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Literature / Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor

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"None of the stories people tell about me can change who I really am."
Luke Skywalker

Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor is a 2008 Star Wars Legends novel by Matt Stover.

It's been six months since Return of the Jedi, and the Rebel Alliance has become the New Republic while the Empire is in the early stages of splitting into rival factions. Luke Skywalker is now General of the Rapid Response Task Force, a small fleet that the Republic sends as needed to patch up the front and execute special missions. Their current assignment: to track the forces of a theatrical and megalomaniacal Imperial warlord with the unlikely name of Lord Shadowspawn to his home base and bring him to justice. This base turns out to be on Mindor, a former vacation world devastated by repeated meteorite impacts.

When Luke tracks Shadowspawn's forces there, he gets drawn into a trap, as do Han, Leia, and Rogue Squadron who come after him, and Lando Calrissian and the gang of Mandalorian mercenaries who come after them. It turns out that a dark presence has been waiting on Mindor to make its move with a scheme that threatens not only Luke's life, but his very soul...

Has much in common with two of Stover's previous works in this setting, with multiple characters from Shatterpoint appearing and various themes from it and the Revenge of the Sith novelization recurring.

This work provides examples of:

  • Abandon Ship: When it's clear that the Justice is doomed, Luke orders everyone to evacuate — except that so many Escape Pods have been destroyed that it's no longer an option.
  • Action Girl: Leia (of course); Aeona Cantor
  • Adaptation Decay: Luke frequently bemoans the fact that he is the subject of numerous over-the-top adventure holodramas in-universe that bear little to no resemblance to his actual life. One of these, Luke Skywalker and the Jedi's Revenge, turns out to be not so harmless. Ironically, the Framing Story produces yet another in-universe example of this, due to the Unreliable Narrator. Who Luke hired to do exactly the opposite, but who found it more profitable to give Luke his money back and instead sell an over-the-top version to the holodrama producers.
  • And I Must Scream: How Cronal prepares Luke to be broken so he can take over; make him live through an eternity of The Dark, the time after all the stars go out, until he gives up. Luke escapes, and Cronal tries it on Leia, but makes a more personal effort.
    He had taken away her sight, cut away her hearing, erased her senses of smell and taste and touch. He had stripped her kinesthetic sense, so that she was no longer aware of her own body at all. He had shut down the activity of certain neurotransmitters in her brain, so that she could no longer even remember how being alive had felt.
    She wasn't fighting him. She didn't know how. He wouldn't let her remember what fighting was.
    She just wouldn't give up.
  • The Anti-Nihilist: Luke has an existential crisis after being tormented with a vision of the darkness after the heat death of the universe. However, he ulimately manages to pull through it and rejects Cronal's nihilistic philosophy by acknowledging that even though nothing lasts forever, life is not meaningless and there are still things worth fighting for.
  • Arc Welding: Agent Blackhole, Lord Shadowspawn, and Cronal were all originally separate Imperial villains—Blackhole is the main villain of one of the newspaper strip storylines, Shadowspawn (and the entire Battle of Mindor) was mentioned offhand in The Essential Chronology, and Cronal was mentioned in an adventure outline in the West End Games RPG. The novel consolidates all three into a single villain, and ties him into the Prophets of the Dark Side from The Glove of Darth Vader as well.
  • Artifact of Doom: Shadowspawn's Sunset Crown and Cronal's Shadow Crown.
  • Asteroid Thicket: Mindor is surrounded by one, and it's justified for once. The Empire was developing yet another of its myriad superweapons on the next planet out, which for once came to an end besides the Rebels blowing it up - it malfunctioned to the tune of an Earth-Shattering Kaboom. Some of the debris which fell sunward was caught in Mindor's orbit, resulting in a thicket that should last a century or two.
  • Becoming the Mask: After his exposure to the Dark, Luke becomes incredibly jaded and nihilistic. But he's still Luke, and he can't and won't stop trying to save everyone. He consciously decides to act exactly like he would have before seeing the Dark and the "true" nature of the Force, in the hopes that if he does it for long enough, it won't be an act anymore.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: After Luke lets himself get captured, he asks too many questions and a stormtrooper clubs him with a blaster rifle, telling him to be quiet. Luke says "Please don't hit me" and is smacked again while the stormtrooper says "Didn't you hear me?" Luke says he did, but didn't see any particular reason to obey. The stormtrooper tries to hit him a third time, and Luke catches the blaster rifle and shatters it. Another stormtrooper tries to shoot him; Luke catches the blaster bolts.
