Star Wars

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Monday, November 26, 2012

Finally! Or "Courtship of Princess Leia" Roundup

This post has been a long time coming - I had intended to do a halfway post because I've had so much to say and so many different thoughts about this book as I read it. Sadly, October and November have passed us by with excuse after excuse piling up (on my end, anyway!). Rose and I are both ready to be done and move on with our fabulous project and with a large and highly engrossing trilogy upcoming, it's passed time. In fact, as I type this, I'm listening for the first time to my Christmas mix on my iTunes.

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.

Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast
Or why the unlikely works for Wolverton

1) Han Solo kidnapping Princess Leia - Okay, so it makes him looks like a raving lunatic but it also does aim to prove how much Han loves Leia. He does see her running into a marriage that's probably loveless and probably about Leia trying to save the galaxy any way she can. Han might not be an immature jealous asshole but he is a man in love - the moment it becomes clear that he's brought Leia into danger, he tries at every opportunity to get her out of it (like trying to send her away again when he thinks Isolder has a ship and throwing himself at Gethzerion when he thinks it will save Leia).

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.

2) Luke Skywalker, Omniscient twenty-four year-old - Okay, so admittedly Luke's incredible obnoxious, lecturing Teneniel about her abilities, right and wrong, etc, especially considering she's been trained in Force useage since birth and Luke known about its existence less than ten years. But his arrogance also brings him closer to true understanding of his own limitations. Gethzerion herself knocks him over with a flick of her finger when they first do battle and when Luke thinks he's dying, he's able to visualize the Force for the first time. Earlier than that, Teneniel manages to sneak up on him and abduct him. That's no small feat. Fortunately for readers, Luke spends the entirety of the succeeding Zahn trilogy questioning his readiness to lead a new generation of Jedi, so obviously a vacation on Dathomir did him a world of good!

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.
Not-so-tame Rancor

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!

In conclusion ... well, I thought this was a very silly novel but I actually really enjoyed it this time and appreciate some of the subtler ways in which it did contribute to the EU canon. Thanks, Mr. Wolverton!



  1. This is my favorite collaborative post we've done on this blog! We've come closer to agreeing - or finding common ground - about this book than any other so far.

  2. It's so true!! How interesting! I don't think, however, it's unusual that we both love the book with the largest cast of female characters, and super awesome, kick-your-ass-before-you-blink women at that. I'm glad we both loved this book, since I adored it so much as a kid!

  3. You're right, that does make a certain amount of sense. I remember that it was shortly after I finished reading "Courtship" that we took up running around in the woods at your house and mine. We were so, so lucky that we had all that space and freedom as kids! I remember climbing a massive fallen tree in your backyard once and exploring the Endoresque woods at the bottom of my parents' street (stupid Methodist church is there now :( ). I know Dathomir has always had a special place in my heart, as do the Amazonian witches (to whom, for a variety of reasons, I relate ;) )!