I have embarked on a quest to read through the Star Wars Expanded Universe once more. After reading Darth Plagueis (click title for link to review), I decided to take it back to the beginning–that is, where I began reading Star Wars books. That means I will now review The Courtship of Princess Leia, the book that got me started in the Star Wars Expanded Universe and a quest that has continued for 20 years (and continuing).
The Courtship of Princess Leia centers around, surprisingly enough, Princess Leia and a Hapan Prince, Isolder and the marriage proposal between them. Han Solo is less than impressed by Isolder and decides to have his own go at convincing Leia to marry him. I’ll not summarize the whole plot, as you can instead find a summary here.
The book has a number of awesome things in it, like reading about Han Solo talking to C-3PO about how to win women and watching his pursuit of Leia. Leia also shines as she continues to overthrow any notion that women have to be submissive and quiet. The introduction of the Hapans was intriguing and leads me to want to read more about them. Having the side plot of Luke Skywalker trying to restart the Jedi Academy was also great.
There are also some flaws. First, the Force seems way more like magic than like the Force does in either the movies or later books (from my memory). In one scene, Luke goes into a Force trance instantly, falls out of his X-Wing, and then uses the Force to basically fly as he slows his fall to the ground and lands. I don’t remember the Force granting some of these abilities later. He also uses the Force to seamlessly translate what anyone is saying. I don’t know, maybe I’m forgetting something but it seems like they nerfed the Force later.
Second, the droids in the book seem to be fully realized persons rather than acting like droids! C-3PO in particular is given a whole mental life, something that I recall being largely absent later. It feels a bit forced in many places, to be honest.
The whole plot with the Witches of Dathomir has its ups and downs, but Wolverton did a great job introducing a fully realized world and society for exploration, something that is not an easy task. The book just has a great Star Wars feel despite the negatives I mentioned above.
The Courtship of Princess Leia is by no means perfect, but it remains a great entry point for those looking to read through the Expanded Universe and it remains on my list of favorites. Is some of that nostalgia talking? Of course. But isn’t nostalgia part of the reason we all love Star Wars anyway?
-Han Solo kidnapping Princess Leia to convince her she should marry him is a perfect scenario
-Han Solo’s gambling and smuggling ways
-Did I mention Han Solo?
-Dathomir a fully-developed world with a great feel of exploration
-Introduces the Hapans, who rock
-The Force is apparently a set of superpowers (a concept nerfed later in the EU, thankfully)
-C-3PO and R2-D2 are given far more capacity for personality and thought than seems likely for droids even elsewhere in the Star Wars universe
-Chewie growling “in terror” a lot seems quite out of character
Best Droid Moment
C-3PO composing a song dedicated to how awesome Han Solo is. I can’t believe I didn’t remember that epic scene.
Grade: A- “Solid characterization with the kind of adventure we expect from Star Wars.”
The Courtship of Princess Leia is a solid entry and a good starting point for Star Wars fans interested in reading the EU. I would highly recommend a read-through for Star Wars fans. Please let me know if you have any ideas for categories I should include in these reviews going forward.
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