characters, Luke was portrayed the best. The side characters like Halla and Grammel were all pretty forgettable. I liked the two Yuzzem, Hin and Kee, but they had limited roles and I wish they did more. Vader plays his small part well and he, along with the rest of the Empire, are realistically portrayed as evil and powerful which I think is one of the best parts of the novel.
As for the story, it was pretty generic. There was no exposition or outward meaning and it throws you right into the action which was kind of annoying for a continuity fan such as myself. The scenes in the mining town were pretty good when focusing on the actual plot elements but also hard to read when Luke/Leia incest kept popping up. The chase scene with the monsters was also pretty generic but then we got to an actually good scene. The small portion where Luke and Leia are in the water is actually really well done and provides some actual development to the characters. This scene is probably my favorite in the book as it adds some much-needed characterization to the characters now that we are three years after ANH. After that, however, it really goes off the rails. The duels with the Coway before running to the temple and dueling with Vader was boring and repetitive and Vader was taken down too easily. Then, just when you think the characters actually faced consequences, the damn kaiburr crystal is a magical healing device. So yeah… Overall, the story was very meh and will most likely be obscured as I read more.
What brought this story down even more for me was the continuity errors and things I see now that the full OT has come out. Vader’s blade is described as blue, Luke and Leia can both duel Vader pretty well, Luke’s saber being described constantly as white and, of course, the incest. I understand that this came out before the OT but I just can’t not think about it, if that makes sense.
As for the worldbuilding and expanding the galaxy aspect, there was barely anything. There is a little bit of exposition at the beginning of the book that shows the two are heading to a Rebel Alliance meeting and this is also the driving force of the plot as it is the reason they need to get off Mimban. However, this meeting is never expanded on as it is never explained what the meeting is for and the book ends before we even get to see it so the meeting feels like a cheap plot device instead of an actual, important event. One of my biggest gripes in Star Wars novels is the lack of building the universe and staying self-contained. Now, stories can be self-contained if they provide another thing (character development) that justifies the novel being on a small scale but Splinter doesn’t do this. For this reason, and many others, I am giving Splinter of the Mind’s Eye a 4/10
Tl;dr: A well-written story with forgettable and badly portrayed characters in a lifeless, canon-breaking plot only enhanced by the style of the book and some other smaller factors. 4/10
Analysis by Pale
Splinter of the Mind’s eye is fairly straightforward and offers little in the face of building the Star Wars mythos. This is to be expected, as the novel was written as a low-budget sequel to the 1977 film. Certain creative choices were designed to work around the potential production of a sequel film; Han Solo and Chewbacca are absent, as Harrison Ford wasn’t signed on for a sequel. The environment of Mimban was also layered with thick fog, as to lower budget on set design. The book represents more of an ‘alternate history’ for the franchise, rather than a story worthy of merit in the present years.
The muggy swamp of Mimban likely inspired the setting of Dagobah; in fact, Luke’s arrival to Mimban in the book evokes the same arrival to Dagobah in ESB. In both mediums, Luke’s X-Wing begins a descent into thick fog before crashing into a muddy swamp. Mimban dates back to early drafts for A New Hope. Lucas stated in subsequent interviews that he always had the idea of Luke Skywalker training on a swamp planet. Mimban also appears in early Rogue One concept art and was finally seen on-screen in Solo: A Star Wars Story. Mimban has a long and fruitful history in the Star Wars creative process.
Leia Organa stood out to me as out-of-character almost immediately. In one scene, she shrugs off the abuse of Mimbanites at the hands of Imperials, using the excuse of seeing her home planet being destroyed as a reason for her nonchalance. Foster clearly took Leia’s sarcasm in A New Hope to its logical extreme within this book, as she constantly offers clever quips in the face of authority. In prime 70s fashion, the book doesn’t treat its female characters with much nuance or respect. It’s easily the biggest distraction when attempting to read through the book. In a tavern, Luke slaps Leia (also out-of-character for Luke) as a means to play the part of two miners, and lies to an Imperial officer that Leia is his ‘slave’. Leia retaliates outside the tavern by wrestling Luke in mud. She comes out of the mud completely soaked, with some of her button tops pulled off. The book certainly sexualizes Leia much more than A New Hope ever did.
