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Literature / Splinter of the Mind's Eye

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Splinter of the Mind's Eye is a novel of the Star Wars Legends continuity. Written by Alan Dean Foster (who also ghost-wrote the novelization of A New Hope), it is set chronologically between the events of A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back.

On their way to a conference with a local resistance group to try to convince them to join the Rebel Alliance, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, R2-D2, and C-3PO crash-land on a swamp planet named Mimban, which is crawling with Imperial stormtroopers, unpleasant natives, and wildlife out to have them for dinner. In their bid to get off the planet they enlist the aid of an old, marginally Force-sensitive woman named Halla. Her aid has a price, though: She wants them to assist her in acquiring the fabled Kaiburr Crystal, which can greatly enhance Force powers. They soon discover that they are in a race against Darth Vader, who is out to claim the crystal for his own purposes. After putting Luke, Leia and the droids through a series of misadventures, the book climaxes with Luke and Leia dueling with Darth Vader for possession for the crystal.

Published in 1978, Splinter of the Mind's Eye is notable for being the first novel set in the original Star Wars Expanded Universe (now branded as Legends), and was to be the basis of a low-budget sequel in the event that A New Hope was not as successful as it ended up being. Splinter of the Mind's Eye is controversial among many Star Wars fans due to the confrontation between Luke and Vader chronologically set before The Empire Strikes Back, as well as the romantic tension between Luke and Leia (it was written before George Lucas decided that they were brother and sister), resulting in it becoming Fanon Discontinuity among some fans later. However, a comic adaptation of Splinter of the Mind's Eye was published in 1995 and the events and characters of the book have been frequently referenced in later official novels and in-universe reference works, leaving no doubt that it is considered to fall within the Legends continuity.

Note that Lucas eventually revisited the idea of a daring adventurer and the woman he's falling in love with battling a totalitarian regime for a powerful mystic artifact. That one did have Harrison Ford in it.

Splinter of the Mind's Eye, the novel and comic book adaptation, provide examples of:

  • Action Girl: Leia is familiar with weapons, as in the movie.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The comic cuts out a lot of the Early-Installment Weirdness that just couldn't work in 1995, like Luke and Leia's sexual tension and some of their more abrasive moments that were retroactively out of character. (Though this also had the unintended side-effect of... well, see below.)
  • Adaptational Dumbass: Leia in the comic adaptation, which cuts a lot of material from the novel for space reasons. While this has the benefit of almost entirely eliminating her Jerkass moments, it also means a lot of reactions like those listed under Alien Arts Are Appreciated are left on the cutting room floor. Since Luke is always coming up with the plan in the action scenes, of which almost all remain in the comic, Leia comes across as frankly not very bright.
  • Alien Arts Are Appreciated: Luke dislikes the Coway's "wailing rhythmic music," but enjoys their dancing, which shows off their leaping abilities. Leia, being more cosmopolitan, enjoys the performance without reservations. Pretty much any time they come in contact with a new set of social norms, Leia is the one who can interpret them and subtly guide Luke in not embarrassing himself. Justified, since a diplomat like Leia would have extensive training in exactly this sort of thing, and a princess would have to know basic relativism.
  • Ammo-Using Melee Weapon: Luke Skywalker attaches his lightsaber to a blaster pistol so it can drain energy from the blaster pistol and recharge itself.
  • Amplifier Artifact: The Kaiburr Crystal can greatly increase the Force abilities of anyone who already has them.
  • Armed Legs: One of the hostile miners Luke and Leia encounter has Tricked-Out Shoes—he wears boots which extend blades when activated.
  • As You Know: Used word for word when Luke in the guise of a miner asks a stormtrooper about the architecture on that world. Subverted, though—the stormtrooper believes Luke knows, but like the readers, he doesn't. That's why he asked.
  • Asshole Victim: Grammel. He suffers a horrible fate at Vader's hands—but given what he has himself dished out to others before, few readers are likely to feel sorry for him.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Princess Leia can fight if she has to. Even more so Vader, of course.