    "Please don't shoot me, either." He turned the palm upward in a friendly shrug and let the astonished troopers stare at the only effect of the Force-blunted blasterfire: a faint curl of steam that trailed upward from his unmarked palm. "Let's try to end the day with nobody else dying, shall we?"
  • Big Damn Heroes/The Cavalry: We actually get nested BDHs, when a few of the people who rescue other heroes get caught in traps themselves.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: When we first see Han and Leia, they're in the middle of negotiations with Mandalorians, whom Han snarkily thinks of as thinking they're better than everyone else, ever. The book is dedicated, in part, to Mando fangirl Karen Traviss.
  • Body Horror: Cronal does nasty things with meltmassif. ROCKS DO NOT BELONG THERE!
    • Luke does some pretty horrifying things with the meltmassif Cronal stuck into his nerves, too. "Black crystalline hairs" "writhing and twisting and growing like it was alive", anyone?
  • Call-Back:
    • The novelization of Revenge of the Sith, also written by Matt Stover, has the recurring line All things die, Anakin Skywalker. Even stars burn out. as a fearful, intrusive thought Anakin keeps having. After Luke escapes the mother of all And I Must Screams — a vision of spending aeons alone after the heat death of the universe — he is shaken, nihilistic, believing that everything is futile because everyone's going to die. All things die. Even stars burn out. But where Anakin was driven to do worse and worse things, frantically denying that this would happen to Padmé, Luke works around it, tries to act like he used to before, and eventually is shaken out of it when he realizes that the darkness is not as all-encompassing as he'd seen.
    • Geptun, Nick Rostu, and Kar Vastor were all used in Stover's earlier Legends novel Shatterpoint.
  • Call-Forward: On the very last page of the book, Luke asserts that he doesn't like abrasive redheads. He eventually marries the very abrasive, very redheaded Mara Jade.
    • A subtle one to The Thrawn Trilogy, where Lando notes the idea of using shields to protect craft from solar radiation.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Shadowspawn is so openly, unashamedly evil that he seems almost like a caricature of a melodramatic movie villain. As it turns out, that's exactly what he is, as Cronal based his performance as Shadowspawn on trashy holothrillers.
  • Catchphrase: Luke has "That's not my best trick". At the end of the book, after using it, he finally explains what his best trick is. It's to do one thing, one small move, even just a choice, and kill thousands of people. It's not something he feels any vestige of pride about.
  • Character Name and the Noun Phrase
  • Chessmaster: Cronal.
  • The Chew Toy: Hobbie only has one chapter, but it's enough. Sure, he got his hand shot off, but that's okay. It happens regularly.
  • Combat Pragmatist: A Stover staple. For example, Han uses repulsorlifts to weaponize asteroids so well that his opponents think they're fighting some sort of Jedi.
  • Continuity Nod: In the Hand of Thrawn Duology, there was a ship called Spirit of Mindor; the name Mindor had been mentioned since as a minor detail in several parts of the EU, and this book was the first to really take note of the world.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Once Luke severs his connection to the Shadow Crown, Cronal loses control of the liquid metal meltmassif. Which then leaks out of every orifice in his body, turning first Cronal and then his entire ship into hyperspace, causing Cronal to be exposed to raw hyperspace and finally ripped apart on the atomic level. Oh, and he's conscious during all of this.
  • Deadly Euphemism: When Luke (who's currently being known as Emperor Skywalker) tells Group Captain Klick and his men to take care of several prisoners, Klick assumes that he means "kill them" (which is what Palpatine meant when he sent Vader to "take care of" the Seperatists). Luke quickly has to explain that he's being literal—he wants Klick to give them food and water and tend to their injuries.
  • Death World: Mindor has been rendered completely uninhabitable after the Empire's failed superweapon test destabilized the entire system's gravitational field: most of the planet's surface is a barren, volcanic wasteland battered by constant meteorite impacts, what remains of its oceans are little more than toxic swamps, and the atmosphere is so full of dust and vaporized metal that merely being out in the open for a few minutes can cause permanent lung damage.
  • Determinator: Luke Skywalker, as per usual. It may be that all things die. It may be that everything is futile and the Dark is all there is. But in the meantime, there are people who need him, and so he will not give up until they're safe, no matter how afraid he is.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: When Klick sees Luke for the first time he throws himself to his knees and gasps, "Forgive me, lord, I did not know you!" Clearly this is "I did not know it was you", but there's a decidedly religious tone to the phrasing that was used.
  • The Dragon: Kar Vastor serves as Cronal's unwilling henchman and, apart from Cronal himself, is the greatest threat Luke faces over the course of the story.
  • Dragons Versus Knights: One holothriller has Luke fighting a fire-breathing krayt dragon while riding a bantha. He protests that krayt dragons don't breathe fire.