We were able to narrow the book down to taking place two years after A New Hope. Luke Skywalker shows exquisite aptitude in his understanding of the Force, as well as in wielding a lightsaber. Foster most likely envisioned Luke to be a more developed and more centered character after his wondrous and innocent attitude seen in the 1977 film. But it does raise a question as to why Lucas allowed such use of the lightsaber in the face of a low budget. Lucas looked over the final draft and only suggested removing a dogfight that took place over Mimban at the beginning of the book. So it’s head-scratching as to why such heavy use of the lightsaber was allowed in the book. At one point, Luke twirls his lightsaber around in a similar fashion to the prequel trilogy. It’s certainly an interesting “what-if” to consider: what would Lucas’s movie version of Splinter of the Mind’s Eye have looked like?
The Kaiburr crystal is the MacGuffin of the book, channeling the Force and amplifying it for Force users. Analysts were quick to point out comparisons between A New Hope and Lord of the Rings: the Death Star scenes bears similarities to the Fellowships’ trek through the Mines of Moria. The Kaiburr crystal can be seen as a further comparison between the two stories, regarding the One Ring. Two sides are both fighting for an item that amplifies power (albeit, the One Ring bends users to its will, so it’s more by proxy). Foster centered the book around the Kaiburr crystal as means to give closure to Star Wars. While it’s not entirely fulfilling, it does act as a finality when all things are considered.
Creatures known as yuzzems appear in the book; large, bipedal, humanoid creatures that appear in a prison cell alongside Leia and Luke. These creatures were reworked by George Lucas to be ‘yuzzums’, a species that makes an appearance in Return of the Jedi. The species was originally going to appear alongside the Ewoks, but the budget cost would be too high, so only one yuzzum makes an appearance in Jabba’s palace.
Another interesting tidbit is how Foster writes “droid”; he adds an apostrophe before the droid, as in ‘droid. Obviously, he figured the word was short for Android and acted as slang. Alongside the constant use of real-world professions like ‘seismologist’ and ‘mankind’, the book evokes more of a dystopian sci-fi tone than a story taking place far, far away.
Splinter of the Mind’s Eye doesn’t offer much in the way of in-universe analysis, as the book is wildly unlike the Star Wars we now know and love. But it still offers tidbits that can reflect on the next two films (The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi), and also makes you appreciate what Lucas decided to do with Luke and Leia’s characters in the continuing story.
Continuity by Marvel
Splinter has become a very relevant book in recent Star Wars media, probably more relevant than it has ever been, because of Mimban’s inclusion in Solo. While the planet was not named in the film, promotional materials made it clear that the planet was fully intended to be Mimban the whole time. Thanks to its appearance in Solo, Mimban has been mentioned in multiple other stories lately such as Chewbacca and the Forest of Fear and Last Shot.
Along with the planet itself, other aspects of Mimban have been brought back into canon. The film’s depiction of Mimban lines of with the original novel. The natives are no longer referred to as the Coway but their canon counterparts, the Mimbanese, share numerous design similarities. Moff Essada, a major character from the book, and the nearby planet of Gyndine are mentioned in the Solo Official Guide. The planet’s placement in the Circarpous system and location on the map are also carried over by the guide.
Despite being the first onscreen appearance of the planet, Solo was not responsible for canonizing it, nor was it the first onscreen reference to Mimban. The fifth episode of the first season of The Clone Wars, Rookies, had a mention of the 224th “slogging it out on Mimban” over the radio. The Solo guide references this by mentioning the 224th having fought on Mimban during the Clone Wars, their impact still being felt. The division that Han fights in is also the 224th, and Pablo references the TCW mention by describing them as also “slogging it out on Mimban.”
The idea of a ‘kaiburr’ crystal comes from some of the earlier drafts of A New Hope. While the idea behind it changed, it did evolve over time into the modern day “kyber” crystal that the Jedi use in their lightsabers. Kybers were shows in The Clone Wars and have become an important part of canon since then.
Splinter was the first original Legends novel ever published, and as a result, it introduced multiple other aspects of the Star Wars universe that were carried over into future works, both canon, and Legends. I’ll list all of the more minor things in my standard bullet list.
- The common curse “Stang” was introduced in the book and used by many sources from then on, canon and Legends. Leia’s use of it was carried over in Leia: Princess of Alderaan.
- Foods like chou-shou, kommerken steak, and ootoowergs were introduced in Splinter and later used in other sources such as the Assault Team mobile game and the Galaxies MMORPG.
