With these five words, the greatest galactic love story of all time was solidified amongst the clouds of Bespin. Moments later, the horrified features of Han Solo were frozen in carbonite, and Leia Organa spent the next year trying to find a way to save him. After Han’s reanimation, a young farmer redeemed his father, a ragtag group of rebels took down an Empire, and Han and Leia finally had a moment to bask in the warmth of victory and love.
Or so they thought.
Beth Revis’s The Princess and the Scoundrel picks up immediately during the festivities on Endor after the Empire’s defeat to showcase the proposal, marriage, and honeymoon of the Crown Princess of Alderaan and the…well…former citizen of Corellia. The couple enjoys a quick ceremony and celebration on the forest moon before being whisked away to the Halcyon, the premiere starcruiser on the Chandrila Star Line. During their voyage, the couple discovers a few of the early trials of married life along with the fact that although the Emperor has been defeated, the Rebel victory isn’t quite complete.
Thanks to Revis’s wonderful characterizations of Han and Leia as well as her mastery of pacing, flow, and plot, The Princess and the Scoundrel takes what could have been a cold advertisement for an upcoming attraction and instead presents the most nuanced and romantic look at the saga’s most famous relationship we’ve seen in years.
At the core of The Princess and the Scoundrel is a love story. Han and Leia’s fiery courtship is one of the most fun elements of the Original Trilogy, and unsurprisingly, this book begins with the culmination of that fighting and flirting: their wedding. While Revis definitely does not shy away from the romantic nature of this book, she also wastes no time considering the political and societal ramifications of the end of Return of the Jedi.
The galaxy has just been told that their seemingly immortal leader was killed by a Rebellion cell, and while many planets are celebrating the demise of a dictator, there are quite a few who are unwilling to accept the propaganda. Because of this, Mon Mothma approaches Leia to float an idea that will give Organa a much needed break while also aiding the optics of the burgeoning republic.
A honeymoon aboard the Halcyon.
Mothma believes that the showing of such a prominent Rebel figure aboard such a public luxury vessel will allow the galaxy to accept the coming peace in a much more tangible way…and if Han and Leia get to stop running for their lives for a few days, all the better. This story conceit not only solidifies an actual reason for the real life Disney hotel experience to be featured in the Canon, but it also allows Revis to use the newly married couple to explore the larger political landscape of the galaxy.
Never for a moment do you forget that Leia is not only a lover, but she is also a governmental leader. Born a Senator’s daughter and raised as a future ruler, she is constantly aware of the optics of her public and private life, and as she meets other guests aboard the starcruiser that have a variety of views towards the former Empire, her ability to remain polite and polished is considerably challenged.
On the other side of the marriage vows sits the man who would consider being polite and polished a devastating insult, Han Solo. While Han’s love for Leia absolutely soars throughout this book, the realization of his new station as her very public husband begins to take its toll. This leads to some of the most realistic relationship arguments and discussions a Star Wars book has ever seen, and despite their romantic connection being stronger than ever, you can certainly see the cracks beginning to lay the groundwork for where they end up in The Force Awakens.
Eventually, the couple makes their way off of the Halcyon for a third act filled with an entirely new kind of threat, but the core of the story remains constant throughout. The Princess and the Scoundrel is the tale of a legendary love story that finally gets its chance to be told…but will they ever actually be afforded that level of peace?
Although Star Wars is full of great romances throughout every era, Han and Leia have long stood above the rest. From their meeting on the Death Star to their final moments together on D’Qar, these two have always had eyes for each other, and their adventures throughout the years are almost too numerous to count.
And this is possibly the best they have ever been written.
As a couple who are simultaneously newlyweds that also haven’t had much time to date (remember that year in carbonite?) Han and Leia are in an incredibly unique emotional position. Despite the knowledge and acceptance that they will do anything for each other, they’re still learning how to function as a couple outside of a war room or a cockpit. And while this leads to scenes of tension and misunderstanding, this also allows Revis to showcase the moments where they find themselves completely in sync with one another…and it’s beautiful.
Han and Leia also find time to shine individually throughout the novel as they both start to come to terms with massive life changes. For Leia, this takes the form of her newly awakened sense of the Force and the heartbreaking revelation of her parentage. While not treated as the centerpieces of this story, these elements of Leia’s life are treated with the utmost care by Revis, and the result puts Leia in a place of extreme vulnerability in a way that we rarely witness.
Not only does she have to reckon with the idea that she is the daughter of the most hated man in the galaxy who literally tortured her, but she may have also inherited his abilities to wield the most powerful abilities in the universe alongside her newly revealed brother. We know that Leia eventually forgoes the traditional path of the Jedi, but that knowledge does nothing to diminish the power of these scenes and how they retroactively sculpt Leia’s character.
Han, on the other hand, spends the book reckoning with his own place in the galaxy as per usual, but Revis focuses not only on the time he has ahead of him, but on the time he lost. On the entire year that he lost while he was frozen in carbonite.
As audience, we witnessed the majority of the carbonite’s damage diminish during the battle on Jabba’s skiff, but The Princess and the Scoundrel takes the time to really examine how much losing a year away from those you love can affect you. There are adventures of Leia’s that Han doesn’t know, and there are fears of the cold and the dark that may never leave him as his skin constantly remembers the feeling of encapsulation.