  • Dramatic Irony: In the opening scene, Hobbie daydreams about the beautiful actress Wynssa Starflare. Wedge probably wouldn't be pleased, seeing as unknown to Hobbie, that's actually his sister.
  • Due to the Dead: When Admiral Kalback is killed in the destruction of the Justice, Luke makes sure to pay his last respects.
    Luke lowered his head, laid one gentle hand on the intact side of Kalback's face, and commended his departed spirit to the Force.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: A planet destroyed during Imperial weapons testing ends up as a astroid field in the Mindor system.
  • Eldritch Location: The mental realm in which Leia is a supermassive star tide-locked in Cronal's black hole, so Luke forces Cronal to see the light. It's mentioned that it's not at all like what Luke sees it all - he changes his perceptions so that it can make more sense.
  • Evil Overlord: It is noted by several characters that Shadowspawn's elaborate outfit, bombastic personality, and volcanic lair make him look like a villain straight out of a cheesy holothriller. As it turns out, this is exactly what Cronal intended.
  • Fanboy: Aeona to Luke, just a bit. This wears off when she actually meets him; he is very calmly upset that she stole the Falcon from Han and Leia.
  • Fighting a Shadow: The "Shadowspawn" initially set up to be the Big Bad is in fact a captured member of La Résistance who has been put under Mind Control by the real one's Shadow Crown, effectively turning him into a body double.
  • Field Promotion: Clone Wars veteran Klick is appointed commander-in-chief of the Imperials forces by Luke (after the latter reluctantly accepts that Klick believes him to be the Emperor's legitimate successor) to lead the evacuation of Mindor.
  • Fiery Redhead: Aeona has fiery red hair and is very impulsive. In an amusing Call-Forward to his later relationship with the similarly red-headed Mara Jade, Luke insists that she's not his type.
  • Framing Device: Near the end, it's implied that the book we're reading is Geptun's report for Luke, until Luke expresses dissatisfaction with it, citing several elements that didn't appear in the book. ("I don't even know what a 'vibroshield' is!") Then Geptun reveals that he spiced it up to sell the holothriller rights; Luke counters by requesting a more accurate rewrite, which may or may not be what we read.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: Shadowspawn, or at least the physical Shadowspawn "played" by Nick Rostu.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Because other EU materials had already summarized the events of the novel, it was well-known going in what was going to happen- Luke would defeat Shadowspawn, but become saddened and disgusted by the rampant loss of life and resign from the military to devote himself fully to being a Jedi. Cronal's survival was established beforehand as well.
  • Gambit Roulette: Blackhole has a very elaborate one built up around Luke- basically, he's lured Luke to Mindor, and created the over-the-top Shadowspawn as a fitting nemesis for him to kill, with the idea that he will do so, but be captured by Blackhole's men. Blackhole will then transfer his consciousness into Luke's body and return to the Rebellion as its greatest hero, from where he will be in a position to seize control of the galaxy with no one the wiser. And of all things, the only reason it failed was because Blackhole couldn't resist giving his most visible pawn a Punny Name.
  • Gender Bender: After failing to pull a Grand Theft Me on Luke Blackhole attempts to take over Leia's body instead. Despite being definitely male Blackhole doesn't seem to have any issues becoming a "young and lovely girl" and even regards her as better potential 'host' than Luke.
  • Genre Throwback: The book is, in many ways, a throwback to the earlier (or at least pre-New Jedi Order) EU stories such as the Star Wars (Marvel 1977) comics and The Han Solo Trilogy.
  • Good News, Bad News: Han Solo, arriving into the situation at Mindor and being filled in, reflects that it's like an extended good-news-bad-news joke. Bad: gravity-well projectors keep them from escaping. Good: too many for the enemy to protect them all. Bad: Because there are thousands. Good: They're little things on asteroids and can't stay powered for more than four days. Bad: the asteroids have destablized orbits and will start falling into the sun in two days. Good: Most of them are on little dinky asteroids which will just burn up. Bad: Some of them are on massive ones which will trigger solar flares which will kill pretty much everything in the system. Worse: Each projector destroyed hastens the process.
    And to counter that bad news, there was no good news. None at all. Everyone was going to die.
  • Grand Theft Me: What Blackhole planned to do to Luke and later, Leia,
  • Has a Type: Luke has one and it certainly isn't redheads.
  • Heroic Self-Deprecation: To the point that Luke tries to get himself indicted for war crimes. It doesn't quite go as he wanted.
