In The Princess and the Scoundrel by Beth Revis, Han and Leia marry and take their honeymoon aboard the luxury Star Cruiser Halcyon, but even love and romance can never run smoothly in the galaxy far, far away.
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The second Death Star has been destroyed, the Emperor is dead, and on the forest moon of Endor, the celebrations have lasted into the dawn. Swept up in the excitement of the moment and the confusion over what happens next, Han Solo proposes to Leia Organa who accepts in an equal rush of emotions. After sharing the happy news with their friends, a wedding ceremony is hastily organized, but what exactly does marriage look like for two people as radically different as a princess and a scoundrel?
Han just wants to spend time alone with his new wife after a year spent frozen in carbonite—an experience that has left him wrestling with fears he has never known before. Leia too wants to take time to enjoy her newfound happiness but cannot bring herself to walk away from the rebellion at this critical moment as it begins to reform into the New Republic. Mon Monthma manages to persuade Leia to take a short honeymoon aboard the newly liberated Star Cruiser Halycon—convincing her that the optics of seeing Leia out enjoying herself will give the galaxy reason to believe that things really have changed for the better.
However, as their honeymoon progresses, Leia can’t help using the trip as a diplomatic opportunity and Han can’t help finding himself more at home playing cards with the engineers than lounging in the luxury chambers upstairs. When the pair both begin to fear that the Empire is closer than they thought, their relaxing honeymoon might just turn into yet another fight for survival.
Let’s get one question out of the way quickly: is The Princess and the Scoundrel primarily a vehicle to advertise Disney’s Galactic Starcruiser hotel/experience? A good chunk of the book is indeed set aboard the Halcyon, the very same star cruiser you can stay on at Walt Disney World in Florida, and yes, there are a few moments where it feels like descriptions have been tailored to increase interest in taking a vacation there—Han waxes lyrical about pastries from the restaurant, Leia admires the view from the bridge’s viewports, and both of them enjoy a trip to the climate simulator, all things you can do yourself if you have the several thousand dollars to spare. However, the Halcyon section of the book is actually fairly minimal, all things considered. The majority of the story takes place either on Endor or the ice moon of Madurs, so, while I’m sure there is an element of advertising taking place here, it doesn’t overwhelm the actual story being told.
At its heart, The Princess and the Scoundrel is a romance, but it’s unusual. The majority of romance stories involve two people meeting, falling in love, and a sense that they are destined for one another—true love conquers all. These elements are nearly all missing here. Han and Leia are already in love at the beginning of this story, yet we also know that their relationship is not destined to last. Although they clearly still love one another by the time of The Force Awakens, their marriage hasn’t survived—seemingly because they are two very different people whose lifestyles would never be all that compatible. In The Princess and the Scoundrel, we get to see how that all begins. Their wedding is beautiful but rushed and born almost on a whim in the heady excitement following the destruction of the Second Death Star. Almost immediately, the pair of them question the decision—how will this ever work, and is love alone enough to overcome so many obstacles?
Another key concern facing them is one I hadn’t even considered until reading this book. Around one year passes between the end of The Empire Strikes Back and the events of Return of the Jedi. Leia has spent this time analyzing her feelings for Han and coming to terms with how she feels while searching for him and planning his rescue. Han, however, has spent that last year frozen in carbonite. For him, mere weeks have passed since declaring his love for Leia on Bespin, and this puts the two of them at very different points on their own personal relationship timelines. Instead, Han is obviously dealing with PTSD from being frozen. He struggles with feelings of being trapped and panics when enveloped by cold. It’s not clear how conscious Han was while frozen, but there’s a sense that he had at least some awareness, and this has contributed to what are now significant mental health issues. This is a very different side to Han than we’ve seen before and I loved seeing this new side of him, even if the cause of it is traumatic indeed.
The overall story here is a fairly typical Star Wars offering with Han and Leia taking on a familiar enemy and recruiting the locals to help them win the day. Instead, it’s the relationship dynamic between Han and Leia that really shines through here. Both characters are wrestling with many things—I especially enjoyed Leia’s thoughts on her personal connection to the Force and what that means—as well as trying to make a new marriage work, and those are challenges new to them, and to us as readers. The Princess and the Scoundrel is easily one of the best Star Wars books I’ve read recently and I’d highly recommend it as a great starting point for those wanting to start reading Star Wars books but unsure where to begin.
GeekMom received a copy of this title for review purposes.