The Adventures of Lando Calrissian: Lando Calrissian and the Mindharp of Sharu

August 23, 2017 at 6:00 pm (Reads) (, , )

sharuThe Adventures of Lando Calrissian: Lando Calrissian and the Mindharp of Sharu by L. Neil Smith

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I originally had this book as part of the most recent omnibus printing, but while browsing a used bookstore, I found all three of these (and the Han Solo Adventures!) in their original edition, and I had to have them. Not only did I remember seeing these books when I was a kid, but I’m also knocked out by that artwork. I mean, check it out! How can you not like that style?

Unfortunately, the same can not be said for the book itself. On the bright side, Aftermath is no longer the worst book I’ve read in the Expanded Universe, but reading this book was a bit of a chore. It’s overwrought, it meanders, and it makes little sense. Plus, for a book that’s supposed to be about Lando Calrissian, it does a terrible job capturing his character. The book opens with him playing a game of Sabacc (which, I should note, was introduced in this book), but then it develops into him being roped into an adventure where he has to find the Mindharp of Sharu, but even now, having just finished the book, I’m not sure I can tell you exactly what that is. Let’s just call it what it is: a McGuffin.

I’m willing to give the book some leeway in how it approaches the EU (it was, after all, only the fifth novel written outside of the movies themselves), but there were parts of it that just didn’t work in the universe. Namely, Smith refers to a lot of things in the universe with our names for them: trombones, air-conditioning, and needlepoint, to name just a few. He does make an effort to come up with new names for a few things (“coffeine” is one I recall), but for the most part, the book feels like it was written outside of Star Wars and then retconned back into place to make it fit his purposes.

Smith also has a penchant for alliteration. Take this example, from page two: “Oseon 2795 was a pocket of purity in a plutocrat’s paradise.” Upon reading it, my first thought was, “Really?”, but later I had to tell myself, “Really.”, because there was a sentence like that in at least every chapter. At one point, he has a character speak the line, with Lando commenting on it, but by then it was just annoying. It felt like Smith was trying too hard.

The plot is just barely there, as are the characters. Lando has a droid sidekick for most of the story, Vuffi Raa, who is actually the most realized character of the entire book. Lando’s a bit puffed up, a bit too self-important, but not in the same way he was in the movies. Smith forgets to include the charm that Billy Dee Williams brought to the character, and like I said above, for a story that’s supposed to tell Lando’s backstory, it sure doesn’t feel like the author captured the character well at all.

I said in the beginning that I was going to read all the EU books, and I still plan on doing so, but I can’t say I’m looking forward to reading the rest of this series. At the very least, I’ll be prepared for them. I guess they can’t get any worse, right?

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