17 September 2012

New Republic Week: Star Wars: Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor by Matthew Stover

Mass market paperback, 379 pages
Published 2010 (originally 2008)
Previously read January 2009

Acquired June 2010
Reread June 2012
Star Wars: Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor
by Matthew Stover

So, having three books (this one, The Courtship of Princess Leia, and The Thrawn Trilogy) on my to-be-read list that all took place in the years following Return of the Jedi, I decided to read all three in a row, plugging in some old books I had to fill the gaps (X-Wing: Solo Command and Tatooine Ghost). This one was first, and like almost all the books on that list, it was actually a reread; I borrowed the book from the library in hardcover before I bought the paperback.

Last time I read it, I thought that The Shadows of Mindor was one of the best Star Wars books ever published; now I know it to be true. This book has everything a Star Wars fan should want: tense battles, cool Force powers, witty banter, Lando Calrissian. All the heroes of the classic trilogy are here, down to Wedge, and they all get together and do their thing with no infighting or despair or whatnot; they're just heroes in the most idealistic sense of the word. Seriously, this book is just a delight to read from start to finish, and if you only ever read one Star Wars novel, this one ought to be it.

That said, if you read many Star Wars novels... and comics... and sourcebooks... and technical guides, The Shadows of Mindor is a different sort of achievement. The whole book is built out of a passing reference in The Courtship of Princess Leia to Han and Leia having a picnic on Mindor surrounded by dead stormtroopers, and over the years, various Expanded Universe releases added tiny tidbits to the Battle of Mindor. What makes The Shadows of Mindor impressive is that you can read it and not know this: the continuity, despite its sheer bulk, still exists to serve the story and not the other way around. Every little reference is accounted for in some way. After suffering through Darth Plagueis, I actually kinda needed a reminder that continuity can indeed be a force for good.

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