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Literature / The Courtship of Princess Leia

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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.

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This book provides examples of:

  • Absurdly High-Stakes Game: Han wins the entire planet of Dathomir 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 (as his wife would be the next queen).
  • All Amazons Want Hercules: Teneniel wanting Luke, who just happens to be the most powerful Jedi ever.
  • Altar Diplomacy: Standard for Hapes, though Ta'a Chume does not approve of any of Isolder's choices in a wife.
  • Animals Not to Scale: The whuffa worm Han catches is over 800 feet long. The rancors as well.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: The general idea behind Ta'a Chume and her sisters. Ta'a Chume killed her eldest son and Isolder's first love because she felt them too weak to rule properly. Her sisters are mentioned to have committed plenty of murders of their own also.
  • Artistic License – Biology:
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    • 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 most of the 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 (we get no clear information on that).
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  • Begin with a Finisher: Gethzerion is a powerful Dark Side user with no interest in capturing or turning Luke, so when he faces off against her, she immediately gives him a massive brain aneurysm and leaves him for dead.
  • Brought Down to Normal: Isolder is affronted, though understanding, when Teneniel calls him "just a commoner" compared to Luke - the only male Force user seen on the planet since Mother Rell's time.
  • Cerebus Retcon: 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 almost 300 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.
  • Deadly Force Field: While fending off an assassination attempt against himself and Leia, Hapan Crown Prince Isolder makes use of a handheld personal deflector shield. As it begins to overheat he punches one with it, burning half his face off, and throws it at the other, cutting him in half at the waist.
  • 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 one assassin who 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" (other books had them unable to be sensed).
  • Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male: Lampshaded by Luke. Not actually 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. It's pretty clear that if not for Leia and Teneniel being there (they're deemed to be their owners), he would have ended up raped by that witch or another.
  • Evil Makes You Ugly: When the Force-sensitive women of Dathomir touch the Dark Side, small blood vessels burst in their skin. Years of this leave the Nightsisters looking like raw, blotchy, lumpy messes. It appears to be the same effect as the Emperor's terrible condition (although that was retconned into an injury much later).
  • 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 torpedoes 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. Zsinj never appears after the book though, indicating that he really was killed.
  • 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 its guns silent as they recharge, 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 (that's what he wants you to think...).
  • 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 of the Empire's superweapons, a single ship destroys it.
  • Lady Land: Dathomiri 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, who descended from prisoners in a penal colony on the planet, including one female rogue Jedi who took power over the rest. Over time, her descendants became (all female) Force users, or the so-called "witches". Since then, they were cut off from the rest of the galaxy and developed on their own.
  • Marital Rape License: One short scene features Teneniel Djo explaining to Isolder that she's within her rights to do this to him, but she isn't going to. Isolder isn't entirely sure how to respond (especially since he's a prince, back on his own world). Oddly enough they do have feelings for each other, although they're both pursuing other partners at the time. He didn't agree to be her husband either. By their customs, as she captured him, he's hers. However, Isolder later willingly takes her as his wife, with Teneniel becoming Queen of Hapes.
  • Meaningful Name: Luke levitates both himself and the ship to a graceful landing, appropriate for a guy called "Skywalker." Isolder speculates internally about how this may be where his ancestors got it.
  • 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.
  • Nature Lover: A rare inversion, as it's nature itself who loves the Jedi. After being attacked by Gethzerion, a dying Luke is revived by nature around him, including plants, animals, and a rock who give him their energy.
  • 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.
  • Only One Name: Zsinj. In the Essential Atlas it's revealed this was a custom of his father's people which he went by (though his mother had "Zsinj" as her last name).
  • Penal Colony: Dathomir was used as one first by the Old Republic, and then later the Empire. In the first case, it housed dangerous makers of war machines, along with a rogue Jedi, while the Empire held mostly engineers who'd refused to work for them and were sent there as political prisoners (to useful to simply kill, but not people they wanted with the Rebels either).
  • Prince Charming: Isolder certainly seems this: exceptionally handsome, educated enough to design and build his own fighter ship, brave and combat-trained, well versed in diplomatic affairs, and truly in love with Leia when he asks for her hand.
  • Really Royalty Reveal: Han is outed as the rightful King of Corellia by Threepio (who's trying to help him compete with Isolder, a prince), though Corellia's been a republic for centuries. It turns out this isn't true-the ancestor he'd supposedly inherited this from was just a pretender, explaining why Han didn't claim the title.
  • 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 with 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 2.4 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 Millennium 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. Still, it's possible the price is relatively low as A) its full of Force witches, making "ownership" useless and B) in Warlord Zsinj's territory, so you couldn't do anything with it even without them being there.
  • 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 worse, as there men actually are enslaved, whereas on Hapes they're just second-class citizens (barred from inheriting the throne at least-we don't get more details).
  • 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 Social Darwinist: Isolder argues certain people are most genetically fit to rule, as with social carnivores, and this being the right way of doing things (he's a prince himself, making it an unsurprising view). Luke of all people thinks this might have some merit to it, distasteful though the idea may be. Leia (a princess, of course) disagrees strongly with this (the Alderaanian monarchy was far more limited than the one Isolder's from).
  • Spare to the Throne: Isolder, after his mother murdered his older brother. However, it's not outright inheritance in his case-he won't become king, but whoever he marries will be queen (still giving him some power).
  • The Tooth Hurts: During Han's torture at the hands of a Dark Side witch, two of his teeth are 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.
  • Too Clever by Half: Ta'a Chume compared to Luke. She essentially attempts to seduce him without sex during their dinner, but underestimates his Jedi abilities (a not uncommon trait amongst Star Wars villains). He knows exactly what she's doing and what she has done in the past. At the end of the novel, he uses the Force to make her confess that she sent the assassins to target Leia, who she'd judged as too weak to succeed her.
  • 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.

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