Splinter of the Mind's Eye
|Author||Alan Dean Foster|
|Publisher||Del Rey Books|
April 1, 1978
|Media type||Print (Hardcover & Paperback)|
|Preceded by||From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker (1976)|
|Followed by||Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)|
Splinter of the Mind's Eye is a science-fiction novel written by Alan Dean Foster as a sequel to the film Star Wars (1977). Originally published in 1978 by Del Rey, a division of Ballantine Books, the book was written with the intention of being adapted as a low-budget sequel to Star Wars in the event that the original film was not successful enough to spawn the franchise it would ultimately go on to produce.
Splinter of the Mind's Eye was the first full-length Star Wars novel with an original storyline to be published after the release of the original film, and is thus considered, alongside Marvel's initial comic series, to mark the beginning of the Star Wars Expanded Universe.
Luke and Leia are traveling with R2D2 and C3PO to a planet known as 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. They begin 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 which was the cause of their crash.
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.
A minor squabble between Luke and Leia attracts the attention of local miners emerging from the pub. The miners claim that fighting in public is against Imperial law, 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, who discovers and confiscates the crystal shard along with Luke's weapons. Luke and Leia are placed in a maximum security cell with two drunk but friendly Yuzzem, hairy aboriginal creatures called Hin and Kee. Grammel reports the incident and gives 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 and the droids 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 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 well, down which the Wandrella falls, leaving the two trapped as it destroys their escape path. From the lip of the well, Halla suggests that there must be an escape route underground, at the end of which Hall and the others will rejoin them. Luke and Leia's underground journey 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, who have captured Halla, the droids, and the Yuzzem. To save his friends, Luke defeats the Coway's champion fighter and thus befriends the entire tribe. At a tribal banquet, Luke senses Vader and Coway patrols confirm his feeling: Imperials, led by Darth Vader and Captain-Supervisor Grammel, are approaching 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 lightsaber. 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.
The Kaiburr concept originated in the early drafts of the original Star Wars film, where it featured as a MacGuffin the Jedi needed to retrieve from the Sith. It was also the antecedent of the Kyber crystal which was canonized as the power crystal used in both lightsabers and the Death Star.
While not featured in the book, Han Solo is alluded to by Luke as "a pirate and a smuggler" whom he knows.
In 1976, Alan Dean Foster was contracted to ghostwrite a novelization of Star Wars. Foster was given some drafts of the script, rough footage and production paintings for use as source material in fleshing out the novel.
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. Han Solo and Chewbacca were also left out as Harrison Ford had not signed a contract to film any of the sequels at the time of the novel contract. 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.
An additional sequel novel was planned, but by the time Splinter was published, Star Wars had broken box office records. The film adaptation of Splinter of the Mind's Eye was abandoned in favor of Lucas's vision of a big-budget sequel. Nevertheless, riding on the success of the film in its first year of release, the book became a bestseller.
The book was reprinted in 1994 as Classic Star Wars: Splinter of the Mind's Eye, and retroactively placed 2 years after the original film, or one year before The Empire Strikes Back.
The AP listed Splinter of the Mind's Eye as one of the most essential works of the Star Wars Expanded Universe.
Comic book adaptation
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.
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