The Courtship of Princess Leia by Dave Wolverton, Chapters 1 through 3
One of my favorite things about Ye Olde EU is that when Disney first decided that it would not, in fact, be elevated to Officially-Official Canon, a lot of people were BEREFT because that specific version of things, with Original Formula Thrawn and the Solo twins and Mara Jade and so on was being demoted to an arguably lesser tier of Wacky Spaceland, and a lot of other people were like “Good. All that stuff with the evil Skywalker offspring and the Emperor coming back and the cloning and whatnot was so dumb and I did not want to see anything like that again”. And, well…however many years later, here we are. That’s right, nerds: nobody gets what they want! That’s the Star Wars Way!
I personally have very few strong opinions about the Old EU — I never really got into it myself; I wasn’t particularly interested in a lot of the EU-only characters (apologies to those aforementioned characters and the roughly 200 additional new people from various video games — it’s not you, it’s me), and there was just so MUCH of it of varying levels of canon-compliance that I mostly felt too overwhelmed to dig in very much. It was less a quality judgement and more a situation where I was like “…I give up.”
BUT! I do know enough about it to know that the Old EU is a treasure trove of silliness, and in that sense it is and will always be as valid and full-on, true-blue canon as anything else in Star Wars. And today I am going to introduce you to one part of it that I have read — a truly ridiculous tome called The Courtship of Princess Leia. Set post-Return of the Jedi, the premise ALONE makes it worthy of inclusion here on Snark Wars. I’d explain more upfront, but honestly? It’s better if we just dive right into it. What can I say? Sometimes I like the craziness to be a surprise. Take my hand, friend, as I lead you into the murky waters of The Non-Canonical!
Recurring Theme: The Romantic Idiots of Star Wars
We begin our journey with Han Solo, who is on a Mon Calamari ship. He’s been hunting down a warlord who is for-real named Zsinj, because sometimes Star Wars is really scraping the bottom of the barrel and will opt to just name a character after a random assemblage of Scrabble tiles, and whose ship — the Iron Fist — is nowhere to be found. Yeah…that whole “happily ever after”, with the Ewoks and Definitely-Dead Sheev and all? Our friends possibly got even less time to sit back and enjoy it in the Old EU than they did in canon:
HAN SOLO YOU ROMANTIC IDIOT FOOL. Are we entirely sure Han and Anakin aren’t related? Leia might wanna look into that before deciding to, you know, have children with him. Just to be safe.
So yes: Han is pining away, haunted by the kisses Leia should never have given him or whatever, when their ship comes out of hyperspace and is immediately faced with ships known as Battle Dragons — ships belonging to a people known as the Hapans. Han is immediately like AHHHHHH GET US OUT OF HERE with his usual level of calm reserve and chill togetherness, and notices — as he can see through the viewport of one of the ships — that all of the Hapans are Extremely Hot Women. Oh, God.
Han is still trying to flee when his Mon Calamari pilot is like “wait! They’re not firing, and they’re signaling that they’re friendly to us!” Han is not buying it — the Hapans are never friendly!
Recurring Theme: Han Solo, Doesn’t Know If You Like-Like Him Or Not
Han is skeptical of everything going on here, recalling a time back in his Smuggling Days when the Hapans laid waste to a whole bunch of people. He notices that the Rebel Dawn — Leia’s ship — is out there in the mix, too, and he gets a message:
LOL. Oooooh, Han’s gonna take this call in his quarters! Solo, the woman is at work right now: it’s not THAT kind of call. Before we get into what Leia IS actually calling about, please enjoy this bit, which absolutely has Leia’s Theme playing in the background of it and you all know it does:
STOP TRYING TO MAKE A SEXY CALL HAPPEN, SOLO. Also, that’s a very sweet present you gave her. You old softy. HAN LIKES LEI-A, HAN LIKES LEI-A!
