Literature / The Courtship of Princess Leia

The Courtship of Princess Leia is several storylines in one: Leia is engaged to Isolder so that she can get a home planet for Alderaan expatriates. Han wins a planet in a sabacc game. Luke is looking for information on the Jedi. All of this takes them to the Hapes Cluster and to Dathomir.

Written by noted science-fiction/fantasy author Dave Wolverton, it was the first Star Wars Legends novel to feature the future X-Wing Series antagonist Warlord Zsinj, although the way he is portrayed here is substantially different from what fans of that series may be used to.

This book provides examples of:

  • Absurdly High-Stakes Game - Han wins the Planet-Of-The-Novel in a Sabacc game.
  • Abusive Parents: Ta'a Chume had her first son killed because he was too weak to rule properly. She did the same thing to Isolder's first love.
  • All Amazons Want Hercules: Teneniel wanting Luke, who just happens to be the most powerful Jedi ever.
  • Animals Not to Scale: The whuffa worm Han catches is over 800 feet long. The rancors as well.
  • Artistic License – Biology: The origins of the Hapes Consortium - and how! The Hapans' ancestors were a large band of Space Pirates that pillaged nearby shipping lanes, taking the most beautiful females they found on the ships back to their bases, and over time, having only beautiful women giving birth led to the entire Hapan race being extremely beautiful. Put very simply, just because your parents are beautiful, there's no guarantee that you won't have a face for radio.
    • It was never stated that every child born was amazingly attractive. However, those who were not physically appealing didn't do well on Hapes. Survival of the fittest came into play. Family embarrassments were likely stashed away. Hence why Hapans seemed radiant.
    • The Dathomiri probably qualify as well. When you're a placental mammal who only has one or two offspring at a time, polyandry is less stable than polygyny.
      • Unless the male to female ratio is skewed towards males.
  • Cerebus Retcon / Historical Villain Upgrade: The X-Wing Series did this to Zsinj, here presented as a rather one-dimensional Card-Carrying Villain. Aaron Allston, author of the Wraith Squadron books, justified it with Obfuscating Stupidity, and also implied that Zsinj was having a gradual Villainous Breakdown as the New Republic gained the upper hand.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Mother Rell. Justified in that because of her ability to see the past and future and her extremely advanced age (She's over 400 years old), she often gets lost in her own mind.
  • Combined Energy Attack: Inverted. The Combined Energy Attack heals Luke, rather than destroys him.
  • Contemptible Cover: The infamous "Leia-in-a-wedding-dress" cover was switched out for a more conventional, action-oriented one because people thought the book was a romance novel — which it is, in many respects.
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus: a "lost tribe" of Jedi in a book by a Mormon.
  • Deflector Shield: Isolder has a personal one. It's stated to get unbearably hot. He uses it as a Power Fist at one point, which burns the living crap out of thee spy he and Luke were fighting and cuts another one in half when it's thrown at him.
  • Do Androids Dream?: As seen under Nice to the Waiter, Luke can sense droids through the force and thus treats them no different to any other sentient, pointing to "yes".
  • Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male: Lampshaded by Luke.
    • Not rape, but sexual harassment. Han, Luke, and Isolder are all groped while in the village. One particularly lusty witch attempts to drag off Isolder so she can show him where she sleeps.
  • Fan Nickname: Isolder IS Space Fabio!
  • Fix Fic: The X-Wing Series does this for Zsinj and Melvar and the ambiguity of whether the Iron Fist is destroyed or not. It also contains plenty of straightforward continuity nods to Leia's mission to the Hapans.
    • It also, perhaps accidentally, leaves room for Zsinj to have survived. In Courtship, Zsinj is on his bridge talking with Solo over the comm when Solo launches torpedos into the Iron Fist's bridge windows. In the X-Wing Series, we find out that Zsinj liked to hang out in a complete duplicate of his main bridge with all control screens being echoed there so that he could watch over his subordinates shoulders without their knowledge. He also uses it as a stage for acting out his decadent leader persona for visitors without impairing the proper crew from running the ship. If Zsinj was in this bridge, he wasn't where the torpedoes hit and may have escaped. No such luck for Melvar though, who we see die on the planet surface.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Han marries Leia in the end, a fact established a couple years earlier by The Thrawn Trilogy.
  • Gatling Good: Hapan Battledragon cruisers have their main Turbolaser battery built like a flat version of this; and it works much the same way. The guns are built in a rotating ring around the central reactor, and each gun gets adequate time to charge. During a fight with a Star Destroyer, it states that there's a huge chunk of time where the imperial ship has it's guns silent, while the Dragon just keeps pounding on them. However, the Destroyer's got a higher damage-per-shot ratio than the Dragon does.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: The B plot might as well be subtitled The Erotic Adventures of Luke Skywalker, as he gets to be seduced by a queen who tries to kill him and enslaved by an amazon.
  • Harmless Villain: Played ridiculously straight with Zsinj
  • Heroic Willpower: Mother Rell's spirit is so strong, it won't let her die until she passes on the knowledge of the Jedi to the one who was prophesied to claim it.
  • Kill Sat: The superweapon of the week is a cloaking device that surrounds the planet. It's even lampshaded as only working on a primitive planet. Like most Empire superweapons, a single ship destroys it.
  • Lady Land: Dathomir-Women run the tribes and the men are essentially slaves
    • The Hapes Consortium applies as well, with women at the top of the social structure.
  • Lost Tribe: the Dathomiri
