Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor: Star Wars - Matthew Woodring Stover "Only power is real, and the only power is the power to destroy"
Out of the ashes of the Empire and the deaths of Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine, a new warlord has risen--Shadowspawn. He is a fierce menace, so when the opportunity arises for the New Republic to get rid of him, they jump on it and send their best--General Luke Skywalker. But the attack on Mindor quickly gets out of hand, and it is up to Leia, along with Han, Chewie, and Lando, to save their friend.

I Liked:
Matthew Stover is one of my favorite Star Wars authors. His stories are filled with vivid characters, intelligent plots, some of the most thought-provoking discussions I have ever seen in a Star Wars book, and a thorough grasp of the universe in which he writes. And I wasn't disappointed to see that all of that is here. Yes, the writing style feels more similar to Alan Dean Foster and Douglas Adams, but I still found Stover's writing enjoyable, yet thoughtful. When writing particularly as Han or Lando, Stover really infused the serious situations with appropriate humor. Han's humor was slightly different than Lando's, and both had more humor than, say, Luke.
The other aspect I was particularly impressed with was Stover's grasp of original characters. Stover had done, in my opinion, a brilliant job with Anakin, Amidala, and Obi-Wan from the Revenge of the Sith novelization, but there always was a possibility that he might not be able to get the tone and feel of our Big Three. Stover definitely proved himself more than capable of handling them, however. I loved how Luke felt like a wide-eyed boy, thrust into a position that was too much for him. Yeah, he was a commander, but to go from commander to general in so short a time, and after all his Jedi training, I could believe he would be overwhelmed. I was impressed at how well Stover grasped Han's humor and mannerisms. Lando was really nicely done, a good balance of dandy and general. Stover fits in other characters like Chewbacca, C-3PO, and R2-D2 in without making them feel like they are forced into the story (kudos to Stover for writing from the droids' point of views--and very convincingly, I might add). Also, I was really impressed with how Stover wrote the Mandalorians. He definitely gave them the respect that Traviss wrote them with and yet, didn't mind having Han take some jabs at them.
As for original characters, Nick and one other previous Stover creation reappear, both which are awesome (SO glad to see what happens to Nick Rostu after his strange departure from the Coruscant Nights Trilogy). The baddie is really good--I like how he isn't Sith, how he is more about destruction (the title of the review is one of his quotes) than he is about the Force.
Storywise, I was impressed how Stover thought out of the box. In the novels, Luke never gets to go on a military mission--he is always hopping around with Jedi or whatnot. Where is that Rebel Commander we saw in Empire Strikes Back? Well, Stover shows us--and shows us why Luke left the military for good. I also liked how Stover interwove the whole holothriller topic (though technically, wouldn't the holos be some other genre than thrillers? Like dramas and adventures? I mean, "Luke Skywalker and the Jedi's Revenge" sounds more like a drama than a thriller).
The concept of the meltmassifs was weird, almost feeling like Waru from The Crystal Star. However, unlike Waru, I think the meltmassif was the concept done right.

I Didn't Like:
I started this book back in November for my book club. At page 122, I got so frustrated with the writing style, the unclear plot and whatnot, I put the book aside for almost two months. Finally, less than a week ago, I wanted to get it off my nightstand and finish it. The book proved better towards the end, but it is pretty hard to get into and seems to ramble pointlessly. Several times, I had to force myself to keep going, to read as fast as I could to get past the slow parts and find the story buried inside.
The story, while unique, is also pretty confusing. I don't really want to get into any possible spoilers, but I spent so much time staring at the wall, trying to make sense of what was happening. In the end, I had to swallow and flow with it. Not to mention, I thought it was weird including the meltmassifs (which lent an almost Star Trek feel to the story).
Also, continuity-wise, how does what Luke learns here affect his future actions? I mean, given what he learns here, how can he possibly mess up so badly with Gantoris and Kyp in the Jedi Academy trilogy? How does he completely forget the lessons learned here when dealing with the Black Fleet Crisis or Callista or any of the other myriad of adventures he has? How come no one mentions the holodramas/thrillers later on? Wouldn't there be even more of them later?
The characters do quite a bit of beebopping in the story, hopping from the surface of Mindor to ships to caves to anywhere in between. It got confusing to figure out where the characters were at times.
While I liked most of the characters, I wasn't all that fond of Aeona. I mean, she wasn't horrible, but I didn't like how quickly Leia got jealous (actually, I didn't like the "playful, sexually tense" banter between her and Han--how many girlfriends does this smuggler need?). Also, Leia needed to have her own point of view. At least, I think she did.

Dialogue/Sexual Situations/Violence:
Made-up Star Wars expletives.
There is sexual tension between Aeona and Han. Luke protests having Aeona be his love interest in a holothriller.
Lots. Luke gets bit in the neck, vampire style. Lots and lots of people die. A whole system is basically destroyed.

Overall:
"Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor" is a novel of contradictions: it has serious moments, where characters contemplate death and destruction, the purpose of life, and moments where Han is grumbling about the food on the Falcon. I enjoyed the novel, but it also was terribly hard to get through, and I don't think this was Stover's best work. Still, if you are looking for something new and relatively light-hearted in the Galaxy Far, Far Away, you could do far worse than this.