The Courtship of Princess Leia is a 1994 bestselling Star Wars novel by Dave Wolverton, published by Bantam Spectra. It continued the streak of New York Times Bestsellers that started with Heir to the Empire, placing number seven on the list for the weeks of April 24 and May 1, 1994. The Courtship of Princess Leia deals with the downfall of Warlord Zsinj and the circumstances leading to the marriage of Han Solo and Leia Organa. Narration for the audio version was performed by Anthony Heald.
- ISBN 0553089285; Bantam Spectra, April 1994, 327-page hardcover
- ISBN 0553471937; Bantam Audio, April 1994, Abridged cassette
- ISBN 0553745301; Bantam Audio, April 1994, Cassette
- ISBN 0553569376; Bantam Spectra, May 1995, 374-page paperback
- ISBN 0606081992; Demco Media, May 1995, Turtleback
- ISBN 0739316605; Random House Audio, October 2004, Cassette
George Lucas brought us the blockbuster Star Wars® film trilogy. Then some of science fiction's best writers® expanded the adventure in their bestselling Star Wars novels. Now the tradition continues with the culmination of a love story that spans a war-torn galaxy….
Though Darth Vader and the Emperor are dead, the Empire lives on and a weakened Alliance must find powerful new help if it is to survive. The answer could lie in the Hapes consortium, a cluster of sixty-three high-tech worlds. There is only one catch: Princess Leia must marry the Queen Mother's son, the dashing and wealthy Prince Isolder.
Han Solo reacts badly to the news. Tricking Leia, he flees with her to the beautiful but untamed planet of Dathomir, where he hopes to change her mind - and win her heart. Meanwhile, Luke Skywalker and Artoo form an unlikely partnership with the jilted prince to track down the runaways. But their mission is only the beginning of an adventure that will lead to the discovery of an awesome treasure, a group of Force-trained "witches," and a showdown with an invincible foe.
Though the Battle of Endor resulted in the destruction of the Emperor and Darth Vader, along with some of the best minds of the Imperial Starfleet, the remnants of the Empire are still a danger. One of the recently-formed New Republic's direst foes is the splinter faction of the former Empire, led by Warlord Zsinj. Zsinj is a cunning strategist whose skills have earned him the allegiance of almost a full third of the entire galaxy. Both the Imperial Remnant and the New Republic have dedicated considerable forces to ending his reign. But Zsinj has possession of one of the few Super Star Destroyers left, and whenever nearly cornered, slipped away to a secret stronghold where the SSD Iron Fist is repaired.
At the opening of the novel, Han Solo, who had been aboard the Mon Remonda continuing the search for this hidden fastness, is wearily returning to the recently captured Coruscant and expecting an end to the long separation from his beloved, Princess Leia, the head of the New Republic. To his great surprise, when his vessel drops out of hyperspace and into the Coruscant system, he encounters a number of fearsome Imperial Star Destroyers, Hapan Battle Dragons, and a Nova-class battle cruiser. Han soon learns that the Hapes Cluster has sent a delegation of some kind to the New Republic to meet with its representative. Upon entering the Imperial Palace, Han enlists the help of C-3PO to translate and comment on the formal diplomatic reception. While observing the reception, Han watches as the Hapes delegation presents Leia with a number of stunning gifts from each world in the Hapes cluster, among them the dozen Star Destroyers Han had seen, a Hapan gun of command, a small plant resembling a bonsai which promotes longevity and intelligence and, most shockingly of all, the hand of Prince Isolder, the son of Ta'a Chume (the current ruler of the Hapes cluster), in marriage.
When Leia nearly accepts this startling proposal, Han is driven into a frenzy of fear and jealousy. Guided by his desperation, Han wanders into a dive of a cantina in the lower reaches of Coruscant, where he participates in a high-stakes sabacc game. During the game, one of Han's opponents runs out of liquid financial instruments and instead proffers real estate in the form of a deed to an entire habitable planet, Dathomir. Thinking he has found a gift which would prove his worthiness to Leia and compare favorably with the gifts of Isolder (providing a place to resettle the expatriates of Alderaan to boot), he immediately rushes to her side to present his winnings. When Leia examines his gift and points out playfully that he has been conned (since Dathomir is in the section of the galaxy controlled by Zsinj), Han is devastated. To add insult to injury, Isolder denigrates the Falcon and offers Han a Nova battle cruiser if he abandons his quest to win Leia's heart. This last slight is enough to drive Han over the edge; he abducts Leia using the Gun of Command, and flees with her and Chewbacca, aboard his recently refitted Millennium Falcon, to Dathomir.
Upon discovering the abduction, Prince Isolder pursues Han with his Hapan Battle Dragon and arrives at Dathomir shortly after Solo despite his head start. Isolder was able to track Han with the assistance of the Jedi Master Luke Skywalker who had returned from his mission to Toola having found only a despoiled Jedi archive. Luke aided Isolder by using his Force powers to navigate a shorter (but still safe) path through hyperspace, shaving time off other conventional routes. Arriving on Dathomir, Luke and Isolder discover that Zsinj had truly laid claim to Dathomir by establishing in the planet's orbit the Iron Fist, a number of other capital ships, and the complete orbital shipyard Han had hunted for so long.
