Lando Calrissian and the Mindharp of Sharu
by L. Neil Smith
Published by Ballantine / Del Rey
Scott's Rating: 2 out of 4
Darin's Rating: 1.5 out of 4
Lando Calrissian, the present owner of the Millenium Falcon, wins a droid from an archeologist in a Sabbac card game. Only problem is that the droid is on a nearby planet. When he goes to pick it up, he is jumped by the local cops. Their bosses, the local governor and an evil sorcerer, say the only way Lando can escape the chrages is to hunt down a lost treasure for them...the Mindharp of the Sharu. Now the Sharu are an ancient race that built huge structures the locals now live around. Nobody knows why they are there, but they have a strange connection to the human, mindless Thoka slaves that inhabit the planet and harvest the life-crystals that grow there. So Lando and the droid, Vuffi Raa, start their adventure to find the Mindharp.
This is the first book in the Lando Calrissian Adventures and takes place before Han wins the Falcon from Lando.
It is cool to see a story about Lando Calrissian in his early years. I really liked the scenes where they showed him playing the Sabacc cardgame. I also liked to see the Mynocks some more from the ESB film. It was good to see what the Millenium Falcon looked like before Han and Chewie got their hands on it. Finally, it was good to see L. Neil Smith add some humor to the story. A lot of Star Wars books are short on that these days.
This series has some of the best information on Sabacc of any of the novels (and is I think, where the game was coined--by the way, can you coin a game?) It was also nice not to be running from Darth Vader and his baddies, but from the locals instead. L. Neil Smith tried real hard to make it humorous, but only succeeded in places. It was really nice to see some discussion of droid society, though. That is something that has been totally missing from most writings.
I felt that L. Neil Smith totally missed the spirit and feel of Star Wars. I felt that he used TOO much humor (which may seem odd to say in light of my previous comments!). Every other page has a joke or a bad pun on it. Some of the jokes are done over and over and over again. (Ex. "Don't call me Master!") It gets old. Also, L. Neil Smith has a hard time separating the SW Universe from our world. Examples include mention of a planet that is inhabited by dinosaurs, Lando smokes a cigarette, there is discussion of Moebius strips, etc. All these seem to familiar to us to be part of Star Wars. When he tries to distance the two, it almost becomes a mockery of Star Wars. Lando drinks coffeine (coffee/caffiene, get it?), a bar has mounted fur-bearing trout and jackalopes, Lando wears satyn clothes, etc, etc. These are not only unimaginative, but cheesy. There's also a bar that is a heck of a lot like a western saloon. Too much like one.
Also, Lando is not very much in character. In this book, he doesn't know how to fly the Falcon. A droid does it for him. But in ROTJ, he flew in and out of an exploding Death Star. When did he learn to fly so good? It's not that much time between the books and the film! Lando also makes a lot of jokes and bad puns in the book. Did he do that in the films? I don't remember it. Also in the books, every time somebody burns him, he walks right back up to them and says "Why did you do that to me?" In the films he got mad and he got even, even up against Darth Vader. Lando wasn't much of a smooth ladies man in the book like he was in the film. (I must admit, though, he never encountered a woman in the story).
Finally, the whole plot wasn't terribly exciting. It's OK if you have nothing better to read, but it felt pointless to me.
Ok folks, now we know. It wasn't the Falcon that saved Lando's butt so much before Han got her, but Vuffi Ra, a class 3 droid. Lando is a weenie in this book, something that isn't apparent in the movies. In this way Scott is exactly right, L. Neil Smith totally lost the feel of Star Wars. I read these when they first came out as a little boy, they didn't really hold my interest then. Much less now.
There's a Sharu pyramid in the book that is lop-sided, five sided, and turquoise, mauve, lavendar, orange, etc, etc. Ugh. Pretty ugly. More like it should be parked out front of the Louvre in Paris than in a Galaxy Far far Away! Pretty ugly!
Ooops! Darin foget to say what's ugly.