Star Wars: The Courtship of Princess Leia (1994) – Dave Wolverton

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…

Set four years after the events of The Return of the Jedi, this story just never sat well with me. I picked up a lot of the original Expanded Universe novels as they came out, and I can remember bits and pieces of them, and consequently delight in exploring them anew so many years later, but Wolverton’s The Courtship of Princess Leia… I didn’t remember anything about it.

I wasn’t sure if that was a good sign going into it again or not.

It wasn’t.

I know people want to hear how Han and Leia eventually got married, but I don’t think this story does it justice, because neither Han Solo, nor Princess Leia seem to be behaving in character at the opening of the book, it’s all about getting them in a place where you don’t think they’re going to be together, with the introduction of the genetically perfect Prince Isolder as a new suitor, that is supposed to drive Solo to literally kidnapping the Princess so that he can convince her that she does love him.

That not only doesn’t sound in character, it’s also really creepy, and stalkery, no matter what galaxy it plays out in.

It’s all set up, however, to get them into action and remind one another of how much they really do one another. They travel to the planet of Dathomir, which is a cool entry in the Expanded Universe, as well as the new canon. Apparently Dathomir is within the territory of an Imperial warlord, Zsinj, as the power struggle for the remains of the Empire continue.

So they, along with See-Threepio and Chewbacca, have to sneak into the territory, which involves a crash landing of the Millennium Falcon on Dathomir, leading to encounters with the Nightsisters who know the Force, but use it and treat it as a form of magic, something that has carried over to the new canon as well.

They are pursued by the Imperials as well as Isolder, who is determined to best Solo for her affections, who is aided in his pursuit by Luke Skywalker and Artoo-Detoo. It’s an odd pairing, but Luke then demonstrates to Isolder a true way to behave, and treat others, as opposed to the way, he as royalty, has treated everyone since the day he was born,

Luke, Isolder and R2 are captured, but that’s okay, as it allows for the set-up of a happy ending for Isolder (as we know Han and Leia end up together). Our heroes take on the Imperials, and as the battle of Dathomir rages, with giant rancors and all, Han and Leia realise they really do care for one another, and the book ends, surprise, with their wedding. Which we knew was going to happen anyway.

Despite the location, and the introduction of the nightsisters, nothing in this book swept me up like the other novels that had be written to date, and added to my book shelf. I had to have it for the collection, and read it (and man that Drew Struzan cover art!), but nothing about it stood out, and I found myself, instead, anticipating the next volume of Kevin J. Anderson’s Jedi Academy trilogy, Dark Apprentice, which will be my next adventure when I return to that galaxy far, far away.

May the Force be with you…

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