So! Courtship of Princess Leia ... I found so much of it highly unlikely (often completely ridiculous) that I'm going to ignore what I found to be ridiculous and focus on what actually works in the novel. For me, that's going to be a challenging task but I plan to give it a try. I started with lists, so I'll end with one.
Ro here! I'm so excited to be moving forward again! The break was much needed, for both of us, but Star Wars and Christmas go hand-in-hand for me. And not because of the hideous Christmas special... Anyway, on to Es's list. I've added comments at the end of each entry.
Ro: Oh, but having a man sweep you away to a lovely paradise planet to prove he's in love with you is SO ROMANTIC! Not really. Es is right, it's down right creepy, and no woman in her right mind would put herself in that situation. HOWEVER, Leia does trust Han, so I guess it's easier for him to abduct her. And I agree with Es, once he realizes the danger to Leia, he does his best to protect her and get our off Dathomir.
Ro: I agree with all of the above! Luke is awfully mature for someone who's known about the Force for all of two seconds. I like how Wolverton beats him up a bit, reminds Luke that he's not all powerful and he still has things to learn.
3) Tame Rancors - This, to me, is a very silly idea that actually pans out quite well. It gives a kind of validity to the strength and power of the witches. Their ability to tame rancors and the intercommication of the rancors and witches both illustrates the strength of the witches' Force abilities and adds dimension to the rancors by making them very intelligent beings in their own right, with, to all appearances, quite a complex culture of their own. Wolverton could have left them big, burly plot device monsters and instead he made them interesting and pivotal.
Ro: This is one of my favorite parts of "Courtship"!!!! I love the tame rancors, and how they aren't just animals but sentient beings. It reminds me of my relationship with horses (for those of you reading this who don't know me personally: I am a HUGE horse nut!), and how to me, each horse has a different personality, a different position in the herd, and they will protect each other. This detail, as Es said, was complex and amazing and really added to the book.
4) Magic in a galaxy far far away - It's goofy to use magic in the Star Wars universe, where science and creativity already make the world magical, and yet Wolverton not only makes it work, he uses it to great effect. Magic is often a way of explaining away ideas that aren't fully understood - so Wolverton endows his less developed society on Dathomir "magic" as an explanation for something they don't fully understand. Or maybe it's their interpretation of the Force - when Luke comes in and lectures Teneniel about her "spells," does his explanation render her abilities less potent?
Ro: So, so true! Excellent point! I studied this in a Religious Literature class in college (many moons ago). The first assignment from the prof: describe a sunset without using any colors. A challenging assignment, and one that from that day forward has be appreciating when writers use this sort of device in their stories, the way Wolverton does.
5) Luke's unlikely apprentice - I don't know if I remember any other author discussing the possibility of a Jedi disciple who isn't Force-sensitive, but Isolder's a wonderful example of how serving the Force and its guiding principles doesn't necessarily mean using and wielding it as a weapon. Isolder wields incredible power as a ruler and serving the light side of the Force, he has the ability to enact great good. However uppity I think Luke is in this novel, it's insightful of him to recognize the potential Isolder has to serve the light and do incredible good in his own way. This is a neat idea that rarely, if ever, occurs again in the EU.
Ro: I kind of wish this had gone a little further, honestly. I felt like Wolverton could have made it more of a thing in the story, but alas, there were Dark Witches to attend to.
6) Luke and his redheads - Hey, Luke gets very little action! It figures that he'd be drawn to a feisty redhead. There are even foreshadowy hints from Mother Rell about Luke's "wife and children" - Luke might not get the girl this time but the one he'll eventually get is just around the proverbial corner!
Ro: HAHAHAHAHAHA! And also, agreed!