ANYWAYS, Leia tells him to come on down and land on Coruscant — turns out that a while back, Leia had approached the Hapan Queen Mother about giving the New Republic some help — and it apparently paid off, because now they’re here to offer them something! Han is still uneasy about this, and tells her not to get her hopes up that the Hapans of all people are gonna come through with anything good. Leia isn’t here for his pessimism:
Leia, would you please throw the poor guy a bone? YOU ARE IN HIS VERY SOUL, TORMENTING HIM. Women in your family have that effect on himbos. You owe your very existence to this fact! Also is the premise here then that despite all their lovey-doveyness in Return of the Jedi, Leia is still trying to keep things mostly casual between them? Girl, we all know you’ve been sleeping with him since Hoth. I realize it’s a difficult reality to accept, but I regret to inform you that Han Solo might be your boyfriend.
Han and Chewie head to this Grand Reception Hall on Coruscant, where they run into Threepio, who’s been instructed to bring them up to the expensive seats with all the movers and shakers of the New Republic. He heads up there and takes a seat in a group of politicians and various governmental figures, including Mon Mothma, who has by now taken over Sheev’s old job except that she’s not an evil wizard who’s planning to kill large swaths of the Republic for existing. (At least, not as far as I know.)
Turns out calling this reception hall “grand” was putting it lightly — the place is HUGE and is filled with half a MILLION beings, all of whom are clamoring to see the Hapans because the Hapans are famously hot and rich and unsurprisingly the Republic has no chill about any of this. Everyone gathers to catch a glimpse of what they’re offering the Republic.
Han asks Mon why she’s not down on the main floor with Leia, and Mon explains that the Hapans asked only to speak to Leia, not anyone else. The Hapans are threatened by democracy, and Mon figured that since Leia was the first person in the Republic they were willing to engage with in the last like three thousand years, she’d let Leia handle it unless they specifically asked for someone else. Han thinks to himself that this is nice of Mon, but pouts as he silently wishes he was down there with Leia. Sigh. Maybe Skywalker Syndrome is actually not genetic — maybe it’s like a virus, and both Anakin and Han are infected. Solo, this is a diplomatic event — nobody wants your awkward doofus ass down there trying to be smooth and buffoonishly knocking over a display of ornamental fruit or something. LET YOUR GIRLFRIEND DO HER JOB IN PEACE.
Yes, This Is The Premise of This Book
So Leia is sitting on a dais and the Hapans proceed to start showering her with gifts. Everyone else in the box seats has a way to listen to a translation of what’s going on, except Han — but fortunately for Han, Anakin Skywalker built a robot as a child, and made sure to install a robust language pack in it, and said robot is standing right next to him. He asks Threepio to tell him what they’re saying, and Threepio listens for a spell before declaring that he must be in need of repair, because what he’s hearing can’t be correct!
Han is like “yeah OK, so they brought a lot of pricey crap with them, what’s the big deal?” and Threepio explains: the queen mother of Hapes does not consider ANYONE to be her equal, and her use of the word “worthy” here would suggest that she does see Leia that way. Which is impossible! Han speculates that maybe she just meant because Leia and the queen mother are both royalty…? But Threepio insists: this, if he’s hearing this correctly, is a big deal. INTRIGUE!
The Hot Babes of Hapes continue to pile on the gifts, and Han starts to panic a little bit — the Hapans don’t give stuff out without expecting an equal gift in return, and they’re unloading basically every expensive, rare, fancy thing they have onto Leia right now! What could they be hoping for in return??? DUN DUN DUUUUN!
Leia sits there and takes this all in, and then finally a Hush comes over the Grand Hall of Ostentaciousness, which now looks like Life Day morning as it’s filled with gifts. She notes to the Hapans that they’ve only given her gifts from sixty-two of their sixty-three planets! Han almost chokes at what sounds like shameless greed on Leia’s part, and worries that the Hapans will be offended.
Instead, the Hapans seem delighted that she’s noticed!
Would you like to know what the Hapans brought her as their Ultimate Prize? Hmm? WOULD YOU??
