Title: Lando Calrissian and the Mindharp of Sharu
Author: L. Neil Smith
Interestingly, Lando is one character who's more fun in the novelizations than he is in the movies. As readers, we are privy to his internal dialogue laced with gambling metaphors. In Lando Calrissian and the Mindtrap of Sharu, first released in 1983, I was hoping for more of the same. I was also hoping for a bit of an origin story for the character.
The tale is set several years before Lando's appearance in The Empire Strikes Back. He has just recently won the Millenium Falcon in a game of sabacc (Star Wars invention, more on that in a bit). Through a rather contrived series of events, our friend is manipulated into going on a treasure hunt for the mindharp mentioned in the title.
The story didn't do much to broaden the Lando concept. It feels more like Smith already had an idea for the story and dropped the character into it to boost sales. There are Star Warsy elements like the Falcon and a droid sidekick plus a splash of Indiana Jones with the search for an ancient relic. The tale does have other things going for it: play with scale, teleportation and the hidden strengths of a seemingly primitive culture. It's just not much of a Lando story.
The one point of lasting curiosity for me is sabacc, a game invented for this novel which has had staying power within the Expanded Universe. The deck involves cards which occasionally change faces. Fans have compiled official rules over the years and there's now even a phone app you can download - naturally, I had to give it a go. Can't say I understand the game much at all but it's fun to explore. At one point, Lando does a tarot reading with the deck which is also fun.
Please join us and share your own review of your best read from the past month. This month's link list is below. I'll keep it open until the end of the day. I'll post November's tomorrow. Meetings are the last Friday of each month. Next gathering is November 25th.