  • Hope Spot: Just when it seems as if everything is gonna end with our heroes dying, Luke Skywalker manages to get all Imperial forces to stand down and help the New Republic, evacuating civilians and wounded and what-not. Then Cronal pulls a truly terrifying trick out of his sleeve and everything goes straight to hell.
  • I Control My Minions Through...: Fanatical loyalty, in Cronal's case — as the self-proclaimed (temporary) successor to Palpatine, he takes advantage of the loyalty that the Stormtroopers already have. When that starts to break down, he switched to meltmassif-based mind control.
  • I Have Many Names: Lord Shadowspawn turns out to be an artificial persona crafted by Cronal, who is also referred to as Blackhole, his code name from his time as Director of Imperial Intelligence.
  • In the Blood: In Revenge of the Sith, Anakin lands half of a huge, damaged ship which was never designed to land on a planet. Stover's novelization says that this was Anakin's masterpiece; it required all of his piloting skill and a deep, fluid connection to the Force. Luke replicates this feat with a chunk of a different ship early in this book. He does it again off-panel in Dark Empire, with a Star Destroyer.
  • Kneel Before Frodo: Group Captain Klick and his men kneel before Luke—or, as they know him, Emperor Skywalker.
  • Kneel Before Zod: Lord Shadowspawn demands that Luke tremble before him. Luke is not impressed.
  • Large Ham: Shadowspawn is such a theatrical villain that, despite the threat he poses, the heroes have trouble taking him seriously. Just as Cronal intended.
  • The Man Behind the Curtain: Shadowspawn is ultimately revealed to be a deliberately over-the-top villain persona created to hide the identity of the true mastermind behind the plot — the elderly, decrepit Cronal.
  • Man Bites Man: Luke is bitten in the throat, with "needle teeth", by Kar Vastpr. However, this is one of the rare cases where the biter comes away vastly more horrified than the unruffled person who was bitten.
  • Meaningful Name: Shadowspawn - literally "Shadow's pawn."
  • Mind Rape: Cronal tries to break Luke's spirit in order to take over his body by exposing him to "the Dark" — a vision of the nothing after the end of the universe in which seconds feel like an eternity. Luke manages to escape, but is quite shaken by the experience and goes through a crisis of faith as a result. Later on, Cronal tries to do the same to Leia, who manages to resist him through The Power of Love.
  • Mythology Gag: Far too many to list.
  • Narrative Profanity Filter: All the time with Rogue Squadron. Do they kiss their mothers with those mouths?
  • Nietzsche Wannabe: Cronal was raised by a cult called the Sorcerers of Rhand to believe in "the Way of the Dark", an extremely nihilistic philosophy based on the belief that since nothing in existence lasts forever, the only way to leave a permanent mark on the universe is to destroy things. He even looks down on Palpatine for wasting so much time and effort to build and maintain an Empire that was always doomed to crumble in the long run when he simply should have used his power to wreak as much havoc as possible.
  • No One Could Survive That!: Said by Tirossk after the Justice crash-lands with Luke onboard, and everyone assumes that he's dead. They clearly underestimated him.
  • Not Quite Dead: The end of the novel suggests that Cronal's mind survived his body's destruction. This is a bit of a Foregone Conclusion, as his survival was already confirmed in EU material published years before this novel.
  • Oh, Crap, There Are Fanfics of Us!: Luke's initial reaction to Luke Skywalker and the Jedi's Revenge. It's a lot less benign than one fanboy's "extension" of Luke's adventures, though.
  • Old Soldier: Group Captain Klick has been around since the Battle of Geonosis, and is damn well proud of it. He's not too fond of non-clone troopers, either...
  • People Puppets: The Pawns. Also, the stormtroopers after the Hope Spot is revealed for what it is.
  • Posthumous Character: Yoda. Although he doesn't show up in person, his teachings are in large part responsible for helping Luke through his battles, internal and external.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: As usual for the franchise, the Mandalorians are depicted as some of the galaxy's most capable fighters and like to boast about their martial prowess. Han finds their Cultural Posturing annoying, but even he admits that their confidence in their abilities is well-founded.
  • Punny Name: "Lord Shadowspawn" can mean Exactly What It Says on the Tin, but it can also be read as "Lord Shadow's Pawn"- which is what he really is. This actually becomes a plot point; if Luke hadn't figured out the pun in the middle of his duel with "Shadowspawn", Cronal probably would've achieved his goal.
  • Religion of Evil: The Way of the Dark in a nutshell.
  • Repeating So the Audience Can Hear: Averted. Whenever Han repeats what Chewie says, he's doing it for the benefit of other characters. Otherwise, his responses are normal.
  • Rule 63: Cronal eventually attempts to take over Leia's body. Failure ensues.