…they brought her a Hot, Mostly Shirtless Man! No, I am not kidding. Please enjoy this passage, which features the first but not last instance of Bonus Bisexual Han Solo Content that appears in this book:
LOL. OK, so at this, the entire hall flips out, and all the diplomats and dignitaries are excitedly mumbling amongst themselves and clutching their pearls and whatnot, and Han, because he’s Han, has no idea what the fuck is going on and so Mon Mothma has to spell it out for him:
I don’t even know where to start with this. That Han needs the Space President to explain something everyone else in the room immediately understood? That Han immediately asks the Space President to reassure him that his girlfriend isn’t gonna marry this guy? That Han ALSO immediately is basically like “well shit, I mean, I’d marry that hot piece of Hapes myself, what with his muscles and firm jawline and sea-colored eyes”? THAT ANY OF THIS IS HAPPENING?
The absolute best part of all of this is that Mon Mothma is COMPLETELY OK WITH WHAT IS GOING ON HERE.
The head of the New Republic government is out there ENTIRELY READY to arranged-marry off one of its most senior diplomats, a decorated war veteran, to some SPACE PRINCE from a historically-hostile foreign power to score some fast cash. Which in her defense the New Republic needs urgently, because they are still trying to clean up all the NAZIS and WARLORDS left in the wake of Anakin’s gigantic mess. I…would very much like to know what Bail, Breha, and Padme would think of it all coming to this.
With that portion of this batshit crazy setup complete, Chapter 1 comes to a close, and it’s time to check in with Jedi “Master” Luke Skywalker, who in true Luke Fashion is off with Artoo on a ridiculous side quest. Yes, again.
Recurring Theme: More Problems Brought to You By Anakin Skywalker
Luke, we learn, is on Toola: a purple moss planet where he’s gone to examine some Ancient Jedi Ruins. I love that Luke always gets these stories where he has to try and track down old relics of the Jedi Order, often at Great Personal Risk, because it suggests that while the Force Ghosts COULD just appear to him and be like “Luke there’s a bunch of boxes of stuff in an old U-Stor-It on Felucia, here’s the combination and the coordinates” — or, say, just literally TEACH HIM WHATEVER THE FUCK ELSE HE NEEDS TO KNOW since they are one with the actual FORCE now and are supposed to be the most enlightened beings in the galaxy or whatever — they have chosen instead to just watch Luke flail around the galaxy and waste time trying to track down battered old copies of Jedi textbooks at flea markets and in pirate’s dens and on Space eBay. Time he COULD, might I add, be spending actually, I dunno, REBUILDING THE ORDER, or TRAINING NEW JEDI or whatever. What assholes.
Luke and Artoo find a Jedi’s tomb, and Luke gets them inside by Force-lifting a rock that was sealing the entrance, because we just didn’t have enough Biblical imagery and callbacks in this franchise already, I guess.
As they make their way in, there’s more evidence that at least ONE of the Force Ghosts might have reason to not be super into discussing this place:
Just a reminder: I AM STILL MAD AT YOU, ANAKIN, and hiding your ghostly self here isn’t gonna make me forget it.
Luke eventually finds himself in the room of the dead Jedi, whose body is gone (recall that this was back when it was reasonable to assume that every dead Jedi disappeared into thin air, since unless you count Anakin’s last-minute light-side conversion, the only two Jedi we’d seen die at that point had evaporated). He picks up and observes the man’s lightsaber before putting it down. Turns out that this mysterious dead Jedi was kind of the Old EU’s Jocasta Nu:
Look we all know I love the Jedi Order a lot, but they had THOUSANDS of years to come up with a better backup system for their SACRED RELIGIOUS TEXTS than just “we’ll keep a single water-stained, crumbling copy of everything, and if shit hits the fan I guess we’ll have Master Librarian Steve here grab as many books as he can hold and go hide in a cave somewhere and hope it all works out somehow”.
Recurring Theme: Luke Skywalker, Has Kind of a Defeatist Streak Sometimes
He continues to scour the area for any artifacts or books that could help him learn the Ways of the Jedi, since clearly nobody who’s become one with the Force is going to GET UP AND PUT ON PANTS AND COME OVER HERE AND HELP LUKE OR ANYTHING, ANAKIN. That’s right, Skywalker: you did one (1) Good Thing for Luke that time you TEMPORARILY killed Sheev, so really, why show up now and guide him? It’s not like it’s your fault Luke never got to be properly trained from a young age OH WAIT.
