A slight but quite agreeable YA fantasy: a trade paperback to receive mass-market distribution in conjunction with the forthcoming movie. In a secluded valley on planet Thra dwells Jen, last of the elf-like Gelflings, among the huge, shaggy, shambling, knowledgeable, benevolent urRu, his guardians. Dying tutor urSu charges Jen with finding and restoring the vanished shard that has been broken from the giant Crystal standing in the filthy, labyrinthine castle that belongs to the hissing, spiteful, lumbering, quarrel-some, dimwitted Skeksis (mirror images of the placidly noble urRu). The damaged Crystal, you see, yields the dark power by which the Skeksis maintain their evil realm: restoring the shard to the Crystal will transform the evil into good. And Jen does receive the shard from its keeper, Aughra, who resembles a hairy, female Yoda, has a detachable eye, and operates an orrery . . . but soon they're attacked by the robot-lobster-like Garthim, monstrous minions of the Skeksis. So, fleeing, Jen stumbles upon Gelfling-girl Kira (raised secretly among the Pod People, source of slaves and energy for the Skeksis). And finally, trailed by the Skeksis' bird-bat spies, they learn of a prophecy that only a Gelfling can restore the Crystal and banish the evil: together, they head for the castle and a tumultuous showdown. A superficial but flavorsome plot, then, with an amusing array of creatures (ripe for Muppetry) and lots of sprightly derring-do. As movie novelizations go: not too bad at all.