  • Meaningful Name: Luke levitates both himself and the ship to a graceful landing, suggesting where the name "Skywalker" comes from.
  • Mind-Control Device: The Gun of Command, which brainwashes people (or more accurately, briefly shuts down their conscious mind and renders them extremely open to suggestion; apparently there are no long-term effects) instead of killing them. Apparently Luke's Jedi powers render him immune to it, but it works perfectly on the untrained Leia.
  • Nice to the Waiter: Luke again. Isolder doesn't like it.
    Isolder: "You shouldn’t do this! The universe doesn’t work this way!"
    Luke: "What do you mean?"
    Isolder: "You—you’re treating those beasts as equals. You show my mother, the Ta’a Chume of the Hapes empire, the same degree of cordiality as you give a droid!"
    Luke: "This droid, these beasts, all have a similar measure of the Force within them. If I sense the Force, how can I not respect them, just as I respect Ta’a Chume?"
  • Oh, Crap!: Leia's reaction upon seeing the rancors. After what happened the last time she saw one, it's not surprising.
  • Riches to Rags: In a way. After she finds out Luke is a Jedi, Teneniel loses almost all interest in Isolder. He's aghast when she says he's just a commoner compared to Luke.
  • Romance Novel: The Han/Leia plot.
  • Royal Cruiser: The Hapan Queen Mothers travel aboard a 4000-year-old starship called Star Home, which is essentially a flying castle designed to show off Hapan splendor wherever it goes, though it hadn't been seen outside the Hapes Cluster for nearly 2000 years before this point.
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale - Han wins a Planet in a pot of cards worth 1.6 Billion Credits. Luke's speeder got 2,000 credits at a used car lot (for a maximum of 1 credit to $10 US equivalent). An inhabitable planet is worth $16 billion? Even for one under imperial interdiction, that means Bill Gates could purchase 3 planets! The estimated price of Earth is 10 QUADRILLION. This is also ignoring the fact that Han started the novel with an amount of money that is unspecified, but certainly no more than the cost of his Millenium Falcon, so assuming he leveraged that at a starting bid, he went from owning 100k-1M credits to nearly 2B credits. What luck to increase your net worth by 3-10 orders of magnitude in one night.
    • Possible subversion if it was done on purpose, for several reasons: 1) the Sabacc player is a strapped-for-cash noble-ish owner, 2) said owner most likely knows that the planet is not only in a sector under Zsinj's control but also inhabited by pesky (and more-powerful-than-they-look) natives, hence driving down the value of the planet - after all, what good is owning a planet if you can't come in and collect taxes or colonize it?, 3) this takes place in a "galaxy far, far away" wherein inhabitable planets aren't exactly scarce (in real life Earth is unique and even if a similar planet were located it would be near-impossible to relocate to it, but in Star Wars there are literally millions of planets where humans live and travel between them is relatively trivial; something that's irreplaceable is inherently going to be more valuable), and 4) this particular game of Sabacc is quite clearly pegged as being the equivalent of getting a Royal Flush at the high-rollers table of the MGM Grand. So all in all, it could go against the trope and be more realistic. Granted, Dathomir is described as particularly inhabitable, but it is also remote (location, location, location) and mostly unknown.
    • In the novel itself it's made clear that Han was royally screwed over, and he's chided for trusting a Drackmarian (the species of the player he won it from).
    • 1) It's mild canon that Obi-Wan used a mind trick to get a better price on the speeder. Remember that this is not some BMW series vehicle that could sell for that kind of price used. This is more akin to a beat-up old model pickup truck that he is selling. 2) It states clearly that Han had to go through several games before making it to this high-rollers table and that he used his Hutt loan shark to get into it. 3) This isn't just any old ship. This is probably the most famous ship in the entire galaxy. Its primary value isn't its not-inconsiderable performance, but the simple fact that it's the Millennium Falcon. It's worth far more than a million credits. There's probably not a real-life vehicle in existence that would be of equivalent value to the Falcon. 4) Omogg said the planet was worth 2.4 billion credits, not 1.6 billion. And Omogg is completely tapped out and doesn't think Han could win again. Even so, as Omogg says, the planet is of little use to her as a methane breathing creature and it's behind the largest Imperial blockade in the galaxy. Who else would buy it?
  • Shout-Out: "King Han Solo"? Clearly a reference to Spaceballs...
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Zsinj. According to Han, he can curse in sixty languages.
  • Sliding Scale of Gender Inequality: Level 8 (Women Rule, Men Obey) for both the Hapan Consortium and Dathomir, although the latter is arguably worse.
  • Smooch of Victory: Leia smacks one on Han after rescuing him from the Dark Side Dathomiri, leading to some Mood Whiplash as this is almost immediately after The Tooth Hurts, below.
  • The Tooth Hurts: During Han's torture at the hands of a Dark Side witch, one of his teeth is telekinetically shattered. Actually the result of a successful bit of Briar Patching by Han. He specifically asked that she not do anything to his teeth, because he'd rather lose a tooth than something more immediately useful.
    • Talking to her itself was a Batman Gambit to keep her occupied and not notice the Millennium Falcon coming to the rescue.
  • We Are as Mayflies: Mother Rell, though Word of God says she dies shortly after the events of the novel.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: The titular "courtship" refers to Han Solo shooting Leia with a brainwashing gun and kidnapping her. He's called on it at first, but the whole thing is all but forgotten by the end of the book, probably because it's so very creepy, and by that point they went through hell together. Chewbacca even offers to beat Han for Leia over it, life debt or not.
  • Wicked Witch: Gethzerion.