…I digress. Again. So Luke isn’t having any luck finding anything that hasn’t been destroyed already, and he does that thing Luke loves to do, which is A) immediately assume it’s hopeless, and B) whine about it. (I love Luke with my whole heart, but let’s not kid ourselves here. Sometimes he gets that way.)
This? Is very sad. I HATE YOU SHEEV. You know what? I’m actually glad you came back to life, because honestly if ANYBODY deserves to be executed TWICE, it is you, you horrible ghoul.
Recurring Theme: Cartoon Crossover
Just as Luke begins to speculate on what his next move should be — he thinks to himself that the Jedi Order must have had more copies elsewhere, which, good luck with all that, Luke — Artoo spots something. A hologram that is still usable! It’s in poor condition and cuts in and out, but he sees video footage of old Jedi Masters giving routine report-outs from various missions. The book explains that Back in The Non-Canonical Old Days, the Jedi would provide a recap of their work to their Jedi Master(s) who were seated on THRONES in a THRONE ROOM, so, in case you were wondering if the Jedi Order could be MORE ridiculous and needlessly over-the-top, there you have it.
So…what I am getting from the fact that this recording exists is that the Jedi Order recorded all of their mundane, everyday meetings? AND THIS IS THE PRECIOUS INFORMATION THEY MADE SURE TO TAKE WITH THEM WHILE FLEEING ORDER 66?! This is like running out of a burning building but making sure to stop and grab a box full of old calendars and expired credit card offers before you go. Literally all the Jedi DID for centuries was intervene in boring trade disputes and space mining drama. Their mission reports would have comprised THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS OF HOURS OF CONTENT ABOUT THIS KIND OF STUFF. Are the details of every single one of those missions committed to film? What use to the Order would it be to have archives upon archives of this crap? Were these kept as punishment for misbehaving padawans? If you fucked up did you get sent to the library to watch 56 hours of long-dead Jedi Masters presenting their post-mission Lessons Learned documentation and requesting reimbursement for gas from the Council? WHO WOULD WATCH THIS?
…Luke would, apparently, as he takes in the Incredible Spectacle of a younger Master Yoda attending an Ancient Teams Meeting:
Not super sure why this book almost maybe appears to be implying that Yoda used to talk with normal syntax, but OK. It’s just…that would be a weird thing to grow into, is all. Also yes, you read that correctly: in a book whose premise is “Leia might marry a Hot Space Prince for money she can use to help save democracy”, we’re ALSO going to be dealing with Dathomir, which you might remember from the Canon Version of Things as “that planet full of witches, and then zombies, and then later Darth Maul’s Obitine-Themed Revenge Shrine where Sabine picked up the Darksaber after she was briefly possessed by ghosts”. Star Wars is not phoning it in on this one, guys.
Luke is intrigued: Dathomir? What’s that?
Artoo is unable to identify WTF Dathomir is, because in this version of the timeline he’s never encountered anybody from there before, and also because let’s be real, I could also totally buy Artoo just not wanting to deal with any of that anymore and pretending not to know. I bet Artoo plays dumb about a lot of stuff because he’s just really tired.
Later that evening, while Luke is set up at his camp for the night (accompanied by what is basically his Space Sherpa), he does some Force meditating and is greeted with a most foreboding vision:
Look, as long as they’re not gonna resurrect Darth Maul from some ashes they found in the desert, I’m OK with taking in a visit to Ventress’ old sorority house.
Recurring Theme: Ah, Young Love
So Luke’s Spidey Senses are all a-twitter over this whole Dathomir thing, and please just know for now that A) they are indeed going somewhere with all of this and B) it’s going to be HILARIOUS. I shan’t spoil it further.
In the meantime, we cut back to the Grand Hall, where all eyes are on Leia as she mulls over Sexy Prince Hotpants’ shirtless marriage proposal. She panics a bit internally, wondering how she can artfully postpone making any sort of commitment whilst not being insulting. Eventually she asks for some time:
Leia agrees, and asks Isolder to have dinner with her in her private quarters on the Rebel Dawn tonight, which he happily agrees to. To my extreme amusement, this happens as their exchange concludes:
…I kinda want them to make Hapes a thing in the live-action canon, but I’m not sure how that would work, because everyone in Star Wars is a total smokeshow to begin with. Who could they even GET to play The World’s Hottest Man when the cast already includes, to give a totally random example, Obi-Wan? At any rate, I love that Leia is so dazzled. I bet absolutely no one will be jealous about this.