  • Running Gag: The Millennium Falcon's sensor dish gets knocked off—again—and this time because of Luke's piloting. Given that Lando can never live it down, Luke doesn't expect to either.
  • Self-Deprecation: Stover pretty much describes the entire EU as tripe. Or at least fanfic as tripe. Or Alternate Universe Fic as tripe. Or maybe all of them.
    • And then Subv—Decon—Zig Zagged when the "Sith alchemy" Luke scoffs at turns out to be real, and a lot more powerful, subtle, and just plain dangerous than some fancy sword. There's no elaborate Sith superweapon, and Shadowspawn is just a cat's paw. You know how a lot of EU Sith Lords seem to be trying to be Vader? Cronal wants to be Luke, literally. That theatricality Luke mocks? Blackhole was using it in the propaganda films he had produced to affect the perception of Luke in his minds of the public and those of his forces. When "Luke" would leave, he'd have the films to "prove" what happened, and the hamminess would match the propaganda films. Cronal basically weaponized fanfic.
  • Shown Their Work: Stover has read other books in the EU - even primarily EU-based characters act like they should. Wedge makes complex decisions after a second's thought and will cheerfully defy orders to do what's right; Tycho is more solemn and follows his lead. Fenn Shysa is an idealist and doesn't have the standard degree of Mandalorian arrogance. The other Mandalorians all believe themselves to be the bees' knees, but other characters find this annoying rather than agreeing with them.
  • Slave Mooks: The Pawns
  • Space Is Cold: Averted except in the dream Cronal forces on Luke, which takes place over countless millennia anyway, and the description actually mirrors what's been done to him with meltmassif.
    This cold, though [unlike nearly freezing to death on Hoth], froze him without the comfort of numbness. Tiny razor-edged crystals of ice - colder than ice, so cold they burned, cold as liquid air - grew inward from his skin at every pore, becoming hairlines of freeze that crept along his nerves.
  • Space Is Noisy: Also averted, most notably in the dream, in which he's floating bodiless in space.
    Physical silence, deeper than a living creature can truly experience: not just the absence of external sound, but the absence of all concept of sound. No whisper of breath, no hush of blood coursing through arteries, no faintest beat of his heart. Not even the vaguest sensation of vibration, or pressure, or friction on his skin.
  • Starfish Aliens: The Melters are totally inhuman. They're basically a near-immortal Hive Mind that inhabits bodies made of a crystaline rock called meltmassif that they can transmute into liquid form to create bodies. They have barely any concept of time or individuality.
  • The Stars Are Going Out: Part of the dream of the Dark has this happening.
    And in their place was left nothing. Not even absence. Only him.
    Floating. Empty of everything. Without thought, without sensation. Forever.
  • Take That!: The book appears to take a rather amusing shot at the particularly gratuitous levels of Hold Your Hippogriffs/ Pardon My Klingon in the early decades of the EU
    He'd (Han) preset the final leg in the Falcon's navicomputer, so they had been in and out of the jump point before those astonished Imps could so much as shout "Emperor's black bones!" or whatever stupid pretend curse they liked to shout when they got caught with their armored pants around their armored ankles.
  • That's No Moon: It wasn't a rock. It was a rock monster! Rock monster! Rock monster! Rock monster! Rock monster! Rock monster!
  • Wild Card: Aeona and her crew of Mindorese rebels, who hate the Empire, but don't really have much use for anyone. They wind up fighting for the Republic by the end, but not before some rough spots and Luke making a very understated threat.
  • The Worf Effect: Late in the book it's revealed that one of Cronal's Pawns is Kar Vastor, a huge warrior shaman who's personally committed crimes against civilization, and in Shatterpoint is seen as a personification of the jungle and a match to Mace Windu. Here he's mind controlled, serving as a host for the book's Big Bad, and when Cronal withdraws his control during a battle and Kar attacks Luke, Luke fends him off without breaking a sweat and tracks down a terrified Kar, whose defiance breaks into despair. Given that this is the same author who created that character, it seem likely another trope is in play.
  • You Are a Credit to Your Race: Kar Vastor knew Old Republic Jedi. He hated them. Luke is in no way like the Old Republic Jedi. He's not afraid of the dark. In Shatterpoint, Vastor at first extended similar respect to Mace Windu, who then rebuked him.
  • You Are in Command Now: Cronal gives Group Captain Klick full authority to command the battle so he'll be undisturbed while he works on taking Luke over.
  • You Have Failed Me: Klick expects to suffer this after the failed attack on the Corellian Queen. He's surprised to learn that it was part of Shadowspawn's Failure Gambit.