  • A Wizard Did It: The Revenge of the Sith visual dictionary says that it would be impossible for Darth Vader to channel Force energy through his mechanical arms, so he wouldn't be able to do the Kinetite Energy Ball. Pablo Hidalgo suggested in Star Wars Insider Magazine, Issue 80 that it might be some kind of laser built into his suit, but The Rise and Fall of Darth Vader offers a far different explanation, stating that it was Vader's close proximity to the Kaiburr crystal which allowed him to summon Force-energized lightning.
  • Back from the Dead: According to Luke, he died at the end and was brought back by the crystal's power. So did Leia, but she's far less worried about it.
  • Bad Boss: Grammel can be extremely physically abusive toward his subordinates. Later, he suffers from one himself when Vader is unimpressed with his performance.
  • Blob Monster: The "lake-spirit" faced by Luke and Leia during their journey across a subterranean lake. It also has Combat Tentacles.
  • Bottle Episode: Due to its origins as a low-budget film sequel, the whole book takes place on a foggy planet, the cast is small, there's a heavy reliance on things which wouldn't have required new costumes and props, there are no space battles, and Han Solo is absent because Harrison Ford hadn't been coaxed back with a bigger paycheck yet at the time of writing.
  • Bottomless Bladder: Averted; Halla complains that her bladder is killing her after being tied up for half a day.
  • Characterization Marches On:
    • All right, Luke being rather silly and disrespectful on occasions can be chalked up to Character Development.
    • Leia's something of an Adaptational Dumbass here, especially in the comics. She's still a bit of an Action Girl, but it's toned down, and she spends most of the story being downright mean to Luke and everyone else around her (granted, Luke acts uncharacteristically abrasive too, but still.) Her extreme self-righteousness was lessened in subsequent material, and her and Luke's abilities eventually became more balanced.
    • Both Luke and Leia suffer from extreme UST, which makes itself clear in practically every interaction between them. Later films got rid of this element, both because Harrison Ford's return to the franchise created the possibility of a Leia/Han relationship, and because of other reasons that are obvious in hindsight.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Mentioned several times. Vader evidently did this to Leia in A New Hope, and it was so terrible she refuses to think about it, winds up panicking when confronted with the possibility of it happening again, and outright asks Luke to Mercy Kill her if they're captured.
  • Conveniently Close Planet: Leia's ship happens to break down when she and Luke are near Mimban.
  • Darker and Edgier: Watch A New Hope, then read this. The mood switch, especially if you read the ghostwritten novel of A New Hope, is dramatic.
  • Declining Promotion: Luke Skywalker has sensibly not accepted a high position in the Rebel Alliance based solely on his performance against the Death Star.
    Luke had no experience with titles, hence no use for them. When the Rebel leaders offered him any reward within their ability to grant, he had asked only to be permitted to continue piloting a fighter in the Alliance's service. Some thought his request unduly modest, but one shrewd general disagreed, explaining how Luke might be more valuable to the Rebellion without a title or commission which, the veteran pointed out to his colleagues, would serve only to make the youth a prime target for Imperial assassination.
  • Disney Villain Death: First the wandrella, reaching into a Thrella well after Luke and Leia, overextends and falls in. Later, Vader falls into a sacrificial well during combat. However, almost immediately Luke is sure that he's still alive.
  • Dude, She's Like in a Coma: Luke considers kissing Leia while she sleeps. Fortunately he refrains.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Like most early Star Wars Legends works, several references are made to pieces of technology that were current at the time but are now obsolete, mostly tapes as a data storage medium. Luke's "if I twist these two knobs, I can use my lightsaber to cut a locked door open without making it obvious" trick has never been seen since this book. And Chewbacca has a pair of Suspiciously Similar Substitutes in Hin and Kee the Yuzzem. That's just the most obvious ones.
  • Energy Ball: Apparently, Vader can make these. And Luke can send them back. It's a Force power called "Kinetite" and apparently hits harder the more you try to resist it. Luke sends it back by drawing on the Force, thus not resisting. The book leaves it vague whether it's a Force power or something built into Vader's armor, but other parts of the Expanded Universe clarify it.
  • Eye Scream: Grammel shoves a recording device none too gently into a miner's eye socket. Subject to a Gory Discretion Shot in the comic.
