Star Wars has had dozens of epic and passionate love stories over the decades. Perhaps the greatest of those is the original love story of Princess Leia and Han Solo. Now, for the first time, we get an entire adult novel dedicated to our favorite Star Wars couple with Beth Revis’ The Princess and the Scoundrel.
Before this novel, we only knew of the love story between Princess Leia Organa and Han Solo as passionate and uneasy in its beginnings and heartbreaking and bittersweet at its end. We knew they got married and eventually had a son after the events of Return of the Jedi, but grew apart in the 30 years between that film and the events of The Force Awakens.
But what was their wedding like? Did they get to enjoy a honeymoon or time away as newlyweds after having saved the galaxy? How did they grapple with the aftermath of fighting a years-long war and the toll that took on themselves and their relationship?
Revis answers all of those questions and more in The Princess and the Scoundrel.
The new novel starts off immediately after the ending of Return of the Jedi – the celebrations on Endor are winding down and Darth Vader is little more than ash on the funeral pyre built by his son, Luke Skywalker. Leia and Han are bouncing between briefings with generals and other leaders of the Rebel Alliance, which is about to become the New Republic government.
The Emperor is dead, and the second Death Star is destroyed. Galaxy-wide peace and freedom are so close the Rebels can taste them. But at this moment, even as Han and Leia worry over the future, they only have eyes for one another.
The first chunk of this story takes place on Endor as Han proposes to Leia and they set to wedding planning with the help of Mon Mothma, Lando Calrissian, Chewbacca, and the Ewoks, of course. Revis writes Han and Leia’s wedding in exquisite detail, describing everything from the meadow green of Leia’s gossamer gown and the wildflowers woven into her hair to the intricacies of the spiritual and emotional Ewok-assisted ring ceremony.
In the midst of all this revelry and joy, we see Leia grapple with the anger and heartbreak of learning that Darth Vader was her father. As she celebrates the end of the Empire and her pending nuptials, Leia quietly grapples with the trauma of learning that the man who tortured her, froze her soon-to-be husband in carbonite for a year, and watched as her home planet of Alderaan and billions of people were blown up, was actually her father and likely passed down to her his Force abilities.
Throughout the novel, this revelation makes Leia balk at the idea of studying the Force and honing her own skills alongside her twin brother Luke, even as he gently tries to convince her of her potential. We know Leia eventually begins Force training with Luke, but up until this novel we haven’t seen much of her feelings about her abilities and the legacy these two carry.
The meat of the novel is, of course, Han and Leia’s relationship and their honeymoon aboard the Halcyon starcruiser. Yes, it is the same one at Walt Disney World in Florida. No, the book does not feel like one giant commercial for the luxury, multi-day resort.
Exploring the Halcyon with Han and Leia is fun, and Revis does a great job building out this in-universe location that can be experienced in our own galaxy – not that many can afford it, but that’s another matter. Still, the events onboard the Halcyon are the least interesting parts of the novel.
While Leia quickly turns her honeymoon into a diplomatic mission and mini press tour, Han wanders aimlessly around the starcruiser bored and brooding. It’s understandable that their old habits die hard – Leia has and always will be a passionate politician-turned-rebel, and Han is more comfortable at the Sabacc table or surrounded by criminals than he is rubbing elbows with the wealthy elite.
Still, it’s hard to see them already start to drift apart just hours after the most beautiful wedding since Leia’s parents Padme Amidala and Anakin Skywalker secretly wed in the lake country on Naboo.
Luckily, the novel picks back up steam when the Halcyon docks for an unplanned “shore excursion” on an ice planet that’s galaxy-renowned for its stunning but temporary art. What happens next is a thrilling and daring Han and Leia mission to uncover a mysterious Imperial threat. The big baddie of this mission is a bit undercooked, but Revis gives just enough detail about them to make us wonder where we’ve seen them before (see Smuggler’s Run) and where we might see them again.
Overall, The Princess and the Scoundrel is a captivating story focusing on two of the most beloved Star Wars characters. The novel is so much more than a wedding and a honeymoon cruise. The Princess and the Scoundrel is about the earliest days of the fledgling New Republic in the wake of the Emperor’s death. Its setting is a transitionary period between the fall of a fascistic regime and the birth of another fighting for freedom.
And, perhaps most of all, the book is about Han and Leia – how their relationship is evolving from one fueled by the passion and adrenaline of warfare and stolen moments to one where they can finally focus on themselves. Revis deftly shows how Han and Leia complement one another, embracing and challenging each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
The Princess and the Scoundrel is a charming and thrilling tale about the galaxy’s favorite power couple and how they made their love work.
The Princess and the Scoundrel by Beth Revis is available now.