Sunday, September 25, 2016

Book Review: Lando Calrissian and the Mindharp of Sharu

Book Review: 'Lando Calrissian and the Mindharp of Sharu' by L. Neil Smith

0 / 5 Stars

'Lando Calrissian and the Mindharp of Sharu' (182 pp) was published by Ballantine Books in July, 1983. The cover artwork is by William Schmidt.

Lester Neil Smith (b. 1946) wrote three Lando Calrissian adventures for Ballantine; 'Mindharp' is the first of the trilogy, the other two being 'Lando Calrissian and the Flamewind of Oseon' (1983) and 'Lando Calrissian and the Starcave of ThonBoka' (1983).

[According to PorPor Blog reader Edo Bosnar, 'Mindharp' is set prior to the film Star Wars IV: A New Hope, as Lando is in possession of the MiIlenium Falcon and using it to travel around various star systems in search of gambling venues, and easy money.]

When Lando hears rumors of The Treasure of Rafa - a priceless artifact located (logically enough) in the Rafa system, he decides to investigate. Unfortunately for our hero, he falls afoul of two reprobates on Rafa IV: Duttes Mir and Rokur Gepta. They make Lando an offer he can't refuse......... travel to Rafa V and retrieve the artifact: the Mindharp of Sharu.

The Mindharp is a musical instrument left behind by the Sharu, a humanoid race of considerable technological advancement, who mysteriously vanished thousands of years ago. If Lando can find it and bring it back to Duttes Mir and Rokur Gepta, he will be a wealthy man - or so they tell him.

He'll also be released from prison.

Lando has no choice but to agree to find the Mindharp. Accompanied by an eccentric old man named Moh, and a droid with the cutesy name of Vuffi Ra, Lando makes for Raffa V. 

But finding the Harp won't be easy: lurking at Raffa V are hostile tribesmen, crystal trees that leech away one's mind, and the knowledge that Duttes Mir and Rokur Gepta are the kind of men who rarely keep their bargains...........

While I always have reduced expectations when reading a Franchise novel, 'Lando Calrissian and the Mindharp of Sharu' was a chore to finish. I kept plugging away, chapter after chapter, hoping that at some point the story would get better. But it never did.

L. Neil Smith wrote a number of sf novels during the 80s, which I have not read. Whether those novels are well-written or not is unclear. But with 'Mindharp', he was simply writing to pay the bills. His prose style throughout 'Mindharp' displays a deliberately campy style that gives the entire endeavor a hokey, facetious attitude.

Here's a sample of the book's dialogue:

Lando slammed a palm on the armrest of his chair: "Well, I'll be double-dyed, hornswoggled, and trussed up like a holiday fowl ! We were set up, Vuffi Ra ! Gepta must have had his convict spies watching the port for months - possibly years - to find a sucker with the right qualifications: gambler, spaceship-captain, with an unenameled droid and a weak mind. That's why neither a creepy old Tund magician nor that ugly neckless governor of his could play this hand themselves: they don't fit the Toka legend !"

The entire book is filled with this's painful to read. 

Even die-hard Star Wars fans are urged to pass on this dud !

1 comment:

Edo Bosnar said...

I vaguely remember this one, buying it when it was released because I was very big into Star Wars back then. Don't remember much of it, but I do recall that it was a chore to read, as you noted. (To be honest, I also found the three Han Solo novels that preceded it - by Brian Daley I think - similarly uninteresting.)
You've obviously read this book more recently, but one thing that puzzles me is that I was under the impression that it was set before the events of the original Star Wars movies, i.e., before Lando had even lost the Millennium Falcon to Han in a card game.