    Grammel: He still has his eye, you know. It's recorded permanently on this. Bring him back when he recovers and I'll let him see it again.
  • Fanservice: The "miners' outfits" that Luke and Leia wear for much of the comics. They are very tight on Luke. It's implied in the novel that, when Luke and Leia engage in some mud wrestling, Leia's outfit comes undone in a very provocative manner.
  • Fat Bastard: Captain-Supervisor Grammel, head of the Imperial presence on Mimban, is a large and very cruel man.
    [...] he stood to reveal a modest paunch curving gently from beneath his sternum like a frozen waterfall of suet, to crash and tumble somewhere below the waistline in a jumble of uniform.
  • Fictional Document: The Imperial Charter to which Leia refers in passing, which seems to be a sort of constitution or basic law document for the Empire. A few later books elaborate a little on it.
  • Glowing Gem: The small fragment of the Kaiburr Crystal has a crimson hue deeper and richer than a ruby and a vitreous luster resembling crystallized honey. It also glows softly. The whole Kaiburr Crystal (of which the fragment is but a part) gives off a dimly pulsing light when inactive. When activated by a Force user it shines with an unnatural brilliance and its glow spreads to cover the person using it.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: Vader opts to punish Grammel in this manner with his lightsaber, rather than strangling him to death with the Force.
  • Incest Subtext: Not intentional. When it was written, it was assumed that our heroes were not related and would hook up after long Will They or Won't They?. With that in mind, there is a lot of chemistry, informing virtually every interaction between them.
    The Princess grew aware of how tightly she was clinging to him. Their proximity engendered a wash of confused emotion. It would be proper to disengage, to move away a little. Proper, but not nearly so satisfying.
  • Insignificant Little Blue Planet: Mimban (a jungle planet with several intelligent races) is bizarrely ignored by the thirteen other inhabited planets in the Circarpous system. The book actually specifies that there has only been one (non-Imperial) manned mission to the planet. Keep in mind that the Star Wars universe doesn't have any kind of Alien Non-Interference Clause.
  • Intimate Healing: Sort of. Using hands, not mouth. Armed with the Kaiburr Crystal, Luke touches his fingers to all of Leia's wounds to make them close, then her forehead and heart to bring her back to consciousness.
  • Jade-Colored Glasses: Luke is upset at the callous treatment miners give to natives who debase themselves for alcohol. Leia shrugs.
    Leia: I saw my whole world, several million people, destroyed. Nothing mankind does surprises me anymore. [...] We have our devils and our angels, Luke. You have to be ready to handle both.
  • No Ending: The book is about Luke and Leia stranded on a planet and trying to get off it. The book ends with them leaving the temple after fighting Darth Vader and not explaining how they get off the planet.
  • No Name Given: The book contains one scene narrated from the perspective of a doctor who treats Grammel's wounds and another from the perspective of an Imperial soldier. Both characters remained unnamed within the book, but the former was later given a name in a sourcebook for West End Games' Star Wars d6 roleplaying game.
  • Pet the Dog: Zigzagged when Antagonistic Governor Grammel expresses gratitude to a medic who just treated his wounds and offers her whatever she wants. What she wants is for him not to execute the guards who let his prisoners escape. Grammel seems unhappy with the request but muses that he needs every available soldier for the upcoming fight anyway, and agrees not to execute anyone.
  • Purple Prose: From time to time. Luke is still breathing heavily after his Trial by Combat when he delivers this line.
    Luke: Besides, it takes many thousands of years of advanced technological development for a society to reduce honor to an abstract moral truism devoid of real meaning.
  • Scary Black Man: Jake, the villainous miner, is adapted as one in the comic.
  • Seamless Spontaneous Lie: Luke is more socially adept here than in many subsequent Expanded Universe portrayals, and comes up with one to explain his and Leia's strange behavior to a suspicious Imperial. It's worth bearing in mind that by this point, he does have two years' worth of experience on commando missions. The lie is accepted because it makes sense and is told with a straight face.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Leia nearly does this by trying to shoot Vader in the face, and later by fighting him with Luke's lightsaber. Of course, their relationship had not yet been conceived at the time of writing.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: The Kaiburr Crystal is real and does amplify the powers of Force-users, and Luke and Leia end up with it... but it only works in the vicinity of a certain place on the planet. Elsewhere, it's useless. Well, not completely useless. Kaiburr crystals and crystal shards make plenty of appearances in games, usually as lightsaber crystals. They just don't amplify the Force directly when used that way, instead increasing a stat or two.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Leia comes off as this for roughly the whole book, even asking Luke to kill her if she's captured at one point.