By this time, the Millennium Falcon has been forced to land on Dathomir itself, where it is captured by the Imperial garrison Zsinj had marooned on the surface years ago. Isolder immediately sets out in his Miy'til starfighter accompanied by Luke's X-wing while the Hapan fleet provide cover fire before leaving to inform the New Republic, Imperial Remnant, and the Hapes Consortium of the whereabouts of Zsinj (which had long been unknown).
On the surface, Isolder and Luke discover the remnants of the star-borne Jedi training academy, the Chu'unthor. Luke remembers having seen recordings of Yoda and a number of other Jedi knights failing to retrieve the library of the Chu'unthor due to interference by the Witches of Dathomir. Despite their intentions, the best the other Jedi had been able to do was seal the vessel thoroughly; so thoroughly that only centuries later the first intruder would need a lightsaber to break in. While attempting to gain access to the ship Luke is captured by a Dathomiri witch. Luke and Isolder, who was also captured only moments earlier, are taken back to her village.
Meanwhile, Zsinj, who has also learned about Han Solo's presence on the planet, offers both an ultimatum and exchange to the head of the Nightsisters, Gethzerion. If the sisters will release Han to him to torture and execute as he likes, he will reward them with a Imperial shuttle to leave the planet. If they do not comply, however, he will keep his "Nightcloak" (an interconnected network of geostationary satellites, which reflect all solar emissions back into space) intact, which will slowly freeze Dathomir until no life can continue to survive.
Han and Leia soon infiltrate the Imperial garrison and steal the Falcon, piloting it out into the ongoing Battle of Dathomir. Han purposely allows the Iron Fist to acquire the Falcon with a tractor beam; once he is within the deflector shields, he breaks free of the beam lock and pilots his ship over the superstructure of the gigantic vessel. Once on the main bridge, he launches two concussion missiles which destroy the bridge, kill Zsinj, and knock out the ventral shields. With Iron Fist now completely exposed, the Hapan Battle Dragons move into position with their ion cannons, and disable the station. In the face of this catastrophic defeat, Zsinj's empire soon crumbles.
Shortly thereafter, Solo and Leia marry, having realized during their intrepid journey together that they do indeed love each other. Isolder also gets his happy ending as it is revealed that he has fallen in love with his captor, Teneniel Djo, and asks her to marry him.
Behind the scenesEdit
The Courtship of Princess Leia continued the streak of New York Times bestselling Star Wars novels, which started with Heir to the Empire. Dave Wolverton had signed on to do a Star Wars novel trilogy, but it has been speculated that the deal fell through and the proposed trilogy was compressed into this novel.
This novel had two main covers. The reason for the second cover is that sales were not as high as expected. It was thought this may have been due to a misconception that it was a romance novel, rather than action. On this basis, a more action-oriented cover was made for the paperback release. The image of Han Solo on the cover is also an image of Rick Deckard from a Chris Achilleos poster concept for the movie Blade Runner, in which Harrison Ford starred.
The descriptions of the old Jedi Order from the early chapters contain several pieces of information that fit almost perfectly with the later depictions of the Order from the prequel trilogy, namely; the Jedi are led by a high master based on Coruscant, which would mesh with the later concepts of the Grand Master and Jedi Temple. Other than Redemption, most other pre-The Phantom Menace depictions of the old Jedi Order made them largely decentralized and based on such outlying worlds as Dantooine and Ossus. The Jedi headquarters on Coruscant contains the high master's throne room and an archive with a Jedi Master assigned to oversee it, which would mesh with the High Council Chamber, Jedi Archives, and Jedi archivist. In the "final hours" of the Galactic Republic, the Jedi headquarters on Coruscant was attacked by "invading Imperials" with only a few Jedi managing to escape, which would equate with Order 66 and Operation: Knightfall, as well as almost perfect timing concerning the Declaration of a New Order.
The Millennium Falcon seems more heavily armed than normal in this book, as it is referenced using weapons not normally attributed to it. For example, the Falcon fires ion cannons and proton torpedoes multiple times in addition to the normal quad laser cannons and concussion missile launchers. Luke's lightsaber is described as blue in this book, even though he lost his blue saber in The Empire Strikes Back. Han and Leia said their famous "I love you/I know" lines in this book, which are used in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.
This book makes a reference to the Jedi Padawans being trained by ship, despite the fact that they were actually trained at the Jedi Temple. It is most likely that Luke just didn't know this. Luke comments that sixteen was an age to young too be trained as a Jedi, despite the fact that it was later established that sixteen was too old. However, since Emperor Palpatine destroyed most records of the Jedi, it would have been impossible for Luke to know this.
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This is a gallery of the different cover variations of The Courtship of Princess Leia.