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Literature / The Crystal Star

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The Crystal Star is an oddity in Star Wars Legends. Released in The '90s during the indecisive seeming period before the release of The Phantom Menace, this book was the work of science-fiction author Vonda N. McIntyre. She had previously written a number of books set in the Star Trek Expanded Universe, and the influence certainly shows.

In a Star Wars galaxy now populated by centaurs, "wyrwulfs" and strange creatures from other universes, The Crystal Star involves Luke and Han investigating a bizarre cult while Leia searches for her and Han's kidnapped children. There's also something about anti-Force, Han's ex-girlfriend and Imperial revivalists.

Tropes featured in this work include:

  • Academy of Evil: Hethrir operates a Dark Side Academy on his worldcraft, seeking to train young Jedi to use the Dark Side and serve his Empire Reborn.
  • Anti-Magic: Substitute magic for the Force, and you've got the general gist of it.
  • Anti-Villain: Waru, Type II and IV. It simply wants to return to its home, and while it did heal people, it needed from time to time their energy to sustain itself, killing them.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: Hethrir believes he has to sacrifice a baby to become this. No, seriously. To be fair, the baby is Anakin Solo.
  • Cool Ship: Hethrir commands the Rebirth, effectively a mobile planet. While officially a space station, it has real terrain inside, along with a miniature "sun" to mimic the effects of an actual planet.
  • Covers Always Lie:
    • Zigzagged — the background of the cover shows Luke standing in front of what looks like the center of a spiral galaxy. Crseih Station, where the action takes place, is nowhere near the center of the galaxy. However, the "galaxy" also appears similar to the whirlpool deep within Waru's innards, with a seeming "black hole" at its core, which Luke is nearly drawn into near the end of the book before Han and Leia rescue him.
    • The cover also depicts Han Solo as clean-shaven. Within the book, he's disguised himself by growing a beard for this mission.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Waru, a blob-shaped being covered in golden scales, who hails from another universe entirely and effectively houses a mini-dimension inside itself, letting it steal or give energy from those it absorbed. As described in the book:
    "Hethrir's scientists breached the walls between dimensions and brought into existence a massive slab of meat covered with shining golden scales. Though this entity, Waru, lacked discernible sensory organs, it was highly intelligent and could communicate in a deep resonating voice."
  • Eldritch Location: Crseih Station, an abandoned Imperial research facility which once investigates alternate dimensions and becomes the residence of its only discovery, Waru, who is central to Hethrir's plans and has a cult dedicated to his veneration.
  • Fantastic Racism: Hethrir is particularly racist against nonhumans despite being one himself.
  • Genocide from the Inside: Hethrir destroyed his own planet and people in an attempt to curry favor with his master.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: For all the criticism the book gets, it is often praised for its characterisation of Han at the very end of the Hethrir plot; Luke and Leia have been consumed by Waru and Han realises he has to go in after them after asking Chewie to look after his family.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Hethrir was the one who summoned Waru, so it's only fitting that in the end Waru eats him.
  • In Name Only: A major criticism of this book is that it's not really very Star Wars-y at all; if anything, the plot is more akin to a Star Trek story. (Which is unsurprising, given that Vonda McIntyre had written a few Star Trek novels in the past.)
  • Mama Bear: Leia. As noted in Abel G. Pena's blog, McIntyre's characterisation of Leia as a mother is one of the better examples in the EU.
  • Meaningful Name: Hethrir sounds a lot like "Hitler"; Waru is apparently Japanese for "bad".
  • Path of Inspiration: The "Cult of Waru", which mainly consists of beings coming to Waru to be healed by the energy within him. However, it's really just a facade of benevolence, as Waru willingly murders some of the believers in order to sustain himself, buying time until Hethrir can bring a Force-strong person to him who can give him enough energy to return home.
  • Phlebotinum-Handling Requirements: Hethrir and Rillao's lightsabers lack a traditional on/off switch. Instead, igniting them requires one to use the Force to complete an internal electrical circuit. Hethrir uses the ability to do so as a test for his apprentices (and isn't above rigging it if he doesn't like the apprentice).
  • Put on a Bus: The ships containing what's left of the Firrerreos jump to hyperspace and are basically ignored by the rest of the book. The Essential Guide to Alien Species eventually established that they found asylum on the planets Belderone and Kinooine. A happy ending? Not so much: Force Heretic I: Remnant gave a throwaway mention that Belderone was captured by the Yuuzhan Vong, who enslaved the Belderonians and rendered the Firrerreos functionally extinct on that planet. While it seems the Kinooine settlers miraculously survived the Yuuzhan Vong, it is stated that Firrerreos have become even rarer at the time of the Second Galactic Civil War.
  • Series Continuity Error:
    • Luke's lightsaber is blue in this book. He lost said blue lightsaber in The Empire Strikes Back and built a green one in Return of the Jedi. Although he got the blue one back in The Thrawn Trilogy, he gave it to Mara Jade.
    • Also, because this book was written before the chronologically-earlier Callista Trilogy—which ended only a year before Crystal Star—the early chapters in which Han ribs Luke about finding a woman and having Jedi children (even making jokes about what Obi-Wan was like in his youth) come across as rather mean-spirited even for the smuggler. (I.e., Luke is just coming off of losing Callista, the woman he thought was the love of his life.)
  • Starfish Alien: Waru, a gelatinous blob covered in thick golden scales and noted as matching no known grouping of beings in the universe.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Almost nothing about this book is ever even referred to again by later material.