These minute character moments are deftly littered throughout the book, and by combining past traumas, unabashed love, romantic tension, and the quickest pair of wits this side of Chandrila, Revis showcases why these two are the love story to rule them all, and she does it better than any writer has before.
This book could have been a trap. Since its announcement, the real life Halcyon has been met with a decent amount of skepticism from portions of the Star Wars community due to its admittedly hefty price tag, so setting an entire story within the confines of such a location was risky to say the least.
However, Revis conquered this feat beautifully by incorporating the Halcyon as its own character. Although you never quite shake the notion that this is a real life hotel, the specificity and care with which she writes each area and character onboard immerses you completely into the story. Han and Leia aren’t advertising a ship for readers on Earth as much as they’re discovering the ins and outs of their honeymoon vessel, and this subtle alteration makes all the difference.
Aside from ship, Revis incorporates a number of original ideas into Princess and the Scoundrel - especially on the ice planet, Madurs! This new arena takes up a surprisingly large amount of the book and Revis creates it top to bottom from its unique geography, heating systems, culture, and most obviously, art. This area feels just as full fleshed as any Star Wars favorites while introducing entirely new concepts along Han and Leia’s journey.
Before the publication of The Princess and the Scoundrel, there were also slight concerns that this story would simply be copying past events from Legends regarding Han and Leia’s nuptials, honeymoon, and Leia’s reaction to her legacy as Vader’s daughter. Luckily, Revis does not simply retread fan favorite plots from The Courtship of Princess Leia or even The Truce at Bakura but rather creates all new moments of incredible emotional depth and catharsis that establish these monumental moments as something completely new.
Add in the previously mentioned through lines of Han’s reckoning with his lost year and Leia’s growing acknowledgement of the Force, and the description “a romance book on a starcruiser” barely scrapes the surface.
We at Youtini have been huge fans of Revis’s past novel, Rebel Rising, for years, and the feeling of vindication could not be higher after finishing The Princess and the Scoundrel. Her mixture of efficiently flowing story beats with languid scenes of internal conflict and passion creates an environment that you never want to leave. This is Han and Leia at the height of their love story, and every moment is a gift.
By employing shorter chapters (a favorite device amongst our community), Revis also never lets the story feel stagnant. The earned momentum of continual perspective changes and scene shifts allows the reader to race alongside the couple as the machinations of underlying deception begin to unravel. However, Revis never lets that layer of mystery overwhelm the romance and desire between the pair, and that balance strikes a rare chord of harmony in the world of Star Wars publishing.
Revis also delves deeper into both Han and Leia’s psyches than we’ve seen in a long, long time. Original legacy characters can sometimes pose a risk to intense periods of introspection due to the pedestal on which they are placed, but Revis unapologetically delves into their deepest fears and desires.
Is Leia ready to walk the path of the Force?
Has Han come to terms with his lost year in carbonite?
Will the galaxy ever slow down enough to let them just…be?
All of these questions percolate within Han and Leia’s minds, and Revis gifts us the opportunity to find the answers right alongside them. Each of her sentences knows exactly what it wants to say, and it does so with an economy of words that are intentional, effective, and beautiful in exactly the right ways.
From the very beginning of The Princess and the Scoundrel, Revis harkens back to the cinematic excellence of the Original Trilogy by placing us in the final moments of Return of the Jedi. Instantly, the reader is transported to a time of celebration and joy that can be pictured with excruciating detail, and that sense of joy and wonder continues throughout the rest of the story.
Though the first act of the book is arguably a bit slower in regards to high flying action due to the intentional relaxation that Han and Leia (and perhaps the audience) are meant to embrace, the pages continue to turn at an alarming rate as the deeper mystery of the book begins to sink in. Just who are these adversaries working in the shadows? Are there other enemies hidden aboard the ship?
And when are these two going to kiss again?!
In the midst of the twists and turns that follow every grand Star Wars adventure, Revis continuously leverages Jedi’s nostalgia and humor to create a tone of warm familiarity. A tone that an old couple might drift into as they look at photos of their own honeymoon. A tone that surely rings true for so many folks that have watched their own friends get married and have adventures…because that’s exactly what this book is.
Is it fun to see Han find his own trouble while Leia plays diplomat? Absolutely. Is it thrilling to witness a battle within terrain unlike any we’ve read before? Without question. But the brilliance of Revis’s writing is her combination of everything that makes a Star Wars book entertaining within the framework of a love story.
A love story of a man who loved a princess and the galactic leader who loved him back.
There are many chapters in every love story. The meeting. The first embers of romance. The flirting. The fighting. The laughter. The tears.
The Princess and the Scoundrel takes us through some of the most heartwarming and nuanced chapters of the love story of Han Solo and Leia Organa, and whether you’ve known them for a month or since that fateful screening in 1977, it’s wonderful to witness the height of adventure and romance for two of your best friends.
And it surely doesn’t hurt when such an incredible adventure is penned by a woman who clearly loves these characters and their galaxy more than her own words can express.
The Princess and the Scoundrel is available now wherever books are sold, as well as on Audible where it is narrated by Saskia Maarleveld and Marc Thompson.