The Courtship of Princess Leia by Dave Wolverton Audiobook Review

My binge of Star Wars ‘Legends’ Audiobooks took a turn away from the X-Wing series for a moment, after tearing through the first four books of the series I opted to take a break from the rip-roaring fast pace of Star Fighter Pilots. In doing that I have also made the decision to listen/read all of the early EU novels from 1991 – 1999.

Of course I recently reviewed Timothy Zahn’s ‘Empire’ Trilogy and last year reviewed ‘Shadows of the Empire, so I’ll cross those off my list. After finding out that ‘Star Wars: Truce at Bakura’ isn’t available on Audible (WTF??) I went for another book I had missed out on in those early years of my fandom, ‘The Courtship of Princess Leia’.

Returning to Coruscant from the hunt for Imperial Warlord Zsinj, Han Solo on the Mon Remonda is shocked to find a legion of Hapan Battle Dragon ships orbiting the planet. It turns out that the Hapes Consortium has arrived to bestow gifts on Princess Leia in a ceremony, where she is given jewels, a mind control weapon called ‘The Gun of Command’ and the most extravagant gift, the Queen Mother has sent her son, Isolder, to propose to Leia so she may take the Hapan Throne one day.

Angry, Han Solo tries his best to convince Leia otherwise, and after a couple of heated encounters between Isolder and Han, the former smuggler plays some high stakes sabacc games where he wins the planet Dathomir, intending to give it to Leia as a new home for the Alderaanian refugees still searching for a place to call their own.

When Leia hints that she may take Isolder up on the proposal, Han gets desperate and uses the ‘Gun of Command’ to get Leia to the Falcon. When she comes to her senses she realises she has been kidnapped but the Falcon is on its way and Han has locked the controls so only he can change course. He asks Leia to give him one week, if she doesn’t fall in love with him all over again he will leave.

Once at Dathomir, they find that Zsinj’s forces are above the planet, and after some not-quite-great piloting the Falcon lands in Imperial territory. They hide the Falcon but are captured by Imperial forces before being freed to a clan of Force Witches who follow (as much as possible) the Light Side and they find out that The Nightsisters, a clan of Dark Side Force Witches has taken control of the Imperial facilities on the planet.

Isolder, with the help of Lukeand R2 arrive on Dathomir to track Leia, Han and the others. On the planet that locate an old Jedi Starship which was a travelling Jedi Academy. They are attacked and captured by Teneniel Djo, a Light Side Witch who claims the two men as her slaves. They make their way back to her clan, on the journey, Luke spurns her romantic advances as she wishes him to mate with her because of his connection to the Force but she develops feelings for Isolder.

Her clan is the same that Han, Leia, Chewie and C-3PO encountered and they learn that Zsinj is collaborating with the leader of The Nightsisters, Gethzerion, Zsinj knows Solo is on the planet, and he wants Gethzerion to capture Han and give him to the Empire, in return he will give the Nightsisters a ship on which the clan can leave Dathomir. If she refuses he will activate a Satellite Chain that will block the sun from the planet and essentially kill all life.

After a battle between the two clans in which Luke is injured and Teneniel Djo uses Dark Side powers and must exile herself for three years, Han hands himself over to Gethzerion, planning to kill as many of the Nightsisters as possible with a suicide bomb.

As the Imperials arrive to take Han and Gethzerion arrives in the hanger, it turns out his bomb was disarmed by a Nightsisters who detected it. The head Witch breaks Han’s leg using the Force and is about to inflict more agony on him when Luke, Leia, the Droids, Chewie, Isolder and Teneniel Djo arrive in the Falcon, they save Han but the Nightsisters escape on a transport. Luke chases the transport but the Imperials in orbit don’t want the Nightsisters to flee into the Galaxy, so after being lured into Luke’s trap they destroy the evil clan.

The Hapan fleet arrives as well, to save Isolder, and they battle the Imperials. Han manages to locate Zsinj and kills the Warlord by getting close enough to his Super Star Destroyer to fire missiles into the control deck.

Free from the Empire and its satellite weapon, the heroes along with the Light Force Witches and the Hapan leadership celebrate. Leia tells Han she wants to marry him, Han gives the planet to the head of the Witch Clan and Isolder announces that he and Teneniel Djo are to be married, much to his mother’s chagrin.

The book ends with Luke arriving late to Han and Leia’s wedding.

It’s strange, reading this novel, learning how Han and Leia ended up getting married in this strange adventure full of Force Magic and Rancor riding Witches, with satellites that block out the sun in a way that would make ‘The Simpson’s’ Mr Burns green with envy. And yet, once this was removed from the Canon, Han and Leia basically elope on Endor. Where Lucasfilm are taking aspects of the old EU and making them Canon, surely the story of Han and Leia’s wedding could have had at least one Rancor. Yes, I do kind of feel short changed here.

But in all seriousness, I did enjoy this audiobook. The story was great Star Wars fun and introduced a concept that George Lucas would one day visit in ‘The Clone Wars’ when he made his version of The Nightsisters (no Rancors though).

The Hapan Consortium is introduced, and they would continue to appear through the EU, especially the daughter of Isolder and Teneniel Djo, Tenel Ka who was one of the Young Jedi Knights from the series of books of the same name.

The book has some interesting Jedi lore, a Jedi Academy Ship, the Chu’unthor had landed on the ship and was sealed against anyone accessing the Jedi secrets within. However, one of the Elder Witches had met Master Yoda when he had tried to reclaim the ship for the Jedi. She met Luke and told him she had once had a vision of him coming to Dathomir and ridding the planet of the Nightsisters, and I return she would give him a box, the box is filled with data cards that contain Jedi teachings from before the Empire, something that Luke would need in rebuilding the Jedi Order.

So far, not my favourite of the EU books, but certainly not the worst I have ever encountered. It’s a fun and well paced adventure and a must read for anyone wanting to jump into the ‘Legends’ timeline.

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