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Splinter of the Mind's Eye is a novel set in the Star Wars Expanded Universe. 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, 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. 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 Star Wars Expanded Universe and was to be the basis of a low-budget, made-for-TV 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 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 at least some of it remains within official 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, novel and comic book adaptation, provide examples of:
- Action Girl: Leia
- Amplifier Artifact: The Kaiburr Crystal.
- 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.
- 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.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: Leia. From her harsh character to her attempt to kill Vader, she spends ninety percent of the time very subtly getting Luke to be a hero... by playing the Anti-Hero. The psychotic Anti-Hero. This is at least partly because she's a Shell-Shocked Veteran from what happened on the Death Star...when, after Luke says or does something to reassure her, she starts explaining herself, only to stop because she's too afraid of her own memories to talk about them.
- 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.
- Badass: Leia, again. She can't even verbalize her multiple traumas, yet faces the Complete Monster who she associates with every single one...and just plain refuses to stop fighting.
- Halla, since by Force-sensitive standards, she's horrifyingly pathetic, yet still acts as if she were a Jedi Master and refuses to be fazed by any danger right up until the last scene.
- Blob Monster: The "lake-spirit" faced by Luke and Leia during their journey across a subterranean lake. It also has Combat Tentacles.
- Bottomless Bladder: Averted; Halla complains that her bladder is killing her after being tied up for half a day.
- Benevolent Space Cthulhu: Look at the statue the crystal is found in. Look at it.
- Characterization Marches On: All right, Luke being rather silly and disrespectful on occasions can be chalked up to Character Development. Luke being a natural liar who can make up convincing and entirely false excuses on the spot and sheds Crocodile Tears, though...
- Combat by Champion: Luke versus a Coway.
- Cuffs Off, Rub Wrists: Averted.
- 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.
- 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 Expanded Universe 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, to my knowledge, been seen since this book. And Chewbacca has a Suspiciously Similar Substitute. That's just the most obvious ones.
- Executive Meddling: Because of plans to adapt Splinter of the Mind's Eye as a made-for TV movie, Foster was told to write a story that could be filmed with a low budget. This resulted in the bulk of the story being set on a foggy swamp planet and the cutting of what Foster termed "a modestly extensive space battle." Han Solo and Chewbacca don't appear (but are indirectly referred to) due to Harrison Ford not being signed for a sequel at the time of the book's writing. The book also contained one scene where the faces of some stormtroopers were not covered by their helmet, but Lucasfilm prohibited this from being depicted in the comic.
- 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 sent 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.
- Fan Service: The "miner's outfits" that Luke and Leia wear for much of the comics. They are very tight on Luke.
- Fat Bastard: Grammel.
- 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.
- This is probably due to Leia's many psychological issues. Victims of PTSD often find themselves caught between the natural urge to cry themselves out on someone's shoulder, since humans are very physical and social animals, and their own psychological reactions. Luke, being too young to realize what she's doing, just sees a hot chick; Leia is struggling to find comfort while being unable to even verbalize her memories. Add in the Force, which according to at least Fanon is trying to let Luke and Leia know they're twins, and it's not surprising she's 'confused'.
- 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.
"I saw my whole world, several million people, destroyed," she responded with chilling matter-of-factness. "Nothing mankind does surprises me anymore. [...] We have our devils and our angels, Luke. You have to be ready to handle both." Turns into Nightmare Fuel for Leia when Luke tries to get her to open up and talk about what happened...and then for the reader, who realizes that in a movie where millions of people died on-screen, whatever happened to Leia while she was tortured was too horrible for her to even think about.
- Kick the Dog: Luke. Leia may have a good excuse, but she's an unrepentant Jerkass in this novel, and doesn't get much better even when she dies.
- Though in some ways, Leia is on the receiving end of a lot of this--the damage was just done before the novel starts, so while the reader realizes Leia is being psychotic and a jerk, they also realize that she's expressing serious trauma.
- 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 roleplaying game.
- Purple Prose: From time to time.
"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, in the comic.
- Self-Made Orphan: Leia nearly does this by trying to shoot Vader in the face, and later by fighting him with Luke's lightsaber.
- 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.
- 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 improved dramatically and he actually told Vader "I am Obi-Wan". Plus, in The Empire Strikes Back Vader tells Luke that Obi-Wan "can no longer help [him]", which implies that Vader knows that Obi-Wan's helped him before.
- Take My Hand: Leia once falls into a pit, and in dragging her out Luke slips, forcing her to instantly return the favor.
- 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.
- Technology Marches On: The above-mentioned tapes.
- 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.
- UST: Scads of it. Fortunately for their later peace of mind, whenever it comes to Will They or Won't They?, they won't.
- Wicked Cultured: According to the narration Grammel's office hints at this, though he does tell Leia that he's no intellectual.
- 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 Marvel Star Wars.
- Would Hit a Girl: Grammel. And, surprisingly, Luke. Also, Vader.