Well, i'm finally back. I just finished re-reading Shadows of Mindor the other say, and I have to day it's still one of the best portrayals of Luke in my opinion. As a novel that's set earlier in his life, it's interesting to see how a lot of groundwork is laid for the character's later exploits and personality. I love the entire journey he goes throughout the novel, first starting with him facing extreme doubt about his role in life and the path should take. It's set only about a year after Truce at Bakura, so while I would've enjoyed it I like that Luke's not necessarily at his prime/peak yet here. You don't see him making some of the massive displays of Force Power he will in later years, and at the same time along with that doubt I mentioned earlier there's a feeling that a lot of what he's doing is instinct, highlighting just how rushed his training was. Each of his confrontations with Cronal play out just as you'd expect. He's an old, frail man to be sure, but then so was Palpatine. Cronal has decades more experience than SoM Luke, who's really nothing more than a greenhorn at this point. In both knowledge and experience he doesn't have a chance of matching Cronal, and he doesn't try. However, while he's overwhelmed by Cronal's power at first, he's able to draw back on simple truths that he's learned over his own life, and his own core beliefs, to counter it. He doesn't attain victory by outmatching Cronal in power, but by overcoming the darkness with the light, and the novel perfectly threads this kind of theme throughout. I cited Truce at Bakura earlier not only because it took place not long before this novel, but because Luke comes to key realizations in both novels that again shape his future self into the Grandmaster we see in YJK, NJO, and Post NJO. In TaB, he realizes that the Dark Side can't just be denied once and then never felt again. It must be faced each and every day of one's life. In SoM, he realizes the strength of the darkness (Or comes across a different aspect of it), gains a greater understanding of the universe and himself, and discovers more of his place in the Force. He faces the darkness, fears it, learns about it, and comes to accept it, and is in the end able to stare straight at it without flinching, overcoming his fear. This undoubtedly leads to this wonderful exchange at the end of the novel: Kar Vastor: I have known Jedi. Many, many years ago. That knowing was not a gladness for me. I believed I would never know another, and I rejoiced in that belief. But it is a gladness for me to be proven wrong. I am happy to have known you, Jedi Luke Skywalker. You are more than they were. Luke: That's...I mean thanks, but I barely known anything. Kar Vastor: So you believe. But I say to you: you are greater than the Jedi of former days. Luke: What makes you say that? Kar Vastor: Because unlike the Knights of old, Jedi Luke Skywalker...You are not afraid of the dark. Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor, pg 356-357 It's really one of the main purposes of the novel, to show more of Luke's growth as a Jedi, and I think it surely succeeds in doing so. Most importantly, his growth isn't really one of power. It's one of knowledge and wisdom (Which of course is power) and I like that the difference between him and the prequel era Jedi is noted so strongly here at the end of things. Throughout the first part of the novel it's noted that no longer has a sense of certainty from the Force. He usually just knows what he should do, but at the start of the novel he doesn't (Strictly as it related to whether or not he should accept the promotion to General) ,and he isn't hearing from Ben as often anymore, making this something of a coming of age story for Luke. (And actually a little similar to Jacen's journey in Traitor) Stripped of all sense of certainty and guidance from his mentor, he's left alone to confront the darkness, and he overcomes it, and in doing so manages to surpass the Jedi of the past. Very good novel.