‘The Princess and The Scoundrel’ Review: “Peak Star Wars Romance”
The Princess and The Scoundrel, fittingly announced on Valentine’s Day, is about how Han and Leia got married, and their subsequent honeymoon on the Halcyon. Yes, this book is promotional for the Disney interactive hotel experience, but the author, Beth Revis, doesn’t make that the focal point of the story. Revis ties the narrative to all elements of Star Wars lore, including video games, several comics, other novels, and of course, Return of the Jedi. The author manages a succinct plot while weaving a grand story, giving Han and Leia great character moments in the process.
Han and Leia as Characters and Their Relationship
Explored in Star Wars Legends novels The Courtship of Princess Leia, and Tatooine Ghost, the story of Han and Leia’s proposal and start to their marriage happens sooner in canon lore. That doesn’t mean they’re wildly different stories though! Revis starts by exploring Leia dealing with her father being Vader, and the consequences that could appear in her future. With those consequences actively present in Claudia Gray’s Bloodline, Revis has to tie those in perfectly. It can’t appear as if Leia could know her future exactly. Leia’s a strategist, she wants to think out all angles, and Revis illustrates them brilliantly. It also helps illustrate the theme of having to let go of what you can’t control. The tie-ins as well to Gray’s Leia, Princess of Alderaan are absolutely perfect for Leia’s wedding day. Two scenes in particular had me crying with how perfect they were.
Han is the stallion of Star Wars, the one who always works harder than he needs to. He trusts very few people and so to run full force into Leia’s arms like he does in the opening chapters was shocking, yet brilliant. It’s touching, especially considering he doesn’t trust easily. It shows how much he’s grown over the years. Han’s a strong character, but it’s good to see even he needs someone. Revis deftly touching on Han’s PTSD from being in carbonite also adds to his character, as he’s hating how much he missed during that time. It was intriguing to see him deal with it, with and without Leia’s help.
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As far as the relationship illustration goes for Revis, The Princess and The Scoundrel dives in to what it’s like as a newly wedded couple. A time which can be fraught with new information about the opposite significant other, while also being wonderfully discovering. Leia and Han explore the more fraught side as they have an unconventional relationship which results in learning more about each other than typical during the honeymoon process. Han wants a traditional honeymoon. Leia knows even though the Empire was defeated at Endor, the work for the New Republic’s stabilization is just beginning. They have to work together to balance each other out, and Leia learns the work will always be there.
Fitting The Princess and The Scoundrel into Star Wars
As I’ve stated previously, Revis works magic with how much she is able to incorporate into this 344 page novel. Riyola Keevan from The Halcyon Legacy makes an appearance as a major side character. Madurs in the Lenguin system is an all new moon, and Revis fleshes out enough of it to get a gorgeous idea of what the moon looks like. I do wish that we could have gotten more on other systems. The hyperspace journey as well felt like it needed more, especially considering how the Halcyon is supposed to be a big tour ship. But for the majority of The Princess and The Scoundrel we’re between the Halcyon, Endor, and Madurs. It can feel quite small if you’re looking for a galactic tour. If not, it makes it all the more intimate, enabling more focus on Leia and Han.
Kelad, a former engineer working for the Empire, is really the only other character of note. He’s the definitive engineer stereotype, oblivious with his own nose stuck up his… Well, you get the idea. For really being only at the bookends of Leia and Han being on the Halcyon, he’s well developed and finicky. He fits well into the overall plot, but there’s enough left to the imagination to wonder if he’ll make another appearance soon to continue to flesh him out. Maybe as part of the First Order working on tracking through hyperspace? If he’s truly that smart and sympathetic to the Empire.
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In terms of definitive Star Wars action, never fear, there is a space battle, Han shows off the piloting skills, and there’s a couple of new piece of tech. There’s a close knit battle towards the end of the book that feels pulled right out of The Clone Wars. Canonically, everything fits together. The Princess and The Scoundrel is the closest after the original trilogy, so there’s not a spot currently for stories to overlap and cause conflicts.
The Princess and The Scoundrel is the ideal adult Star Wars romance. It enters into the field of canon romance novels with only young adult novels Lost Stars and A Crash of Fate in play currently. It was the perfect adventure, using a small story to have a big impact on a little known moon. There’s interesting Easter Eggs for the observant fan to pick out, and make theories on what could come back around. Leia’s struggle with her new found birth family remains. It’s one of the best parts of the story for her, especially as she discovers how she’ll make use of the Force.
Ideally what would happen next is Random House Worlds locks Revis down to write the novel for when Han and Leia parted over Ben becoming Kylo. While Han is not as present in Bloodline, it feels like that would be the big Han and Leia romance trilogy: The Princess and The Scoundrel, Bloodline, theoretical novel. Revis imparts every bit of love she has for the universe into this story. That’s felt specifically in the acknowledgments, which was the third time I cried over how sweet this book was. If you’re interested in these characters, and are looking for a new romance novel to check out, I highly recommend you check this one out when it comes out in a few weeks. – Katie Rentschler
The Princess and The Scoundrel releases digitally and physically on August 16, 2022.
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