  • Shock and Awe: When Vader is boosted by the Kaiburr Crystal, he is briefly able to use Force Lightning, in the form of an Energy Ball.
  • Shout-Out: Pomojema, the god of the Kaiburr Crystal who has supposed healing powers, is the spitting image of Cthulhu.
  • Single-Biome Planet: Mimban is a Swamp Planet.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: The scene where Leia and Luke wrestle in the mud, and later when they gleefully explore a cavern whose rocks make musical notes when struck, is the very G-rated version of this, as well as taking a breather from the dark and dramatic text of the rest of the book.
  • Spirit Advisor: Obi-Wan actually takes it a step farther; when Luke fights Vader, it's not stated outright that Obi-Wan possesses his young pupil, but it's certainly implied. His dueling skills improve dramatically and he actually tells Vader, "I am Ben Kenobi." Plus, in The Empire Strikes Back Vader tells the Emperor that Kenobi "can no longer help him," which implies that Vader knows that Obi-Wan's helped him before.
  • Spiteful Spit: Captain-Supervisor Grammel insults the Yuzzem by saying that they stink. One of the Yuzzem retaliates by spitting a blob of saliva and hitting him on the back of the neck. Later, when Leia takes up Luke's lightsaber to fight Darth Vader—yes, she is a badass—and he laughs at her, she spits at him.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Wise, kindly old Force-Sensitive mentor Halla and hulking, furry, Language Barrier-limited aliens Hin and Kee fill the roles Obi-Wan and Chewbacca did in the first movie.
  • Take My Hand!: Leia once falls into a pit, and in dragging her out Luke slips, forcing her to instantly return the favor.
  • Tempting Fate: Luke and Leia cross an underground lake after getting a good twelve hours of uninterrupted sleep. "If this keeps up, I might even begin to feel cautiously optimistic about this little journey..." Cue Blob Monster.
  • Trial by Combat: A tribe of cave-dwelling native Mimbanites, the Coway, capture Luke, Leia, and their companions. Halla tries to convince the Coway that they are not with the Empire, and Luke has to fight a Coway champion to prove they're telling the truth.
  • Tricked-Out Shoes: One of the hostile miners Luke and Leia encounter has Armed Legs—he wears boots which extend blades when activated.
  • Understatement: In a bad situation, Luke once tells Leia that he doesn't like this. Leia responds,
    "You have this wonderfully evocative way about you, Luke, of reducing the most excruciatingly uncomfortable circumstances to the merely mundane."
    Luke looked hurt.
  • UST: Scads of it between the two protagonists. Fortunately for their later peace of mind, whenever it comes to Will They or Won't They?, they don't.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: There are several minor ones, such as Leia being too self-righteous to steal a miner's outfit despite the clear benefits. However, the most glaringly obvious is when Luke slaps Leia in the face with no provocation, using a flimsy excuse that he wanted to convince people she was his slave as a ruse.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Deep water. Having lived in a desert all his life Luke hates crossing it, but somehow, it's Leia who can't swim. This creates a kind of Continuity Snarl when you see this bit from early Star Wars (Marvel 1977).
  • Wicked Cultured: According to the narration Grammel's office hints at an appreciation for sophisticated things, though he does tell Leia that he's no intellectual.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Grammel, Luke, Vader, the miners they fight with, and nearly everyone else. Leia gets slapped by Luke for absolutely no reason, gets into a scuffle with him as revenge and winds up inadvertently involving locals, gets beat up by Grammel to the point of near-paralyzation, and gets nearly killed in a lightsaber duel with Vader.
  • You Have Failed Me: Inspector Grammel becomes subject to this when Vader punishes him for his failure to apprehend the insurgents.