Splinter of the Mind's Eye
|Author||Alan Dean Foster|
|Publisher||Del Rey Books|
1 March 1978
1 April 1978
|Media type||Hardcover & Paperback|
|Followed by||Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back|
Star Wars: Splinter of the Mind's Eye is a 1978 science fiction novel written by Alan Dean Foster. It takes place between Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope and Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. Originally published in 1978 by Del Rey, a division of Ballantine Books, it was the first original full-length Star Wars novel to be published after the release of the 1977 Star Wars film, retroactively making it one of the earliest Star Wars expanded universe works.
The principal characters are Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, C-3PO, R2-D2, and Darth Vader. The characters of Han Solo and Chewbacca do not appear, and Solo is only referred to by Luke Skywalker as "a pirate and a smuggler" that he knows at the end of the book. The book was originally written to be filmed as a low-budget sequel to Star Wars if the original film was not a success.
Luke and Leia are traveling to Circarpous IV to persuade the Circarpousians to join the Rebel Alliance. A strange energy storm forces them to crash land on the swampy planet Mimban. Luke, after finding Leia, begins looking for a station that would allow them to get off the planet but instead finds a town, near which agents of the Empire have a secret energy mine.
Forced to keep their identities secret, Luke admonishes Leia to follow his lead, and in a nearby bar where they take refuge, claims she is his servant girl. An old woman named Halla approaches them; while revealing little of her own background, she identifies Luke as one who is strong with the Force and shows him a splinter of what she claims to be the Kaiburr crystal, a glowing crystal that magnifies and focuses the Force. Halla strikes a deal with Luke and Leia that if they help her find it, she will help them get off the planet. They leave together.
Upon emerging, Leia retorts that Luke ought not to have struck her; the two squabble as some miners emerge from the pub. The miners claim that fighting in public is against Imperial law here, and they all get into a brawl. Imperial stormtroopers intervene and take Luke, Leia and the miners to the local jail. They are questioned by Captain-Supervisor Grammel. The miners are taken away while Grammel continues questioning Luke and Leia. Grammel discovers and confiscates the crystal shard, along with Luke's weapons. Luke and Leia are placed in the maximum security cell with two drunk but friendly Yuzzem, hairy aboriginal creatures called Hin and Kee. Grammel reports the incident and the crystal shard to Governor Bin Essada, in charge of the group of star systems including Circarpous.
Halla, with Luke's help, uses the Force to help rescue Luke, Leia and the two Yuzzem. The Yuzzem rampage through the jail barracks, while Luke and Leia escape. The four meet Halla to find the Temple of Pomojema, which Halla believes to be the location of the Kaiburr crystal. They travel through the swampy wilds of Mimban, during which travel they encounter a wandrella, a huge worm-like creature. The wandrella pursues them, forcing them to leave the transport and splitting Luke and Leia apart from Halla, the droids and the Yuzzem.
Luke and Leia hide in a deep well, down which the wandrella falls, leaving the two trapped in the well as it destroys their escape path. From the lip of the well, Halla suggests that there must be an escape route, and Luke and Leia go in search of it. Their search involves floating across a lake on lily pads, and fending off creatures of the deep with Luke's lightsaber. On the other side of the lake, they encounter the secretive residents of the caves, the Coway. They kill all but one of the Coway; the survivor escapes and tells his tribe about the visitors. Luke and Leia follow the single Coway to the tribe, where they find Halla's group being held prisoner. To save his friends, Luke defeats the Coway's champion fighter and thus befriends the entire tribe. Soon Luke senses Darth Vader, and Coway patrols confirm his feeling. Imperials, led by Darth Vader and Captain-Supervisor Grammel, attack the underground cave.
When the Imperials arrive, they are surprised by the Coway tribe's power and bravery. Vader and Grammel retreat with the handful of surviving stormtroopers, though Vader loses patience with Grammel for the defeat and kills him. Luke and company steal an Imperial transport left behind, and begin traveling to the Temple. They beat Vader to the temple and find the Kaiburr crystal. They encounter a monster and unsuccessfully try to fight it off with blasters. Luke tells Hin and Kee to get some rifles. Luke cuts down one of the pillars holding up the temple, crushing the monster. Luke's leg is pinned under a fallen boulder. Darth Vader then enters the Temple of Pomojema, announcing that he killed Hin and Kee. Leia takes up Luke's lightsaber and begins fighting Darth Vader, but he toys with her, giving her multiple superficial burns with his own saber. Hin, mortally wounded, shows up and in his dying act, lifts the big rock off of Luke's leg. Luke fights Vader, showing more skill than expected, deflecting some Force-based attacks and eventually slicing off Vader's arm. Despite this, the Sith Lord seems about to win, but then falls into a pit. Luke senses that Vader is still alive. As the story ends, Leia and Luke, healed by the crystal, drive off with Halla into the mists of Mimban.
In 1976, Alan Dean Foster was contracted to ghostwrite a novelization for Star Wars. Foster was given extensive access to the shooting and draft scripts, as well as early story treatments, for use as source material in fleshing out the novel. Elements of this are visible in the resulting novel, such as the prologue, which borrows the Journal of the Whills title from Lucas' original synopsis.
Foster's contract also required a second novel, to be used as a basis for a low-budget sequel to Star Wars in case the film was not successful. Though Foster was granted a great deal of leeway in developing the story, a key requirement was that many of the props from the previous production could be reused when shooting the new film. Foster's decision to place his story on a misty jungle planet was also intended to reduce set and background costs for a film adaptation. According to Foster, Lucas's only request upon inspecting the manuscript was the removal of a space dogfight undertaken by Luke and Leia before crash-landing on Mimban, which would have been effects-heavy and expensive to film.
The eponymous "Mind's Eye" of the story is a MacGuffin called the Kaiburr crystal. This was based on the "Kiber" crystal, a Force-amplifying talisman that was included in early drafts of the Star Wars story, but later eliminated by Lucas in favor of making the Force a more ethereal power.
By the time the novel was published, Star Wars had broken records in box office receipts, and the film adaptation of Splinter of the Mind's Eye was abandoned in favor of Lucas' vision of a big budget sequel.
The book was later adapted as a graphic novel by Terry Austin and Chris Sprouse and published by Dark Horse Comics in 1996. It incorporated characters from The Empire Strikes Back who did not appear in the original novel.
- Splinter of the Mind's Eye, First Ed, Paperback, 1978. Alan Dean Foster, ISBN 0-345-32023-9
- Splinter of the Mind's Eye, First Ed, Hardback, 1978. Alan Dean Foster, ISBN 0-345-27566-7
- Splinter of the Mind's Eye, Book Club Ed, Hardback, 1978. Alan Dean Foster, Book Club # 2597