Lando Calrissian and the Mindharp of Sharu (1983) – L. Neil Smith

This week’s trip to a galaxy far, far away was the first Star Wars adventure released post-Return of the Jedi. The gambling scoundrel, Lando Calrissian is the hero of the tale, and it’s fun to dive into a story to see how his character has changed and developed over the years.

Set a short time after Lando has laid claim to the Millennium Falcon, and a few years before the Battle of Yavin, the gambler turned would-be pace pilot finds himself caught up in a treasure hunt, one he has been blackmailed into.

This version of Lando is very familiar, he loves his gambling, and the finer things in life, and it’s rather interesting that he’s not quite as good a pilot as I thought he would be. In fact, throughout the book he toys with the idea of selling off the Falcon and find a luxury liner to travel on.

You know, when he’s not being rousted by corrupt constabulary-cum-thugs or being baited into the pursuit of a powerful and ancient treasure, the mindharp of Sharu.

The tale, now a Star Wars: Legend as opposed to a part of the new canon Expanded Universe, though just a few changes to it could make it a current part of the new canon.

Lando also isn’t too keen on violence, using it as a last resort, but ready to roll it out when it becomes necessary. He’s accompanied on this mission by a strange little droid, and his steps are hunted by the corrupt law of the system, as well as the religious order that is devoted to the mindharp, and a prophecy surrounding it.

The story moves along at a good clip, and is in fact a little shorter than I would have liked, much like the original Han Solo adventures by Brian Daley. You start to settle into the universe and the story and it’s over.

This was my first time reading this one, and I rather enjoyed it. Lando, as a character, has grown on me a lot over the years. When I was a kid, first introduced to the Star Wars, if you weren’t Han Solo, I didn’t care about the character a great deal. So when I came across this book in my school library, I would look at it, but could never bring myself to read it. It wasn’t a Han Solo story.

Consequently, I feel I have done the character, Star Wars, and the author an injustice. If I had read them when I was younger, it would have kept the literary world of Star Wars alive for me a little while longer (1991 was a long ways away (1999 even further), especially when one is eleven turning twelve in 1983 – not to mention that there was no hint of more to come).

In terms of in universe continuity, Lando refers to coffeine, which is a little to close to our reality, in fact a number of words and phrases Smith uses don’t seem appropriate for the Star Wars universe and are in fact, more at home on Earth. I believe, in future Star Wars novels it becomes caf.

Now, I’ve read it, enjoyed it, and delight in the fact that there are two more to get through before things really launch for the original Expanded Universe. I’ll be tackling them soon, but until then, may the Force be with you…

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