The Courtship of Princess Leia
By Dave Wolverton
8 years after ANH


This book, although written before any of the X-Wing novels, is the final chapter in the Warlord Zsinj story-arc.


In three preceeding books written by Aaron Allston…..Wraith Squadron, Iron Fist, and Solo Command…we were introduced to the ruthless Warlord Zsinj, we followed the New Republic task force led by General Han Solo in their search for the Warlord, and read about the fleet's attempt to vanquish him.

The Courtship of Princess Leia, by Dave Wolverton, picks up right where Solo Command left off. Han Solo is returning to Coruscant, weary from his 5-month pursuit of Zsinj, and from his 5-month separation from Princess Leia. Princess Leia, meanwhile, has just returned to Coruscant after months of secret negotiations with the leader of the Hapes Cluster, an isolationist group of planets who could be a valuable ally to the nascent New Republic. And Luke Skywalker is en route home after a frustrating, and mostly fruitless search for any repositories of Jedi Lore with which he can revive the ancient order. Their pathes all converge on the planet Dathomir, as Han kidnaps Leia to forestall her marriage-of-political-convenience (or is it for love?) to the Prince of the Hapes Cluster, takes her to Dathomir….a planet he won in a Sabacc game (!!)…..,and Luke follows after to talk sense into Han, with the Prince, Isolder, in tow. On Dathomir, we meet The Singing Mountain Clan, a group of force-strong women who ride tamed Rancors, and their dark-side counterparts, the Nightsisters. Along the way, our heroes engage in several battles, both on land and in space.


As Luke says when he first sees the Millenium Falcon in ANH, "What a hunk of Junk!!!". To call this a "novel", is simply to acknowledge that it has a front cover, a back cover, and type-written pages in between. There are so many fundamental things wrong with this book, it is difficult to know where to begin. I guess the biggest problem is that no one reacts/acts with any sort of consistent motivation. The core characters….Han, Leia, Luke, C3P0….bear absolutely no resemblence to the characters we've come to know. Check out my ratings-criteria list again; the "voices" are 180 degrees wrong. It is impossible to picture the characters we know from the films (and from the other novels, for that matter) thinking, speaking, and responding as they do in this piece of tripe. Even the new protagonists….Isolder, and Teneniel (one of the Singing Mountain clan)…..are not internally consistent. It's always a bad sign when people spend large portions of a book performing interior monologues to justify radical "gear shifts"; it probably means there's a plot point the author needs to motivate, and he has to cheat to get there.

Which brings me to my second criteria for rating these works: Is the crisis or situation believable? Would Leia entertain a marriage proposal from a complete stranger for the wealth and political ends the union could provide the New Republic? After all she and Han have been through…..doubtful. Would Senator, and forthright Rebel leader Leia Organa feel herself swoon over Isolder's (supposed) great beauty? Highly unlikely. Would Han, after just competently and authoritatively leading an entire battle fleet, suddenly act like a petulant school-boy, kidnap Leia, and indulge in jealous name-calling with her and with Isolder? Ridiculous. Would he confide in C3P0 ??!! About anything? EVER?? And Luke comes across like a Tibetan Lama on steroids. In between lecturing almost everyone in the book like a refugee from the TV show "Kung Fu", he performs ludicrous and unnecessary feats of derring-do. Why would Luke use the force to fly the Millenium Falcon, when Han is sitting right there? Would Han or Chewbacca allow that? Or require that?

This whole book is just unfortunate, and hugely disappointing. It occupies a very cushy slot in the time-line and completely squanders it. We've watched the growth of Han and Leia's romance over films and novels, and despite their differences in background and their stubborn sparring, there is always respect and mature devotion. Here we have two unrecognizable, shrill, unpleasant people, and the marriage that many fans looked forward to, is practically a throw away at the end of a childish, fan-boy notion of a bodice-ripper. Author Dave Wolverton created Zsinj, but it took prequel books by Aaron Allston to make him a worthy adversary. If you only know Zsinj from this book, he seems a cartoon; Allston made him three-dimensional. Although Zsinj was Wolverton's "baby", the final chapter in the Warlord's saga is a big let-down once you've met him in Allston's incarnation.

Interestingly, it turns out author Dave Wolverton is not a complete hack. For the Star Wars pantheon, he has written several fine short stories, and contributed the excellent first novel in the new series of Young Obi-Wan books. The Courtship of Princess Leia must just have been a bad day at the office. I could go on and on, and the less said about this book the better. If you are a completist (as I am), it occupies too important a place in the Expanded Universe to ignore. Skim. Close inspection will cause brain-cell loss.

© Oct. 18, 1999 by Karen Ross AKA "Queen of the Dweebs"