- The crystalline metal corundum was first seen in Splinter before being used by a couple of other Legends sources and being brought into canon by the TFA Visual Dictionary and Rey’s Survival Guide.
- Double-bladed stilettos, a weapon using two long blades attached to the wrists, were seen in Splinter and later appeared in Jango Fett: Open Seasons.
- The Yuzzem race was first introduced in Splinter before being used in many other Legends sources, though they have not currently been seen in canon.
- The wandrella creature native to Mimban was later mentioned in the Republic series and numerous Legends reference guides.
Thoughts from a First Time Legends Reader by Hedwig
First off, I should introduce myself. Hi, I’m Hedwig! If you know me, then you know that I am an avid fan of Star Wars, or at least of what has been deemed by Disney’s LucasFilms as “Canon”. Before canon, there existed a plethora of stories and fables that I have, honestly, never considered experimenting with.
As someone who was only a casual fan of the Star Wars movies before 2015, I have yet to experience any of my favorite franchise from the pre-Disney era. The idea of exploring this new (or rather, old) world of Star Wars is extremely exciting to me, and last Friday, I could not wait to begin. So, I finally took the plunge into Legends. Eyes wide with anticipation, hands almost shaking with the wonder of what was to come, I dove into the yellowed pages of the book from 1977 that started it all. . . Splinter of the Mind’s Eye.
Yeah. . . It is not as good as I would have hoped.
Being my first Legends book, I sped through it like it was a marathon, and I enjoyed it. “Splinter” is an entertaining book by any standards. The story showcases fun characters, a fun plot, a fun end goal for our heroes. . . Splinter of the Mind’s Eye is fun. As I finished the book, I thought, “That was fun. . .” Just “fun”. That is truly the only positive word that could be used to describe the short novel.
Perhaps all that matters in fiction is that it entertains its reader; I would certainly agree in most cases, and the book excels at doing that. However, as I kept looking back on it, I realized something was missing that I could not quite place. I thought it over. . . and I thought it over some more. I enjoyed that story, but there is a large and empty whole, devoid of something that would be crucial to this novel’s success. What could it be?
And then it hit me: This is not Star Wars. Or at least not the Star Wars I know.
Any fan could tell you that Star Wars has a certain feel to it. There is a depth and life to the franchise that distinguishes it from something like Star Trek or Battlestar Galactica. This depth comes from the characters, the stories, and the small details that connect all of the stories together into one whole universe. Splinter of the Mind’s Eye was lacking in this spice, which resulted in a fun book, but a noticeably bland Star Wars book.
For one, Luke Skywalker started out in our famed franchise as an innocent farmboy with minuscule knowledge of the Force and absolutely no experience with a lightsaber. Yet this stranger with the same name in Splinter of the Mind’s Eye was a skilled warrior, an attuned Force user, and the protector of the helpless Leia. Princess Leia Organa in A New Hope was an independent woman who could fight for herself; while she did make use of a few snarky comments, she proved to truly care for her friends. The Leia that we see in “Splinter” is a vengeful woman who will spit out insults at any sorry victim who happens upon her path. Additionally, she proves to be the “damsel in distress” multiple times, relying on Luke to save the day.
Aside from the alienated characters, Splinter of the Mind’s Eye is ripe with small details that make absolutely no sense in the greater universe of Star Wars. This book has trouble relating to the rest of the universe of Star Wars media because its facts simply do not match up. Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber is shown to have different “settings” in order to use the elegant weapon for functions other than being a weapon. Even odder, the villainous lord of the Sith, Darth Vader, sports a blue lightsaber in the final battle between good and evil. These sorts of inaccuracies to the movies are obvious throughout the book, making “Splinter” a good book, but not an adequate addition to the interconnected “Expanded Universe”.
Overall, Splinter of the Mind’s Eye is not truly Star Wars. While it maintains an entertaining story, it does not add up to the standards set for the legendary title of Star Wars. While I excitedly begin my journey into a new universe of Star Wars, I have happened to stumble upon the one book that is farthest from it.
And yet, I remain undeterred. My exhilaration for discovering the so-called Expanded Universe only increases as I go farther down the rabbit hole. I have become increasingly ecstatic as I leave Splinter of the Mind’s Eye in the dust and find myself on the topic of next week’s review, a book I expect to thoroughly enjoy:
Han Solo at Star’s End. . .