So this very weird event concludes, and Leia goes off to find Han, who has very maturely stormed out of the Grand Hall and is pouting while pretending to do very important work on the Millennium Falcon, which is docked inside the Rebel Dawn.
Hi-ooo! Well then. Leia informs Han that she didn’t agree to marry anybody just yet, and Han blahblahblahs about how he thinks she’ll do anything for the Republic, even if it means marrying a beautiful man, and this part happens which very much bums me out:
I hear you, Solo. Nazis, man: you think to yourself “this asinine and unquestionably evil ideology surely must be dead by NOW, because how could anybody in this day and age still want anything to do with Nazis“, and then it turns out that PLENTY of people still do. Ugh.
Leia tells him to take heart that they are making headway diplomatically, and then this whoooole conversation just turns into Han having a hissy fit about how Leia’s going to want to marry the prince just because it’s good for democracy and the prince is insanely wealthy and the Hapes system is gorgeous and Leia would get to rule it and the Space Prince is so beautiful it makes grown men weep. Yeah! Who’d want all that anyways? Sounds awful.
Eventually Han goes all-in on how Leia shouldn’t trust the Hapans and how they may not be all that they seem:
“HAVE A FEW BAUBLES AND TRINKETS SO BLINDED YOU“, BEING SAID BY HAN SOLO. God, I am so here for this dialogue style where everyone in Star Wars sounds like they are in a daytime soap opera that is set in the Middle Ages for some reason. Truly, if I could change ONE non-story thing about the Sequel Trilogy, it would ABSOLUTELY be the dialogue style. They clearly thought they needed to “fix” it and make Star Wars sound “cool” or “better” or more modern or whatever and they were WRONG TO DO SO and NO I WILL NOT BE ACCEPTING FEEDBACK HERE. The insane dialogue of Star Wars WAS AN IMPORTANT PART OF ITS IDENTITY, OK?! Hmmph.
OK! Leia gets all huffy about all of this and is like HAN HOW CAN YOU SAY SUCH THINGS ABOUT PEOPLE YOU DON’T KNOW, and Han won’t back down, and then Leia finally spits out that she’s having dinner with the prince tonight, and Han can come, if he doesn’t just want to sit here stewing in his “petty jealous fantasies”.
These two really have something special, don’t they.
Han Solo, Has Totally Had Sex and Everything
Han keeps working on the Falcon and eventually Prince Fancypants struts over to him, along with a bunch of randoms and a guy named Threkin Horm, who is the head of the Alderaanian Council, a sort of Alderaanian government-in-exile. This part? Is something. So this Horm guy tells Prince Hotstuff that Han is a friend of Leia’s who has saved her life on occasion, and at this the prince is like “oh goodness, well we owe you a debt of gratitude then!” and Han is like NOT SO FAST BUDDY:
A) Han Solo saying “lovers” has added years to my life, B) everything else about this. The prince takes this all in stride, and eventually after shit-talking the Falcon (nice try, friend, but Han’s surely heard ’em all at this point), as well as pulling out the old classic “what can you give her that I can’t?” bit, Han demands to know: why Leia?
I don’t even need to consult AO3 or whatever to know, beyond a doubt, that at least ONE person at SOME point has written the Explicit-rated fanfic version of “Han and Leia Have Dinner With That Space Prince They Both Think Is Super Hot”. Diplomatic solution indeed!
On THAT saucy note, let us take our leave for today! You will absolutely want to join me for the next installment of this book where all of the following things happen:
- Han has yet another transient Bisexuality Attack
- Leia places an emergency call to her brother so that they can talk about her boy trouble
- Han decides to solve his problems by going gambling, with sincerely HILARIOUS results
…doesn’t it sound AMAZING? It is. Please make sure to stop by again soon. Thanks for reading!