Author(s): Matthew Stover
Cover artist: Dave Seeley
Publisher: Del Rey
Release date: December 30, 2008
Era: New Republic era
Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader are dead. The Empire has been toppled by the triumphant Rebel Alliance, and the New Republic is ascendant. But the struggle against the dark side and the Sith Order is not over. Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo, Lando Calrissian, and their faithful comrades have had little time to savor victory before being called on to defend the newly liberated galaxy.
Powerful remnants of the vanquished Empire, hungry for retaliation, are still at large, committing acts of piracy, terrorism, and wholesale slaughter against the worlds of the fledgling New Republic. The most deadly of these, a ruthless legion of black-armored Stormtroopers, do the brutal bidding of the newly risen warlord Shadowspawn. Striking from a strategically advantageous base on the planet Mindor, they are waging a campaign of plunder and destruction, demolishing order and security across the galaxy–and breeding fears of an Imperial resurgence. Another reign of darkness beneath the boot-heel of Sith despotism is something General Luke Skywalker cannot, and will not, risk.
Mobilizing the ace fighters of Rogue Squadron–along with the trusty Chewbacca, See-Threepio, and Artoo-Detoo–Luke, Han, and Leia set out to take the battle to the enemy and neutralize the threat before it’s too late. But their imminent attack on Mindor will be playing directly into the hands of their cunning new adversary. Lord Shadowspawn is no freshly anointed Sith Chieftain but in fact a vicious former Imperial Intelligence officer–and Prophet of the Dark Side. The Emperor’s death has paved the way for Shadowspawn’s return from exile in the Outer Rim, and mastery of ancient Sith knowledge and modern technology has given him the capability to mount the ultimate power play for galaxy wide dominion. Dark prophecy has foretold that only one obstacle stands in his way, and he is ready–even eager–for the confrontation.
All the classic heroes, all the explosive action and adventure, all the unparalleled excitement of Star Wars come breathlessly alive as the adventures of Luke Skywalker continue.
Before I begin the review, I have a confession to make: I was expecting Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor to be the EU highlight of 2008. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I’m thinking that I was correct in my previous assumption.
Although Matthew Stover hasn’t written as extensively in the Star Wars ™ galaxy compared to his current peerage, he has a firm hold as a definite fan and critic favorite. After his pathos-ridden previous works, Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor appears as a breath of fresh air. Mindor takes place roughly six months after events in Return of the Jedi. On his blog he stated that, “[this book is an] attempt to get the EU back to its pre-Zahn roots — specifically, to evoke memories of my all-time favorite Star Wars books, Brian Daley’s Han Solo novels. Sure, it’ll be violent and somewhat broody and all (it’s the Popeye Thing: I yam what I yam) but generally it’s gonna be — in the words of My Favorite Writer — a pop-top can of 100% pure Grade-A whipass”. During an interview with the website www.SWbooks.co.uk, Stover mentions his desire to create a “zippy pulp energy” in the book. For all intents and purposes, Stover succeeds.
If we look at characteristics of pulp fiction in its heyday, we can see it clearly mirrored in the book: zingy one-liners, heroes facing seemingly insurmountable odds, a damsel in distress, cases of mistaken identity, a melodramatic villain, and trusty sidekicks. For me at least there were several, shall I say, ‘chill moments’ in the book. A personal favorite that stands out is in one of the opening chapters,
“His unconventional appearance extended even to his sidearm, which was as far from an officer’s blaster pistol as one could possibly imagine; no general had gone armed thus since the end of the Clone Wars.
He carried a lightsaber.”
That Stover manages to thrill over and over is proof positive that he is a master of his craft.
Now we come to the metafiction aspect of the book. Holothrillers and their ilk, referencing the exploits of Luke and Company, make a huge impact on the story. The structure of the novel itself is then an ode to the pulp stories of a bygone era, resulting in a fast paced, action packed tale.
For those readers who delight in Easter Eggs, you will not be disappointed. Whether it is direct references to the film, a holothriller named ‘Revenge of the Jedi’, or small, expanded universe nuggets, like Hobbie Klivian daydreaming about Wynssa Starflare, they are incorporated with aplomb.
For a stand-alone novel, Stover is working with a large cast of dramatis personae. We have of course the Big Three, plus Chewbacca, Lando Calrissian, a handful of Rogue Squadron favorites, and two familiar droids. Each role is given their due, and the characterization of each shines. A notable and obvious example: Luke is facing an identity crisis of sorts. The media, entertainment industry, and New Republic portray him as a hero who can do no wrong while Skywalker himself feels that his own selfhood is undetermined. He knows he is a Jedi, but what does that really mean? Stover provides a painful journey of self-realization for Luke. This is the characterization that will give rise to the Skywalker we see in the Zahn novels.
The characterization of Luke handily links into one of the themes of the novel: identity. Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going? These questions, to me, are the cornerstone of the novel.
My one gripe with Mindor is the antagonist’s perspective of the Force. Perhaps I need a closer reading, but I ended up confused regarding his viewpoint. Yes, there are several aspects, both light and dark, to the Force; however, the all encompassing “Dark” of the bad guy’s conviction, left me a little unbelieving.
I am giving Matthew Stover’s Luke Skywalker and Shadow of Mindor a 5 out of 5. That’s all folks; I hope I didn’t spoil it too much!
5.0/5.0 Kath Hounds
Summary and Review by MandyB
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